Wow, I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to be part of this community, I’m excited about sharing my stories with you and I’m excited about getting to know you.
But we before we dive in, let’s get properly introduced. I’m English, but I don’t feel English. I live in London, but I don’t think this is the place I’ll stay forever.
I was born in Hong Kong and I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia. I don’t have a hella lot a love for Jakarta, but Bali… aaahhhhh, Bali.
I’ve been blessed with a brilliant education, both from school and the school of hard knocks. I’ve got degrees in Psychology and Counselling & Psychotherapy and I’ve got certifications from two different coaching institutes.
But I’ve also moved countries four times before I was eighteen, I buried my mother aged eleven and my uncle aged nineteen. I found out I had an old sister I didn’t know about when I was twenty-three, I’ve suffered from depression, I found out I had inherited a gene mutation from my mother that increases my risk of developing breast cancer to 80% and my risk of developing ovarian cancer to 40%. I’ve had a preventative double mastectomy to reduce my risk to 10%.
My stories, my experiences, my heartaches and highs have all had their attendant feelings. And feelings can be a bitch sometimes, can’t they? If we’re being honest…
In the time we’ve got together I want to explore the feelings we’ve labelled as ‘bad’. The feelings I’ve labelled as bad throughout my life have led to me eating them in the vain hope I could escape them. Ignoring them in the vain hope they’d go away. Indulging them in the vain hope I could get over it.
I’ve been annoyed with the ‘bad’ feelings, pissed off that I was feeling like this…again. Resistant, vigilant and brittle. I’ve thought to myself again and again; haven’t I cried enough? Haven’t I gone through this a thousand times with my therapist? Haven’t I wept into my journal the requisite number of times?
But in the time we have to together I want explore what’s good about the bad, how we can find the treasure in the feelings that aren’t our favourites and the metaphors we use for the hard. Starting with the one I use most often.
I’m looking forward to being in this space for the next few months to get curious, to be tender with what’s hard for us and having this community to explore with.
Thank you for having me.
The Metaphor I Use Most For Emotions
The prelude to my night of sobbing had been building for while. Misunderstandings, hinting at needs instead of stating them explicitly, assumptions by the bucket load and the repeated abandonment of my boundaries.
He showed me his truest colours and I looked the other way, desperate for distractions. I accused him of being utterly self-involved and he accused me of being unreasonable.
A long and unsatisfying phone conversation left me feeling drained and I knew that I needed to spend the rest of the day on my own in order to process exactly how things had come to this.
Like a Victorian lady with an attack of the vapours, I took to my bed.
I felt crunchy, resistant, stiff and brittle. I did not want to be feeling what I was feeling. I wanted to some how float up and out of myself so I could process and understand everything that had happened from some neutral observational perspective.
Finally, my feelings couldn’t be held back any more. The dam burst and I found myself sobbing. The kind of sobbing that wracks your body and forces your breathing to come in snatched gasps.
And I couldn’t stop. I sobbed for three hours before finally falling asleep from sheer exhaustion.
I sobbed for how I’d thrown myself under the bus, sacrificing my self-worth so that I could be in possession of the thing I most wanted: a relationship.
I sobbed out of frustration. I sobbed out of not feeling heard or seen by him. I sobbed out of the realisation that I didn’t feel seen or heard for myself.
Most of all, I sobbed for all the times I had ignored the signs of his emotional immaturity, the times I acquiesced, the times I turned a blind eye to his behaviour that told me a lot more than his words ever did.
I sobbed for every feeling I was pretending not to know and had spent considerable energy stuffing down and ignoring. But all those feelings demanded an audience with me and they would have it come hell or high water.
You see the thing about feelings is that they’re merely houseguests visiting your home armed with presents.
Once, when visiting my godfather’s house, my dad pulled the car into a parking lot and sprinted into a fancy looking grocery store and he came back out armed with wine, chocolates and a bouquet of flowers. “It’s rude to turn up as a guest empty handed”; he quipped as he slung his haul onto the backseat.
That memory has always stayed with me and your feelings are just as well-mannered.
When they visit the incredible collection of cells that make up your body, the sacred form that is you, they come baring gifts for you and they won’t leave until you’ve accepted what they’ve brought for you.
Every feeling, even the ‘bad’ ones, come bearing gifts, special treasures just for you.
In my sobbing, my sadness showed me that there was grieving to be done. My anger showed me where I’d ignored my boundaries. My guilt showed me where I needed to make changes in my behaviour to come back into integrity with myself.
Collectively, my feelings said to me; “Love sent us. You need the gifts we’ve brought for you, we have your highest good in our hearts even though it might not feel like that right now. Unwrap what we’ve brought you, it’s of the highest value to you right now”.
I want you to hold this metaphor for feelings lightly as we explore what it means to have a body that feels and as we start to dive into the ‘bad’ feelings: anger, grief, jealousy, fear, anxiety and shame. What gifts might they have for you?