Foreboding Joy

Fellow Winnipeggers will understand the sinking feeling I had as I walked out of the gym last evening at 10:00 pm…all around me were people echoing the same thoughts:

  • This is just SO sad
  • I can’t believe it
  • There are no words for this
  • It’s never going to be spring

In our effort to avoid vulnerability, we numb joy, a huge price to pay.

and one that caught my ears because it resonated so closely with my own thoughts:

  • “I knew I shouldn’t have actually thought spring had come”

Big wet flakes were falling from the sky…and not melting on contact.And Winnipeggers who had been enjoying dry sidewalks and the first twinges of green in the grass had a collective sigh of sadness.

I wasn’t just sad…I catastrophized that winter had come back all over again.I berated myself for daring to think that winter  was over.

I’m hopefully being a little melodramatic here in the description, but I remember being angry at myself that I had actually been enjoying and relaxing into springtime.It felt like I shoulda known better…I shouldn’ta dared to assume the snow was done.I had spent some time looking in the flower beds the day before looking at the iris shoots pushing well up out of the ground….and reveling that spring was really here.The new snow disputed that.

I’m not saying this is rational…but I told myself that I should not have looked forward so much to spring.I should not have been relieved that winter was over.I should not have been so positive…because the new snow was far more disappointing than it woulda been otherwise.I was wishing I had been a little more gloomy about the whole thing, because then I wouldn’ta got my hopes up…and then I woulda been less disappointed.Sorta a feeling of, “If I hadn’ta gotten so ‘up’, then I wouldn’ta had so far to fall ‘down’. It felt like a mistake…I was vulnerable to the disappointment and I’d created it by being so exuberant about the season.

Reminded me of a video I saw a while back, by a psychologist Brene Brown who I’ve really come to appreciate.She says we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability…


Vulnerability is absolutely at the core of fear, of anxiety, of shame, and very difficult emotions that we all experience.Vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy of love, belonging, creativity, , of faith…and so it is very problematic when we lose the capacity to be vulnerable.

I don’t want to live with foreboding joy.But I was tempted last night…and it wasn’t the first time this week, won’t be the last time this month. I don’t want the snow of last night to teach me to hold back on joy because of the anticipation of hurt…though that’s my temptation. Because she’s right: It is much easier to live disappointed than to feel disappointment. Vulnerability can be downright dangerous and it feels risky…without even realizing it, I resist it.And look what I can lose out on.

The battle to not numb vulnerability will continue. As I numb vulnerability, I also numb joy. Is that what I really want? So…I will repeat to myself what Brene says:

I really believe we want more guarantees.We want to believe we are not going to get hurt, and that bad things are not going to happen, and they are.But there is a guarantee that no one talks about and that is that if we don’t allow ourselves to experience joy and love, we will definitely miss out on filling our reservoir with what we need when those hard things happen.

Gosh…it’s lousy when someone makes so much sense about something that seems so hard, huh? And I know that I’m not the only one.

I have a hunch, fellow life-journeyer, that we both got our work cut out for us. 🙂

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