Feelings Are Messy

As humans in an uncertain world, we seek certainty in a variety of ways. We ask questions that are fundamentally unanswerable. We ruminate and obsess on a single thought (otherwise known as intrusive thoughts). We Google and text and seek reassurance in a variety of increasingly technologically oriented ways. When I see someone falling into these common mental habits, the first question I encourage them to ask themselves is, “What are these thoughts/actions protecting me from feeling?”

We’re so identified with spending thousands of hours in the realm of thought that oftentimes this question doesn’t make any sense. What do you mean “protecting” me from feeling? What I mean is that somewhere along the road of growing up, somewhere between the innately healthy relationship that babies have to their emotional life and the disconnected relationship that most adults have, we learned that one way to manage the messy, amorphous, … Click here to continue reading...

“I Wish He Was Funnier”

Oh, the list of thoughts that try to prevent us from taking the risk of loving wholeheartedly is quite long, but there are a few that always top the list, buzzing and darting in and around your ears like mosquitos in summer. I recently wrote about the “I wish he was taller” thought, and I’ve written extensively about the “I’m not attracted” thought. This week’s thought that topped the charts of my sessions was “I wish he was funnier.”

Here’s an excerpt from a client (published with permission):

“Over the past few weeks, I feel that I’ve been picking C apart in my head, specifically when we are with groups of close friends and family. I’ve recently been attaching this anxiety to his sense of humor, and how he may not be as funny as I wish he were. Sometimes he doesn’t laugh at my family’s jokes and vice versa … Click here to continue reading...

So Precious It Hurts

As my dear friend drove our two families up to Walker Ranch for their quarterly homestead day a few weeks ago, I looked in the backseat at our three sweet and precious boys. Their faces were alive with excitement at the prospect of “going back in time,” as my little one said. Three beautiful, kind, creative, alive boys. The angles of our hearts. And, knowing that we would be driving up a steep and winding road seven miles into the mountains (not my favorite kind of road), an awareness of their vulnerability pierced through me. An awareness that one wrong move, one random boulder, one unaware driver careening on the other side of the road…

“They’re so precious,” I said to my friend. “Why does anyone do this? To love them this much and to know that something could happen to them… sometimes it just feels like too much.”

“I … Click here to continue reading...

Grandmother's Roses

The dreams always recur this time of year: I’m with my grandparents or I’m grieving the loss of them, and I wake up with the weight of unshed and unarticulated grief sinking my bones. Without the spaciousness that used to characterize my mornings before I had children, I can’t drop into the dream. I’m up, I’m snuggling my little one, I’m washing the cat bowl and filling it with fresh food as I notice the snow or sun on our yard, I’m reading books to my kids, making breakfast. The sounds and movements of the day begin and the dream is lost in the ether of that other realm.

But it’s not lost at all. It lives beneath the surface, swimming in the current of psyche that has no words, the world of grief and heartache, loss and longing. It’s a slow, quiet world, but it does not disappear simply … Click here to continue reading...

Broken Heart

My heart is broken. When I first heard the news, I had to suppress the torrent of tears so that my sons wouldn’t inquire. I couldn’t let them know. Given that we homeschool, it’s likely that they’ll never know. If the adults around me (including myself) can hardly process the event, there’s no way that my son could make sense of it. It would lead to years of nightmares and fears that would appear in the darkness while falling asleep at night. It could only show up as anxiety, as it’s too much for my young, highly sensitive son to assimilate in a healthy way. We choose to protect him because we can.

At dinner that night, my husband and I looked at each other knowingly across the table. Our eyes spoke what our mouths couldn’t say, the questions that seared through our hearts alongside the grief: “How could Click here to continue reading...