I moved home to Maine last week after pining for the home that it’s represented for me my whole life. When you cross the Maine state line you’re greeted by a sign that says: “Maine: The Way Life Should Be.” As far as state mottos go, this one really floats my boat.
I just wrapped up living no place in particular for the past 15 months on. My man and I did more than 30,000 miles by car last year, I logged many more in the air, and we slept in over 100 beds.
So The Freedom Tour came to a close back in December, we nestled in for the winter on the east end of Long Island in a tiny, seasonal town called Wainscott where more than 2/3 of the houses in our neighborhood were vacant. Ultimately it was a little too sleepy for us. So, heading an insistent call I’ve been putting on hold for 11 years, we moved to Maine where I grew up.
After reading every word in Maine Magazine, including the ads, every month for the past year, fantasizing about the smell of salt air and the taste of fresh seafood, and imagining what it would feel like to finally be HOME, we finally did it.
I would love to report that everything as soon as we moved in everything was completely perfect, that suddenly my life made more sense, that I gained tremendous clarity and insight, and that I felt relieved, relaxed, and regenerated. But the truth is, I felt depressed. It didn’t feel like “the way life should be,” at all.
And this somewhat bottomless, endless feeling of blah didn’t go away in a day the way I thought it would. It kind of lingered the way the smell of the garbage wafts around for a few minutes even after you take it out. And because I thought I should be feeling ecstatic to be finally fulfilling a long time dream, I didn’t tell anyone how I felt. I felt ashamed that I didn’t feel totally psyched.
So yesterday I got on the phone with my coach and when she asked me how I was and I replied, “I’m okay,” the tone of my voice alerted us both to the contrary. I proceeded to cry pretty much for the next 60 minutes as she gave me permission to be exactly where I was. There was no judgment, no asking me to move through it, no giving me suggestions for what I could do to feel better.
Our society, myself very much included, has a strong leaning towards the positive.
Put on a happy face.
Grin and bear it.
Fake it till you make it.
I was raised on affirmations, choosing a thought that feels better, the power of pure positive thought, and getting into vibrational alignment with the good that I want to attract. So staying in depression and not trying to do anything to fix it feels antithetical to my very nature.
See the thing about positive psychology, affirmations, the law of attraction, and a lot of the self-help aisle of the bookstore is that it discounts an entire spectrum of emotion that may not feel “good” perse, but is nonetheless valid. And to deny, sublimate, push down, push away, or try to escape the tapestry of emotions, whether you deem them good or bad, that make up experience of being human is denying a part of you, as well.
After my coaching call I sat on the couch and took deep breaths. I set a timer for 25 minutes because I know how deeply engrained my tendency to move away from difficult emotions by getting into action is. Chela, my coach, suggested opening to whatever I was feeling – opening so wide that I eventually would become bigger than the painful emotion itself.
I’m still trying to get a grip on what that means, exactly, but I’ll tell you what: after sitting and taking deep breaths and focusing on the physical and emotional experience of being depressed…
I felt really honored.
I felt really seen.
I felt totally validated.
And of course, as the tides of emotions tend to do, things shifted and I ended up having a delightful evening seeing The Avengers in 3D with my mom and Mike at the Cinemagic in Saco, Maine. (Not that feeling better was the point. I’m just reporting in.)
Chances are pretty good that there will be a moment in the next few days when you’ll feel an emotion that doesn’t feel so hot.See what it feels like to feel it, breath into it, and stay. You might feel like it will swallow you (I did.) You may feel like if you let yourself go deeper into it you’ll never come back (I felt that way.) But in the name of knowing yourself better, and at the very least soaking up every delicious and not so delicious drop of the human experience, stay anyway.
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