One day, when I was swimming in the ocean in southern India, I looked behind me and saw the most enormous wave imaginable. I hesitated for a moment, then decided I could escape it if I ran fast enough through the knee-deep water between me and the sand ahead.
Wrong decision. I ended up bikini-less, bedraggled and, somehow, just-about breathing on the sand. Babu, the Indian 'lifeguard' who never once moved from his position on the beach while I was there, nodded knowingly in my direction as if to say 'you won't do that again' and I started the long process of removing a ridiculous amount of sand from my ears.
Fast-forward to today and there is another enormous wave right in my midst. I have spent a lot of this week feeling like sh*t (excuse my language but it's the only way I can get close to describing my state).
Lots of factors have combined to create the mother of all Internal Storms in my system and I don't know whether to cry or shout or just buy a ticket to Hawaii (I have a secret fantasy life playing itself out in my mind, so it's always tempting to go and see what I am up to).
And I know from experience that the only way out is through: that when you feel like sh*t, the answer is to let yourself feel like sh*t. Really give it your best effort to immerse yourself in it, feel every shade of it, dive into it rather than try to swim or run away from it. (Thank you for teaching me this lesson so thoroughly, ocean and Babu.)
So much of our culture is about 'don't cry' and 'be good' and 'seem-like-you're-doing-great' that when these kinds of feelings surface, it is hard to let them be. And mainly because we judge them.
It is tempting to numb them out or go on the run. Or do positive thinking or say an affirmation.
When what we really need is permission and support to DIVE RIGHT IN. Because we signed up for this whole thing. All of it, including the sh*t.
And what supports and holds us when we are feeling good is also right there for us when we are feeling like sh*t.
I for one am diving into this wave. Because, in spite of the depth of emotion and yuckiness I feel in my tummy, I know safe, dry land is close by and, when the waves become manageable I will float there with no effort at all.
And I will let the person behind me know to dive in too. Because we all need this message from each other as we emerge. Thank goodness for all the people who have led me to trust while I am in the midst of the storm.
May we all dive in and share our treasures with each other when we surface (and help each other remove the sand from our ears and get back onto our feet too).