Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The One Where I Get All Serious On You

So I was talking to my therapist today what you thought I stayed mostly sane by myself? Sorry to disappoint... and we were discussing feelings. I was telling her how I have a tendency to separate mine into "positive" and "negative" categories. You know the negative ones: those sloppy, in the way, spilled-milk ones that once they are out you have no idea what you are supposed to do with them? Anyway, I explained that, sure, I feel, but I more categorize and summarize than actually experience the entire emotion. I am really good at identifying what I am feeling and I can tell you all about it. I may even stick my toe in it. But to actually roll my pant legs up and put on my wellies and stomp through it? Not so good at that..

Don't get me wrong, I do feel. I feel great love for my kids, and I know they love me. I am absolutely and madly in love with my husband most of the time. I like warm fuzzies and cuddles and gratitude and comfort. I feel pride in a job well done. I cry at sappy commercials and the end of romantic comedy movies. But when it comes to the real life gut-wrenching anger or frustration or disappointment, I don't stew in that. It seems to be like snow in Southern California: remote and far away from me, where it belongs..

Lest you think I am some kind of flat-lined automaton, you can ask my kids, I get mad. Oh boy, do I get mad. Mama has a temper. And I would characterize myself as passionate; others have also described me thusly. I laugh and giggle and tease. I smile easily and have a good sense of humor. So I know I feel my emotions, especially the positive ones. But for the negative feelings, the ones that seem threatening and don't feel safe? I have to pull them in, dissect them, figure them out, and then experience them. By that point, there isn't much left. I apparently practice a lot of self-mastication: it is important to chew on those feelings, understand them and then move on. I am just too busy to soak in them at the moment, and I will trot them out another day. This works on a short-term basis, but as a long term plan, it falls short. Eventually, those emotions learn how to you see them now they're gone. Problem solved! But once I close the door, like cockroaches, the feelings come back out into the dark again. I know they're there, but I cannot reach them. I feel them nibbling on my sub-concious. .

I have asked myself Well, how did I get here? seriously, why I tend to temper negative emotions, and I realize it is a defense mechanism. I grew up in a family where only dad could hold the anger. Don't get me wrong, I was plenty angry. I just couldn't show it. Also, I found out when I was twenty-five that I am bipolar, and over the years, I have learned to keep myself on an even keel. I regulate my phases pretty well. I am fortunate that I have only ever had one major manic episode. Everything else ends up in the easy to manage hypomania cycle. When you have two kids with autism who are not very good self-regulators, you learn to be very, very good at it. It wouldn't do for all of us to throw a tantrum, now would it?.

It scares me to think what would happen if it comes out in one huge slimy pustule? I wonder if I would ever stop the emotion, or if it would just swoop me away for good? I tend to feel emotions strongly when I don't filter them first. It can be difficult to control them. Emotions have a way of lying. They can say life isn't worth living. They can say no one understands you. They can say, why don't you just go back to bed and not bother getting dressed today? And they can whisper, wouldn't it be easier if you'd never married or had kids? I don't have time to fight those phantoms, so I just refuse to even entertain them. They can say your family would be better off without you and you know there is a rubber room out there with your name on it, right? I am rather hard on myself, I guess. If I get depressed, I mentally kick my butt to get me going again. I am not mean about it, but goodness, there is always something to be thankful about, so get to it! Stop feeling sorry and move on, already. This works pretty well..

But sometimes, sometimes, I am just weary. It might be that I got up on the wrong side of the bed. It could be PMS, but whatever it is, it isn't quite Right. And it is at those times, I can't stave off the voices. I listen to the whispers. I don't believe them, but I lack the energy to banish them for good. So I send them up the river. I'm the Panama Canal, baby. Those emotions ease into that lock, it closes and the water rushes in. Once the boat is under control, it glides through the next lock, and so on. Finally, it comes out on the other end. In one piece. This is key. Controlled, steady-as-she-goes and in one piece. Then often I head to the keyboard. I was asked today what would happen if I released that disappointment, anger, frustration, grief. My reply? I already have. It's what I do here.

T, who is sorry to be such a downer, but sometimes,like Starbucks, writing is therapy

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