May flowers in San Diego

Earlier today I said on social media, “Whatever you were going through before…all this? It’s still valid. Whatever you were processing, you’re allowed to do that. You don’t have to brush it aside as if it’s not important. It was then, it is now. Let yourself feel whatever and however you want.I know I am.”

It’s been two months since I went through the sort of power-shock that the rest of the world has gone through in waves. The beating of the pandemic waves upon our very shores took an immediate toll. I could see much of it coming, but had held it at bay in a kind of denial. Perhaps many of us did. We didn’t want this, nobody could ever want this.

And as I processed and adjusted and readjusted to the rapidly changing situation, I thought, . And I more or less did that. But what also happened is that I shoved all the crap I’d been processing for many months (or even a couple years) down where it lay quiet in the depths of my mind.

, I thought.

But that’s not how things work. Certainly not for me.

Oh, it did for a little while. I felt a triumphant calm. I was doing my best. And on the surface, that’s how it looked.

But down in those very depths I just spoke of? Little hurts and denials and unkempt thoughts swam and snapped at the bright shallows of my mind above.

Guess what happened next? An upwelling. In ecological terms (it’s what I got my degree in — ecology and evolutionary biology), this is equivalent to spring turnover.

And in song? I would refer to the wondrous Nickel Creek, and their song, “Jealous of the Moon” for this particular refrain:

Aye, that sums it up. I’ve tried focusing on anything and everything BUT the past, and my own feelings. Maybe many of us have. But an old friend of mine used to say (regarding moving in particular), “Wherever you go, there you are. You can move anywhere, but in three days, DING-DONG! Your baggage is at the door.”

And of course now we have to sterilize the baggage before we let it in. Well, thoughts don’t work that way.

I propose that we stop shoving back all the things we’ve pushed aside during this crisis. At least on some level, let’s face it. Let’s face the music, listen to it, let it flow, let us feel every raw emotion we’ve run from — so long as it is safe, bearable, and feasible to do so.

Or perhaps, let’s talk to someone about it. A trusted friend, a therapist, a pet, the air around us: let’s talk it out. And write it out too, and draw it out, and sing it out, and dance it out, and stretch it out. Let’s feel it out. Let’s feel all of it, when we can, when we must.

And then wrap your own love around you. You’ve made it this far, and you can keep going, and you’re necessary, beautiful, crystalline yet malleable. Now take those words to heart, and feel them, feel all of them.

J. Dianne Dotson is a science fiction and fantasy author, science and content writer, and watercolorist. Learn more at jdiannedotson.com. @jdiannedotson

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