[EDIT: As I see all of this together with the graphic, I want to address something. I’m not promoting a certain kind of white women’s tears, which can be very dangerous to POC and have caused the destruction of Black bodies. This was not my intention, but impact > intention. Also, please do not process feelings down the ladder of privilege if you can help it. So rather than delete this graphic I figured I would address what was feeling off here, which I created.]
After seeing a “Fuck Your Feelings/Trump 2020” flag the other day when we found ourselves accidentally in the middle of a Trump rally, I realized I differ from their ethos (if you can call it that) in more ways than I thought.
I have been feeling into my feelings lately. Or, rather, when I feel them, I let them through. Because I’ve seen the effects of people stifling their feelings, and it’s not pretty. As evidenced above by that Trump flag but also the misery it ultimately can cause on a practical level, physiologically.
“Fox News causes bladder cancer,” a healer I love said to me once, only half-joking.
I decided recently that nothing is wrong because I have a lot of feelings. A pandemic and a revolution is a feelings-y time. This is a time where so much is happening, of COURSE we’re having a ton of feelings. And we are tired. Look, as someone who has experienced a fair amount of grief, THIS is how grief feels. We can get through it, but we have to feel a lot of it. AND THAT IS OK. Because we care. Because we love each other.
I know it is a very confusing time, too. And so, going inward is a HUGE part of the work. And then taking breaks to go outward. I know, it’s like, all over the place. But this is an all over the place time, is my point. We gotta go all over the place. And feel all over the place.
The other day I was standing by my books and crying my eyes out because of the state of the world and it just came over me: “Hey, this is OK. You’re going to feel better as soon as you’re done with this cry. Nothing in you is WRONG because you’re FEELING so much right now.”
And guess what? I was right. That voice was right.
It said: “What if feeling is one of your superpowers?”
“Wow, that would sure shift my perspective about how I’m existing,” I thought.
“No shit,” it replied.
You can’t escape your feelings, so why try, especially since feelings are there to help us?
“Feelings are a genuine path to knowledge” – Audre Lorde.
So how about this:
M A K E L O V E T O Y O U R F E E L I N G S
How about them honey-crisp apples, sugar?
Also – the feeling in your body only lasts like ninety seconds (this is science, not just Sutkowski. And yes, grief is different, of course). When we keep replaying the same narrative in our thoughts, the feelings get reignited and reignited and reignited (and it feels so bad). So, I get it. Like Chidi on The Good Place I know what it feels like to have a mind that often sounds like a “fork in a garbage disposal.” But my mind sounds less like that than it used to, you know why? FEELING. And working with my thoughts.
So, peeps can go ahead and deny each other’s feelings or feelings in general or whatever. But I’m going to feel mine. I’m going to have compassion for others’ feelings, too, especially during a time of collective and individual grief, pandemic, revolution, the rise of fascism, etc. No bigs.
Yeah, anger is a tough one for me, and I feel it bubbling up now. But I’m going to work with it. Anger is when my scads of Kali-Ma arms sprout out, and I sign ten-thousand petitions and give money where it’s needed and check all the places where I can help, and then I settle in and, well, help. It’s one of the places from which I write and music springs.
SO! Please, make love to your feelings. The patriarchy doesn’t want you to. Doesn’t that seem like a good enough reason? Also, your body wants you to.
Disclaimer: I know some people need medication, and this is in NO WAY suggesting people do not take their meds or that everything can be fixed by feeling feeling feeling our way through all on its own. We live in a rich and varied landscape of consciousness and brain matter, and we’ve all got to find our way through in different ways. But I am with you and your feelings as well, my peeps.
So, had any moments lately where you’re like, “Hey, maybe all this feeling is actually exactly where I’m supposed to be right now”? Or “CRIPES I’m so sick of all this feeling”? I’m here. I’m feeling it, too.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.