Feeling My Life


DSCN0626My mother’s best friend called when she received my last Christmas card. Part way through the conversation she said, “Your mother was so strong and stoic. …Emotions weren’t allowed in your home.”

This comment brought back a distinct memory from one of my last visits with my mother. At this point, she was almost completely paralyzed from ALS and we both knew the end was near. I sat at her bedside and read a letter that described all the ways she had influenced my life. Afterwards, I buried my face in my hands and sobbed. My mother looked over at me and said with obvious discomfort, “You will be fine.”
“I know I will be fine. But I will miss you so much.”
“I would like you to read that letter at my funeral.”
“I don’t think I can do it; I might break down.”
“No you won’t. You know what to do. You’ll get up there and handle it.”

And I did. A few weeks later, I read that whole letter at her funeral without a tear or tremble in my voice.

But this intense emotion had to go somewhere, and when chronic pelvic pain descended five years after my mother’s death, I would come to appreciate how holding a lifetime of unexpressed trauma had affected my body. Over five years of healing and with lots of help, I gradually worked through the layers: feeling my pain, discovering my truth, and gradually moving through it.

After Christmas this year, my daughter hopped out of the car at the airport on her way back to college.
I gave her a hug and said cheerfully, “Have a great flight! I love you!”
But as I was driving away I thought, “Wait a minute! How do you really feel?”
Immediately, and to my surprise, I started to sob. I pulled over and cried for a half hour. And then, like a summer storm, it passed and I felt peaceful again.

I realized that I was now experiencing my life in a whole new way. This may not sound good, but it really is. Because now my body is more fluid, healthy and free. Before I was numb to the pain in my life, but I also didn’t feel intense joy, wonder and connection. Now, I am starting to feel all of it.