'Living with life is very hard. Mostly we do our best to stifle life – to be tame or to be wanton. To be tranquillised or raging. Extremes have the same effect; they insulate us from the intensity of life. And extremes – whether of dullness or fury – successfully prevent feeling. I know our feelings can be so unbearable that we employ ingenious strategies – unconscious strategies – to keep those feelings away. We do a feelings-swap, where we avoid feeling sad or lonely or afraid or inadequate, and feel angry instead. It can work the other way too sometimes you do need to feel love and acceptance, and not the tragic drama of your life.
It takes courage to feel the feeling – and not trade it on the feelings-exchange, or even transfer it altogether to another person. You know how in couples one person is always doing the weeping or the waging while the other one seems so calm and reasonable?
I understood that feelings were difficult for me although I was overwhelmed by them.' - Jeanette Winterson