in the moment, i was not ready to feel the feeling, my skin too firm, my faith too solid. when the future all seemed ahead of me, it was easier to fold an emotion into me and believe it was gone, or at least silenced.
when my feelings started to work their way back out of me, to the surface, i was overwhelmed. i put my hands over my mouth to hold it in, but it didn’t matter, i was brimming, screaming.
i am not the only one like this, it may be a human condition, or an empath condition, or a black girl magic. it may even be an epidemic of consciousness. i am not convinced we get to know that.
but in my twenties, when i was gutshaking about things that were leaping out of me like emo tweens, that’s when i learned about the time traveling emotion.
it is like anything else that traverses time, both fully of another time and fully present in the place when it appears. in the case of grief, the time traveling emotion touches into your sadness over a present day experience of absence, and then drags forward a living satchel of the most tender innocent moments, the smallest memory. or perhaps sucks your heart back in time.
my grandfather, impossibly big and godly, hugging me, in his own garage, just out of the near-georgia sun, with the smell of hay and horses around us. it isn’t just the senses, but the complex spectrum of a moment completely felt.
the more i learn to feel, the less time it takes a time traveling emotion to catch me. years instead of decades, hours instead of months, seconds instead of weeks.
i am even learning, sometimes/more often, to feel in real time. and to survive feeling a whole emotion in real time.
with less shame, i say no to anything that wastes my time. i gather and give myself hours that belong to no one else, alone or with healer types. i claim time when i can be in my body and self. and in that solitude, or healing company, i become a defined place for a time traveling emotion to locate, an x on the nonlinear map of my emotional life.
the emotion is a living thing – showing one face when it arrives, and as it leaves i see it’s really a pattern, delta-ish, blood in veins connecting aspects of myself as disparate as lung and toe.
music is one of the systems by which emotions traverse time, both in tone, content and something as simple as age. some emotions stay in the soundtrack of their root memory. there is a janet jackson song that opens the way to an emotion of innocence. a new song can surprise me when it opens the way to something dusty and eager to be felt.
each time traveling emotion softens me, especially those that return often. it’s so humbling to feel something in spite of logic, time, circumstance and thinking the feeling is finished. grief is a sharp visitor, her long nails a surprise in my chest. heartbreak is heavy and fireworky, like full body tears, swollen eyes. joy melts my jaw.
it’s all waves though, moving towards and up, through and beyond. and once i’ve survived an emotion that has reached across time to demand my attention, i feel so resilient. that resilience makes me soft and wide enough to handle the complex mercurial existence of the present moment.
i trust myself to feel, to grow from what i feel, not to run when i sense a feeling coming.
i am a student of this phenomenon that makes time a shape shifter. i still fold moments of particular intensity into me. but now i do so with a bit of a spell attached: i promise, i will be ready for you when you find me.