Is it supposed to feel that way?

Have you ever had the impression of being a spectator watching the movie of your own life?

Sometimes, I can’t help observing myself like I would observe a character in a movie and wonder: ‘Am I supposed to feel that way?’

Sitting at a funeral, not feeling anything, wishing you could cry but you can’t. Then two months later, you break down in tears after seeing an old photo.

Or failing to feel excited when you get something your really wanted. Then later you’re walking somewhere and you see something beautiful and you feel so grateful just to be alive.

Moving to the other side of the world gave my emotions many occasions to surprise me.

When I started saying goodbye to my friends, I felt okay at first. Everyday I saw someone else, or a group of people for the last time before at least a year and a half. I couldn’t help but thinking that I was going to see them again the next week as usual. Sometimes I need a moment to process little shocks and big changes.

On my second to last night in Switzerland, I finally broke down in tears and cried for a long time. I didn’t expect it because I was having a fun time with two good friends- lots of wine and laughs were involved. Towards the end of the evening though, I suddenly realised that I was leaving for real. And all the other goodbyes from the previous days added to the ones I had to say then.

A rush of fear assaulted me in the plane, to let a rush of excitement take over when the plane landed in Christchurch. I didn’t expect these reactions at these times. All the while I said goodbye to my friends and family, and when I was sitting on the place, I couldn’t help wondering: ‘Is it supposed to feel that way?’

I got out of the plane after 36 hours of traveling, exhausted and feeling like I’d just been bonked on the head. Being so drained turned the movie of my life off. I could only process the moment: Nick’s warm skin and big smile waiting for me at the airport, the hot summer air, the golden grass and the dark green trees, the welcoming smell of freshly baked mince pies in Nick’s parent’s house, and the lavender in the garden.

In Nick's parents's garden, after a 36 hour journey from the other side of the world.

In Nick’s parents’s garden, after a 36 hour journey from the other side of the world.

I felt good and found the answer to my question: there’s no right way to feel; there is just how you feel now. Even if you feel nothing for the moment. Take the time to be sad and cry when needed, and grin and chuckle if need be all the same. Life is not a movie, and there’s only one moment: here and now.

You might also like:

A Place to Hide Emotions

Tears For Those Who Are Dead

44 thoughts on “Is it supposed to feel that way?

  1. Hey Cécile ! Great article as usual ! I am happy to have some news from you now that you are in New Zealand. I wish you a happy new year 2013 and hope you’ll feel fine there but I don’t doubt it. Kisses from Zürich.

  2. Cet article est de ceux qui méritent d’être digérés avant d’y répondre. Il est très beau et bien écrit, c’est tout ce que je peux te dire “à chaud”… En tout cas, je suis contente que tu aies dû courir vers ton train ce dernier lundi, sinon je n’aurais pas résisté à la petite larme. Finalement, c’est mieux de se quitter sur un sourire. En attendant un autre, celui des retrouvailles en chair et en os :-)

  3. Oh, Cécile! Trust to express feelings so clearly and concisely like you always do with the right metaphors. I feel you! I always chatter on on your other posts but this post left me wringing my free hands in confusion as to what to say. I’m speechless. I haven’t experienced something similar so I cannot relate with you yet. Maybe in a few years, I’d know how this is. Anyway, I just wanted to wish you to be happy and enjoy every second of the New Zealand!


  4. Life is just a series if moments…. Good, bad and indifferent. We just think about them a lot! Good luck Cécile, you’ll have an amazing time in ChCh :) x

  5. That is a great way to put it: like you’re watching a movie of your life. Maybe this idea of being “supposed to” feel a certain way comes from all the movies we’re exposed to. After all, movies tell us how we’re supposed to feel with cinematic cuts and the music swelling at the appropriate time. Why can’t our lives do that?

    Oh, also, last May, I stood at the altar cool, calm and collected, while my usually stoic husband-to-be sobbed his eyes out in front of 200 people. Afterwards I thought, should I have cried? Did I miss my chance?

