Today I am going to discuss hurt, pain, emotional pain. I have (as I’m sure most of us do) struggle with how to deal with things. As a child I would have temper tantrums, pounding my head on the cement floor, self destructive things. I also covered all emotional turmoil up with humor, becoming the family comic, (or so I think I am anyways). One thing my entire family has and what helps is we all have great sense of humor. While sometimes brushing things under the rug, getting the focus off the issue by distracting with humor. This is something I still do, but I work not to do this. Family issues last year reminded me that in my family you didn’t sit down to discuss the elephant in the middle of the room, it was easier to dodge his trunk. One of the things that brought me into therapy was that I wasn’t trusting what my eyes were seeing and my ears were hearing, and doubting myself. What was real? What wasn’t real? For me, my entire focus was on how things looked on the outside. I remember one time, and I cringe now thinking about this, when I was thin, grew out my nails and liked my hair at that particular time I thought “Okay, Now i’m whole”. I was 20 at the time. When I think of this now my stomach churns and my head shakes back and forth. I was a shell of a person. I looked great on the outside but on the inside I was a mess. Looking back, I was rather shallow. I am not shallow anymore, and my insides I believe, reveals who I am, my outside is just a presentation of what embodies my spirit, my soul.
My teen years I dealt with my feelings, as I shared in the previous blog, with bulimia. It didn’t stop there. Once I was no longer bingeing and purging I picked up another addiction, and then another. Addiction may not be the right word here, but I do have an addictive personality and these things were my vices, the way in which I dealt with my emotions. Shopping, drinking, yada yada. I vascilated through many. This week I went back to food.
It took years for me to recognize that beneath all of these actions which affected my relationships with others, that the one relationship it affected the most was with myself. I dealt with emotions by hurting or harming myself. Always with the focus that I have done something wrong, questioning my every movement, wanting to make sure it “looked right”, I am grateful that with a lot of help from therapy and working the 12 step program I was able to identify this, and also recognize how and when I was sabotaging myself. For me, what always was “an option” when things got bad was suicide. Sadly this is really how I lived. That was my “out” or “ace in the hole”. I remember the day when my psychiatrist told me, “Good news, you are getting better!” I asked what he meant. “You are no longer suicidal but homicidal!” I still find that funny today, but he was in fact, correct. I was no longer blaming myself for everyone’s issues, I was starting to look at what was and wasn’t mine. This presented new issues, as does everything if we are open and willing to embrace it. How to handle my anger, how to set boundaries with those I loved, those I cared most about, in business, in all relationships. I wish I could tell you that this happened early on in what I call “my recovery” phase, but it didn’t. It didn’t happen until after my sister passed, and I was left with my best friend who was now heavily living in the bottle. This kind, gentle, caring, nurturing man was no longer the man I knew. Because I was busy trying to jump through all the hoops of life and keep things going, I realize now, it was happening little by little over time, but it’s easy to put something aside and not deal with it. The ole Scarlet O’hara “Tomorrow is another Day”. The best intimate relationship of my life was now toxic and caustic. This brought me back to the days of not knowing what to believe… What I was hearing or what I was seeing, self doubt and destruction now became a part of my daily life. Not knowing how to deal with emotions, having just lost my sister, I was in survival mode. Fight or flight daily. Unfortunately this didn’t stop when we finally split (I realized it was a choice… his life or mine). I chose mine, but not without immense guilt, codependency and pain to work through. This journey has been difficult, it has been painful, and it continues. How to deal with feelings and emotions? It was never about not loving him, it was about learning to love myself more.
Mindfulness classes, lots of reading and attending cognitive therapy taught me my feelings were a choice. I did NOT have to feel the pain all at once. I could even make the choice not to deal with it or feel it, but this was proven long before to be ineffective and blew up in my face.
Today I am much better about dealing with emotional pain, but I still have times and some quite recent where I have been walking the edge and in darkness. It has been a couple years since “ending my life” was an option. I wish I could tell you it hasn’t returned. I can tell you that I am working very hard to get through this depression, work through false accusations that are on a very personal basis. I resorted back to food, eating sugar and unhealthy bingeing that brought my weight up 8 lbs in the past few weeks. It took the help of good close friends, professionals and prayers for me to be guided back to sanity. If you have never experienced clinical depressions, you may question my share. Always told by my mother I wear my “heart on my sleeve”, I share my stories, as they come up, because it helps ME heal from whatever is going on. Secondary I share because if my struggles, if my stories, and experiences both good and bad can help one other person to realize, they are not alone, then that is a wonderful thing.
Today after breaking down days ago, I am standing up, pretty unsteady on my feet, but have made progress. Today I have found some understanding and have been guided (Thank you all for the prayers) in what direction I need to go to take care of myself. Today I can see what belongs to me, and what doesn’t. Today I can set boundaries, while still reaching out my hand, choosing to take care of myself, first. This is something that I had to learn, and it literally took breast cancer for me to learn that I hadn’t a clue how to do this. I was busy taking care or fixing my family, my boyfriend, or whatever else I deemed worthy. The only person I can fix, heal or control is ME!!
Thank God I realize today, sometimes the only control I have over a situation is how I handle it. While those nearest my heart have the largest potential to, and do bring me back to a place of darkness (abandonment issues and more), I was able to gain clarity, recognize what I need to do for me, and step into that plan one step at a time.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to handle emotional pain well. But I have learned that if I take a few days to myself, if I detach and feel it, involve trustworthy friends and professionals who I trust, the darkness doesn’t last as long. The danger for me here is when I detach and withdraw from everyone, that leaves me to my own unhealthiness and healthiness and its always a gamble which will win out.
Thank you for your continued prayers.