Unkink yourself


I believe that nearly all our griefs are moments of tension. We perceive them as crippling because we no longer hear signs of life from our estranged emotions. We are alone with the strange thing that has stepped into our presence. For a moment everything intimate and familiar has been taken from us. We stand in the midst of a transition, where we cannot remain standing.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


“Emotions are an inconvenience.” But her tone suggested she didn’t believe the words.
—Hafsah Faizal, Sands of Arawiya, Book 1: We Hunt the Flame


I am glad to be done with March. It’s a rough month for me. Various dates within it mark traumas, some small, some big, that I haven’t completely healed from. The entire month is spent clenching slightly. Some days I don’t know why I feel wrong, until the terrible, slightly suppressed memory slowly sinks in. Some days I wake up and immediately think, “Today is the 27th birthday of my childhood bully.” (lol, I know, that one is kind of funny) (but that shit still sucks)

An entire month spent clenching, while noting to myself that I felt strangely emotionless. The worst day was trying to get through what would have been my brother’s 22nd birthday. I felt completely bottled up, just anxious to get to the next day.

Now that April is here, I feel looser, happier. April is full of memories of good beginnings. When I first started writing and journaling in earnest, April 2008. When we got our beloved dog Keely, April 2011.

I also have felt much weepier this week, which is a relief.

Crying used to seem like a very bad dramatic thing to me, like I finally lost all my strength and resolve in life. “Our tragic heroine crumples to the floor, wracked by agonizing defeatist sobs. The weight of the world has finally crushed her like a bug.”

Once, a few years ago at my house in California, my roommate called me over as he was getting in bed for the night and quietly dared me to go cuddle the other roommate who was stretched out on the couch. I shrugged and agreed. Easy dare. This was the vibe our house had. Anything was liable to happen at any given time. It was the kind of place where you constantly felt tiny sparks of potential in the air. (I had the best of times and the worst of times in this house.)

I went into the living room and, without speaking, laid down beside my roommate, head to toe. I thought maybe we’d start making out or something, but instead he wrapped his arms around me and held me as if he actually needed to be comforted. Then he asked me, “How do you get yourself to cry? I feel like I need to cry, but I’m like physically unable to.”

If I knew then what I knew now, I would have taken the question seriously, but instead I kind of froze up and then made a joke about imagining my sister dying of cancer (sorry sis).

But it’s no longer like that for me. Plain and simple: clogged up emotions are very unhealthy. It’s like if a person never blew their nose. Disgusting. Your body just needs to cleanse itself of built up emotions, the same way it cleanses itself of organic material.

Maybe it seems… unromantic… to view crying and expelling emotions as base level as urinating. But whatever, lol. I have stuff to get done in this life, and I’ve wasted enough time carrying the weight of years of unshed emotions.

When you unkink your hose, the water can flow freely. When you unclench your body, the emotions can flow like a healing balm.

I hadn’t yet shed March’s emotions when I sat down on Monday to write my week’s newsletter. For the two hours I sat there, half of it was spent imagining myself punching a hole in the wall. I felt pinchy, irritated at one person, pissed at someone else, mad at my writing for not being good enough. Pinchy, punchy. I wanted to scream and rip my skin off like a snake. I needed to cry, but I wasn’t in the mood for all that messiness, so instead I let myself suffer a mini panic attack and then stayed up into early hours of the morning doing nothing but feeling angsty.

Hence, no newsletter, as much as I want to be regimented and consistent with it.

I’ve never been the kind of person who can keep their writing and personal life separate.

Imagine “13 Killer Blog Post Templates You Need to Start Implementing Today” automatically scheduled to post to your income-producing niche blog, while behind the scenes your heart is being rent in two. Maybe an efficient way to keep the checks coming in, but it feels soulless to me.

But being on the flip side, infusing my writing with real time emotions and personal struggles means it’s going to be hard to maintain scheduled output. Probably my biggest struggle is my autistic brain’s desire for routine and consistency vs my airy fairy desire for spontaneous magic, working hard and fast and then hibernating for a bit like the phases of the moon, and absolute freshness. Trying to figure out how the borders of my life, like a riverbank, can be stable and steady, and the content of my life, like a wild rushing river, is magical and fresh as a bucket of sparkling ice.

I’ve spent the past several days spending most of my time sitting outside, in a chair nestled in the rosebushes, clutching a cup of coffee, and moments of sobbing in between lots of reading and writing, some meditating.

Crying because the roses are blooming in full force and I’m leaving for a weeklong trip to Idaho tomorrow and I’m going to miss them. Crying because I was daydreaming about someday getting a German Shepherd dog when I’m out on my own for good and then thought about Sam from I Am Legend. Crying because I’ll never get to see my brother again. He won’t come back like seasonal blooms or movie re-runs.

Crying is good. Sitting quietly with discomfort is good. Getting lobster red from the sun is good. Hang-drying clothes on the line so they can flap and gossip in the breeze and collect that fresh starchy smell is good.

I love April, said the tragic heroine.


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