Photograh by Mr Woodnz

My family and I moved from London to Los Angeles almost exactly two years ago. While packing up our lives, I found myself unpacking a plethora of feelings related to change, loss, endings, beginnings, doubt.  I was showered in sadness. I cried so often that looking back it’s hard to believe through those tears I managed to cope with all the practical tasks. I was a soggy mess. Our boxes arrived in Los Angeles stained with my teardrops – a reminder of my emotional confetti.

Moving is incredibly challenging and as human beings we are frequently confronting displacement and relocation in various guises. Moving house. Moving country. Moving school.  Moving jobs. Moving relationships. Many people package up their feelings about these ‘moves’ along with their external belongings. Sadness gets taped up. Fear gets shoved in a side pocket. Anxiety gets filed away in a folder titled ‘UNHELPFUL’. And we forge ahead, still in possession of these feelings, but desperately hoping that concealing them will make them less potent.

In England we call this a ‘Stiff Upper Lip’. But isn’t it true that we have all seen that ‘rigid’ lip wreak havoc in many ways, in many countries, translated into many languages?

Repressing profound emotional states can have major repercussions. Feelings that have been filed away, unprocessed, have ways of finding the oxygen they need. They follow us through life, festering, waiting to leak out like toxic fumes or explode into billowing clouds of anger. Or simply collapse, leaving us in fragile heaps.

I know from experience that people are afraid of revealing too much emotion. Keeping it safely hidden away feels so much tidier. But release can take different shapes for different people. You don’t have to have a personality transplant. Find ways to gently tap into your feelings if they have been locked up for a while. Choose a friend who you trust. Consider talking to a counsellor or a therapist. Buy yourself a notebook and begin to write or draw. Creative expression is boundless and free and is available to everyone. But firstly, you must be willing to explore.

Two years on I feel more lucid and centered. I’m rediscovering a sense of being ‘placed’ internally and externally. Facing, rather than avoiding my grief about leaving, has helped me to arrive in each day, to stay authentic, and to feel empowered by my emotions, instead of endowing them all the power to overthrow me.

How does this post resonate with you? Write about a significant ‘move’ in your life and explore the feelings around it. Write for ten minutes. Time yourself. Share any thoughts or responses in the comments.


4 Responses to “Unpacking”

  1. Jen
    May 29, 2012 at 6:00 am #


  2. Jen
    May 29, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    You see, that’s where my block is. When something resonates with me so deeply and I feel so many emotions about it at one time, nothing or maybe only a single word comes out. It’s like a piece of luggage. The key has been put into the lock, and it fits, but I can’t swing the top open to let the words or emotions out. I can’t unpack my stuff and put it away… even if I’m ready to explore.

    I can think of so many people with whom this assignment would resonate. I have forwarded it along. 🙂

  3. Melissa
    June 2, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Hello – I thought of you today as everywhere this weekend there are Diamond Jubilee celebrations – hats, Union Jacks, spoon-and-egg races, strawberries, bunting, the UK is a garden party. On occasions like this, do you find yourself thinking about England? I know that when Obama was inaugurated, I was glued to the radio/TV and felt far from home. We waved a union jack and had a pint for you and yours. 🙂

    • Rory Green
      June 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      Thank you, Melissa! yes – it does feel strange to be so far away at a sweetly nationalistic time. The thing I love about the UK is so often you feel part of the whole country… you feel connected to all regions…truly on an island. The USA is so vast… it feels much harder to connect to a national identity – at least that is my experience as an ex-pat. I was very touched that you thought to write to me and deliver me a little slice of ‘home’!

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