I promise, this is not an analysis of the movie “Frozen” or its impact on the repeat-cycle of my brain, though I should apologize for the fact that it’ll now likely be running circles in yours for the rest of the day. Nope, today I’m simply here to say:
“Let it Go.”
I have a few friends that are going through some pretty tough times. In addition, in the work I do, supporting those affected by violence, having a tough time is what brings them to us. As I’ve watched, listened to, and read how we collectively respond to struggle, illness, trauma and grief, I feel compelled to gently remind us all that sometimes, we have to let it go. Let the tears out, let the howling begin, let yourself fall into a crumpled mass on the floor: Please, let it go.
We are afraid our feelings will consume us (raising hand – guilty). We don’t trust ourselves to bounce back from it (raising hand again). We fear our feelings are stronger and more powerful than we are (hand still in air). But we’re wrong. We’re underestimating ourselves, and because we value an illusion of strength that appears impervious to what life throws at us, we ask others to do the same. We tell folks with Cancer to “stay strong,” or folks who are grieving that their loved one is “in a better place.” We “there, there” their pain and grief, and they leave armored up for the next “battle.”
Let it go.
When I am particularly hard on myself for my feelings, I imagine myself in a boxing ring, duking out who’s going to win, weak me or strong me. If I can interrupt it, or have help to recognize what I’m doing, I can remember to “put down the boxing gloves.” I don’t need to fight myself. I can feel what I feel. The sun will rise again tomorrow. I believe that if we can show ourselves and each other that same permission, patience, and compassion, we will find we have a lot less to fight. We can get back to the business of being human, in relationship to each other: flaws, life experiences, struggles and joys all seen.
Last night, my son reminded me of this when I lost my patience with his whining (again). When he shows intense emotion, it triggers his little sister and her sensory issues. I’ve often, I’m ashamed to admit, responded by trying to get him to dial-down his emotion “for her sake.” Truly, though, the gift isn’t for her, who needs to learn to be in the same room with intense emotion, hers or others.’ The gift would be mine. I wouldn’t have to experience the discomfort, the helplessness, of not being able to “fix it” for my “babies.” Inadvertently, I’m teaching him to shut off his feelings, when we really need to collectively help our boys and men to feel so much more; for all our sakes.
I’m learning, just like we all are. As we practice, let’s remember to let ourselves and each other be, let our feelings go, and let’s not be afraid to be real. To me, that’s real strength.