  6. In the moment – you hear that a lot. People say it and yet, most of the time, they don’t know what that means. During rehab, after my stroke, especially the first few weeks/month, I could not think of any time much at all except the here and now. All I could do was to process what I was doing. Work was ignored; friends were ignored; even family was ignored. I was i nrehab and working on getting out – whatever “out” meant. I understand. You said it well and I am glad that you feel it now. It will get better. You will feel at home there and the new things will become old things. Should you get homesick – phone and email. Should you get lonely – we are here, just post, read, and comment.

  7. Cécile, I think you are an incredibly brave individual to take this chance. It’s not everyday that we get to experience the thrill of moving halfway across the world and trust that we’ve made the right decision. You are going to find that the adventure of this life-changing move will eclipse any anxieties you’ve felt along the way. A new chapter of your life has begun and I’m so excited to see where it will lead you. Thanks for sharing your feelings and I applaud you for allowing yourself to just go with the emotional flow.

  8. I like the solution that you came up with – there is no right way to feel, there’s just how you feel. It reminds me of “mindfulness practice” (which I’m supposed to be doing but haven’t really made time for, ironically). It’s a simple, non-judging awareness of yourself in the present.

    It sounds like you’ve landed on your feet after your travels, though. I do hope you guys enjoy your new adventure! You also look far prettier than a person has any right to look after 36 hours of flying. :)

  9. There’s a big difference between what you think you should be feeling and what your brain is in fact processing, isn’t there? I finished work in Switzerland about 5 days before I actually left the country, on saying goodbye to my supervisor I started crying (and cried for the best part of an hour). And then, right before I left my running club friends & I went out to dinner/drinks. I thought I would feel sad at *that*…instead I felt something closer to elation – grateful that I’d made such awesome friends in 12 months and enjoyed every minute with them.
    Keeping busy with new activities and exploring helps me get over homesickness & loneliness when I move to a new place. I hope NZ treats you wonderfully.

    • New zealand has treated me very well so far :-) It’s beautiful here. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one having strange reactions at strange times. Seems like you went through similar thoughts!

  10. I’m excited for you and happy that the move has finally happened. Our bodies and minds don’t process anything until they are ready, and sometimes their timing is so inconvenient! I hope you are able to settle in and enjoy this new adventure!

  11. Sometimes it has taken me a full year to realize the impact of a death.I would let your brain process this huge life change and relax into it. Be centered in the present. The only other thing I would watch is alcohol. It is a depressant and could really get the tears rolling.
    When I was first married, I moved to Denver and knew no one but my husband. I just looked ahead.
    Keep taking lots of pictures. It is beautiful to be in love…. :)

  12. That flight is a killer isn’t it? I did the jaunt to and from Ireland in September and it was much harder than I remembered! I felt like you when I left NZ to live in England – and then the same way 2 years later when I moved back to NZ! Enjoy the exciting new experience!

  13. Love this writing. And love the concept of living in the moment, increasingly. It is the only moment we have – the only moment we have which is guaranteed – here and now. NZ is beautiful, live it to the full Cecile – but don’t forget to “feel” the culture shock, which is real and normal, even in the world’s most beautiful places, when we arrive to live, not as tourists. Happy New Year!!


    • The culture shock is inevitable, I guess. But I already experienced it in the US and in Switzerland, so it should be okay ;-)
      Living in the moment seems so simple and basic but it’s not. Working on it!

  14. It’s all about adventure and new experiences that your emotions are trying to grasp. Live in the moment and let your natural emotions come out. Don’t fear them. The wonderful thing about living in the digital age is that you can always connect with distant friends.

  15. I love this post. What a wonderful adventure you’re undertaking. I cried and laughed and was simultaneously excited and terrified when I moved to Canada. I remember it all so vividly because it was a such a strange and powerful mix of emotions. I felt more alive in those first few months than I have at any other time in my life. So even though it’s sometimes painful, I hope you savour it, even the hard parts. I think you’ll look back at this photo and think, “Just look at that brave Cécile. Look at her go!” Because that’s what I think while looking at it now ;)

    • Thank you Rian! I definitely went through a strange and powerful mix of emotions the past days :-) And I hope I’ll look back at these times and feel proud.
      Now I’m trying to enjoy a bit before school starts.

  16. I like it a lot. Welcome to this next adventure and experience and package of feelings Cecile. This is your life and our life and you only get one, I think.

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