On Feelings

I’m feeling a lot lately. Feelings on both ends of the spectrum. Feelings that come in waves. Feelings that coexist and shove up against each other. I feel sad, discouraged, pathetic, desperate even. I feel immense joy, support, love, and gratitude. I feel self-hate and simultaneously feel proud of myself, feel a newly formed acceptance and appreciation of the ways I have grown, even within the last year. I feel both deeply pessimistic and eternally optimistic. I’m used to feeling a lot, deeply and darkly, but feeling it all at the same time - or at least being able to parse out all of these things at the same time, to accept both - is new for me.

Feelings are fucking hard. Depression is a helluva drug. Being human is a wild ride. Anxiety is a punisher and a motivator. Feelings compound feelings.

There are some things to remember as we feel feelings (also known as being human) - feelings are not facts. Diametrically opposed thoughts, feelings, instincts, come and go - and what they don’t tell us is that they can be concurrent. What they aren’t are verifiable truths. Whether they’re your feelings or someones else’s also doesn’t make them any more or less likely to be facts either. Feelings are not facts.

Feelings are a journey that have a beginning, middle, and end, as my dear friend Angi recently said to me. And it’s our job to move THROUGH them. Not over, under, around, but through. To notice them, to recognize, to see them, and then to act, whether it’s in opposition, in defiance, with intuition, or with inspiration. You are allowed to tell your feelings to go fuck themselves. You’re allowed to hold them, nurture them, and then send them on their way. You’re allowed to question them. You’re allowed to believe them. But at the end of the day you are a complicated and worthy individual. Regardless of what feelings tell you. Regardless of what other people tell you. Regardless of what the racist, ableist patriarchy tells you. Regardless of what capitalism tells you.

Manipulation does not change this. Other people’s struggles do not change this - whether they try to get you to hold them or not. Whether you choose to hold them or not. Old wounds matter, new wounds matter, all should be tended to and healed and acknowledged. (I’m pretty sure i have four or five intersecting old wounds that make themselves known in new and terrifying ways daily.) But they do not make you any less whole. You will never know fully the way others see you (for better or for worse). And you will never truly know the positive impact you’ve had in other people’s lives, whether you have had minor or major interactions with them. You never will. But regardless the world would not be the same without you in it, in a vast, universal way.

My intuition has often been so strong it hurts me. It has caused me to be empathetic in a way that is actually painful. There is both light and darkness in that. It is scary and it is real and it is valid and sometimes I wish it wasn’t true. I feel deeply and strongly. I’m afraid of my feelings. I distract and distance myself to cope. Sometimes even good feelings make me so full to the brim that they feel unsustainable. I’m trying daily to see the power in myself and to believe I do deserve to be here. *Insert a little fuck you to clinical depression here.*

One of the most beautiful and scary and important parts of all of this is that it is deeply human. Feelings are excruciatingly universal and we’re all wading through these murky waters. There’s nothing you can “do” about them, you can learn coping mechanisms, but mostly you have to feel. And for me, at least, I’m always trying to escape feeling, and when I can’t that’s where the panic sets it. The one guarantee is that we’re in it together, sometimes that’s helpful to remember. We’re all fighting our own internal battle, that is affected by external variables. Although I do think it’s also important to acknowledge some struggle more than others and that feels deeply unfair as well. But whatever your worst day is, is your worst day. And that is ubiquitous.

So allow yourself to take up space. Create space for yourself. You are deserving. You are worthy. You are loved. You are lovable. You are life incarnate and so much more beautiful, vital, complex, and brilliant than you feel.

Often my self worth is still too deeply intertwined in my perceived interpretations of how other people see me. Though I realize intellectually I will never really know these things, I still feel them deeply, sorely. I ask for a lot of encouragement and require a lot of positive affirmation. The plus side is that I think it allows me to give support and positive reinforcement to others in my life authentically and freely. The downside is when I don’t get it I can have big, sad, pained reactions. Sometimes it makes me stumble over how to do the “appropriate” thing. But regardless I feel big and loud and with abandon, with adrenaline and anxiety pumping. And I choose to take it and keep moving.

Maybe I just needed to write this for myself, but I guess that’s the human condition too isn’t it? Maybe I don’t even believe it all fully myself yet. Or maybe i believe it applies to you, but not really to me… because I can’t always find the strength to believe in my own worth - but it’s a step in the right direction.

Kate McBride