past pain, present healing.

This post was originally featured on The Babe Collective

“I am capable of pure love, of unconflicted emotion.”

The words finally came out of me, the antidote to the crawling of anxiety that slowly moved from the center of my brain into each of my limbs, itchy with frustration.

Trapped in the mind state of “what the fuck am I doing here? Maybe this is what failure really is - the limbo of unknown, unpassionate, and utterly confused. Will I ever change? Or improve? How am I feeling? What am I feeling? What do I want to do? What am I really trying to say?”

I was tangled in my confusion, on my back, in bed. 

“Why did I leave? What was I hoping to find? And what’s the point of all this searching?”

I thought back to a time of similar writhing 9 months prior, but for an entirely different reason. 

Nine months before, I was moaning on the floor of the small back bedroom I was renting in my friends' house. I was recovering from cries that had wrung my gut completely dry.

I had done so from a place of unbridled longing for a relationship gone wrong, and the feeling of grief over the kind of death that requires conscious effort to leave it without breath. 

I reached out to a friend for relief, who provided me with this advice: 

“Longing is one of the most intense and deeply felt feelings of the human experience. Savor it. It's a gift."

I took her advice.

Not fully understanding how it would benefit me, I let myself feel the gut wrench and abandonment. I bottled up a little bit of it to carry with me. 

Nine months later, in the basement of my parents’ house, unsure if I up and left my corporate young professional life due to a breakdown or breakthrough, I called on that experience for proof that I had, in fact, been certain at times previously. That I had not always been a confused mess. That no matter how disheveled I felt in that moment, I would come back together again. One way or another.

The pain was a reminder that I have been, and would be again, capable of pure love - of unconflicted emotion. 

I didn't expect that allowing myself to feel the pain of longing would come to benefit me in the future; I thought that feeling my pain was, at best, a way to get through the moment without reaching for things that wouldn't serve me.

It served its purpose then, and continues to do so now. 

It seems simple enough - feel your emotions in order to heal them - but this experience, in particular, has been revelatory for me. It's serving as my reminder that the answer is really never to "figure out" my confusion and anxiety - the answer is to remember my certainty;  and to lose the illusion of control. It's to forget about trying to figure everything out, and to acknowledge when I'm feeling like a fragment of myself in the moment. The answer is to remember a time when I felt very pure.

Even though my longing didn't feel beautiful at the time of its experience, I can see the ways that its healing has multiplied, being born again and again as I let my anxieties unfold, just by letting myself feel it, purely and completely.

I am capable of pure love - of unconflicted emotion. And I can return here as often as I like. 

Maddie Wise