To accept this thing
Let it dive deep into my bones, meet my marrow
To let it spread its nasty tendrils
Down my throat
Into my heart
Let it grip and squeeze my guts
While I breathe and wait for it to do its thing and leave
Like inviting a toxic person to dinner
Somehow in the inviting
I move on quicker
Than if I had shoved it into the furtherest corner of my brain and refused to acknowledge it
Like a miasma it begins to lift, feel less weighty on my chest
Finally I bid it farewell
The scar tissue still dwells where it scalded
That thought hasn’t quite afforded me the luxury of taking it for granted
But the headache it caused has shifted down three vertebrae
I move on
*Sitting with emotion, watching it, inhabiting it fully, or rather letting it inhabit us, without trying to push it away, smother it, distract ourselves or worse, passing the hot potato onto someone else, crap dumping and making someone else’s life a misery, pulling them down with us – is called emotional maturity.
Emotional maturity isn’t particularly romantic. It’s not something reached easily for many.
The act of drinking away the “dreadful day” is so cliched that it should really be erased from movies and books and yet it thrives there.
Alcohol does not help anyone escape from a bad day. It is like pouring kerosene on emotion, particularly negative emotion. I wish children weren’t witness to this behaviour in parents and then go on to repeat it. I wish I had been better. I wasn’t the worst, but I did it – the glass of wine to drown my sorrows, blunt my pain.
I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in over five years now and I am so deeply grateful that I no longer have the opportunity to reach for a drink when experiencing emotional turmoil. Because now I don’t have to experience both the negative effects of my emotion as well as the exacerbated problems that alcohol brings to the party.
My life post alcohol has not been a walk in the park and being sensitive I tend to experience emotions strongly – both the blissful and the sublime and the sadness and anxiety.
We humans adapt. I had to come up with an alternative “fix” and this is it. Yoga, sit, accept. Whatever “it” is. It takes time and it is uncomfortable and it requires that I be fully present, so practice is required if I want to remember it’s power and restraint in the middle of a tricky moment with a volatile person or situation.
“This too shall pass” I mutter, not feeling the least bit stoic but prepared to pretend. And eventually, there I am. And it works. There is sometimes lingering dudgeon or anxiety afterwards but it is manageable.
If you’re having a bad time of it today I’m sorry – life is truly shit sometimes. But try acceptance. Try allowing. Think of how this particular issue will feel in a years time – imagine the space, the time yawning between here and then. Think of all else that seemed unbearable but came and went, just as everything always does. And if nothing else works, well there’s always someone worse off, so say little prayer for them.
I don’t mean to be flippant, believe me I was having quite the crappy time of it just before I wrote this post. It helped me realise just how powerful this practice is, it reminded me why I return to it time and again.
Also – I’m nowhere near perfect in my reactions – I ate a drumstick (ice cream) and a couple of donuts before I realised I was literally trying to swallow my emotions (yet again) and disgusted with myself, went to the mat. The only thing that matters is that we continue to strive, to not give up on improving our reactions. Circumstances do not change, we do.
I’m a bit crap at salutations (not the sun kind the wordy kind) and signing off, but on this one I’ll just say “may peace find you and when it does, please spread it a little wider.”
*Beautiful header picture thanks to Timothy Eberly Unsplash. The quotes used throughout are from Pema Chodron, her books have bought me solace on many occasions. Sometimes just reading a page or paragraph is enough to remind me. I highly recommend all of her books.