When you Learn not to Feel

When you learn not to feel,
You learn to live your life in monochrome.
No high notes, no low notes, just a symphony in monotone.
You've gone away, but you don't know where 
To a place full of strangers.
So you never get to see
That in those terrifying places of darkness and hopelessness
Is also the place where joy gets in.

When you learn not to feel,
You miss out on the moving through.
You miss the most important message,
That no, this doesn’t stay forever
That for every contraction, there will always be an expansion         
For every breath in there will always be a breath out.
The body knows, it’s always known
But we are taught not to listen.

When you learn not to feel,
You learn the hard work of keeping it all at bay,
The stuffing down, the splitting off, the sending into exile.                     
All those messy things
They are not welcome here
Your rage, your potency, your power
even your passion and excitement.
Just the watered down, cardboard cut-out version of you.

When you learn not to feel
You soon forget
That no matter how much we try to sanitise the pain out of life
It comes back to bite.
You can’t shame this one away
This grief, this loss, this trauma
The noise of your humanity.
There is no box in which this fits.

This neat trick you’ve mastered
I know it’s served you well
Got you through the hardest of times
Been a great companion
You’ve followed all the good advice
The great art of distraction.

Until, one day, you’re all full up
And the pain of holding on becomes greater than the pain of letting go.
And you decide to let it in,
Softly, gently
One drop at a time,
The stranger let in from the cold.
You give this feeling a name, a colour, a place, a texture. 

You learn to stand your ground
Throughout each wave, each storm
Like a lighthouse, always there to guide you back home.
You see, this storm does pass
This feeling is just a feeling.
And when you learn to listen
You hear the ground softly whisper “I’ve got you this time”
You hear the wind hissing through the trees “I’ve got you this time”
You see your face reflected back in the mirror, no longer a distant ghost,
But real, solid, present, alive and it speaks “I’ve got you this time”.

Joanne Wilsher-Mills

Joanne Wilsher-Mills