I am blessed beyond words, crazy blessed—always have been—and I am having a really hard time right now. A few days ago a monster storm knocked down a lot of our trees, gouging lawn and just-mulched garden. There’s a huge dent in my new car—again. Matters too personal to share prompted a big cry yesterday. Publishing challenges persist, this morning’s being an email from a well-known author saying she hasn’t time to read (and as I’d hoped, endorse) my book.
But I am not here today to kvetch about the petty details of my mostly great life (maybe another time). I am here because I believe that sharing with you how difficult gratitude can sometimes be for me might help you feel less guilty too. Hearing me publicly confess that I can be darned unhappy when I have no apparent right to be may ease your self-judgment when your wonderful life doesn’t seem like the relative Paradise it surely is if you are in a position to be reading this.
When I was a kid and didn’t want to eat my spinach, my parents would say something like, “But think about the starving Armenians.” That didn’t close to do it for me. I had never heard of nor (so far as I knew) seen even a well-fed Armenian. My history and geography teacher taught us far more about the state of her cats than the states of the world. So I didn’t know where Armenia was. I couldn’t think about the Armenians. I was thinking about the spinach I didn’t want to eat.
I’ve got a similar problem today as an adult versed enough in the sorry state of world affairs that I weep about it. I am capable of feeling others’ horrific pain almost as if it were my own. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling my own pain, so minor compared, yet so alive in me when it is.
Not long ago I would have been ashamed to admit that I who have so much can feel so bereft. I’d have thought of myself as worrisomely self-absorbed, and worse, worried that you and others might think I am and judge me for my selfishness. Now, on the other hand, I’d argue that it is my very capacity to be self-absorbed enough to feel my psychic pain that frees me to feel yours.
To recognize and appreciate you in all your humanness, I have got to embrace me in mine. And if I judge myself for having my real feelings, there’s no way I won’t be judging you for having yours. What’s more, if we push our heartfelt emotions down, out of guilt, shame or ignorance of their value, we close our hearts and never get to know ourselves as the messy marvelous human beings we all (alone and together) are. We miss the chance to make friends with the first and last person we can count on, if only we can learn to trust her—and that, of course, is our dear self.
I had intended to write this time about the bizarre challenges of publishing my book in my own weird way. But today, and for this whole last week, my emotions got the better of me, and if I am to practice what I preach, I’ve got to say that is not a bad thing. Far from it, getting lost in my feelings must be exactly what needed to happen to bring me back from being lost in my head. With the publication date of Bare Naked at the Reality Dance looming and hard design and marketing decisions to be made, I had hoped to push on and get lots done. Instead, with feelings swirling, I got to stop, weep, write and reclaim some more of myself. Does this make sense?
Categories: Facing Fearful Feelings
Tags: author, Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, blessed, book, gratitude, publishing, publishing my book, self-judgment