You Can’t Selectively Feel
My dad picked up the phone. He was greeted by silence then sobbing. You know the ugly cry type of crying? He’s my go-to when I decide I don’t want to go it alone and I don’t want anyone else to take on my pain.
He takes it in stride and seems to get that “This too shall pass.” I appreciate that.
He said to me, “I’m sorry this is happening on your birthday.”
I said, “I appreciate that, AND any day would be a shitty day for this.”
Later on he said, “I know this girl, she’s really great with breathing exercises and has a ton of tools to help people feel better.”
I said, “Yeah, I know that girl too. She thinks it’s best to let out all the feels first… then breathe, and THEN reset her mindset.”
Don’t worry, I hear the defensiveness in my statements too. Basically I was saying, “I’m hurting. It feels sucky. I don’t want to be fixed just yet.” He got that.
I spent my birthday relinquishing our new dog. I fell in love with this little girl. I loved the way she wiggled with joy morning, noon and night. I loved the way she played non-stop with Arjuna, our first beloved dog. Even he was happier than I had seen him in years. I loved her saint-like patience with Sophia as Sophia dressed her in necklaces and dresses, and squeeze her oh so tight. She was nonreactive to irritants. I’ve never met a little pup that could amplify the joy in a household so quickly and so consistently.
On the afternoon of the 13th she went from love filled play with Arjuna to going for his neck and attacking until Arjuna was screaming and howling in fear. She needed him dead. Not a normal dog grapple where it’s over when it’s over. I separate them by a gate on either side of the house. She was in hunt mode and Arjuna was in hiding. Steve got home and thought he could reunite them. Pretty quickly, Sasha was back on Arjuna’s neck. Steve used his presence, voice, and ample force to try to get her off. All parties were shaken. Steve’s hand was sliced open. Sophia was balling, screaming, “What Happened?!” on repeat. I was speechless and holding Sophia.
I reached out to a trainer with a “Dog Emergency!” email and text. The response the next morning was clear. This dog was a resource guarder. The behavior would only get worse and would need to be trained every day of her life. She was unsafe to stay in a house with another dog and certainly unsafe to have Sophia around the two of them.
When the rescue center opened I was at the front door. I couldn’t get the words out. They ushered me downstairs to fill out paperwork. I wrote a novel for each question hoping it’d help her get placed in the perfect environment. Single dog, active family, loving owners. Every question elicited more snot and tears. I used ½ the Kleenex box. I’m sure they threw away the pen as soon as I left (and maybe thought I was a crazy lady).
Here’s the thing, you can’t selectively feel.
You can go numb, or choose to experience life fully.
Research professor Dr. Brene Brown stated, “We can’t selectively numb emotions. Numb the dark and we numb the light.”
I want to feel life. More specifically I want to feel alive. So I choose to feel everything that lies between pain and joy, love and loss.
I also choose not to get attached to one emotion.
When Sophia asked, “Are you sad mama?” I said, “I’m sad and happy. It all comes and goes sweetheart.”
I cried at feeling helpless. I cried that I’d be giving up this pup that I so adored. I cried not knowing if she’d find the home she so needed. I cried for our loss.
Here’s how I feel all the feels without getting stuck in the dark…
- Feel and Release: No Harm to others. Pick your medicine:
Cry. Punch a pillow. Scream in your car. Exercise. Other?
It takes the time it takes.
When you’re ready…
- Breathe. Feel. Breathe.
5 in nose, 5 hold, 5 out mouth, 5 hold. x3
How are you feeling now?
Own it. Keep consciously breathing until you feel a shift, however small.
- Become the a Hunter: You’re on the hunt for the victim mentality.
- Give your Pray a Better Way: When you catch the your victim, help it to free itself. Thank it for its perspective, and share the updated useful version that you’ll be choosing.
- Send love to yourself and to those involved.
Here’s my example: After relinquishing our pup my victim said, “Twice in one year? Twice? Twice I was given the opportunity to love a little soul, to give it all the love I have and all the training/help it might need. Twice I have chosen to say this is not for the highest good for this being or for my family. Twice I have felt helpless, neither time being able to change the DNA or just make it right with the right work. Twice I’ve grieved.” And then I say “Why?” I sink deeper into the pain and I feel like a cursed victim.
Here’s how my hunter handles this:
“Hey Victim, I hear you saying this year has thrown some punches. Thanks for reminding me that I’ve felt so fully, loved so hard, protected how I could, and been so strong. That’s a lot. I also see that I still have some residual pain.
Pain, I won’t ignore you. I accept you and greet you with more love and connection. I’m listening.
Victim, Our pup now has a chance to be in a great home where she can get love and give love without any threats. Arjuna can feel safe. Sophia is out of harms way. I see the mama bear in me protecting the best she can and loving as deep as ever before.”
Then I cut myself a break for being imperfect and for the fact that I still have (and will always have) a victim running around in my head.
At the end of the day we all have our pain points. Some may seem deserving of our suffering; others may seem like first world problems. Doesn’t matter. If your brain thinks it’s real, then it’s real and it’s now being held in your body.
Over to you:
2) Take a breath.
3) Name a story that’s not serving you:
4) How might you restructure it for growth?
Write it down.
Read it to yourself every night and morning.
5) Send yourself some compassion for being so beautiful human.
I choose to feel. I choose to reconfigure my thoughts. I choose compassion first. And when I forget (which I do- often!) I start again.
Elena Brower, is an inspiration behind showing up authentically at all cost. She will be here Aug 5th! She offers accessible movement and processes for feeling more aligned in your body and your truth.