I have had this ‘bit’ weighing on me for all of my sixty-two years. The damned thing just will not go away. I had hoped that, with my “maturing” and with some measure of confidence attained, I would ,at some point in my life-journey, no longer be vulnerable to the insecurities and uncertainties accompanying “airing” my feelings. Perhaps “next year.” But for now … at the present … it is still a nagging pain in the asterisk.
You see, the deal is that I was raised in an environment that discouraged … no, that is to gentle … disallowed any “airing” of One’s feelings. In fact, the admission of even having feelings is granted certain “Weaker Vessels” and then only with an accompanying dose of disdainful disregard toward those who are so weak of psychological characteristics as to have a need for such an open admission of a less than concrete constitution. To have a disposition given to mention of emotions or feelings is to admit One’s inability to “handle these most-intimate of personal matters for themselves … in solitary privity."
So how was a young man … with a personality and temperament given to experiencing every element of living at the emotional level of consciousness; knowing every aspect of life in terms of passions, sentiment, feelings, and affections … to learn how to develop those sets of innate responses? From what source was such a young man to be educated, mentored, guided, admonished, and nurtured? Who, in an environment that cherished emotional sterility, was to be the model for me … yes (no shock to any who have known me for more that a few sentences of communication) for Me. For, you see, My dear Reader, I was directed, at every moment of confrontation with my natural pre-dispositions, to avoid “airing the laundry” of my thoughts, and, of course, those feelings and emotions that were destined to follow that dreaded circumstance of thinking.
“We do not air our personal laundry in public” was the handily applied aphorism that was broad-brushed over this particular aspect of living. “Keep it to yourself” was, and is, the controlling mandate of all in that environment. So, I made an on-going and valiant effort to “stifle” my Self. This went on for the first forty years of my life. I prayed prayers of fervent “Please God take away all of these questions that no one else is asking and content to live without answers to. Please, I beg You, remove these emotions and passions!” I would beg … right into my early forties.
Then, I began to see the validity of the questions. I began to accept the merits of the passions. I started to realize the wonder of having been created perfectly … as I am. I began to learn to speak what I had never heard spoken by anyone else in my world. I slowly experimented with addressing what I sensed in others … their withheld feelings and emotional needs. And they responded in the manner of a starving child presented with the breast of nurturing and sustaining life. Men, women, and especially children … in whom the flame of human sensitivities had yet to be beaten down by the suppressing forces of a world afraid of something that it had neither controls over nor means of addressing. The children are all-too-willing to “air” their wonderful feelings, ask their impossible questions, and voice their sterile-thinking shattering thoughts of infinite possibilities. This is what I tried to express in the Profile that I wrote at the outset of this blog when I said:
“I find joy in awakening Imagination and endorsing the expression of Emotion in children as well as arousing Emotion and awakening child-worthy Imagination in adults.”
I don’t know that I can improve on that statement at this juncture … now two and a half years later.
So, why now … here? Because two things have prodded and nudged me to make this feeble effort to address this matter of openly disgorging years of a pent-up tangle of familial, religious, corporate, personal, and societal values, standards, rules, and constitutions. First is that I allowed … yes allowed … for no one can impose any feelings on me … I allowed my itty-bitty tutus to get hurt. Yep, this six foot two inch hulk of former Marine Sergeant, Once Corporate Management Leader, Ordained Deacon, Owner/Operator of heavy construction company, gets his little feelings hurt … because he let them get hurt.
I chose to care about how others respond to my sometimes-clumsy efforts to give vent to feelings, impressions, and emotions that I have no standards or formulae to go by, in giving voice to. So, I have awkwardly stepped on some toes of sensitivity and/or delicacy. I know not in what particular way or at what point. But I, in my absurdly accurate intuitive way of sensing these things, am clearly aware of the chill of offense taken … or suspicious doubt employed by some who I genuinely like and would want to like me in return. And I let my Self feel it. Because, damn it, I do care! And I have no remote desire to deaden myself to that care. Even at the expense of potential injury to my delicate little tutus (feelings.)
But I was willing to bury this subject that I have struggled with for so long, for yet a while longer. Because there is simply too much of “Me” wrapped up in all of these considerations. It is too “personal.” But that dratted Lady Muse punched me in the ribs with my overhearing a couple at a party that I attended Sunday. They were discussing, with some gathered around, their feelings about some of the neighborhoods that they have been looking for a new home in. And they have encountered deed-restricted rules against hanging (“airing” to my pre-sensitized ears) laundry on outdoor lines “in sight of the public.” And (of course) I heard (in my own life-history pre-set awareness) “We do not air our laundry with others.” And I knew that I had not overheard the discussion out of some remote “coincidence.” (Darn that Lady Muse, anyhow!) Now, mind you, I am fully aware of the truest application of the time-honored “Do not air your dirty laundry in public.” And I do subscribe to the underlying wisdom of keeping life’s dirty little secrets private and … well … secret.
But the world that I grew up in, and have contact with to this day, has stretched that bit of aphorism to include ANY and ALL disclosure, mention, discussion, or admission of feelings, emotions, or intimate inclinations. … of any sort, kind, or description. The application of the rigid standard that “We do not discuss our feelings!” is glossed over with the broad-brush application of the aforesaid “laundry” maxim. And it is, in my personal estimation, and to my own individual sensitivities … crippling. And I am doing my dead-level best to learn how to overcome many years worth of the crippling effects of that early life. I may not have it smoothed to perfection … but my efforts at expressing the sincere workings of my Heart, as I am aware of them, when I am aware of them, and to whomever they are intimately intended … are genuine, unrehearsed, and absent any hidden agenda or intent.
So, I am rebelling. I went through the internet and downloaded photos of beautiful, colorful, wonderful laundry … airing itself in the breezes of openness and public availability. All for the sole purpose of fixing in your mind … and mine … the image of laundry being appropriately aired in a display of life being lived freely and openly. I think that it is beautiful!
(And I am going to make a concerted effort to be more gentle with my Self in the area of acceptance of my best-intended efforts at openness. And practicing of forgiveness and nurturing of my Self when I stumble over someone’s toes of sensitivities or suspicions of my sincerities. I see less hurt tutus in my future. [smile])
IMAGES (upper to lower) Getty Image,The Independent; Earth Day Every Day; Secondhand Nation; pinopower; retractableclothesline.org; The Dandelion Path
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