I was visiting with my friend, Mary Beth, on the phone today. I flopped onto my bed, shutting the door to my two boy's playing in the other room, and ran my fingers through the ties on the quilt as we talked. She had reached out in an email earlier this week saying that she was feeling a little off with all that has been going on and just wanted to tell me she loved me and was thinking of me. We leaned on each other for an hour, from afar, a virtual embrace. We have both been feeling the ache of an unfamiliar feeling we can't quite identify.
It seems an unsavory current is running beneath the surface of our lives, like the slight bitterness one tastes when the almonds in a dessert are over-browned, a hint of undesirable flavor on your palate. The almonds don't ruin the dessert as a whole, they bring a delicate essence and a satisfying bite, but the tinge to their otherwise sweet flavor lingers after the fork is placed back on the plate.
And so the tinge of feeling sits on our chests during this time of unrest, a bit unsavory yet hard to recognize.
The majority of people I have spoken with lately have felt similarly. The ache ebbs and flows, sometimes overwhelming daily tasks and other times leaving the slightest incongruities in our routines. It is always there, though, resting at the back of the palate.
For me it is as though my logic and my heart are at odds; the way I see things vs the way they feel. Logic has a strong voice. He very clearly states this is just a blip in time, a short chapter in our lives, a way to build character, and it shall pass. I am remarkably blessed, he reminds me. His words are true.
My heart whispers to me from under the covers at night. She says, "I feel empty, like there is something missing, something life-sustaining."
Logic hushes the whispers, he dismisses her delicate words, talks over her, interrupts her before she can finish sharing.
For weeks I took logic's side and did my best to hush the whispers. I tried to turn her worry around with the aspects of my days that were blessings. She quit whispering. Instead she got down on her knees and looked up at me with deep pools in her eyes and cried for me to listen.
So, I sat with her. I embraced her. I listened to how lonely and unsettled she felt. I ran my fingers through her hair as she trembled with a longing for connection. And, she quieted. She leaned into the embrace of being seen, of being heard, and she was comforted.
What I have learned is that I need to embrace the fact that I am feeling these unfamiliar feelings instead of trying to talk myself out of them. I know things will be OK. I know I am blessed. And... I have finally come to recognize that during this time I am also worried, sad, and lonely in a way I have not felt before. I can not reason away these feelings.
Most days I do well. I carry on, taking each task one at a time, and make my way through until I can finally crawl into bed. Then I try my best to recognize the feelings that have been subtly putting pressure on my heart and embrace them so that they, too, may rest for the night. One day at a time I play out this routine. It is my new normal, until the day I am again able to actually physically embrace those that I love and fill my cup back to brimming.
To all of you and yours, I hope this finds you healthy and taking one day at a time. Remember to embrace those things that feel different, challenging, overwhelming, and desperate in these times. Give them their due time to express themselves. In doing so, you give your heart an embrace that she has been pleading for.
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