38 (emotion)

July 21, 2011

I think a lot about how i feel about things.

There are a lot of times when i’ll feel a particular emotion and i’ll get all wrapped up in it, but then i calm down and start to think about why i felt that way.

When it’s a positive emotion i don’t really question it.

When it’s a negative emotion a lot of times i’ll scold myself for feeling it in the first place: i’ll tell myself that it’s childish or stupid to have felt such a thing. This has never worked out well, because then i get angry at myself for being so childish and stupid, i feel more negative emotions around that, and it’s just a big downward spiral.

Though it seems like it’s late to start doing so, i’m trying to just go ahead and FEEL things. Something i read recently:

With our physical muscles, we never get strong if we never pick up or hold any weight. The same is true emotionally—if we never let ourselves experience emotion we become increasingly weaker in our ability to handle emotion.

Just in searching my own feelings, i know this to be true (kooohh-haaahh). Growing up male, playing sports, and being subject to coaches, relatives and, well, life in general who all told me to “man up” and not cry or otherwise express when i was feeling a particular emotion, i became unable to handle my emotions when they did become intense. I can think of many times when i’d just lose it and break something or punch a hole in something or otherwise damage property because my emotions became too much to bear. Then i’d be told that such action was unacceptable and just be more angry that i couldn’t control myself. Again, downward spiral. So it’s only natural that i have similar reactions and thought patterns when dealing with emotions at this point in my life.

I remember when our first pregnancy ended. We were all very upset and sad, and dealt with it in our own ways. I also remember when my daughter was born. We were ecstatic, and joyful, and expressed it in our own ways. There was a situation with the hospital, where she was transferred to pediatrics, and i wasn’t allowed to stay overnight with my wife and child. This was incredibly trying for all three of us, and the following day when i got to hold my daughter again, i openly cried. I happened to be on the phone with my mother at the time, and she warned me not to get to emotional, because i’d lose my effectiveness as a father if i let my emotions take control. I talked to her about this later and i think this was the first time i said the right thing in standing up to her, saying that it’s only natural that a father would become overwhelmed with love and emotion for his own child, and that crying is a sign of that and not to do so would be, frankly, cold. It’s not as though i’m dealing with a newly crafted pillow after all, it’s a BABY! It’s MY baby!

Thinking about it all, i can only think that the reason she was so afraid of me becoming “too emotional” is because she knows how i handled emotion when i was younger. Of course the way i handled emotion when i was younger was to not show it and as a consequence, eventually not feel it, especially when it came to negative emotion. As a natural consequence, i was not accustomed to letting my emotions go, and allowing myself to just feel them, so when a particularly strong emotion came on, i couldn’t handle it, and shit would get broken.

So now what? I still punch things when i get angry. Sometimes it’s fine (like when it’s a couch cushion), but a lot of times it’s unhealthy and i know it is. I still fly off the handle when my emotions become too great. I can only wonder if this is because i wasn’t shown how to REALLY handle them in my youth, and the only thing i can think to do to change this is to try and deal with the full weight of them now. The up side is that doing so cognitively will help me to be able to process emotion healthily. The downside is that the emotions i’m dealing with at this point in my life stem from some very complicated situations, and it’s that much more difficult to be mindful of the fact that my emotions themselves aren’t the problem/issue. Once i get my head around that, though, it will be easier to deal with the situations appropriately.

In the meantime, i need to not get down on myself for simply FEELING.

One Response to “38 (emotion)”

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