Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Had a big case of sad today. Not a damned clue why, either...but I just rolled with it and eventually it eased up.
The biggest thing I've done differently this time around is to accept all the emotions, whatever they may be...and not try to DO something about them or argue myself out of them. I think it was Caroline Knapp who wrote "you mean I have to actually FEEL all these feelings?!" about early sobriety or at least words to that effect and they are So. True.
I'm only a few months away from turning 50 and being able to have feelings is still ridiculously hard for me. I grew up with family - particularly a mother - who liked to argue feelings away: if there weren't reasons she thought were valid for any given feeling being expressed to her, then she would argue/harangue/filibuster until I eventually agreed that no, in fact I wasn't having whatever feeling I thought I had been having...and I was wrong to have even been thinking it in the first place. On the other hand, negative feelings with valid reasons were treated with alcohol...and yes, typing all that out shows rather easily how crazy - or at least not emotionally healthy - that particular outlook on life was.
In any case the result of all that was a whole lot of twisted connections in my brain which led me to think that the solution to having feelings, especially "bad" ones, was to eat or drink or both until they went away. Except of course for internalized self-loathing and recriminations; being as how they were all silent and self-contained those were okay. Can we say "vicious cycle" anyone? Sure we can.
It has taken me a really long time to accept that feelings Just Are the same way weather Just Is...and that arguing with feelings is about as productive as arguing with the weather. It's not the having of feelings which is ever the problem; it's only actions taken based on those feelings which can ever become problems. You can feel any damned way you want and absolutely nothing will come of it. Also feelings - any of them - don't make one an inherently bad, evil or damaged person. Mr. Rogers made a big point about how wishing won't make things come true and although I've been hearing that since I was three it's still a struggle to just have feelings without trying to drink them away or eat them away or otherwise make them go away.
So anyhow today had a huge chunk of sad-for-no-reason in it but instead of the old solution which was "I felt bad all day today; I can't wait for that first slug of vodka on an empty stomach as I fix dinner to replace bad feelings with buzzed" I just accepted "fine, I'm sad. No, don't know why but that's okay....if I'm sad I'm sad and it will either go away or it won't but meanwhile what do I absolutely -have- to do while I'm feeling sad?" It doesn't seem like a whole lot written out but it is a huge mental shift, believe me. Anger is still the hardest, I think, in part because I become so very non-functional when I'm angry but I've discovered that "okay, let's just go for a walk not to try to get over being mad or distract -from- being mad but to keep from exploding while sitting still" is a decent place to start.
And eventually things get back to baseline.