I wasn’t allowed to have feelings or they were purposely and maliciously twisted for the purposes of my abusers. Stop the feelings – stop my abusers controlling me.
This brings me to self care #5 Allowing myself to feel all emotions – joy and anger are the most difficult for me.
Judy’s approach to this issue came from a totally different direction than mine. https://theprojectbyjudy.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/self-care-5-of-25/
I felt like I lived out on the street while everyone else laughed and joked in the candy store. I saw through the window but couldn’t find the door. I didn’t think I had that big an issue because I laughed, loved my kids and DH, got angry sometimes but mostly I felt gray….neither happy or sad or angry or joy or almost any motion was fleeting and quickly banished. I was several months into counseling before I had a clue that how I shutout emotions was unusual. It came as a fairly big clue. The night before a counseling session my Mother-in-law died. The night of counseling, I asked the adult kids to stay with their Dad while I went to the session as usual. To start off I explained why DH wasn’t with me. My counselor asked the usual counselor question, “How do you feel about it?” I looked back at him puzzled. Was this a trick question? What did he expect for an answer? Why was he asking me about this when I had other issues I wanted to discuss? My counselor led off with another question. “Did you like your Mother-in-law?” I easily answered, “Yes, of course, she didn’t approve of me but I liked her.” I was still puzzled. He probed some more. “Are you happy she’s dead?” I was appalled that he asked, “Of course not.” Then he kept pushing, “Are you sad that she’s dead?” I didn’t want to lie, “No.” Then he asked the Million Dollar Question, “Do you feel anything at all?” My solid answer, “No, Why should I? She’s not my mother.” My counselor leaned way back in his chair and stared at me. Inside I thought, “Houston, we got a problem.” His reaction to my response spoke volumes. I hadn’t answered the question the way I should have. Nope nope nope. Me and emotions were not on speaking terms. The next several sessions became almost dangerous as he pushed prodded and asked me about emotions that I knew I didn’t feel. I felt bewildered by his tenaciousness on this one subject of where were my emotions. Several weeks later he was particularly pokey and pointed in his questions and I was starting to get angry. Then the emotion vanished. He stopped mid sentence, stunned he asked, “Where did it go?” I wasn’t playing dumb I really didn’t know, “Where did what go?” He accused me, “You were getting angry and you made it vanish, where did it go?” He continued on, “You aren’t suppressing it because there is no tension in your face and you are perfectly relaxed, where did the anger go?”
No answer, I didn’t know where my emotion would go. It was gone. Not a hint of anger or feeling upset. Simply gone.
I thought about it for a long time. I finally answered, “I shifted it down.” He asked, “Down to where?” I didn’t know I could make emotions disappear. I just couldn’t make them reappear. They were gone. Yea, I figured out this was not how most people functioned. Due to the fact that anger is the easiest emotion to tap into my counselor spent a lot of time purposely pissing me off. He failed a lot. After weeks he finally succeeded. I walked out of that session without letting him know how I felt. The following session I brought him a flowering plant for his wife. He asked me what the flowers were for. I answered, “I feel sorry for her that she is married to you.” Took all his counseling powers not to burst out laughing. He pulled himself together and inquired, “Do you mean these are hate flowers? You are angry with me?” I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Yes.”
The whole feeling emotion thing was one big messy. A good chunk of my counseling the first 2 years was to get me to connect my mind to my emotions. I needed to be able to recognize that I had a feeling, identify what the feeling was then, here was the toughy, why did I feel what I felt? Session after session after session all centered on ‘I have emotions’ and ‘I can feel them.’ Wowser. I would say that connecting with my emotions was excruciatingly painful. I found Lake Rage where all my anger went, perfectly preserved as raw and powerful as the day I made it disappear….I didn’t make it disappear, I stuffed it deep in my subconscious waiting to be processed. There was so much rage to sort through. This is when I learned that anger is a secondary emotion hurt, fear, and/or frustration came first. There was a point that I almost collapsed under the weight of these new ferocious emotions. Why let all this crap back into my life? Then one day I felt Joy. Oh wow. I realized that emotions colored my world and let me into the candy store.
Thanks Judy, I appreciate the edits.