Tiger Spirit

There are quite a few things going on inside me, and I’m not really sure how to express them, but I’m going to try anyway.

I feel full. And by full, I don’t mean fulfilled; I don’t mean content or satisfied. I mean overflowing. I’m bursting at the seams with feelings, emotions, thoughts, ambition, bravery, fear, confusion, hormones, dreams, and tears.

I used to describe each episode as a roller coaster of emotions, but that’s not accurate. Roller coasters have peaks and drops, which are what I used to think they were: intense highs followed by the lowest lows. That’s not what happens. I’m not bipolar and I’m not a Jekyll and Hyde either.

I have highs, lows, mediums, corkscrews, flips, twists, turns weaving in and out of each other simultaneously.

It’s just like how the Trafalmadorians saw time: not as separate moments following each other in chronological order, but as moments existing simultaneously as pieces of a whole. Life is not a specific moment. It’s not back then, or right now, or in the future. It’s all moments, all the time, past, present and future. They are all there, always there, all the time.

And so it is inside me.

I can be in the deepest pits of misery, with sorrow devouring my heart, and feel completely alive; the pain can be euphoric, like the first drop on a roller coaster when you feel sick with fear but you laugh with joy. The pain and sadness, the depression and anxiety, they remind me that I’m here, that I’m real and alive.

I’m not an empty pit. I haven’t been hallowed out by life. I’ve been hurt, betrayed and manipulated many times, but I still fall in love. I still miss people. I still trust people.

I’ve failed many times, but I still aspire. I still dream. I still believe. I’m starting to believe that the most fulfilling part of a journey isn’t the success. It’s the moment right after you’ve been knocked to the floor. Hard. The moment you look up from the ground with blood in your mouth and tears streaming down your face, and you slowly lift your broken self from the ground. The Naruto moments. Those are the best parts of life. The most poetically human moments of resilience:

Gluing the shattered pieces of your heart back together. Sewing up the gaping hole in your chest. The pain of healing can be the most pleasurable feeling.

I am an empath. The glue to my heart is human connection. It’s feeling arms around me and sleeping breaths on my neck. It’s having a head on my lap or shoulder as I listen and let the warmness of my heart flow into theirs. It’s being a dork to make someone smile. It’s sharing a meal in comfortable silence. It’s the tickle in my stomach from laughter at immature jokes, silliness, or quotes from stupid movies. It’s making people see how wonderful they are, and how much I love them. I get to know people by feeling who they are, by trying to see their world through their eyes and their heart.

But it makes me incredibly vulnerable. I fall in love every day and get my heart broken every day. I can love people so much that it makes me hate them. I enjoy being around them so much that I want to avoid them. Because my emotions don’t exist alone. They aren’t singular. They all exist at once, and it’s often overwhelming.

I used to be ashamed of it, being emotional. Typical girl. Always crying. Always moody. Always needy.

It made me hate myself. I’d wish I was someone else. Anyone else. Just not me. Not the encapsulated hurricane of emotions that could be released at the prick of a needle.

Sometimes I still do hate myself. It’s part of who I am. Because I can’t love anything without hating it too. But I don’t have the ability to truly hate. I don’t actually hate people. I only hate the way they make me feel. Then I hate myself for feeling that way.

But I’m growing…or transforming…or discovering; I’m not sure which (maybe all three?). Whichever it is, there’s a new feeling inside me that I’ve never felt before. It’s been revealing itself to me in the last 6 months. It seems new but so familiar at the same time. Like it’s always been there, but I’ve never recognized it. I’ve always suppressed it or overlooked it because I didn’t understand it, or maybe because other people indirectly taught me to fear it. But it’s awake now. The tiger spirit. I see her. I feel her. I’m beginning to understand her. And I love her.

“All around this house I see the signs. My daughter looks but she does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces. It’s not too late. All my pains, my regrets, I will gather them together. My daughter will hear me calling, even though I’ve said no words. She will climb the stairs to find me. She will be scared because at first her eyes will see nothing. She will feel in her heart this place where she hides her fears. She will know I am waiting like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose….So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. the pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter’s tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and give her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter.” –  Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club.


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