Most of the things I have learned, I have learned from the things I have felt.
And most days, I feel more than I think I should.
But one of the most important things I’ve learned is that there are no should’s and should-not’s, even though I have a habit of plastering them all over my head and heart on a regular basis.
(I’m working on it.)
Which leads me to something I have felt for most of my life: abnormal.
I have felt abnormal for as long as I can remember. I have felt different in unacceptable ways—louder than I’m supposed to be, more critical than I need to be, too curious for my own good. And I have wondered why I do this to myself, why I create this world of questions and forbidden thoughts that eat me alive and spit me out with my limbs in all the wrong places.
I have felt blindly introspective and yet uncontrollably empathetic. I have felt what’s burning inside me and in the heart of another—a family member, a friend, a subject in a news headline, a beggar on the street. Their words, their joys, their defeats, their longings, their pains—I have felt it all.
And I have felt my own pains, too.
I have felt worthless, hopeless and alone, even when I was surrounded by all the love I could ever want; I numbed myself to its warm and merciful touch, the very thing I didn’t know I needed.
I have felt empty, something I strived to feel for quite some time, though I never could satisfy the craving for nothingness. I wanted less—less of the thoughts, less of the voices, less of myself.
I have felt the changes from one stage to the next, from excessive pain to something more bearable, leaving traces of scars and subtleties to tell my story long before I chose to accept it.
But I have often felt that my pain is unworthy of the throbbing heart it leaves, that I have too good a life to be hurting. I’ve called myself a spoiled brat, a pathetic princess, a whiny child whose petty complaints could never measure up to anything close to a “real” problem.
I have felt that I didn’t deserve to hurt as I did—as I sometimes do.
But reality is relative, and no one can tell me what’s real for me but my own understanding. That is something I’ve learned from the pain I’ve felt.
I have felt it physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I’ve felt it in shards and all at once, crashing like a wave over everything created, everything that I thought was meant to be.
But pain is a message, a sign that things are not in fact meant to be this way—something else I’ve learned from the pain I’ve felt.
And when something isn’t meant to be, something better comes along.
I have felt what it is like to be better, to grow and become, to take shape and transform. I have felt liberated from the throes of self-destruction and the slithering whispers of hatred in my own bones. I have felt the slow awakening from exhaustion into life, being born and reborn, ready to accept what has been and to prepare for what’s to come.
But more importantly, I have felt the magic of the present moment, the sliver of abundance in which past and future safely melt away and trickle down my back.
I have felt free, unlimited in my potential. Happy.
I have felt love. I have been shown forgiveness, compassion and tenderness, the most precious of gifts. And I have done my best to give them just the same, without judgment or a second thought.
I have felt gratitude, the kind that moves me to tears because I struggle to come up with words beautiful and meaningful enough to say what I really want to say. I have felt it and I have cherished it more than any other feeling; it is to gratitude that I return in moments of weakness, of hatred or disconnection.
It is gratitude that heals the heart that stumbles by way of the mind.
I have felt beauty. I’ve seen it, held it and sensed it in every way. I’ve learned to recognize it, to embrace it even if I mistake it for ugliness at first glance. I have felt its ability to create and destroy, to build and undermine, and I have let it work on me.
I have felt the whirlwind of chaos and the power of grace, the comfort of being held and the coldness of being rejected, the wild insecurities of my darkness and the unshakable confidence of my light.
I have felt lost and I have been found. I’ve repeated this cycle on a regular basis, and I hope I always do.
I have felt the truth send shivers up and down my spine, covering my skin in chilling inhales of excitement and peace. I have felt serendipity, from which I have learned that pain, sadness, confinement and loss are not meant to be, but that they precede the things that are.
I have felt things falling into place, just as they should (or shouldn’t, which doesn’t matter anyway). I have felt myself settling with them, learning from them, letting them remind me that all I have learned is a result of the things I have felt.
And I have felt it all.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: whatmegsaid at Flickr