Archive | November 2011

Stuffing is For Turkeys…..Not Feelings

                          Stuffing is for Turkey,,, Not Feelings?
  This sage wisdom came from a very close friend & confidante.
 It made me laugh, this expression. But it made me think about how often feelings are the things being stuffed.  Envelopes yes, feelings no.
There are dozens of things that come to mind that are safe to stuff, even properly should be stuffed. But not feelings. I realized unbeknownst to my friend and often “partner in crime” that she had just given me my next title and topic.
Stuffing feelings is what we do. Women and men both. But for different reasons, or from different places.
 But especially so is this common trend for women around the world to be expected that their feelings should never be expressed.
 Not in the parlor please!
This is has been the way it’s been done for so many generations that we rarely question it. We are not second guessing ourselves about keeping feelings & emotions stuffed until we become ill. We just do it. No, not because of the stuffing of emotions do we become ill.  I am not willing to go out on a limb by stating that.  But there is the school of thought on this theory. But there cannot be any denying any longer that keeping emotions inside is harmful to our health. Whether it be “distasteful” anger, sadness, disappointment, hurt, or any other emotions, we dare not share these with just anybody.
We as women have been taught through the centuries that this is un-lady like, unloving to our family, and not in the keeping of traditions of being the family matriarch. And martyr. Who said, and when was it said, that self-sacrifice was what society condoned as being the popular expectation of their women?  Why is self-sacrifice the popular notion we as a society expect from our wives, mothers sisters daughters,?
I wonder. 
 There is no great mystery in that we as women tend to flock together and seek one another to confide in. Imagine this world if we did not. We as women know the untruths in  “what a good woman you are offering yourself up on the altar of self – abuse”  We know there are no extra points for being tormented by painful moments gratuitously ladies.
 But how about with a smile?
Yes with a smile.  I recall the novelist Amy Tan striking a chord in me several years ago when she wrote that we lose ourselves everyday by “washing away our pain the same way carvings on stone are worn away by water.”  I remember this line to this day. We wash away the hurts and pains by stuffing them quickly and discreetly; by loosely lying to ourselves. Until we become resigned. We soon are settling for a passive life rather than a passionate one.
 “It’s a funny thing about life. If you refuse to settle for anything less than the best, that’s what it will give you.”      ~ W. Somerset Maugham
 hmmm.. she thinks to herself. Is  there any truth to this quote? As quite often age-old wisdom’s have their merits. Just maybe the disappointments and pains in our life are ones that we have settled for.
 And what about ” we teach people how to treat us?”
How do the offenders know they have offended if there is just silence? If we do not share with them the hurt was felt, what chance do are we giving them to learn from the experience?  When asked; “How are you?….  what do you stuff.  See?
I think of Gloria Steinem when I think of women rebelling against the feelings of their own emotions. “Are we being true to the woman we really are when we stuff or try to deny our feelings”? Or is the false smile just part of the shell? This tiny woman who stood so tall in my lifetime who gave the women of the adventurous 20th & 21st centuries permission to be themselves. To reach for it all.  But unless you’ve happened to read or learn anything about Ms Steinhams private life you would not know that this woman reinvented herself to those around her to make things work. To not cause waves. To stuff what she was really feeling. To catch the men she thought would love the inauthentic Gloria. 
Because to divulge the authentic Gloria would mean being honest about what she felt, and just maybe making waves because of that honestly. This HUGE woman of the world.  Gloria had it all just like she advocated for women all her life.  For decades she organized, traveled, lectured and raised monies for causes she believed in. Yet she had no clue how to take care of herself not emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, or physically. Even though she had spent her life taking care of others. Tiny framed & yet powerful Gloria could not say out loud what the painful actions around her were doing to her inside.
 Kind of an unbelievable image yes? 
To be honest it’s a painful image I have coming away from reading her life story. One that in the end of all her stuffing her feelings, all her self-sacrificing, to have it all in the end,… leave her lonely and lost. She returned to the small young Gloria.  After all the years of telling women how to stand up tall for what they believed in, wanted, and what they needed,…… She could only Self sacrifice. 
Self sacrifice by denying our feelings out loud is in an insidious way women of generations have betrayed themselves.