Teenager

I feel like maybe I should apologize for posting too much…no, I’m not going to do that.

The weekend has been kind of rough. I’m trying to process whatever it was that happened in therapy Friday. Not really knowing  what the problem is, or rather was, is not helping matters much. Friday night I went to my 12 step group. It was OK, though almost no one I knew was there. It’s a little tough when most of the people are there for the first time. I didn’t feel I could share a lot, but I talked a bit about anger at work, and then a bit about meditation and how it helps me. There’s almost always something good that happens in a meeting. I don’t know what it is, but I usually feel better no matter how ‘good’ or awkward the meeting itself is.

In order to do anything this weekend, I have to shut down the trauma feelings that are swirling around. I’m pretty good at doing that, ‘switching out’ so to speak, but the cost is high it seems. The 12 step meeting is kind of a middle ground – I have to pull myself together to get there and act normal, but I can kind of sit and feel things there as well. Maybe sometime I’ll also talk about what I’m actually going through, a bit. People do talk about all kinds of things there.

Yesterday I went for a longish walk in the park, partly along a wooded trail that I had to myself. It was very peaceful, with an end of summerish feeling to it. There were orange butterflies, a change from the cream coloured ones flying around in the summer. I sat in the cafe and ate an oat square and read my trashy mystery novel.

Once home, I lay down and spent the next four hours trying to feel. Once they’re stirred up in therapy, those feelings are just waiting to come back, so I let them. It felt really crummy. But in a way also dreamlike and unreal. I just kept remembering scenes from when I was a teenager in suburb ville. Nothing sinister either…just ordinary things, but they come back as if I’m actually there. For whatever reason, there are really sad feelings attached to those memories.

I remember that yes, I was very unhappy as a teenager. I kind of think I had given up trying for ‘normal’ by that point. I no longer tried to have friends, or look good, or anything really. I went through the motions of going to school…like a lot of kids did. Sometimes I skipped classes. Mostly I wouldn’t talk to anyone all day at high school. Yes, that was severe loneliness.

I think it would have been important to dress in attractive clothes, or at least the kind of clothes the other kids wore. I just didn’t pay any attention to how I looked, as I figured I was so ugly it didn’t make any difference anyway. People will judge you by your clothes I think. Especially teenagers. That would have been something basic that could have been fixed.

Is that the feeling – loneliness? It doesn’t feel like loneliness, but I can’t figure out what it is. There are some body memories mixed in also. I suppose from when I was younger. The story above about me as a teenager is what I totally do remember. When I’m trying to feel these emotions, I don’t think about that stuff at all. I don’t understand it, but it seems to be what I need to do. Allow the badness to be there without knowing what it is.

I’m stuck in these memories at the moment. Saturday after spending four hours doing nothing but allowing this stuff to come up, I did feel better. A little weepy, but clear headed and able to cook dinner. Today I’m not so lucky. I went out first thing for breakfast at a friend’s. Then I had to do some urgent chores. Then I felt dissociated, so I went back to trying to allow those feelings, but this time I’m just stuck in them. I suppose shutting them down in order to cope makes it more difficult to find them again. Which believe me, would be fine with me, except then I’m dissociated.

It may sound odd to be trying to feel bad on purpose. On a daily level, why not stay in the more normal coping mode? And big picture – this all happened a long time ago…why stir it up?

The reason I keep trying to feel it is that now that it’s close to the surface, it’s likely to break through when I’m busy doing other things, like at work, when I really cannot cope with it. And I figure if I can just feel it, it will move through and leave me in peace. Feelings do that. Another thing that happens if I do not feel it, is that I end up dissociated, if that’s the right word. I feel blank and empty and unable to think. I’d rather feel, even though it feels bad.

The big picture reason for stirring this stuff up – my life is not going well, I mess up most relationships, I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I’m somewhat fragmented. Those symptoms are often the ways I cope with the feelings I can’t feel. Hmm…does that make sense? Plus, I don’t know my own story, and my mind is not making sense because I don’t know my own story. I’m believing some lies I was told….I don’t know the truth. Life goes better on truth.

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9 comments
  1. gniz said:

    I think feeling things is great, and necessary, for me. One thing that has helped me with feeling stuff is to consciously tell myself that I do want to feel it so I can let go of the anger/sadness, etc. Somehow it seems as if really knowing that I do want to move past it as well as feel it, helps me to accomplish that and I'm not sure why, or by what mechanism it happens.But it does.The tremendous anger I had about the situation with my brother abusing our niece and how my family responded–it was probably eight months to a year that I felt it. I had like 2-3 blowout therapy sessions with my mom, probably fifteen or twenty (at least) huge screaming matches with different people in my family.At least one late night phone call to my brother where I screamed obscenities at him and thought I might finally have cracked.And yet…after going through all of that (some of which I surely could have avoided), and allowing myself to feel all the emotions, my anger is almost totally gone. So is the sadness.When my mother talks to me about my brother and his kids, I can listen with a smile even as she says things that show me how completely in denial she still is about the situation.That is a very freeing feeling, to no longer carry all that around inside of me and I was waiting for it to happen. But it couldn't truly happen without letting myself go through the bad stuff. I'm sure I could have wallowed a bit less, but still…nobody's perfect.Whereas I know that my mother, who holds emotions in, has still not dealt with everything. She has crones and all kinds of health issues and much of it is stress related. Her refusal to face and work through emotions has completely compromised her health. Anyway, this is a long and rambling comment, but I guess I'm just relating my experience of moving through very painful emotions. It can take a really, really long time. And maybe the work is never totally done, but the crap loosens up and eventually there is a freedom that starts to creep in.You seem to be doing that very same work and I am certain that in time you will taste the rewards of it, as you've already started to.

