News Flash: Woman held captive by feeling!
Feelings – we all have them. Feelings are not facts; they rarely make sense. Why then do they so often hold me hostage? I can be at peace – driving – relaxing – working – eating, and suddenly my world is shaken – heck sometimes even my faith is shaken. Why? I didn’t get news of death or getting fired, or divorced, or anything. It was just a feeling. A feeling of. . .un-named fear, anxiety, a wave of intense sadness, and then I am trapped. I can’t escape the feeling, and I begin to ruminate and obsess.
The other day a friend gave me a typical example of this: she bought her first new/used car in about 20 years. She is intelligent and savvy. She knew the brand she wanted, she knew approximately how much mileage she wanted, she knew what she could afford, and she bought the car. On her drive home she heard a strange noise. She called the dealership, and scheduled to bring the car back for service. While she was driving back to the dealership, a feeling took her captive. If feelings have voices, hers sounded something like this, “You made a big mistake. This car is bad; it may be a lemon. What are you going to do? You don’t have time to deal with this. This was a huge waste of money. How could you be so stupid? You are so stupid; what a mistake you’ve made!” All the while her gut is wrenching, her throat is tightening, and she feels as though she must cry or scream or spit. She’d been captured, and couldn’t escape!
I picked my friend up while the car was getting repaired and we spent some quality time together. We talked about feelings, and we laughed about them too. We shook our heads thinking how strong feelings are, and how even after much practice, we still can’t completely elude them. They still capture us.
It’s summer. My schedule gets less rigid during the summer. This flexibility must alert my feelings, because they really come rushing in with swords and ropes to immobilize me. I awake to no alarm and the voice begins: “Wow it is 8:30 – you are so lazy to have slept this late.” Or: “Wow it is 6:00, what is your problem? Why can’t you relax and sleep in?”
Often I awake with sadness or anxiety. My new practice is to get up anyway. I don’t try to figure it out. I don’t give in to the thoughts and feelings, I just try to move ahead. Sometimes it stays with me all day; sometimes only for a few minutes. This isn’t to say I simply ignore them – although I guess sometimes I do. I notice the feeling. I greet it. I sometimes learn something from it. I pray. I meditate, but I don’t delve into trying to figure it out completely. . .anymore. . . I’ve realized that often feelings just don’t make sense.
A friend of mine asked me to run with her the other day. First the thought comes -“I can’t run with you – you are faster, stronger, better.” Then right on cue, the feeling comes to bind me. My stomach begins to rumble, my breathe quickens, and I feel shaky. Then I think – maybe I’m sick – I shouldn’t run. It’s hot – I can’t handle this heat. Usually, I put my running clothes on and get out the door.
One thing that always helps free me from captivity is my voice. Although often my mouth feels bound shut, and my throat feels it is closing, and I have to force with all of my might to speak. When I do, when I tell someone what I’m feeling (okay – not just anyone – woah – I’ve learned from my mistakes here). When I tell someone I trust – what I am feeling, I can then think it through. I can process these feelings for what they are – just feelings. Nothing to be afraid of – nothing that makes sense. It usually ends in laughter and peace. I’ll take these feelings any day. . . although I know these won’t last either. None do; they come, they rise, and then they leave.