I went to a church service yesterday to see my husband sing. During the prayer at the end of her sermon, the Pastor referred to four victims of two separate tragic crimes which occurred in our town last week. I was tearing up as we said Amen. My husband's solo was immediately afterward and then the congregation sang Amazing Grace. Talk about a triple whammy. I couldn’t stop crying.
I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t look at anyone. All I could do was cry. And feel. All the feelings at once: proud of my husband, grateful for him and our marriage, love for his family who was there, and for my family that is far away, grief for the crime victims, grief for losses in our family, for friends fighting cancer. Each feeling was connected to the next until they became one giant pulsing emotion.
After the service, my husband received several compliments on his solo. “You brought your wife to tears,” commented one white haired lady with a smile. My sweet husband smiled and rubbed my arm. He knew the truth.
I don’t know the victims of the homicides in our town. That doesn’t make the violence any less senseless, the losses any less tragic and horrific. I think of their grieving families and my heart breaks.
At home, my husband came downstairs after changing out of his suit to find me lying on the couch weeping again. He came over to comfort me but didn’t speak. “You know what’s weird?” I sniffed, “Right now, I’m crying because I’m so grateful that everyone I love is alive.”
He sat with me for a while, then left to make us some tea. I got down on the floor with my dog Charlie. He’s a very emotionally intelligent creature. (I have a friend who refers to him as a Buddha.) I curled up beside him and he touched his nose to the top of my head and we stayed this way for a while. I called to my husband to come and take this photo because this was real. This is what it looks like to be a sensitive, emotional human being who gets overwhelmed by feeling and thinking and loving. Sometimes I just can’t move.
My husband is a sensitive empathic soul as well. He says “It’s a blessing and a curse.” I don’t necessarily think it’s ever a curse but it isn’t always easy or fun.
Friends who read my blog and Facebook posts often compliment me on my positivity and gratitude practice. I appreciate that people notice. That’s the upside. I usually don’t discuss the flipside, but I feel called to talk about it today.
As one of my favorite writers/self-help Gurus, Glenn Doyle Melton says, “Life is hard—not because we’re doing it wrong, just because it’s hard.”
When we live fully, when we love fully, when we appreciate life as much as we can, life is difficult. That shit hurts. When we drift through our days without looking around or being passionate about things, it can be easier. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve thrown up my head back and wailed “Why do I have to care so much?" knowing that if I cared less, I'd hurt less.
The thing is if I didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t be me. If I didn’t check cardboard boxes along the road to make sure there aren’t kitten inside, if I didn’t weep when I read the last Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book, then I also wouldn’t connect with the performers I work with or be in tune with my pets’ health. It’s all the same muscle. Is it my brain or my heart or my soul? Or a combination of the three? I have no idea but it’s real.
I know I'm not the only soul like myself out there. We're trained from a young age to be ashamed of our emotional selves and hide them. So what do you do when the feelings get to be too much?