Facing fears, allowing pain

We are in the quiet room at therapy. We forgot our pen in T’s office so we’re writing this way instead

We have lots of confusion! Experience doesn’t make sense to us. The minutes aren’t stitched together as “one thing.” To us they aren’t an hour, a meal, a morning. We are just surviving a ride

Many people outside us are showing us strong emotions. That panics us. We feel danger. But then they shut down fast. And we’re left holding the newborn emotion they just birthed but they left it. It will be neglected if they don’t tend to it. So do we tend to it? How?

If it were a baby, we’d give it back. But if they can’t care for it, who can?

Therapists help us care for emotions we can’t handle. But these people birthing strong emotions aren’t in therapy and most are not open to it.

They birth these strong emotions and then run away—into distraction of phones, media, rationality, other emotions (more pleasant ones).

These emotions want to be felt so they will come back when these people aren’t expecting it. The feelings may be out of context, harder to deal with, more intense.

We feel like those neglected emotions. We wanted support but parents wanted to meet their own needs and so neglected ours.

We have our own emotions, which we also want to flee from. But therapy helps us sit with them sometimes, talk about them.

We don’t talk with other people outside therapy about not understanding our life because they might be scared of us and they wouldn’t know what to say and they do not share our experience.

We don’t meet our need to belong when we are silent. But what can we do? Alienate people more by saying we’re confused and don’t know our own actions and experience? say that we find consumer- and media-and productivity-driven lifestyles unfulfilling for us?

It’s hard to live without understanding consequences of some of our actions. We know some: if we take substances, we could get addicted. We know if we don’t eat, we get sick. But it’s harder to make wise choices when we’re in emotionally scary situations like hearing about other’s depression, other’s panic, other’s criticism of us, other’s fears.

These we panic over and make desperate choices sometimes. And we don’t always remember or understand our choices, actions, consequences.

How do we improve with this? Practice? That sounds very painful and challenging. But if we want to be more resourceful, we have to beg ourselves to 1) take our time! We always feel rushed to get out of stressful situations. Often we want to fix them—ASAP! We want to learn that we can ride the wave and not die. Not sure we can learn this.

2) we also want to allow our feelings. “We feel really overwhelmed and we’d still like to help you. We just need a little time because we’re so sad that you’re feeling depressed. That sounds so hard.” This would be hard to say.

We want to feel belonging, connection, competence, self-acceptance.

We have been trying for YEARS! This is really hard. We will keep trying because we do want to be in relationship with some of these people. Some we feel obligated to support because they don’t have many other people. And we’re still under their spell. It would be hard to say no.

Everything is temporary. Life is temporary. Maybe we can try to face some fears to experience less suffering in the long run

13 thoughts on “Facing fears, allowing pain

    1. That linked post was useful. It is curious to acknowledge our low self-value abs the role it plays in boundary setting. Families of origin are multi-headed entities/beasts to us. Still, we occasionally turn our phone off or don’t answer it when we know we can’t handle any more. Thank you

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        1. We were asked to help our surviving parent tonight. We have done a lot. We communicated to Spouse that we don’t want to do what is being asked of us. It was too much for us. So Spouse did it. Now we are being asked to support Spouse. That will be easier. But really being in relationship with people is very, very resource intensive for us

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  1. Trying to face some fears to experience less suffering in the long run sounds good. But it is so hard to do. Because who wants to face them and suffer now? Sigh. It is a practice.
    Thank you, as always for sharing. Your words speak to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favourite quotes is from John Donne: “other men’s crosses are not my crosses.” Learning to establish and hold boundaries is an important work in progress: we have enough thoughts and feelings of our own: we don’t need to carry other people’s.

    One of the tools I use is meditation. It helped me let go of the problematic thoughts and emotions I thought would be stuck in my brain forever. It was a change from the maladaptive tricks that seemed like the only option. I came across it in a yoga class and was hooked.

    Learning to let go was sweet relief. Releasing my obsessive grip and letting the thoughts and feelings dissolve into formless electricity felt like joy.

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  3. I like your description of people “birthing” emotions and then abandoning them. I used to do that a lot. I still do it sometimes. I couldn’t handle the overwhelming emotion, so I jumped into distraction. Distraction helps in the moment but not in the long term. My therapist used to say it was like pushing a beach ball underwater — eventually, you don’t have the energy to keep it pushed under, and it springs back up, high into the air with full force.

    It is hard to sit with emotions and care for them, but you are doing it. It’s okay if you can’t always support other people. Like others have said, boundaries can be helpful for both people involved. After my uncle passed away, I felt like I was supporting other people a lot — my aunt, my mom. But I was grieving, too. I would have been better off if I had made space for my own grief and emotions instead of feeling like I had to support other people all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The beachball analogy is vivid and helps us understand. One challenge is that we have big emotions a lot—sometimes feeling other people’s emotions, sometimes flashbacks, sometimes crushing depression. Trying to break that cycle while still having emotions

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