Feel The Feels / by Anita Cheung

The other day, I woke up feeling pretty much on top of the world. 8 Hours of sleep, sunshine pouring into my bedroom, and it was a Sunday. Recipe for a good day, am'right? 

I reached over to pick up my phone to check messages and social media and the first message I saw was this, from one of my best friends the night before: 


*Names changed. Also, backstory: Josh is my ex from uni whom at one point in my naive, young 20 year old mind, I thought I was going to marry one day. Kristin is a girl who dated Josh for a bit until I came into the picture. For most of university, he didn't have very nice things to say about her to me and I always felt like she didn't like me very much despite having mutual friends. Juicy goss stage is set. 

Oh, and the "You were Right" bit- just the day before, I had speculated with my friend that I had a feeling they were dating. Women's intuition.. what what. 

Upon reading this, I felt like my heart dropped into my stomach. And immediately, my brain started to fire: 

"Wow. _(insert snide comment here)___" 
"Why are you even upset? The relationship crashed and burned at the end and you dated someone else."
"You're above all that anyway. You're in such a better place now."
"Don't think too much about it. Focus on all the cool shit you're doing!" 

And I get it.
Thank you Brain for trying to be my voice of reason. However, all these rational thoughts were starting to suffocate me and I felt fuzzy, disoriented, and wanted to get to the bottom of how I truly felt about this. 


One thing I've picked up recently, and have been teaching in many of my classes, is to let the dust settle. All the thoughts I had, albeit great at attempting to comfort me, were simply stirring up more dust. An alternative way to look at it is the thoughts were quick to smother me in blankets and hurry me along to the next thing so I couldn't even really feel or process what I felt. Great survival mechanism, but not serving me in this case.

So I started writing. I pulled out a notebook and just wrote down whatever came to mind. Why I thought this bothered me (even when I don't have any romantic feelings for him.) How I feel about the situation. What questions I had. The question that kept coming up was this:

"I wonder if he regrets our relationship?" 

And I was stuck. I couldn't get past that thought or the story that he "chose" me all those years ago and here he was backtracking. That perhaps deep in his mind he regrets the years we had together because they were years he could've had with her. I know. Crazy. I didn't know why this thought persisted or why it bothered me so much so I decided to stop focusing on what's going on in someone else's mind and focus on my own.

So I meditated, quelle surprise.

I knew the more I focused on thoughts, the more they would just swirl around and shapeshift in my head. I was re-introduced to a meditation recently in which the focus is less on breath or thoughts and more so on how the heart feels. Now before your eyes glaze over, I, too, was skeptical at first. When I was first told to bring my attention to "the sensations around my heart", my scientific brain took over and I thought: "The heart doesn't FEEL things, and besides, this idea we have of our heart is totally romanticized".In that first instance, I simply said-

I don't feel anything.

I was told by the person guiding me through this exercise-

exactly. It's because you've been building up all these walls, you can't access that part of you right now. 

So what does one do when we're shut out? Well, just like we would if we were locked out in real life. We knock. Gently. We approach, treading softly, with gifts of patience and compassion and layer by layer, feelings and stories unfold. 

In this case, it came back to this almost child-like feeling of

being afraid that I am, in the end, unloveable.

Not good enough to be loved.


Just like you would cradle and soothe a child who was feeling that way, I gave my little icebox heart a warm hug. Instead of brushing off the things I was feeling, I gave myself space to feel this way while gently reassuring myself that I am loveable.

And little by little, the more i did this, the better I felt with the situation. Was I thrilled about it? No- but when is anyone ever stoked to see their ex find someone else first? However, the whimpering inner child was acknowledged and I was definitely starting to feel at peace with it all. When the dust settled, I found clarity and this clarity reminded me that my path is the only one I need to worry about.

I know, this sounds pretty absurd and a bit of a roundabout way to a resolution. After all, my brain told me from the start to "focus on my own cool shit". However, had I gone that route, I would not have had the chance to process or acknowledging my feelings, and just like a child who feels neglected, I knew the feelings would continue to bubble up at inopportune times and take the shape of a bitter bitch. 


So after I had this moment with myself, I went for brunch with friends and told them about what happened. Friends are great at making you feel better- at least in the short term. They remind us that we're "sooo much better off without him anyway". While I love my friends to bits and these  words definitely work to cheer us up; by believing these bandaid statements, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We layer on these blankets, suffocating our poor little hearts from feeling the things it wants to feel. Eventually we forget what it feels like to emote from the heart and not the head. In the end, our feelings just want to be acknowledged. Rather than seeking someone else to fill the gap and do the job (hello rebound!), who better to acknowledge these feelings than ourselves.

It is a little bit scary to dig away and a whole lot frightening to open the Pandora's box of feels but trust me on this one, it is incredibly liberating. 

Side note: It's funny how the Universe presents these situations to you when you're ready. It has been over a year and a half with absolutely no word, sight, nor contact with Josh despite living in such a "small world" Vancouver. However, I had recently started to consider calling off my "Man Detox" that i launched last May and sought out some guidance/ personal development around relationships to dig through the emotional muck and baggage I (along with everyone else) carry around. One week later, boom- this. 

Okay, I'll take my woo-woo beliefs and go now.