Weathering the Internal Storm
How have you been, my dear friends?
Few weeks ago, I was all over the place. Moody, annoyed, numbed, every shadow you can think of came to surface. As much as I tried to ignore my feelings, they ultimately took over. I exploded, then cried like a baby from dusk till dawn. Early next morning, warm sun-rays gently shined through my bedroom window. I was awakened by a soft cooing from what sounded like an enchanted bird. I laid in bed listening as this glorious creature sings of its adventures filled with pain, mystery and hope. As the coos faded out into the distant skies, I came back to myself again. Sometimes, all we need may simply be a good, hard cry...
A teacher of mine once shared an excellent idea. Once in a while, she would book a hotel room and have herself a "Purging Party." She'd light up the room with scented candles, put on the most depressing music playlist, wrap herself in a comfortable hotel robe, and just cry her eyes out. She'd order in, rest, do nothing, sleep, watch TV, and cry some more. If one day wasn't enough, she'd extend her stay. When she first shared this idea with me, I was doubtful of its practicality. Now, especially now, I realized she was a genius after all.
After my own version of a purging party, I took some time to explore my feelings. What happened? Living in Taiwan, it has been easier to stay positive as our country and her leader have skillfully contained the virus early on. Yet despite our luck, the rest of the world continues to suffer. Singular positivity and hope can only go so far when the collective humanity is experiencing overwhelming isolation, rejection, fear, and sadness. My heart could no longer deny this universal pain.
Only in giving into this darkness, stronger light shined through. Having finally released my emotions, I returned back to a place of calm, peace, and clarity. Just as the pollution cleared for the Himalayas after decades, I too reemerged with refreshed hope and inspiration. As I privately journaled this internal process, I felt called to share my raw experiences with my Lotus Pond clan. While the last entry focused on staying calm, this one reveals my go-to survival tips for Category 5 Super Typhoons.
1. PURGE YOUR FEELINGS
As demonstrated, let it out! A good cry is one way. Purging Party is another. Exercising, sweating, talking, venting, writing, singing, painting, meditating, there are countless ways to let out our emotional toxins. As an empath, it is excruciating for me when I lock up toxic feelings or thoughts. Pent-up energy ends up manifesting into unpleasant outward behaviors and/or physical pain. By ignoring our shadows, not only do those around us indirectly fall victim to this warped version of our broken selves, but more so, we have created toxic environments for our own body, mind, and soul.
Expressing one's true emotions and feelings is directly connected to physical, mental, emotional health and general well-being; while emotional suppression gives rise to all sorts of physiological, psychological, mental problems. Unresolved emotions can drain us, leading to burnouts, emotional imbalance and long-term diseases. This unprocessed emotional energy, when trapped inside our physical body - via organs, muscles, and tissues - build up, fester, and leads to inflammation and chronic health problems.
Are you finding ways to let out your negative feelings?
2. SOCIAL DISTANCING DOES NOT EQUAL DISCONNECTION
I just learned that my dear classmate in Ireland has been stuck at home alone for 50 some days. While isolation is much easier than fighting off coronavirus, my heart still goes out to those who are cut off from the world. While we must isolate from each other on the physical front, we can still find ways to connect soulfully.
On the day of my purge, several important events occurred. After weeks of being a hermit, my mom dropped by unannounced, spending all morning with me, showering me with her love. It was in that moment my purge unexpectedly began - I became a little girl again, crying into my mother's arms. When my husband and kids returned home, I was beamed with more love, space and support. Even my dog sensed my pain, following me around all day, resting his furry face on my lap every time I cried. That same night, on a Zoom call with my classmates, we talked, listened, and cried for each other's pain and experiences. After weeks of pent-up feelings unbeknownst to me, the human connection gave way to my comeback.
Humans are social creatures. We are meant to be together. Research has shown that "pain is a particularly powerful ingredient in producing bonding and cooperating between those who share painful experiences." Like soldiers who had been through wars together, we are essentially experiencing war-like scenario for the first time in our earthly journeys. Sharing them with one another is necessary in the healing process. It is during times like this that the old-school way of talking on the phone for hours can do wonders. Do not hesitate, pick up the phone, message your loved ones, and connect heart to heart.
3. NO HELP IS TOO LITTLE
A common theme amongst my community recently has been a sense of survival guilt. What are we supposed to do and how are we supposed to feel when we are okay, while the rest of the world is not? My children are carrying on their daily school lives, while families are losing jobs, starving or dying all around us...
Since January, I've emanated nothing but strength for everyone in my family and friends, trying in my own ways to help or give outwards. Whether through donations or via writing, counseling, energy-healing, I tried to do as much as I can, anything to help anyone out there. What was received back over the months were only helplessness and hopelessness...
In this disheartened state, I wondered about my purpose?
I then came to realize that none of our efforts, albeit big or small, should ever be seen as useless. While we may not be on the frontline fighting death, we can do our part by performing the best work for ourselves and our loved ones. Live fully, when others can't. Love hard, while we still have the chance. Write, if that’s my gift. The Lotus Pond is my own way to not only become my truest self, but moreso to bring hope to other women and mothers who are experiencing similar journeys. In listing out all that I am grateful for, I realized that’s enough for now. We are all enough.
4. MAKE ATTAINABLE GOALS
In moments of stress, we fight, flight, or freeze. Fighting mode, while admirable, can sometimes lead to overextending ourselves and ignoring/distracting from real issues at hand. While we may think we're being productive by constantly "working," we could be doing more harm than good by overdoing - creating unattainable jobs and goals that in turn, break us down when we fail to achieve them. This continuous behavior can lead to burn-out, which I experienced first-hand.
As parents, we all come to meet our Type A selves, that version of us who we never thought we'd be. Although rules and routines can be great guidelines to keep us on track, it could also steer us down the wrong path if not properly set. In times like now, we are geared up to protect our children and elderly parents, this may mean we're adding extra mental, emotional and physical workload.
As a more intuitive, in-the-moment human being, I need leeway within these endless to-do’s. Inspired by my project manager husband, I created a model of loose weekly goals that instead suggest attainable, feel-good, healthy goals: Create, Move, Center, Rest. For me, Create means to write, ideate or learn something new and exciting. Move can be anything from dancing to yoga or even walking, something to get our hearts pumping. Center means meditating, mindfully living, coming back to an internal space of calm. And Rest? It means just that - rest mommies, rest - sometimes, the hardest task of them all. As long as each of these categories have been achieved that week, I give myself an A+. I choose to love myself no matter what.
5) WE'RE ALWAYS ON THE RIGHT TRACK
In trying to do a million things, helping a million people, I fell into a spiral of not feeling enough. By crying it out, connecting with loved ones, trying my best, and creating achievable goals, I found my way out of the storm. All along, I was always on the right track.
I had to remind myself of this. No matter how small of a step we may feel like we're taking everyday (even on days when we're doing absolutely nothing), know that we are exactly where we're meant to be. When our intentions are made from love, there can be no wrong.
Since that day, I wake up every morning anticipating the enchanting echoes of my mystery bird. Her coos beautifully reminding me that despite the dark uncertainties and chaos of the night before, today is a brand new day.
Give thanks. Live healthily. Love hard. That's all we can do and that is plenty.