Feeling your way home
"What are you doing to me, baby?" he said, hand grasping a tall boy, half serious half joking.
"I'm making you feel." responded.
"And oh, it's good to feel." He replied, eyes distant.
I was playing in Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, one of the seedier area's in Seattle. I had attracted an audience of the locals who had taken up residence on the seats in front of me, enjoying their cans of contraband beer much to the park authority's dismay.
Feelings. We all run from them in our own ways: talking around them, analyzing so we don't actually have to feel, working so much we don't have time to "deal with" them, self medicating, or simply adapting to mediocrity or misery as our lot in life. It's not that we don't want to feel, it's that we're afraid to. We've got these stories in our heads about feelings being disconnected from reality, a myth that sprang when patriarchy severed it's self from The Feminine thousands of years ago and continues to keep us stuck in half lives.
In Aristophanes's Speech in Plato's Symposium Plato shares a story of human wholeness, when there were three genders, male, female, and androgynous and each person was really two people. Plato as Aristophanes declares that love is our route back to wholeness, that we seek out our other halves in other people with the hopes that we can be joined again in the powerful state of completion. Over two thousand years later Jung seemingly took this idea a step further, that our wholeness has been within us, accessible through the process of individuation.
Which brings us back to feelings, and the importance of actually FEELING them. I'm always amazed at people's tolerance for unhappiness in the name of appearing "normal". We're like Cinderella's sisters cutting off toes in order to fit into a shoe because we don't know any other way. I'm sure there are many people who are genuinely content with their life. There are folks that are almost zen in their ability to go to work, raise children, do simple things, and be perfectly content. What bother's me is how damaging the belief in the one size fits all happiness agenda is. To return to the step-sister analogy: If the shoe doesn't fit and you refuse to cut off your toes are you selfish? Is there something wrong with you for not wanting to marry a prince if the price is self mutilation? Should you medicate yourself so that you don't feel the pain of your mutilation in order to be able to live out "happily ever after"?
When we feel; really, truly, deeply feel, we invite truth into our lives, and truth is dangerous to the status quo. We might play at feelings with party anthems and love songs and done me wrong songs, but ultimately music popular music these days largely supports the myth of "normal". Even as diversity is an important and hot button topic, doesn't it feel a little like we're trying to push things into the main stream instead of deconstructing the main stream?
When I graduated from college I was desperate to be "Normal" and happy just like everyone else. I wanted the financial security, I thought I could fit into any job I was qualified for, I sought my completion Plato style by projecting my own creative aspirations onto the men I chose and putting myself into the safer "support" role. I was determined to make that normal shoe fit, and I was fucking miserable. My spirit was crushed, my creativity misplaced, my poetry silenced, my truth chained.
The women in my office building were like ghosts of future me, clinging desperately to the playfulness of their children like floatsam in the unhappy wreaks of their lives. Taking Prozac and going through the motions while the pounds packed on and their hair fell out and they suffered from mystery illnesses. Even as the blood poured out of their ignored wounds they maintained the charade because if they admitted they were unhappy that would mean acknowledging that what they thought they knew about happiness was wrong. It would mean starting again without map, agenda, or check list, instead moving forward by feel.
I have felt like a phoenix must feel. Every shred of old thinking has had to burn off and the process of self combustion is excruciating, and almost blissful in what a relief it is. I've alternated between waves of self loathing and bravado. I was the first to call myself selfish and have learned to dissolve the hard point of accusation in self empathy . I have questioned myself. I have punished myself . I have gone deep, deep into the cave of shame. I have learned to feel, and now drawing that internal call out from inside of people is my gospel.
So what have you been running from and why? What truth is nipping at your heals? What do you need to hear a song about today?