August 29, 2014

Love and Let Go

I spoke at my grandma's funeral. More accurately, I spoke, cried, spoke some more, sobbed, and spoke again. Later I described the event to my therapist. She said, "You felt. You trusted your feelings, Joy." And then she gave me a hug. 

I did inhabit my feelings on that July weekend in 2010. I allowed (publicly!) for sadness, love, regret, and gratitude. I laid open my heart. 

"Don't tell me what you think. Tell me what you feel," my therapist used to say. Most of my life I'd spent in my head: thinking, planning, or judging. I could analyze an issue. I could understand the reasons for my anxiety or self-doubt. But nothing really changed until I opened my heart. I found sadness needn't overwhelm, but it longs to be felt. And I unraveled my protective armor--armor that spared me hurt yet also denied me love.

Just last night, I sat on my back porch, crying. Many of my close friends are in difficult situations. If I love completely, my heart will be broken. Yet it will also burst with joy. Things only get murky when I believe I can save people. In this mode, my sadness morphs into fear and I retreat to my mind. I try to think of an escape. 

From Mary Oliver's "In Blackwater Woods":
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let go,
to let go."

My therapist again: "Joy, your life and growth will mean continually giving up control." Let go. When I emerge from my murkiness, I find balance between loving and letting go. I feel without the delusion of control. My heart expands. A smile forms naturally. I accept all the blessings of pure, unbounded love.


  1. What a beautiful post, Joy. The journey from thinking to feeling is not easy, but I know very worth it. Thanks for sharing your heart and your love.

    1. thanks, steph. it's an honor to be on the journey with you. love and hugs!

  2. "If I love completely, my heart will be broken." Yes, it may, but you will be stronger for it, a different person, yes, but joy will be there to embrace you once more.

    1. beautiful, wise words, katie. and i know you know this place. thank you.

  3. This is the post I needed to read today. My therapist says the same to me, I think, I don't feel. I have lost the ability to feel and don't know how to get it back. Right now in a moment of big change I feel week, lost and alone. So much that I'm partly thinking of going back to the old world. I know that is madness. Still the thought of old safe feels very comfortable right now.

    Such beautiful post Joy.

    1. oh, agnes, i understand. we humans crave safety and certainty. old habits and lives, even if unwholesome, can feel comfortable, because we know them. be patient. continue to listen inward. this is what my therapist called a "terror barrier." cross over and be patient, notice what happens. you can go back--that's okay--but perhaps you're strong enough to move forward. i think you're stronger than you realize.