Monday, December 27, 2010

Remembering How to Feel

Life, in some ways, teaches you to close off, to remove yourself. When pain, hardship, sadness occurs, little by little, you can teach yourself not to feel. It's easy to suppress that which hurts, to deny feelings, to tell yourself, it doesn't matter; it's not a big deal. But all the while, the knowledge that it does matter and it does hurt simmers beneath the surface, denied again and again.

I've done a good job of not letting myself feel some things. And in not letting myself feel, callouses have formed. Now, sometimes, I feel like I'm Andrew Largeman, the main character in Garden State, so drugged, I'm incapable of feeling anything. Life circles about me like a haze, filtering out all that would make me laugh or make me weep.

I hate that feeling, but when it leaves, it's almost more frightening. When I catch myself realizing that something is having an effect on me, I almost don't know how to respond. Even good tears are like a terror. Crying for the joy of a feeling has to be better than crying for the pain of another, but I feel lost for what to do.

Ultimately, I feel like all of this stems from a lack of control. We can't control our lives, or the people in them. All we can control is how we respond. To respond in a way that will leave you open to pain is like leaving yourself vulnerable to a raging bear. There is no control, certain agony, and possible death. You are helpless. And thus, we set up measures to protect that which is subject to what we can't control. We don't show emotion--no pain, no fear, no love, no happiness. Should that emotion escape, we have no way of knowing how we will be ravaged by those who witness it. If I tell someone I love them, and they don't love me, what painful consequences will result?

It is, after all, a vicious cycle, like so many other things we experience in life. We suffer from a lack of emotion as we transfer into a zombie-like state, and therefore deny ourselves and others the basic rite of human interaction. And all this, because we are afraid of that interaction, that it will leave us stripped and bare to pick up the pieces.

I suppose the key to this cycle-breaking lies in the people you hold most dear. Pull those people close, the ones you know can take your fragile heart in both hands and not break it. The ones who, no matter how bare your soul becomes, will love you just the same. They are your safe haven, and that is the mark of a true friend. It is those few friends that you must unleash your hidden emotions to. You must let them see you laugh, cry, love, no matter how hard it may be.

Emotion doesn't equal weakness, it equals humanity and is the key to keeping you from the thick haze of forgetting how to feel.

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