the f-word

no, no. not that f-word.

the other one.

feelings.

ok, I realize the word feelings and other four letter f-words are not exactly on the same playing field. But just go with me. I have been kind of mia from the blog world these past four weeks. And I could list a bunch of very valid reasons for not writing sooner- the school year started and with it all of the craziness of new students and papers to grade and post-it notes with to-do lists scattered on my desk. And then I was in one of my best friends’ weddings and with it came the celebrations, rehearsals and preparations that make weddings both wonderful, and a lot of work. And somewhere between saying good-bye to my little sister before she left for Italy, garage sale shopping for household essentials like, umm, say a table and planning the final details of a new Saturday night service at church, I realized maybe I am also avoiding something.

yep. feelings.

It’s not that I think feelings are bad, its just that I am just not always in touch with what I am feeling. When I was little if I were upset or angry I would often storm off to my bedroom crying and collapse onto my bed, as tears soaked into my pillow case. My mom would patiently sit on the edge of my bed and pat my back. In her caring and most nurturing voice she would start asking me a slew of questions.

Are you sad? Did something happen? Do you feel left out? Did someone say something? Are you angry?

These were not complex, philosophical questions. I think most seven-year-olds would be able to answer with a simple, whimpering yes or no. Because that’s what kids do. When you’re sad or hurt or angry and someone asks “Are you sad?” it makes sense to say yes or no, right? Well, for whatever reason I couldn’t. I mean I really couldn’t. I would lie on the bed and shrug my shoulders. I knew that I was feeling something, but I didn’t know what. My mom would ask “Did something happen at school?” shrug. “Are you upset at someone?” shrug. “Are you sad?” shrug. And this question-shrug-question-shrug routine would continue for 15 or 20 minutes. And my mom with all of her patience and compassion, just sat there. trying. waiting.

I realize this sounds like some annoying, manipulative game that a kid plays to get what they want, but it wasn’t. I really didn’t know how to express or talk about my feelings….well, because I didn’t always know even what I was feeling.

Now, I have come a long way twenty years later. I am a tad more self-aware and introspective. I know when I am feeling frustrated or envious or disappointed or hurt. I can usually pinpoint why and yes, I can even talk about it– sometimes. But I am learning that when I am busy and distracted and thinking about what I have to do the first thing that I neglect are my feelings.

I think this is one of the main reasons I write- to have a place, to name and acknowledge and give space for feelings. I think my only blog readers are probably my mom and a few close friends who silently blog stalk me. But that’s ok. I am not writing for them. I am writing for me. And maybe with the slight hope that someone else, somewhere may identify.

I learning to listen to my feelings and let myself feel them- even though at times it would be much more convenient and efficient to put them in a box on a shelf instead of letting them roam free in my tender heart. But I guess I am trusting that there is probably something very healthy and whole about letting feelings have their rightful place.

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