Life as a "Pre-Feeler"
I don’t want to write today. I don’t feel like sharing. I want to just go back to sleep. But I can’t. I have been awake for a little while now, thinking about the virus surge, my son, work and a whole host of other things. I wanted to write another article about divorce and the holidays but I just don’t have it in me right now. I will, later.
Today I am not feeling it because I am, in fact, feeling it. I am tired. I am emotionally wrung out. I feel lost and scared and a little hopeless.
I know the cause. I know why I am here. And that is actually good news. I used to feel this way all the time but had no idea why...today, I know exactly why I am feeling what I am feeling.
My good friend said to me yesterday, “you can’t anticipate and feel things for situations that haven’t happened yet...” My immediate thought was...”YES I CAN!” I call it defensive feeling. I will think about some situation out there in the future and then decide how I feel about it...then have those feelings in advance so that when the situation gets here, I am ahead of the game...I have already felt it! HA!
But, as you can imagine, this is folly.
Whatever I have “pre-felt” doesn’t work because whatever actually happens in the future is usually far different than what I thought it was going to look like when I decided to “pre-feel." I know it sounds crazy but I know that I am not alone in this endeavor to “pre-feel” shit.`
Aren’t we all out there in the future feeling things?
“If my husband ever cheated on me, I would be devastated”
“If my wife got cancer, I would be destroyed”
“If I lose my job, I will be so upset”
“If Trump wins the election, I will be _____”
“If I don’t get what I want for Christmas, I will be so annoyed”
“If I get that job in San Francisco, I will be so happy”
Just a few examples of how we “pre-feel” every damn day.
But why, why do we do this?
I can only speak for myself...I believe that I try to feel things in advance because it feels safer. If I think something is going to happen, especially if it is bad, then I am somehow girding myself for it and getting some of the pain out of the way early. But what I am really doing is creating a layaway plan on unhappiness. I am putting unhappiness on some sort of cosmic installment plan stretched out over time...all in an effort to mitigate my own suffering which actually does nothing to decrease it at all. All I have done is to make it last longer by attempting to “pre-feel” it so that I can try to shave off some pain before it actually arrives...
As much as I hate it, this is what I do. I try and try to anticipate the future so as to adjust my conduct and feelings now. I want to know how I will feel now about something that likely isn’t even going to happen...and even if it does, it so very often doesn’t go down the way I planned.
I think I do this because I am afraid. I am scared of just being present. Being here right now, feeling what I am feeling, feels like too much. I am terrified of being present because that is the only time that I can really feel anything accurately. Feeling now about future stuff doesn’t mean I get a leg up on the healing that I may need, it just means that I am altering the course, or not, about how the future goes down. I would also assume that my “pre-feeling” often alters my course in a negative direction.
Really, what I want more than anything else is to be prepared. To be ready. To not be caught off guard. I want to be stabilized in life and ready for whatever comes...but I can’t. None of us can. Life is inherently unpredictable...and there is nothing I can do about that...and neither can you. It is just the way life is...and I hate that. Oh, I am ok with it when I think about winning the lottery...but not so much with things that I label as bad, hard or painful. Those things I want to see coming miles away and “pre-feel” my way right around them. But as you already know...I can’t.
I need to look at this on a deeper level. What role is “pre-feeling” having in my life? What do I think I am gaining? Am I really gaining anything? What am I losing by not being present in the moment?
A lot. I know it. And while I would love to tell you that all my years of “pre-feeling” spared me some awful times...it didn’t. The awful, painful times are going to come no matter how much I try to avoid them or “pre-feel” them.
Perhaps a better intention to set is to feel the current feelings fully. Explore them, wallow in them even and then release them to the past where all current feelings must go. Perhaps if I worked harder on staying present with my current emotional interior I wouldn’t be so tired. I would have more energy since I wouldn’t be spending so much time trying to think about what will happen next and how I will feel about it...Perhaps I could do a radical thing and just stay with the current moment and really experience my current emotions.
I don’t know if I can. As a lifetime “pre-feeler” I seem pretty hard wired to only feel in the future where it feels safer and more productive. Feeling right now how and what I feel seems like a big ask. But like my friend said...no matter how delusionally I might believe otherwise, I can’t really “pre-feel” anything at all. And that feels like bad news but I am pretty sure it isn’t. Just another lesson in the now. A place that is far less awful than my head makes it out to be...