To feel or not to feel?

“I’m not nuts, I just want to feel it all”  – Fiona Apple

It’s been months since I had a good, long cry. You know the kind. The sloppy, hiccup-y, hyperventilating sobfests that last a full 10 minutes, until you finally have to look at your distorted face in the mirror to stop.

I had quite a few of those types of cries in 2012. Typically, they happened during fights with the ex. Sometimes while drunk, other times sober. Once in a while, a crappy day at the office and a long walk home was all it took.

I used to hate when all the emotions bubbled to the surface so frequently. Even if I was alone, I was so embarrassed to have such little handle over my eye sockets.

Now I find it somewhat concerning that I haven’t gone past a 5 in the tear scale in months. Sure, I’ve had misty eyes in the face of poignant movie scenes and heart-to-hearts with friends. And on the last day of Bold Academy, my eyelids puffed amidst the warm embraces with that special circle of new-but-somehow-old friends.

But, seriously, where did the crocodile tears go? Am I more robot than human?

Ever since January, the same month I left my job and took the Landmark Forum, I find that my life isn’t ruled by anxiety. Truly. I can’t think of a single instance of getting sick since, whereas it used to be a monthly occurrence. Despite all the stress that usually comes with packing up your life to move to a new city, being unemployed and newly single, I’m feeling pretty darn level.

Might it be because I’m making calls for my life and decidedly committing to those calls? Is it my shift in perspective, wherein I view people and circumstances as learning opportunities instead of things I have to deal with? Is it because I’ve given up feeling sorry for myself, and instead feel so grateful for everything as it is?

Those all seem like positive things. I feel like I’m growing. Becoming more self-sufficient.

I remember at my darkest days of battling anxiety, all I wanted was to feel less. I prayed for the fear attacks, that left me feeling so powerless, to go away once and for all. Now that I finally have control over my feelings, I sort of miss feeling it all. Or, at the very least, I miss crying.

I suppose that if I have the ability to control anxiety, something that I never thought I had the power to overcome, then I must also have the ability to dive deep back into my emotions. The emotions are most certainly there, hiding somewhere under the surface. I know because I can feel the ground vibrating from their presence.

Would you give up feeling your lowest lows in exchange for a more drama-free, level mind? Is it better to feel less than to feel it all?

With courage, love, and intensity,

Kristen

Photo credit: TheGoogly / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

5 thoughts on “To feel or not to feel?

  1. I had a similar thought recently, although in a different vein. When I first heard about the bombings in Boston, it derailed me for a full day. I was talking with my husband, telling him I wanted to feel less. While one part of my mind was wrapped up in processing the tragedy, the other, more analytical part, was whirring away asking whether I had any right to feel such strong emotions about it – I didn’t even know anyone who’d been affected. I told my husband it was too much to handle, and I needed to find a way to stop being overwhelmed by bad things in the world.

    He is a very smart person, and he told me simply, “Never feel less. It’s the best thing about you.” And I think he was right – there’s nothing bad about a genuine emotional response to something horrific happening to fellow beings. The important thing is to take the next step once that emotional wave has washed by, and do something tangible to help.

    Anyway, as this relates to your wonderful post, I would agree with you that some emotions are worth feeling – even unavoidable – but others, like the drama Morgan mentioned, just get in the way. So, I certainly don’t think you’re a robot! And, in the end, whatever combination/proportion of feeling + acting fires you up is the right one for you.

  2. I have had similar ponderings since Landmark and since focusing more on meditation. I am simply not an emotional wreck with big ole buttons getting pushed all the time, which is great, but I did catch myself wondering once or twice if I’ve become an emotionless robot. I, too, started to miss feeling so much. Sometimes it was fun to get wrapped up in stupid drama. Sometimes it was fun to take sides and get angry and prove I was right. Sometimes it felt good to sop up all the pity I could get for all the ways in which the world had wronged me. But, I would never go back to that. Never. Not only for the sake of my own happiness, health and sanity, but also for the sake of everyone who has to spend time with me and everyone whose life is impacted by me. I am much more effective as a positive influence in the world when I don’t have to concentrate so much energy on my own hurt feelings. Since Landmark I’ve freed up vast spaces in my emotional warehouse to fit in the bigger fish that I’m out to fry 🙂

    I love you for bringing up this topic.

    • “I am much more effective as a positive influence in the world when I don’t have to concentrate so much energy on my own hurt feelings. Since Landmark I’ve freed up vast spaces in my emotional warehouse to fit in the bigger fish that I’m out to fry” <— this is beautiful. I couldn't agree more. Overall, I'm happy to carry myself in a way that promotes confidence and love, versus self-pity and fear. Thanks so much for the powerful response, Morgan. Love you!

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