Repeat Performances

My last therapy assignment was to practise feeling emotions, and for once,  I took the assignment seriously.  My first effort led to SI.  I take full responsibility for that, but I recognise the catalyst as well.  This time, things went better and I actually learnt something that might be useful.  If my therapist will actually listen to me, that is.

This morning, I was feeling incredibly sad.  I’ve faced more than a few losses in a relatively short time, and I’ve put off dealing with those for quite a while.  For whatever reason, some of them are making themselves known more definitely now.  My emotions absolutely attacked me this morning, but I managed to control them again before they controlled me.  I actually stopped feeling anything at all almost immediately.  I took a bit of time to consider *why* it’s so very important to me to stop those pesky little emotions, and it all comes down, of course, to a lack of control.

I wandered down a sort of stream-of-consciousness that brought me to a conclusion that should have been obvious all along– in my experience, people who let their emotions lead for even a short time often become dangerous.  A bit more thinking, and I realised I was modelling that almost completely on my mother (and the Freudians laugh…).  She was extremely flighty, bouncing from one mood to another so frequently it was hard to keep up sometimes.  She had DID as well, and at least in her case, it seriously inhibited her ability to be a parent.  She felt intensely, and could be quite compassionate sometimes.  She could also be incredibly dangerous, leaving my sister and I in fear for our lives.  Add her family’s freemason background and her direct marriage into a powerful cult bloodline, and you have a recipe for devastating disaster.

Through my child eyes, I saw my mother become so violent in her anger that everyone around her suffered.  Her anger led her to break all of my fingers, send me to hospital with an explained-away concussion, and put so many scars on my body that I sometimes lose track of which were caused by what.  It led her to destroy all of my younger sister’s toys and hide her away in dark cupboards until I was able to get away and find her.  It even led her to hurt herself.  She attempted suicide twice and physically attacked her own body much in the same way she attacked my sister and me.

My mother’s deep grief and sadness was less violent, but destructive all the same.  She starved herself, stopped speaking, stopped bathing, and barely existed.  The strong psych meds she took only made things worse.  We were terrified to watch what was happening to her and absolutely certain that we were the cause.

As an adult, I still wonder if that will happen to me as well if I truly give in to my emotions for even a small bit of time.  It’s in my blood afterall.  It seems better to simply stop the emotions before they start.  Wrapped up in the safety of my best friend’s arms, I’ve been able to release some of my strong emotions.  Still, when I feel that sort of shift that tells me my emotions will soon be leading me, I stop my feelings completely.  Part of me knows that I will feel better if I learn to give in for a bit, but my fear stops that happening.  It’s a fear that all of my logic and analysing can’t make better.  My therapist says the only way to get past stubborn fears is to let the thing you’re afraid of happen so that you see it isn’t anything to be afraid of afterall.  This fear is too dangerous, though, and I’m not quite ready to take the chance on repeating what I’ve seen in the past.

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4 thoughts on “Repeat Performances

  1. I too fear allowing my emotions to be expressed. I’m not sure I’ll have any control of them once they’re out and in the open.

    This is a great post, so honestly written. I applaud your efforts to get to the bottom of understanding your emotions. I know how painful that is, and also how difficult.

    Thanks for sharing your struggles, it helps to know I’m not alone in dealing with terrible memories.

    • Thanks, beauty. It really is helpful to know that others understand. Putting all of this into words is sometimes a daunting task, and I’m always happy to hear that people can relate to what I’m saying. Your comments are always a comfort to me– you truly do understand. Thanks for that!

  2. That is a pretty familiar fear to me, but I think that there is a big difference between what your family did and what you are trying to do. In my family, at least, the anger and lashing out was a way to transfer blame from the perpetrator onto the victim – it had nothing to do with the healing process or achieving self awareness and everything to do with maintaining denial and an abusive environment.

    I’ve been learning that there are lots of healthy ways to express anger, fear, and hurt. Even though I had no idea if I would survive the process the first time I went through it, I wouldn’t go back for anything – life is unspeakably better now. That’s not to say it’s perfect or that I don’t still have many things to work through, but each round is a little more manageable and a little less scary than the last.

    It sounds like you’ve got a good therapist and some pretty amazing friends to be there for you on this journey…that first step is a huge one, take care of yourself as you’re making it.

    (Help this was helpful and not too preachy.)

    • Sarah, your comment gave me hope. I’m sorry you had to go through this difficult process but so glad to hear you made it through. You are very brave. Thanks for posting about your experience. It’s great to hear from someone who made it to the other side of things, even with great fear in the interim, and can attest to the positive difference it’s made in life.

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