There is something about the early morning that just gets me in a good place. I wake up, have my coffee or tea or whatever, practice some bhakti yoga (in my case morning prayers) and then just sit in the silence. It was not always like this. A few years ago, the first thing I would have done is switch on the television or play some music. Now, I am content to just let my senses wake up slowly. There will be enough to rush through throughout the day.
After being unceremoniously removed and replaced like an engine part, I decided to work on my relationship with myself this festive season. It is not the first time I chose to be alone, but it is the first time I chose to do it sober. It has been a process to be sure. The first two months, I could not stand having anything male anywhere near me. If a man practiced next to me in yoga, my concentration was gone, and replaced by a fire in my belly that just wanted to reach out and burn the poor fellow to ashes. I am lucky that I have girlfriends who without question would act as buffers between me and any male that practiced near me.
I was a pendulum going between anger and sadness, wanting to numb myself to it all, but realising that it wouldn’t help in the long run. Unfortunately, humans are like emotional conduits – all the emotions that we don’t allow to flow through us get stuck in places where they build up and at some point, just explode. So with help from a few guardian angels, I let emotions just flow through me.
Emotions. The thing most feared in the modern world. We live in a world where the intellect and body are nurtured, but the heart is not. Why do we spend so much time trying not to feel, and when we do, trying not to show it? It’s not just sadness or anger – it is also love. Why does it matter to us what people think? What is it with acting all blasé and jaded all the time? Does that raise our stock in the world in any way?
My mother is the most emotionally guarded person I know, but she holds so much inside that when she does explode, she is capable of throwing her luggage out the window. The thing is, I think she was never very comfortable with emotions, any emotions, and to be honest, and while I was growing up, neither was I. My family saw tantrums from me that you wouldn’t imagine if you’ve only known me in the last few years. Where did they come from? They came from this deep reserve of felings that were not dealt with from the time I was six years old. I was under so much pressure to be a “good little girl” all the time that it was like stacks and stacks of hey building up in a barn – one tiny spark could set the entire place on fire.
From a young age, we are taught to label emotions as being either positive or negative, and those labels stick with us through life. Somewhere along the way, we also learn that sometimes to love is “stupid,” or “mushy” especially if you love someone who has hurt you. So many labels here and there that everything has become so convoluted and complicated and we spend our lives trying to avoid certain emotions and chasing after others. For some people it becomes an extreme that if they feel angry at their partner, or friends, or family, they just shut these people out, trying to shut the emotion out. And it just sits there, and it builds, until one little spark just throws them into flames and burns everything that they care for.
You always think that you know how to do something, then you realise that the way you do things hurt a lot of people or don’t really manage the issue. I used to think that I knew how to cry, but my way was to put a block on things, until one day, something little came up and broke the dam. I used to think that emotions were weaknesses, but now I realise than not facing them was the real act of weakness. Sometimes, not acknowledging something doesn’t make it go away, and one day, it will push through and make its presence known.
Emotions are fine. They are not good or bad. They just are. One day, you will be at a funeral, wedding, party, or even just walking past a place where you once kissed someone special, and the memories just come rushing back. What will you do? Three years ago, I would have had a drink, but today, I would let the tears flow. Why? Because when I learned to show my emotions, my vulnerability and my love, was when I really felt what it was like to be free. So it’s quite alright to be labelled as soft for crying, it is alright to just sit there and acknowledge anger, and it is alright to admit that you love someone who has hurt you.
And when someone asks you, “why do you care?” and “how could you still love him?” The only answer you need is “I just do.” And when they ask you “how long will you keep doing this?” the only answer you need is “until I am not anymore.” Why? Because although our thoughts and actions are in our power, our emotions answer to something that is beyond our control. And sometimes, the only way to find peace is to surrender to them.
Then one day, when you have stopped fighting, you wake up and realise that the true test of strength is cutting through the clutter of your mind, facing the emotions that are already sitting there and learning how to cry. And that day is when your life starts to change and your relationships grow.