I was a wreck all last week, crying pretty much every day. Initially distraught that so many people chose to support the mean-spirited direction our country has been heading. Then sad because I thought Biden was going to lose. Then tears of happiness as things started to turn around. Then a deluge of pure relief. The whole week was exhausting, and I know I’m not alone in that.
A funny thing about me is that when I was younger, I rarely cried. I used to roll my eyes when my mom would cry. Now I cry all the time. I appreciate and value the release of a good cry. The cathartic experiencing of sadness in order to move through it and let it go. I used to squish it down, afraid of being messy, embarrassed by emotions. Now, my life revolves around emotions. Feeling my own and supporting others in exploring and expressing theirs.
Which is to say that things change. People change. Opinions change. Attitudes change. Feelings most definitely change.
Throughout this election season I have simultaneously been participating in a writing class called Revision Season (which has been awesome! All of you writers out there should check it out…another session starting in January!). I started class seven weeks ago by casting back, looking inward, examining experiences, memories, and relationships that influence my writing. My last week of revision focused on my book’s themes and the idea that thinking deeply about my work requires thinking deeply about myself—my past, my beliefs, my fears and dreams. My personal belief about what it means to be human is what I’m sharing in this book. Yet that is not a static thing.
Elana K. Arnold, our amazing teacher and a powerful writer, suggested that at particular moments in time, we are capable of writing certain stories, while at other points, we could never create that same tale. She shared her own experience with one of her novels and how she couldn’t write that book now, because writing the story changed her. And in being different, she wouldn’t be able to explore the themes of that book in the same way.
I see this in my therapy work, too. When people realize certain things about themselves, they may not be able to live the same life they did before. It’s why they fight so hard not to realize those things. It is the scary part of growth and change—the letting go, the losing something to gain something else—the unknown of it all.
I’m hoping that’s what’s happening in our country. I hope you and I and millions of other people are changing, realizing things about America that we didn’t see before. I hope we can let go of outdated narratives and brave the uncertainty of integrating new knowledge and understanding.
As I’m writing this, it has started raining. It hasn’t rained here in months, and it feels significant.
A cleansing. A release. Nourishment for new growth. There’s a chill in the air, finally feeling like fall, a change of season.
As Elana says…Onward!
Kathy Andre says
Great points Holly. Change is hard. It take vulnerability, courage, humanity and a general willingness to seek to understand other points of view. That is clearly needed as opposed to doubling down on what we believe, think or care about. Asking, empathizing and trying to see it through the eyes of others will, I believe, be our path forward — day by day, bit by bit, conversation by conversation.
Thanks for the inspiration and relatability.
Katherine Mario says
Beautifully said. And I love the part about the rolling of the eyes as witnessing your mother’s sentimentality.
We can cry about feeling powerless but more likely for me is identifying with pain of others — how would I feel
in the situation they are experiencing. Or witnessing sadness in others that I too have experienced. Even a
pet feeling pain can move us to also feel that pain for the innocent animal.
This week’s rollercoaster also brought fear for me. The longer the virus continues unchecked, the bigger the chance
that I will get it; that I will die; that I will die without seeing my children or grandchildren again!
For me, ONWARD is, rather, hanging on.