I have been on a personal journey learning how to feel more, to be more fully alive.
I like to think about feelings as a roller coaster. The thrilling ones have those long anticipatory climbs and those breathtaking drops. Even understanding the metaphor of the roller coaster that didn’t stop me from trying to avoid negative feelings. As a result, I have been numbing the lows which has limited the highs and I’ve been on a mini coaster with its little dips and little hills.
I’ve rationalized that I have been feeling those negative emotions and I was just choosing not to spend time there. What I was really doing was burying those feelings, avoiding the experience. In particular, one such emotion I have avoided is grief. As a result I have always been uncomfortable and disconnected from folks experiencing grief because I have not allowed myself to fully experience it.
I lost my mom almost four years ago. She passed away a few days before my birthday. I got the call while I was at work. I was strong through the whole process being there for the rest of my family especially for my dad helping with all the arrangements. There was a moment when I had a few tears, when I thought I felt the loss. But, it was very brief and I quickly rationalized that it was her time. That what she had been here to do was complete. That was it, a few moments sitting on the edge of my bed alone shedding a few brief tears.
Now almost 4 years later, I’ve been able to really sit and feel the grief, to be able to say “I miss my mom”. In being able to feel that grief at the loss of my mother, it is allowing me to feel love and tenderness with my wife and kids in ways much richer than before. The connections are stronger as well now, Kelly (my wife) and I can talk about things I avoided and/or didn’t understand before.
I have been able to slow down and sit with these feelings allowing them to naturally run their course. Now I can truly appreciate the memories of time with my mom. One fun memory I have was riding a coaster with her at Six Flags. She really lived into the name of that coaster, The Screaming Eagle, as she screamed the whole way. I’ll never forget that and now I’m beginning to experience that big kid coaster in life with the breath taking drops and anticipatory climbs. I’m sure there will be moments when I may scream as well.