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  • Melissa Gombola

Afraid to Feel

"Be still, my soul, and steadfast.

Earth and Heaven both are still watching.

Though time is draining from the clock and your walk that was confident and quick,

has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but

let the heart still play

its true part.

Love still as once you loved,

deeply and without patience.

Let God and the world know

you are grateful.

That the gift has been given."

~ Mary Oliver


"I'm afraid to feel," said my friend to me, vulnerable & open-hearted, over the phone. I froze in place, because I know exactly how she feels. She went on to tell me how she's afraid to get on her mat, because yoga makes her feel & it's all just too much right now. I looked at my arms & watched the hair on my forearms stand up & goosebumps appear. The last few weeks I have also been afraid to feel. Only I didn't actually say it aloud, because I'd only just realized it.


I feel like I've been holding my breath for the last few weeks. Afraid to exhale. To let it all out. Like I've been living in a state of limbo where I'm honestly just waiting for this all to end & for life to start back up again. I don't want to take the time to feel my feelings, because there's a lot of dark in there & I just want to keep looking for the light. I've been holding my weary & my sorrow. My fear & the ache in my heart. I haven't consciously been doing this, withholding my feelings. I think I've just trying to protect myself, protect my children, protect my family.


This all just feels so hard. It feels like too much. And I know that this is something that some many are experiencing. I'm right here with you.


I'm waiting. I think I'm waiting for everything to go back to how it was before. Back to normal.


But if I'm being truly honest with myself, I know deep down that we won't ever really have a "normal" again. Some things may look similar after all this is over, but many things will have a different appearance. We will ultimately be forced to create a new normal.


We're really all just taking a collective pause right now. But. That doesn't mean that we stop living. We need to exhale. We need to feel. Not feeling does not protect myself or my kiddos or my family. It only delays this feeling.


I thought to myself, what if I stopped waiting & started living?


So, I reflected upon the past few weeks. We have found a new rhythm. It's a slower pace. It doesn't look like our old life. We don't rush off to practices or rehearsals. No bus stops or appointments. No family gatherings or friends getting together. No going to church. No semblance of structure or schedule. Everything has been crossed out on my planner.


Our days have many ups & downs. Our children are feeling all of this, too. They are confused, afraid, mourning the loss of what used to be. All that has been canceled. All that will be rescheduled or postponed. All that won't ever happen again.


So, when I look deep within during the last few weeks, I have been afraid to feel. I've also been almost afraid to get on my mat. I've been getting on there, every day, physically, because it's what I've always done, but not really mentally or emotionally. I have been unconsciously holding back feelings. It's been just like an exercise, get on my mat, breathe, move, lay still. But, it's been with lack of feeling.


I don't like to watch myself on video. I'm much more comfortable now with seeing myself in photos, and that's growth, because there was a time when I had a difficult time seeing my image in the mirror. But, videos feel extra vulnerable. Like, I don't even want to hear my voice, let alone watch my body move. It's something I'm working on & something I hope not to pass onto my kiddos. It's a place of insecurity for me. So, when I endeavored to make yoga videos during this quarantine, I went into it full of insecurity & doubt. There are amazing instructors creating perfectly polished content out there. But I realize, if I keep comparing myself to them, I will just keep going further & further into the comparison cycle, going nowhere good. It's going to take time. It's going to be painful. It's going to be hard. But, it will be worth it. For me. For my children. For my family. I will exhale. I will breathe out a sigh of relief. And let out my anxiety & my doubt & my fear & my ache. Not to get rid of it. It will always be there. But it won't have control over me anymore. I will let that go.


I strive to feel. All my feelings. The good, the bad. The hard, the easy to control. I will offer up myself. I will uncover. I will falter & I will fall & I will fail. Because I'm human & because I want to fully be living my life.


How have you been feeling during this pandemic? Have you been afraid to feel? Do you feel like you've been holding your breath, just waiting for life to start up again?


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