So there is this brave, brilliant and much wounded lady who I have known for some time. Life has not treated her kindly recently. I’ve sat with her and watched her fight to suppress feelings. Sometimes there are flashes of pain and rage, and the glorious manic pixie she used to be before she stopped doing those things. This is hard for me, because I know a bit about how this works. Five or six years ago, I probably looked like that too. I was forcing control on an unruly body in the hopes of remaining tolerable and acceptable.
I am a creature of intensity and my natural condition “swings from high to deep, extremes of sweet and sour” as James so eloquently put it. (They could have written ‘sit down’ for me). Yesterday was all about the slightly dangerous giggling. I was high on nearly finishing the draft of a novel, and with a lot of exciting things going on. I’ve had a lot of lows in the last week, and the week before there was full on howling. Such is my nature. The things that matter to me are keenly felt. I live a vast and technicoloured emotional spectrum where the blacks are very black indeed and the bright stuff burns people. Not always just me.
I have tried being normal. To tone myself down, I have to crush all the things that also give me energy, drive, and inspiration. I’ve tried living there, it’s a sort of death. I frequently wander about with a mute button on, so as to be more bearable. People who find me too much are depressing. People who find me ridiculous, really aren’t a bonus (those who find themselves ridiculous sit down next to me). I find it exhausting being around people when I have to mute, so I keep to a minimum time spent in spaces where it isn’t appropriate to be who I am. It isn’t easy to judge, especially if I’m in pain, so I tend to err on the side of caution, steeping away and muting in order to survive.
I choose this path. I choose it very deliberately. I do not want the calm that comes from not feeling anything much. I’ve tried being numb, and dead and convenient, and it does not agree with me. The best that I am and the worst that I am, the most difficult and the most alive are all the same things. Fire in my head, howling at the moon, giggling with the little whirlwinds, falling in love with landscapes and people and stories and surprised deer. I choose a path that invites ecstasy and agony. I choose to be heartbroken. I choose to feel so much that it threatens to break me apart.
If I do not feel my way through this life, if I do not let it move me, inspire me, hurt me to the core of my being, knock me down, bowl me over, set me on fire… I am not me, and I am not living. I do not want to transcend this life. I do not want to be safe or saved from an excess of feeling.
Although no doubt sometimes it will also be messy and difficult, I will hold that space for being real and alive for anyone who wants to bring me their own howling, living self. I won’t always get it right, because when feelings are running high and wild, there is more to get wrong. Equally, if you can look at all this and say yes to it, then I will gift you as best I am able with all the magic and lunatic creativity I can manage when I feel able to be myself.