II. Bodies and feelings are central to healing. We aren’t alive without them.
We have forgotten how to feel deeply.
And, it’s likely even worse than that, since it’s not just a matter of forgetting. We have created systems to live within, and have family histories of behaviour, that actively squash the feelings out of us.
It is okay to feel your feelings.
It makes you human to feel your feelings.
It makes you human to be in a body, feeling feelings.
My belief here is that underneath almost everything that people are struggling with, whether it looks emotional or mental or physical in nature, there is at least some degree of estrangement from their own feelings. As in, we go through our childhoods and they mould us in ways that teach us to abandon some of our own feelings in order to belong. When we jettison feelings, for whatever reason, we also disconnect ourselves from desire, choice, and boundaries. These are all the domain of the sacral chakra. Without access to your sacral chakra (which we will talk about later), it becomes really, really hard to do other things - like dream, imagine, create, and hold boundaries, etc.
We can look at this from the perspective of the body, too. If the circumstances of your growing up made it hard for you to be in your body, then it’s really hard to be with your feelings as they are happening. The hard thing could be abuse, but it could also simply be that you come from a family that doesn’t do bodies: little unstructured outside time, food that is hard on your body, no walking outside - just car to mall to McDonald’s drive thru. Families that don’t do bodies often don’t do feelings.
Or you could come from a family that does intense body stuff: maybe your mom struggles with anorexia and exercises all the time. I remember in Toronto walking my dog through Cedar Vale Ravine park one time when I was pregnant and I saw an unhealthily skinny woman running with her daughter, who was maybe 5 or 6. The daughter too was unhealthily skinny. I was shocked. Kids should be plump if they’re eating healthy food for the most part and that’s the shape that their body wants to be. They need that storage of body fat for growing up. They need to have the body that they have at that moment.
To make a big difference in how you feel feelings, it’s fruitful to focus on finding out the rules that your own family has around feeling feelings: are certain feelings allowed? How can they be expressed? What if your feelings were complicated or didn’t match the norm of the family, or larger cultural climate? I think here of British stoicism, for example, which managed to strangle the emotional expression of entire generations and separate them from their own softer, messier feelings.
Allopathic thinking says depression is brain chemistry, but I think it’s really how we have been estranged from our feelings. Which is, in itself, a big complicated ball of stuff to untangle. Say you were taught that to get love in your family you couldn’t be sad, or disappointed, or frustrated. Every single time these feelings rose up in you, you had to master them or be put in your room, or called a name, “whiny brat, ungrateful…” Soon you get this big person who doesn’t have the first clue how to feel the genuine feelings that are at the centre of their human-ness. That person now has to make big person choices in the world: work, a partner, what they want in and of their life, but the inbuilt knowing mechanism that is inside them doesn’t work. They don’t have the first goddamn clue how to ask anything of their own guts. This wondering and wandering, “who am I?” “what do I want?” is not informed by a consciously known drive from within.