We need healing spaces.
We need spaces where we can be messy. Where we can cry. Where we can tell the truth about where we’re struggling. Where we can be seen in both our struggle and our brilliance by other people who “get it.”
I think that other people “getting it” can be really key.
I remember the first time I went to an Al-Anon meeting how much relief I felt.
I had felt so alone. I had just left an abusive relationship, and I missed my partner so much.
The format of a group of people with some shared underlying struggles being real with each other, opened my tear ducts and my heart. I began to heal because I began to see and hold myself with more compassion than I could when sobbing alone in my room at home.
Together we can hold what we cannot as easily hold alone.
I have felt the power of intentional containers for holding big emotions, big journeys.
When I did an intensive, residential, semester-long leadership program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health about 10 years ago, I remember so clearly experiencing the idea that a breakdown can be a breakthrough.
What I would add is… if it’s well supported.
Feelings are a natural part of the healing and growth process.
What's unnatural is when we feel like we have to hide them. When we can't share with each other about where we're really at.
A breakdown can be a breakthrough if you're supported.
And that’s so much more easily the case when there are larger structures of support holding you.
Going back to my experience at Al Anon... suddenly, in that room, I could feel. I could cry in a way that felt different than when I was on my own... I was held. There was compassion in the air. I could be real about what was happening, without having to censor or worry about my feelings being too big for somebody else to hold. Because we had a larger container.
At the end of the first Queer Body Love retreat I hosted, one of the participants, a native New Yorker, said at the end that she had never understood the hippie dippie California phrase about "holding space"... until the retreat. At the retreat, she felt how powerful a group of people with shared life experiences and intentions "holding space" for each other in those yurts in the woods could be.
Find spaces that can hold you. That can hold all parts of you.
For folks whose bodies have been multiply marginalized, this can be challenging to find. I sit writing this with the heartbreak and also the longing to be part of the creation of such spaces. I see them emerging all over the place, and I know that in some ways they're still rare.
I didn't realize when I began Queer Body Love two and a half years ago that there would be such a longing for community around the very particular intersections of queerness, body image, food and self love. What QBL spaces aims to hold has expanded and deepened, and will continue to do so, because I have experienced both the value and also the pain that can come when you seek healing and then you don't feel seen or supported for parts of who you are.
Seek people and spaces who will meet you. Know that if you feel shamed or not welcome because of your feelings... it's not about you.
You and your feelings are not too much.
Some people and spaces might not be able to hold them and you, and that doesn't mean that you are not worthy or that you're not too much. It means that we have opening and healing to do -- together -- to be able to meet each other more fully.
P.S. I heard about this online "Cry Club" Tumblr started by some folks in extended Bay Area community here where people post images of themselves crying. I've thought of it often when crying alone.