This isn’t about bees. It’s about love. Except, maybe stick around, cause I *might* throw some bees in for good measure.
Ever notice how love, loss and longing get stored in your body the same way seasons do for every other temperate animal on earth? There’s a kind of body knowing that arrives. It sneaks in and gives you emotional responses to things that feel out of context, until you examine the seasons of your life. The bees feel it. They react accordingly. It’s not a surprise, it’s instinct (see how I did that).
We talk about calendar dates, but what’s really running the internal clock is seasons. Autumn has always been my love season. Maybe it’s because the first time I fell in love was in early fall. When autumn rolls around I feel Love courting me. Grief works the same way. It slips in with the seasons. Something about the particular angle of the light, the smell of dry grass, the color of the hills. This week, as late summer heat merges with early fall chill I’ve been experiencing an unexpected wave of grief. A longing and sorrow. I didn’t even realize it was exactly a year since my last heartbreak. My body told me. The body remembers. We store powerful experiences in our body. They emerge with all sorts of prompting, but seem especially prone to blooming when the earthly seasons shift, creating the same sensory experience you had when that thing happened to your heart that one time. Tragedy, ecstasy, love. It all percolates up from the depths of you just so it can meet the season of its birth once more. I believe if handled with care, this is part of what we call Healing.
Last summer I fell in love in Paris. How cliché. But hear me out: it was with a long time friend who lives in Europe and whom I’d been in occasional rendez-vous for 13 years. Okay okay, it’s super cliché. Still, it was vey real and very mutual. Change your life real. Do things you’d never thought you’d do. Willing to make sacrifices. That kind of real. Obviously it didn’t work out. Reasons? Something complex mixed with something as simple as I wanted kids, he didn’t.
It doesn’t change the love for each other. He’s still one of my favorite, long-life friends/lovers. Our entire love affair is based on walking through ancient city streets for hours in a never-ending labyrinth of delicious conversation. I gave it my best. I flew back to Europe in September. I put it all on the line. My heart broke. Enter Autumn.
Now here we are, flirting with Autumn and all her potential affairs, while the season moving through my body is also reminding me that this is a time to weep. I think this is what it is to be an animal. This is what it is to let the natural flow of emotions move through you. Call it the feminine rising. Can we make room for it? Can we allow room for grief and love to pass through all the ventricles of our heart, without setting mandates on when we’re allowed to feel what and for how long? Take April for instance. I always get irritated in early April. Short tempered, easily frustrated and prone to cry. You’d think I’d remember by now, but as time goes by it become more subtle and I have to slow down to notice. What happened in April 9 years ago still plays out in my body-heart even when I’m not paying attention. All that frustration and irritability is a cover for the insane grief of miscarriage followed by years and years of praying for a partner and a baby. No wonder I get snippy in April. Once I realize what’s going on and have the breakdown with the big tears, everything shifts and the season of April is tolerable again. It surprises me every time.
Whatever it is - falling in love, the day your mother died, the birth of your child, the time the fires came - it’s tracking the seasons even if you are not. Give it room. Give yourself time. Usually all it wants is to be noticed and respond to accordingly. When the flowers dry up and the nectar stops flowing, the bees respond accordingly. When the smell of rain is on the wind, the birds begin their migration. It’s natural. Every animal has learned how to respond to the season. We may have learned a lot of big-brained tricks for pacifying the seasons. We can even try to escape them entirely. That is, until we remember that they are moving inside us, not just around us.
I have spent the last 9 years in a depth of spiritual and shamanic study that demands me to not only be in touch with my emotions, but to also express them. How rebellious. In a culture that fears emotions, labeling women who fluidly move with them as volatile, crazy, intense, or dramatic, the active cultivation of emotional expression is downright revolutionary. Goodness, only a century ago had a disease for women’s emotions named Hysteria.
The thing about these external seasons evoking internal seasons, is there’s no escaping it. You can either suppress it, and suffer the consequences (model for last 2000 years), or pause as the leaves turn, greeting the upwelling of memory and feeling. I’ll tell you what this love and heart break gave me: permission. Like many women, I have spent my life apologizing for my emotions. I remember apologizing to this man, amidst a torrent of tear. Sorry for crying. “Why are you apologizing?” he said. “It’s just an emotion. It’s natural. Let it out. Let it come all the way through. It’s not going to hurt me. If you don’t let it all the way through it will get stuck.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you can spend your life giving yourself permission to be you over and over again, but sometimes, when you’re at your most vulnerable, it takes someone you love saying, yes, you are allowed to be your whole self in front of me. If we could only remember to be that whole self every day. Or to not try to give our whole selves to people who only want a part of us. The raven doesn’t diminish itself in order to be liked by other ravens, or foxes. The lion doesn’t stop being fierce because the wind can’t handle it. The bees don’t stop stinging because you praise them for their honey.
Moral of the story, give yourself permission to be what you are, tears and all. There is a difference between expressing emotions and dumping them on someone else as their responsibility. No one else is responsible for your emotions, but the antidote to emotional dumping isn’t emotional suppression (hint: that leads to dumping). The answer is expression. Allow them to exist. To move through your body, your art, your music, your cooking, your love affairs, your cry in the shower. And don’t you dare let someone else’s discomfort with emotions tell you that you having emotion is some how wrong. You, dear feeling creature with the sea in your eyes and falcons in your hair, your existence is not wrong.