  2. Ellen said:

    That is such a moving story Aaron, thank you for sharing it. Very courageous of you altogether. It is the same kind of thing I'm trying to do, though for me I'm feeling stuff which I don't know what caused it. But feeling it is still freeing. Sometimes I feel a warmth creep into my stomache or heart for instance, after I've tried to release some of this crap, and it's a good feeling for sure. I like how you were able to rant and rave and express yourself to your family. I'm not there yet, since I'm still trying to figure out what happened, but maybe some day. It is a long process it seems, but really, what's the alternative. Going around half alive basically. Very encouraging, thank you. take care

  3. gniz said:

    Well I also have always had a tremendous amount of anger that I couldn't explain. For a long time I was convinced I was just a bad kid.But through the work I've done, and through thinking about my childhood more, I realize just how incredibly toxic that environment was and the damage it did to me.You may have a hard time remembering exactly what caused these tremendous feelings of upheaval, as do I. But we know and remember enough to know that it must have been very bad, very painful and frightening for a little innocent kid. Whatever it was. It doesn't even necessarily matter, all the details. I still have some unresolved questions about what might have happened to me.But ultimately I just know the tremendous sadness and anger and pain that I've dealt with almost my entire life.Working through the emotions, breathing, feeling it all consciously and letting my body begin to release the pent up tension, letting myself finally relax and treat myself and others well–that has freed me to some extent of the past.It's never done, it's never easy, but i believe we can heal ourselves whether having all the answers or not.I am glad your journey continues and i look forward to continue to be inspired by your efforts.

  4. Never apologize for posting too much. I find when I post I get some frustrations and emotions out. Having to tell someone! When I began to start "feeling" it is very painful indeed. I shut down for so long, I did not know what I was experiencing, until my t. told me. Safe hugs to you dear one.

  5. Ellen said:

    @ gniz = Interesting that you also can't remember Aaron. Childhood is so long ago after all, though the emotions stay. Thanks for telling me about your process. Not too many people get the goodness of 'feeling bad on purpose'. It helps that you do. @ JBR – It's the same for me – I often feel a lot better once I've explained myself to the blogosphere! I'm also the same as you I think, and starting to feel more is a shock altogether. take care

  6. Life does go better on truth as you say- that's why you are finding recovery in your 12 step group. I have been going to Al-Anon since 1998. Even though I no longer have addicts in my life that are active, the behaviors and dysfunction that go along with the using pass on thru the generations and I have to stay ok, both for me, and for my kids. Anyhow my 2 cents.Your process and writing is wonderful and I thank you for sharing it.

  7. Ellen said:

    Thanks for the compliment Jill, glad you find something that resonates with you. Great that the steps group has helped you so much. I know the feeling of having to stay well for your family also. take care

  8. Candycan said:

    Ellen, you have a way with words. What you describe in your posts is so similar to how I feel/experience things; it's really nice for me to read your posts because you put into words something that I feel unable to verbalise and you do it really well. Never apologise for writing too much! I like to find blogs that have lots of updates. I keep missing yours though because they're not showing up on my feed but I think I need to update it somehow (I am not very good at all of this). It's hard to 'feel' all of the stuff you describe and still be able to get on with life. It can seem like we have to make a choice between one or the other sometimes. The problem is, the feelings are still in there, even if they are being suppressed and then they affect life: for you it seems the feelings break through at inconvenient times. I find this too and also that if I am dissociating from everything and not allowing myself to 'feel', I start getting physically ill. Do you find this too? If that bad stuff can't be released consciously, it finds another way. I hope eventually you will be able to find more balance but it seems at the moment you are doing just what is needed and I admire you for having the courage to face these feelings and memories.

  9. Ellen said:

    Thanks CC! I actually read a lot of your blog recently, and it really speaks to me. There's something very similar about how we experience things, though I do not have DID exactly. Exactly, it is almost impossible to feel this stuff and still function at all well. My solution is therapy on Fridays, but then my weekends tend to be shot, practically speaking anyway. Yes, I can also suppress pretty well, but then I get symptoms. For me luckily not as physical as for you. I did use to get severe headaches almost every day, but not so much anymore. Otherwise I tend to be healthy but with low energy. take care

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