On feelings.

Holly Golightly:  You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak:  The mean reds?  You mean like the blues?
Holly:  No.  The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all.  The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.  Do you ever get that feeling?
-Breakfast at Tiffany’s


Deep down inside, I’ve had a case of the mean reds recently.  A few things have led to this feeling.  The passing of a grandmother.  The unexpected loss of two beloved pets.  The decision to move an aunt to hospice care.  Each of these events in quick succession.  Each in my peripheral, but directly affecting my loved ones.  Not so close that I’m shaken to my center, but close enough to cause a grey cloud of mortality to settle over me.  Close enough to bring little pangs of heartache.  And close enough to make me ask the question:  would it be better to just not feel?  To just be numb?  To live life as emotionally removed as possible?  What price would eliminate those mean reds altogether?

There have also been some really, really amazing moments recently.  Moments that are defined by the people.

Like when Kevin and I met Kelly and Nelson for burgers and we laughed so hard that my sides hurt – a common theme because a BBQ at their house two weeks later brought the same laughter and the beautifully aching ribs.

Moments that span the length of a day. Like playing adventurer with Leann and Kelsey through a market in an old rail yard station, a trip to the botanical gardens and aquarium, and a hilarious (and delicious) experience at a hole-in-the-wall with really tasty popsicles and an unusual combination of ingredients in a Doritos bag bowl.

Or when I was shopping with Lisa and she tried on a suit two sizes too large and said that she felt like one of the Three Stooges from the old cartoon.  And we couldn’t stop laughing because, well, that was the perfect description.

And then there was last Saturday…catching up with an elementary school friend over brunch and a long walk.

Celebrating my mom and Kevin’s mom’s birthdays with a cozy, relaxed backyard grill-fest – nothing fancy, just sitting around the table, listening to stories and the robin chirping, enjoying the celebration and time with our family.

A concert on a warm summer night – standing on a lawn packed with people, shoulder to shoulder with a couple of friends, singing along at the top of my lungs.

And it struck me.

The price for numbness:  sacrificing the moments of pure bliss.

Because after all – if you can’t feel the pain…well, you’re going to miss out on the joy.

And joy trumps the pain.

So.  I’ll keep the feelings.

What helps you when you’re feeling down?  What moments of bliss have you felt recently? 


11 thoughts on “On feelings.

  1. Sorry you’ve been feeling the mean reds lately, but glad you are finding balance. I like to remember this, above the clouds the sun is always shining.

  2. As you know, my Grandpa only has a few months left to live. The only way I get out of my funk over that is to focus on what we’ve had for so many years (memories, experiences, conversation) and what will live on through others and me (personality traits, jokes, stories, etc).

    I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with so much lately. It’s fortunate that you have such a sweet, supportive group of family and friends who really know how to show you a good time. Keep your chin up!

  3. Exactly. I love that you say the price of numbness is missing out on the bliss. Enduring every human emotion is necessary, although so hard sometimes. But the joyful ones make up for the rest. Hang in there.

  4. Love, love, love this. You are so right that even though there is so much tough stuff in this life, it’s worth it to feel the hard feelings because then we can also feel the amazing, happy feelings. Lately, I have felt so much bliss and happiness coming from others through support and help as Jimmy and I are getting ready for the big day. It never ceases to amaze me by how much others have just been helping us. It’s amazing! Warm weather has also been amazing, too!!

  5. I’m so sorry about all the tough moments you’ve had lately. I’ve had a similar last few months and this quote and actually the whole book Bitter Sweet by Shauna Nieqist helped put things in perspective for me. “When life is sweet say thank you and celebrate, when life is bitter say thank you and grow.” Love you friend!

  6. I loved this and needed this reminder. I’m sorry for all the hard stuff, but I’m happy that you still have moments of pure bliss.

  7. I’m so sorry that you’ve been having a rough time lately, but I love your honesty and the inspiration that you drew from your heartache! (And I hate to ask, but you mentioned the loss of a pet…are Kiki and Flo okay?? Is Bailey Goldendoodle okay? I feel panicked!)

  8. we sure do have to take the good with the bad, don’t we? it sounds trite, i suppose, but being open to the beauty of small moments also means you’re vulnerable to the hurt of the much larger, harder moments. i take comfort in knowing that however bad things seem to get, at least i have a wonderful network of people that remind me what’s good and true and lovely. another thing that helps is a winnie-the-pooh saying (silly, fine, but i like it) : ‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ it’s not always goodbye, per se, but the pain usually comes from having something you love altered or changed – but at least you have it to love in the first place, right?

  9. I am sending you LOTS of love, and wish I could give you a big ol’ hug. I love that you are getting out and about and doing things that lift your spirit despite feeling down. Optimism is key!

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