I took the last couple of weeks off from writing to be with myself, family and thoughts. The holidays, if you read my last post, were a bit somber and I needed the time for reflection and regrouping. We all have those times, don’t we? And I’m at an age where I understand the importance of honoring those moments with time rather than plowing through.
Have any of you ever done that? Plow through feeling rather than taking time to connect with them? I ask because I used to do this all the time. My thought was if I pushed feelings aside, then they weren’t there. If I kept moving, kept busy, ignored my emotions, then they didn’t really exist. Then I was fine. Normal.
Let me tell you what happens when you plow through your emotions in an effort to be “normal.” All that stuff you dismiss doesn’t leave. It just gets pushed aside in what I call, The Bad Juju Room. And pretty soon all that stuff you don’t want to acknowledge and deal with, all the feelings you didn’t want to confront, accumulates. Boxes of the happy, sad, hurt, fear, regret, and joy you never let yourself have, suddenly burst out of your Bad Juju Room and spill into your “normal” world. You start feeling not quite the same. You start to get edgy. You begin to not recognize all the good stuff around you because you feel overwhelmed by little, ordinary stuff. People begin asking you, “What’s wrong?” And your body starts to break down from all the emotional weight it has been taking on from all your stuff in your Bad Juju Room. It’s not pretty. It’s not normal. And if you continue to deny the existence of your Bad Juju Room, then it’s going to get even uglier.
I ignored my Bad Juju Room for years. When the time came for me to open its door, I knew it was going to be bad. But I was at one of those come-to-Jesus moments where the only choice was to open it. No more denial paths to jump on. No more distractions to fill up the void. My body was so broken down that it could no longer carry it. Yep, this was it. So, I opened my Bad Juju Room’s door in an effort to get rid of it altogether. I won’t lie to you. I was ill-prepared for the heap of emotionally-filled baggage that toppled me. It seemed over the years I had forgotten just how much was in there. And here’s the thing, when you open your Bad Juju Room door, it’s sort of like Pandora’s Box…once you open it, there is no turning back. You need to sort through everything you put in there before venturing onto anything else.
After every box was opened, I looked up and nearly two years had passed. Yep. Two years. It was the most difficult two years, for me, to date. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful. Proud. I can honestly say the overall experience of learning to coming to terms with, and then letting go of fear, regret, anger, was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. Hey, before you give me the ol’ pat on the back and high five, know that I still have some hang-ups. I still get angry at the past if I think about it for too long. “Let it go,” is what I usually tell myself in those moments. But I give myself some slack and remind myself that I am (we all are) a work in progress and “normal” is relative.
So where am I going with this?
Stay with me…I’m getting there.
As I started, I took some time off from writing these past three weeks. During this time, I checked in with where I’ve been since those fateful two years dismantling the Bad Juju Room. Had my patterns changed? Was I living it right? I don’t know about you, but it takes a while for me to disengage my brain from the cluttered minutia of the day-to-day stuff. Even after those two Bad Juju Room learning years, I need more time to clear my head before tackling heavier life questions. But funny thing…I’ve noticed it’s easier for me to get to that even-keeled awareness place every time I am on an airplane. When looking out at the clouds, I try to dispel the idea that humans weren’t designed to fly and just go with it. Let go and enjoy the moment. I suppose it is that letting go that lets other, deeper thoughts flood the brain. I wish I could fly every day.
During these past few weeks I did fly. It helped the answers come more readily since the holidays and I became in a state of much gratitude. I became aware of the importance of connections. Not just in my life, but in general. Everyone wants to be understood. Everyone wants a voice. Maybe not all the time, but everyone has the basic human need to feel connected.
During my writing hiatus, I was fortunate enough to visit the Grand Canyon. Before going, I checked in with my East Coast SB. If you’ll remember, he loves getting out of the city for solo photography adventures in the wild. He has been to the Grand Canyon several times. So naturally he was my GC go-to guy. I asked for helpful tips and received enthusiastic advice and an offer to guide the next excursion. Now, I know my East Coast SB loves nature. I’ve known this for more than a decade with every story and photo shared. But it wasn’t until I saw the canyon with my own eyes that I truly “got it.” And I thought of him in that moment. I texted him afterwards, in my clumsy Maya Angelou tribute and said, “I know why the city boy loves trees. I loved it!” Yeah, I know, clumsy. But I was trying to share that I was hit-in-the-face with “getting it,” the moment I saw the canyon. He texted back, “Yeah, the canyon does that. You understand me now?”
And that was another hit-in-the-face moment. Connected. We all want to be connected. For all the times I have leaned on him, and my other Sunday Boyfriends, in an effort for my own need to feel connected, here he was asking me if I now understood him. And then I took a moment to get into his, and all my Sunday Boyfriends shoes, to see if I am living up to what it means to be their Sunday Girlfriend. Am I offering the best of me to be a connection?
How often do we open ourselves up, take a look, and allow ourselves to be connected? How often do we say to ourselves I need to check-in to make sure I am where I want to be? How often do we allow ourselves to be exposed and ask someone else if they “get” us, understand us, connect with us? How often do we turn it around and ask if we are open to receiving those connections? My answer…not enough.
The canyon was amazing. The discoveries afterwards were even more so. I will surely be back.
Here’s hoping you take care of dismantling your Bad Juju Rooms a lot sooner than I did, give yourselves the gift of time to discover all that you need, and keep striving to make the connections that lead to more awareness.
As always, stay comfy; be good to yourself and all your Sunday Boyfriends.