I’m sitting with my back to my window, propped on a meditation pillow. One of my wonderful girls, a Border Collie cross named Sofia, is next to me with her paw resting just against my leg. My other wonderful girl, a little red terrier mix named Ginger, is resting under my right foot. We spend a lot of time like this. Just resting. Just sitting. Just touching. We’ve spent a lot of time like this over the last 11 years. These two are my truest companions. They have seen me through so much loss and change, worries and anxiety. They have been Constant.
Today, I found out that Ginger has a tumor in her liver. I was not surprised. I am very sad right now. We haven’t discussed options. Her Vet is very grounded and calm; he suggested we wait a bit – through the weekend at least. There is no rush. There’s no reason to hurry. This is not some emergency that we must jump at. There is space.
Sometimes space can be the hardest thing. You know? Jumping RIGHT NOW can feel better. For a long time, I didn’t know how to sit in space – especially space that was filled with hurt or sadness or regret. I wanted to move it. Shift that feeling. Get somewhere else FAST. ATTACK IT!!!!
Now, I’m just sitting.
I wasn’t taught to sit still by therapists that I visited. I was taught to cope, but coping usually meant trying to change what I was feeling rather than to just FEEL what I was feeling and know that it was enough. I learned about sitting with emotions through my mindfulness practice, which I’ve been engaging in since the mid 90s (sometimes with great fervor and other times with barely a thought). I won’t lie to you and tell you that I always do it well. I don’t. I have a pretty good history of running from or suppressing my feelings, but when I can sit still….the world opens up. I can see that nothing is wrong. Not really. All is well.
Nothing is wrong with the space that I’m in right now. I am sad. If I wasn’t sad, then I wouldn’t be sad. But I am. It’s exactly what I should feel right now, BECAUSE I AM FEELING IT. It’s ok. This sadness is expected. This sadness is actually sweet in some ways. It allows me to feel grateful for all the time I’ve had with Ginger, and it allows me to know gratitude for what I have right this minute, which is a warm body under my foot and the tip of a paw touching my arm. My sadness is warm and full. I feel it as a weight in my body. I don’t have to run from it. I can embrace my tears, and the burn in my eyes, and the fact that I am getting sleepy (one of my sadness symptoms over the course of my life). I can be in this space.
Learning that emotions weren’t deadly was one of the biggest lessons I had to swallow. Emotions are part of the human experience. They are teachers. Learning to just be with emotions – not to feed them or starve them or change them – is a gift. The world has more color with them than it does without.
So today I’m sitting with Sadness. It isn’t constant, mind you. It rises and falls like a breath. One moment it’s deep and quite sharp. The next moment it is soft and sweet and warm. In another moment I’m basking in gratitude. And then the moment changes.
Over and over again.