As often happens when I post a heartfelt blog, I’ve spent the last 24 hours pondering what I wrote about in Festive feelings and the feelings, festive and otherwise, that came up afterwards. Following a long walk on the beach this morning (glorious), I felt the need to wrap things up (Christmas pun intended) with a second post.
I was sharing yesterday that it’s OK to feel our feelings. That’s the message I got again this morning as I came back from my beach walk and read my daily reading in Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go (a wonderful book if you haven’t got it).
Today’s reading is entitled Feelings (she read my mind) and it starts:
“It’s okay to have and feel our feelings – all of them.”
She goes on:
“Many of us needed to shut down the emotional part of ourselves to survive certain situations. We shut down the part of us that feels anger, sadness, fear, joy, and love … But times have changed. It is okay now for us to acknowledge and accept our emotions.”
Thank you, Melody.
But perhaps what I didn’t acknowledge in yesterday’s post is that those close to me will have their feelings about Christmas too – their issues, their hurts, their disappointments, their stresses and their memories, good and bad.
So that goes for my late father and late step-mum, who I stayed with at Christmas when I was 18 and wrote about yesterday. They would have had their feelings around Christmas too. I just didn’t realise it at the time. I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to understand what was happening to me and what might have been happening to them, on the inside.
The same goes for mothers, siblings, partners, children and all those close to us. They’ll have their own memories, their own feelings about Christmas.
As you’ll have realised by now, I’m one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve. My tears generally sit quite close to the surface and they don’t need much encouragement to roll down my cheeks. And after years of avoiding feeling my feelings – stuffing them down with food, numbing them with alcohol, hiding from them with excessive work and exercise – I’m now very much in touch with them. And I share them all over the internet.
That’s not the case for everyone. Some people aren’t aware of the pain and hurt they carry. It may be buried very deeply. They may not know it’s there or they may be too afraid to look at it. This was me for many years. Others know they have feelings but they don’t express them, they don’t know how to, they don’t have the language or the experience of doing so.
So this Christmas, I’d like to remember that just because others don’t show their feelings like I do, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them. I’d like to be sensitive to other people’s festive feelings. I’d like to make sure I’m aware that those around me may be struggling with their own Christmas memories, even if their feelings are hidden beneath the surface. I’d like to show patience, love and compassion for those around me and close to me. They may be hurting. Or they may be feeling stressed or disappointed. They may just have different ways of showing it to me.
On a more cheery note, the great thing about being in touch with your feelings, with all of your feelings, is that you’re in touch with all the good ones too. So I’m delighted that as well as feeling sadness, I can feel deep love, compassion and joy. I can be extra silly. I can dance around the kitchen in my pyjamas (I do often). I can get in touch with my playful inner child. I can delight in my friends and loved ones. I can feel wholly, completely and wonderfully alive.
That’s the benefit of feeling, of not being numb.
So, once again, I wish you a wonderful, wholehearted, magical Christmas, full of festive feelings of all kinds.