Me and My Stupid F@#%ing Feelings

Argh, you guys! Feelings are the worst.

Nov 16, 2011 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

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OK, so I know I am a gigantic baby who never learned to live in this world and I'm WORKING ON THAT. But today I am full of feelings and I just want to state for the record that I hate them. All of them.

I did not even intend to write about this, you guys. MY FEELINGS ARE WRITING THIS POST. It's like that scary story about the babysitter who's getting calls from inside the house. This post is coming from inside my feelings!!!

 See, when you are an active addict of whatever kind, you float through the world pleasantly numb. All those uncomfortable feelings just sort of run off into some obsolete corner of your unused soul, without ever hitting your bombed-out brain.

Eventually you're full of misery, but as long as all you have to handle is that one familiar feeling, the world seems manageable. It's actually easier to be miserable, because you're hung over or you're screwing up your life or whatever, than to feel the myriad of strange and subtle gradiations of authentic emotion.

But then you get sober (hopefully). And slowly, you begin to thaw. And at first, you're so dazzled to watch your world turn from gray to technicolor that you feel euphoric. Sobriety gives you back joy, and its return is heady. But eventually the novelty wears off and you have to get down to the business of learning to live as a feeling person. This is the part I hate.

I am grateful to have feelings today, but I am still like at toddler with a spoon when it comes to navigating them -- just jabbing away at them with my fist, clumsy and clueless

My ability to identify and access my feelings is understandably underdeveloped. It's sort of like looking at fish swimming around underneath a frozen lake. In the beginning, the lake was totally opaque and I couldn't see what was underneath. Now it's melted a little, and I can see shapes and colors under there, enough to tell you "I see a fish." But ask me what kind of fish? To count its fins and gills and tell you what it's face looks like? No matter how much I squint and struggle, I can't see much more than an outline.

They also come out of context. I might find out some bad news on Monday, but not start to feel anything until Friday, when it no longer seems connected to the event that caused them. Considering I am still processing feelings over things that happened 10 years ago, this is a healthier delay. But it's still confusing as hell.

I basically have to be a feelings detective, sometimes literally writing down a list of all the things that have recently happened to me and trying to connect them to the emotions I am experiencing. Or I consult the "feelings chart" my therapist gave me when I first entered treatment, which dorkily lists a bunch of different feelings with corresponding facial expressions. I keep it on my fridge; it is the worst.

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And right now I'm not sure if I'm feeling "sad" or "anxious" or "lonely" or "angry" -- I just know I feel like shit.

I've attended 4 out of the 5 required classes for foster care certification now, and while they've been extremely helpful, they've also brought up a ton of feelings. The reality of what happens to kids both in and out of foster care would be depressing without my own less-than-stellar childhood experiences, but learning that behaviors like bedwetting, promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, overeating and even my personal security blanket, overachieving, are often responses of a wounded child to the experience of overwhelming trauma, grief and/or loss? Devestating.

Plus the ongoing situation with my suicidal/drug-addicted family member. Plus work stress. Plus gray icky winter blahs. Plus plus plus whatever else  I happen to get worked up about on a daily basis. The point is I am full of feelings, and not equipped with the years of experience to handle them.

In fact, the whole set-up still seems somehow unfair to me. Let's go over it again -- you're walking along feeling fine, then something bad happens, and then you just have to feel bad for awhile? Like, just sit in the badness and experience it? How supremely whack.

My friend Heather is always talking about "taking it to the floor," meaning that you basically just let yourself feel things until you sort of slump down and curl up on the floor, presumably to cry or just sort of feel terrible until you eventually fall asleep. It's awesome but awful.

 Help me get a handle on this shizz. What do you DO when you are having bad feelings?  Besides drinking or using drugs or having sex or compulsively shopping or overeating, that is.

And you can say healthy stuff like jogging around the block or meditating, but I am probably going to hate you, at least a little bit.