Tuesday, May 7, 2013

All the Difference

Six years ago I woke up to a very different kind of day than today. Six years ago, I was busy saying goodbye to my beloved mate, John who lost his life to cancer.

I've spent this past week being somewhat pensive, reflecting on the myriad changes in my life since then. I am in awe of how changed, changed for the better, my life is.

A couple of weeks ago I was part of two different conversations where "negative" emotions were being discussed. Among those emotions were sorrow, fear, anger, and guilt. Talk centered around getting rid of those emotions. I said, and I believe, that we need those emotions. They are necessary.

Somewhere along the way, we lost our reason. We decided that the only things we should be allowed to feel are positive things. We often refer to unpleasant emotion as baggage, as if it's detritus we stuff in a shopping cart and haul around from place to place, occasionally bumping into others with it. We are quick to try to numb the so-called bad feelings with drugs. We do everything we can to make "bad" go away. We work harder, we play harder, we party harder, all in an attempt to banish what we falsely perceive as "bad."

I'll let you in on a secret. The people I love best are people who are in touch with all that "bad", who don't try too hard to mask it. Seeing that frailty in them, and seeing them rise above it, is what makes me love them so much more. The open, raw, naked honesty with which they present themselves - that unashamed "here I am in all my ugliness" - is what makes them so beautiful to me. They don't wallow. That wouldn't do for either of us. But they don't hide either.

So, if I have one wish for people, it is that they allow themselves to feel everything - and not just to feel it, but dive into it, look at it long and hard, find some kind of understanding or at least an acknowledgment. As a very astute artist said, we need those dark spaces because they enhance the light spaces.

That I lost someone I loved so much makes me that much more aware of how very sweet and precious is the love that I have now. That pain, that sorrow, that anger, that fear - that just makes me acutely aware of how extraordinary and wonderful my happiness is now. I believe the reason for this is that I allowed myself to fully experience those darker emotions. Rather than try to out run them, I ran to them. I faced them and found that they were only emotions. They couldn't really hurt me unless I let them hurt me.

That's the key here. Yes, let yourself experience and feel everything - you can't make any of it go away no matter how much you want to - just don't let feeling everything rule anything.

That last, precious kiss on the cheek six years ago was bitter and salty. By comparison, this morning's kiss on the cheek was a sun-ripened strawberry. The part of me that allowed beauty to grow from the shit-strewn fields is glad that I know just how sweet both of those kisses are.


  1. I couldn't agree more. The darkness illuminates the light. Beautifully said.

  2. I agree. I lost my father when I was 19; now I am 52 and I can accept the bad. I lived with depression until I could accept the bad. You said it much better. Thank you Barb. (your fan P.)

  3. Thats so true Barb. It's a mistake to try to be "happy" all the time.


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