Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Guest House

Overwhelming emotions, that is what happened.  I think?

I haven’t cried in about a week.  Then today, I was feeling really happy, productive, even excited.  I was excited about a new challenge I had been given at work.  I went and talked to my supervisor about it and then right afterwards, when I was alone in my office, I could feel that I was just going to start crying.  And I did. 

I could feel it coming.  The warming of my neck and then my face, the surge inside of me that moves my tears to flow from my eyes.  Then the drops of saline started streaming down my face and I didn’t know why.  And I decided just to let it come.  I sat there, staring out the window of my office at the beautiful St. Mary’s Cemetery across the street.  The cemetery didn’t make me more sad, it actual brought me peace, as if my emotions and my reality were in line with each other.  Even though Nora is not buried there, the serenity of it, the finality, made me realize that my heartache was because of a tangible loss.  My pain was real and for a very real reason.

After sitting with the emotion.  Allowing it to come, over take me, and then slowly leave, I sat there wondering what had just happened.  Just before my crying spell I was in a state of happiness, I was content, even excited, why did I cry?  Then I realized that maybe the opposite emotion of happiness had triggered my suppressed feelings of grief that I did not realize were boiling up.  I have heard of this happening before, I have seen it happen with clients of mine in therapy, but I had never experienced it myself.  I found it confusing and frustrating.

But after realizing what was taking place inside of my body and in my heart, I let sadness wash over me again, I decided to let it be.  Let the tears come.  Let the sadness flood me, roll through my body and out through my tear ducts.  I sat with it.  I felt it. I let sadness have its place and time within my being.  

Apparently my sadness needed more recognition, more space within my bodily house, so I cleared off the couch in my heart, made the bed in my being, and invited sadness to stay for awhile.  It seems that this was just what sadness needed because it only stayed for a minute or two.  I had listened to it. I acknowledged sadness’ voice like a parent would a frustrated child or teenager, and in doing so, it went away, as quick as it had come.  Out of nowhere, sadness was gone.

There is a Rumi poem I often use in therapy with clients about the purpose of emotions and the importance of accepting them instead of pushing them away.  It’s called the Guest House, and it describes exactly what happened to me.  

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even it they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of it’s furniture,,
Still treat each quest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.


I guess it was just my turn to open up my house to sadness.  

May I continue to welcome my guests, but like the loving company of family or friends, I hope at some point they, too, leave.


  1. When I found out my sister-in-law was pregnant the first time, I cried as if I had just lost my dad all over again. I was so excited to be an aunt, but devastated that my dad never got to be a grandpa. It's amazing how all these emotions can just run together.
    Thanks for your posts!

    1. Thank you Michelle. Also, I am sorry about the loss of your dad. My thoughts are with you and thanks for following the blog.

  2. This is a beautiful post. So often we try NOT to feel the "hard" emotions, but if we allow ourselves to feel them, it truly is more helpful to us.

    1. I agree Brianna, even though it hurts so much to feel them sometimes and they come up at the strangest times too.

  3. Thank you Lindsey for explaining why I will cry at the strangest of times. And then laugh at what would normally be a sad time. Holly brought over a gift for me last night. She said I would probably cry. As she put it in my hands and I felt the weight of it, I started to smile, and then started laughing when I got it unwrapped. I told her my 'sisters' had given me the same thing (a stone for Nora's garden that had a beautiful saying on it--and it was my family--brothers and sisters that had given it to me). And yes, the saying would have made me cry at any other time. Go figure!


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