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Making a decision to feel

For many years I have avoided facing my feelings. I drank, I drugged, I kept myself really busy with work and creative activities. I drank lots of coffee, I smoked, I isolated, I watched TV, I exercised… I did whatever I could to just keep moving, so I wouldn’t have to stop and check in with how I was feeling. You see, when I did, I just felt a deep, penetrable sadness, an emptiness that left me thinking that there was really no point to life and that it was probably better to end it all. Why would I want to feel, when this was what was coming up? So I just keep moving and controlling situations and working to a packed schedule that didn’t allow for any rest. Drinking in a sense was a ‘switch off button’. It allowed me to stop and to just ‘be’, to be present. The irony was that it only contributed to me being more disconnected from myself in the long run and numbed me out even more. Hell, at least it stopped the voices in my head and made me forget about the pain. But now that my drinking is no longer an effective coping mechanism and with one year sobriety up (my birthday is actually in 5 minutes), I am left with finally having to make a decision and that is to feel or not to feel. To not feel, to remain in avoidant behaviour only causes me more emotional pain and grief. I have come to realise this more and more over the past year. I have to learn how to feel, I have to experience the intensity of the feelings – the sadness, the terror, the confusion, the fear – I think to start to release it and truly heal. I am scared. I know it will be okay though, there have been times when I have actually felt my feelings and although overwhelming at the time, a great sense of relief, coupled with joy swept over me soon after. It was exhilarating. I think it is just the fear of the unknown that cripples me and stops me from wanting to be present and check in with my emotions. The thing is too, I often find it difficult to even know how I am feeling. So that will be a challenge, to even start the process. Like lately, I have just been feeling disgusting all over. I just get this sense that my body is foul, gross, slimy, yukky. My therapist says that this is likely memory, but the fact that I don’t delve deeper into wanting to know this, probably stops me from recovering what it is or at least kickstart the process to release these trapped feelings or give voice to these parts of self.

When I think i get close to some sort of memory retrieval or breakthrough, I also shut down, I get very depressed, experience a lot of suicidal ideation and become very controlling in other areas of my life. I think i have to be careful, perhaps this is programming, I have no idea. The voices in my head get louder, more frantic, fearful and they stop me from going deeper. I am not sure how to confront this yet. If anyone has any ideas out there let me know…

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5 thoughts on “Making a decision to feel

  1. You are brave and insightful. Your self awareness and therapy will support your recovery and wellbeing. Trust the wisdom of your mind and body to bring to surface that which you are ready to process you don’t need to relive your past. Avoidance is a coping strategy that eventually causes more pain in the long term but facing your fears in manageable doses with support is the way forward and will be well worth the effort. Your courage is inspiring. Keep working with your specialist therapist – slow to be quick.

  2. Hello,
    This quote reminds me exactly of how it goes when I try to go deeper : “When I think i get close to some sort of memory retrieval or breakthrough, (…) the voices in my head get louder, more frantic, fearful and they stop me from going deeper.”
    …Programming? I think of it too, and ask myself : “is it because I read about it, or because it really hapened ?” I have no clue unfortunately… I am curretly looking for a new therapist, because I am tired of the (many) ones saying : “well if you have amnesia, then maybe you should respect this defense mechanism and just keep it this way” ! Ok, and what do I do with the disturbing flashbacks, nightmares, voices, eager body sensations, feeling always scared..?
    I send you strenght, determination and courage
    Cath
    from France

    1. Thanks very much Cath, I really appreciate your comment. Can’t believe you have had therapists say that about your amnesia?! Of course it is a defense mechanism, but that doesn’t mean that you should keep it there. It takes time and therapy (amongst other recovery tools), to help you feel safe enough to overcome this defense mechanism, but even then it is difficult! Especially if the programming is so deep, no doubt we were programmed not to remember and to remember may mean suicidal programming kicks in, self sabotage etc. I hope you can find someone who believes you and supports you. I do believe there are many good therapists out there. I had to trust my intuition when I found mine, but I also looked for someone who had specific experience in dissociation, ptsd and trauma. I needed someone who had experience in cults, programming and DID even though I was unsure whether this was indeed my reality. You deserve love and support and I believe you can get this. Take care 🙂 Pepper.

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