I am not an island.
Updated: Feb 13, 2019
I used to think of my emotions as private, personal, individual. I thought that no one else felt worthless the way I did, that my anger and my jealousy were my own weaknesses, that the particular texture of my grief could be felt by no one else.
I failed to see that I am always, inescapably connected, that I am part of something much bigger than myself. That there isn't a single thing I could feel that isn't being felt by millions of other people, right at this moment. That grief, anger, jealousy and despair - like joy, love, and contentment - arise through my relationships, and cannot be separated from them.
This doesn't mean that I have no role to play in my emotional reactions, that I place the burden on others to heal me, or that I don't take responsibility for how I choose to act out my feelings.
But it means that I am not an island. That no matter how isolated or tragically unique I feel, I am still a strand in this greater web, a part of communities and relationships that don't disappear when I choose to withdraw.
How many times have I hurt people who love me by shutting them out because I'm afraid to show them my pain? How many times have I hurt myself by viewing my emotions as personal shortcomings, as signs that I am weak, irrational, or crazy?
And how much more safe, grounded, and connected I feel, now that I see that my feelings arise naturally from my interactions with others, that what has made me feel most alone is actually what binds me to every other person in this world.
Not a single person on Earth is alone. Not one of us is separate. No matter how much we may long to be. No matter how deeply we may fear it.