By Kerri Romeo
How are you feeling?
Alice has already experienced a lot since landing in the rabbit hole and it only seems natural it would draw up some emotions. But she has little sympathy for herself as she bursts into tears:
“‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself’, said Alice, `a great girl like you,’ (she might well say this), `to go on crying in this way! Stop this moment, I tell you!’ But she went on all the same, shedding gallons of tears…” (from Alice in Wonderland, Chapter II)
How are you coping amidst all of the chaos and absurdity surrounding us? It is easy to get wrapped up in speculations and opinions (with only the occasional fact) related to the leading headlines about the presidential election (ugh…is anyone else over it?!), the pandemic and racism. Other topics (foreign policy, environment, healthcare, women’s rights, economic injustice) fill in any blank spaces. That isn’t even accounting for the stresses in our own personal lives.
Despite all the hurt, anger and outrage that is showcased in mainstream media and social media over social, political and economic issues, it is almost as if even our feelings are mistaken as opinions rather than emotions and there is little empathy in response. The drive to win; the fight for justice; the compulsion to be right: Why is our freedom of expression spewing from our heads over our hearts? Of course the issues are important, but when was the last time you cried?
How are you feeling? Are you angry? Sad? Afraid? Tired? Indifferent? Are you happy?
When Alice slips into the saltwater pool of her own tears she expects that drowning will be her punishment for crying too much. Whether in Victorian-Era England (the time and place Alice’s story reflects) or current-day America, paternalistic societies (even when led by a queen) perceive feelings as weakness. As children we are raised in a culture that teaches us to avoid, suppress and bypass emotions. As adults we become numb and disconnected. We hide, deny and rationalize issues because facing them would stir up our own sadness, guilt, shame, powerlessness and discomfort. We fear we will be drowning in forced loss or sacrifice if we are actually asked to care (how often do you notice the wounded inner child of a grown man or woman screaming “it’s not fair!” when the fortunate are called upon to help or simply have compassion for someone less fortunate?)
In our personal lives denying or ignoring our feelings may find its eventual expression in anxiety, depression, addiction and/or narcissism. In our public life, this behavior has lead to corruption, inequality, oppression, war, a pandemic and a collective trauma and depression that finds its eventual expression in uprisings and movements like #metoo and #blacklivesmatter. Society’s response? More suppression or –as Alice feared — punishment.
We have experienced a lot since landing in the rabbit hole. What if we didn’t stop the tears? What if we knew we would not drown? What if we listened to other’s stories? What if we shared our own? What can we understand better with our hearts than our minds? What if we allowed ourselves to feel? What if we expressed those feelings? Will you express those feelings? Are you curious what that would look like for the world?
How are you feeling?
“We’re not without hope, we just haven’t been seeing it. We’re not without power, we just haven’t been claiming it. We’re not without love, we just haven’t been living it” ~ Marianne Williamson (from Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment)
Learn how and why it is important to check in with yourself regularly with Dr. Cindy Nye’s Mental Health Moments:
Suicide Prevention is not just for the month of September. If you or someone you know is in an emergency at any time, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately. For more information on suicide prevention visit https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month
Ready to head for shore? Continue this series with Curious as a Cat.
Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.