I was sitting on the deck of the place I am renting in Palm Springs and looking at the wonderful view when I felt it coming: the swing. It was about to mood.
Well, for chuckles I Googled Mood Swing and one of the first pictures that arrived on screen was the one you see above, which helped me move through the sudden emotional picnic lunch I unwrapped only to find Fear, Despair, Uncertainty and a gaggle of WTF’s in the basket.
(Oh, It’s OK: I sense it was just another layer being uncovered from the depths of my being about my current travails on the Esoteric Epigenetic Gravy Train.)
But let’s press a Pause button for a moment on that because I must state the obvious: The image above is sexist. Men have mood swings, too. Yet I find it interesting that the image conjured up that 1950s/1960s’ notion that women are over-reactive; that women “feel” too much and, in this sad case, wear horrible shoes, a questionable dress and curious leggings.
The nerve. And let’s be honest? In that outfit, this wonderful woman would not feel “great.”
Ah, I joke. But levity is good for the soul.
Still, men near and far are prone to the F-word: Feelings. It’s true, but men’s feelings—their core feelings and the fact that even have them—are not openly discussed or acknowledged as much as they could be. Men have been raised to suppress a great deal of their emotions. This we know. But maybe we all have — boys and girls. As children and teens, we’re often told we “shouldn’t feel that way,” or that we are being “way too dramatic.” Even as adults, some of us are told we are just too “emotional.”
So what can any of us do when, as adults, we are seriously confronted with waves of emotions that may not just be passing frustration, anger, or disappointment. What then? What if we realize we are, for whatever reason, in the throes of a deep spiritual shift and transformation; when we rarely feel “at home” within ourselves or we realize we are in between significant eras of our adult lives. Maneuvering our way through such transitions requires trust and a lot of grit. And really, many friends to which we can turn and find support. Perhaps even a therapist.
As I trace back each week of this year, I see now that I must be transitioning from one era to another and yet … it also feels like something deeper; something that cannot be “fixed” by just taking on a new job, or moving to a new town. For some reason, I seem to be led to explore epigenetics and unresolved family trauma, or, as some pros say, “inherited family trauma.” I discovered that phrase when I began writing about my Polish family and their ordeals during World War II, particularly surviving Stalin’s wrath and winding up as Polish refugees. I began to notice that my own emotional weather throughout my life mirrored some of the emotional intensity of, say, my grandparents, my aunt, my uncles, even my mother. I realized this while conducting extensive research about my family’s story — actually hearing what had happened to them, and having them share, as best they could, what they felt while going through the ordeal. I began to question myself about the idea of home and place — my family had been technically “homeless” for nearly eight years. I began draw “survival” parallels. Of course, the events of my own life were not as traumatic as what my own family went through … but my emotions … that was a different story. Why, I wondered, did I often react in the ways I had … as if I were lost in a rerun of something that happened before I was born? And why, I wondered, did I always carry a sense of displacement … and not truly feeling “at home.”
Maybe I’m not alone. Other people feel this way, too, no doubt. And maybe some of the feelings I have been questioning may not have anything to do with what my family went through.
Still … I can tell that, from the depths of my being, when strong waves of emotions emerge, my gut feeling tells me it’s either a core issue or … something embedded within the fabric of my emotional DNA.
I don’t have all of the answers yet and I am not certain the answers will be the cure. I remain fascinated with the study of epigenetics. What needs to happen, for me and for others like me perhaps, may just be to “feel” … to allow those deep, deep emotions to have a safe outlet for release. By allowing emotions to move through us, rather than sweeping them further underneath the carpets of our souls, maybe we can shift, evolve and transform.
Maybe we really can heal — the past, the present and the future.