Thinking & Swimming with Sharks...
Someone just told me that she thinks that I am as afraid of feeling happy as I am at feeling sad. For a moment, I was speechless. I didn’t have words to combat this most egregious assertion by someone who knows me well...
I am still not convinced she is right...but it did get me thinking and there in lies the problem...
What if I do? What if I continue to make decisions that are sure to provide the circumstances to unravel any kind of feelings of happiness and joy in my life?
She also postured that my intellect is an issue. I disagree with that also. I do not see myself as someone who is especially intelligent. I feel average at best. I do see that I prefer to stay in my head because it feels much safer there. I like to think my way through life rather than feel. Feeling is hard and murky and terrifying.
I can remember seeing this therapist a long time ago and she would ask me how I felt...I would respond with what I thought. It went like this:
How do you feel about your relationship with your husband?
I think for the most part...
That is not what I asked you...I asked how you felt.
And I was answering you...
No you talked about what you thought. Let’s try again...
Ok, I see what you are saying. I feel like I think that he...
You are doing it again.
NO! I AM NOT!
Um, yes you are...
For FUCK’s SAKE! I am trying!
I know you are...it is hard for you to talk about feelings...
I AM TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS...
No you are talking about what you think and that is not the same as talking about what you feel.
Yes it is!
No, it isn’t. Let’s begin again.
Isn’t the 50 minutes up yet? This is excruciating!
We have 45 minutes left.
I think I want to cry...
And that is how it went for the 2 months that I attended. Every. Single. Time. After eight sessions, I had to leave. I couldn’t handle it and I couldn’t talk about how I felt because I had no fucking clue.
So I retreated for another few years to my head where it is really anything but safe...but I am able to conjure up thoughts of safety which, to me, is way better than feeling.
I still spend an inordinate amount of time in my head. Feeling mostly powerless over how I feel about almost everything. I still prefer talking about what I think. Way safer for me, because there are literally a million thoughts that get me out of and away from how I feel.
My friend said to me this morning that I should stay with the feelings and leave the thoughts alone. That was paralyzing. But I also knew she was right. The thoughts are what kill me...the feelings I never really even get to.
So I am a defensive thinker. Someone who can and will create an elaborate story and construct to prevent me from feeling much of anything at all. My belief that feeling will kill me pretty pervasive and complete.
So I begin this day, thoughts on screen and feelings circling me like a shark. I am conjuring up images of rescue boats, metal cages and helicopters to save me from the shark invested waters of feeling. Thoughts being way safer to me than feelings.
I know though that what underlies all the thoughts are feelings. And that perhaps, if I am really fucking brave, I can just feel them and let the thoughts and judgments go.
I can feel:
That is a long fucking list...I am not sure that I have it in me to feel just one of those things...let alone them all. So I am just going to go with the first one and do my best to just feel afraid today. I have to start somewhere, right?
I will do my best to report tomorrow what that feels like and not what I think about it. Seems like a hard ask but I see the value in letting go of the thoughts and getting down into the feelings...they are what are driving the thoughts anyway. Perhaps, feeling happy or sad is always mitigated by my head’s conjuring of thoughts that combat any actual feeling before it even gets going. And if I do that for the “bad” feelings, it stands to reason that I do them for all the feelings.
This all seems like a lot to take in on a Thursday during election week. But it is where I am...