Oh yes, she did. We were staying overnight in Chattanooga (the halfway point on our drive from Chicago to Sarasota) at the lovely pet-friendly Westin Hotel. We had taken 1-year-old Marley for a walk but still she decided to squat right there in the hotel lobby.
I was mortified. In an instant, I became highly anxious, my heart racing. I called out for help from Peter, who was asking restaurant staff if we could be served dinner in the lobby with our dog (outdoors was not an option due to the cold). He went off to get paper towels.
As I picked up the poop, I looked around to assess who had witnessed this embarrassing incident. Some women sitting by the fireplace were laughing, I assumed at my dog—or was it at me?
After Peter and I cleaned up the scene of the crime, we sat down at a table in the lobby to have dinner. I still felt highly anxious, which in the past would have ruined our meal—I tend to shut down when I’m upset.
But thanks to months of somatic therapy, I was able to tune into my feelings as they happened (not only in my head but in my body too). Rather than avoid and deny them, I chose to make space for them and I even shared my experience with Peter. Acknowledging these feelings to myself then voicing them out loud, along with practicing deep breathing, helped me regulate my anxiety in the moment.
Still curious about this incident—after all, I thought I’d finally released caring about the judgment of others, and especially strangers!—I brought it up at my next somatic session. My therapist, Cece, helped me get in touch with the little girl in me who continues to get activated by shame. Together, we processed my experience and made a plan to continue to notice, feel, and release my anxiety the next time it shows up.
Know this: The first step toward addressing our difficult feelings is to get curious. What are you feeling? Where in your body do you feel it? What triggered it? Where does that trigger come from?
I am honored to bear witness to the women 40+ inside my membership who are becoming more aware and bravely acknowledging their own feelings.
YOUR TURN: How have you been able to get curious about a difficult feeling? I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know in the comments or email me directly.