“I don’t know why I am feeling the way I do.”
This statement was in many a journal entry. This had been almost a mantra of mine I said it so often.
Learning about my inability to express my feelings in therapy one day I talked about how I never knew what I was feeling. Nor was I able to express them. My therapist pointed out that it was no surprise. I had suppressed my feelings as a child and continued to do so as an adult. My father told me not to tell and not to feel. Expressing feelings made me vulnerable. I felt good knowing there was a reason why I had stifled my feelings. I hated to cry, but learned that I had to feel my feelings before I could begin to express them.
I used to attend a mood disorder group and someone said something interesting. “Your home reflects how you feel.” I have always changed things in my home. Moving things around trying to get organized yet I never seem to achieve it. That sounded like me and my feelings.
My emotional needs were never met and to some degree still are not, because I have always had a difficult time asking for them. I have never express those needs and always wait until someone frustrated me, then I blew up at them. My emotional needs are be loved, appreciated, supported, protected and listened too.
I needed to see a list of words to help me find what emotions I was feeling. Here is the list that I came up with.
Seeing this now, no wonder I didn’t want to feel!
I have always carried around a lot of tension. I thought it was from facing my feelings.I was afraid to. It was exhausting.
While exploring my feelings of fear I had determined that I was not sure when I was having them. I believed that fear had a lot to do with my anxiety. I didn’t tell people when they upset me; because I was afraid it would cause tension, and I have always been afraid of conflict. I did remember fearing my dad. I must have been afraid to keep the secret, afraid to tell the secret, afraid my family would leave me alone if anyone found out. I was afraid I would be alone when my father abandoned me. I was afraid of being a mom, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of someone hurting me and afraid of what MIGHT happen. I was afraid of my abusive boyfriend.
Shame was another feeling I suppressed. I didn’t know I felt it until it we discussed it in therapy.
While taking to a friend my emotions stirred . She told me I was compassionate and warm and it brought tears to my eyes. Stuff like that always did. I had thought that I didn’t believe it but then decided that I was not hearing that sort of thing often enough. I was not getting enough of the love and appreciation of others. I felt so unloved.
I had to break down that long list of feeling into my core feelings. It took me a long time to finally arrive at the following:
Inadequate – I often felt inadequate when I had to admit that I didn’t know things such as geography or my poor spelling. I needed and still need to have people tell me I am doing a good job.
Where it came from – My dad not recognizing my efforts in school.
What could I do – remind myself; that I am smart and that I know lots of things, that finishing school is not the only way to gain an education. Tell myself that I am doing a good job.
Powerless – I felt like I had to do what others told me to do. I have never liked that feeling. I wanted to make my own decisions. I was afraid of the potential reaction if I expressed my wants.
Where it came from – When my father told me to do something I obeyed. I did it whether you liked it or not. He instilled fear.
What could I do – Practice assertiveness. Find my voice and ask or state my wants and needs.
Alone – I felt no one was there for me. No one cared enough. No one else would do it so I had to do it. I couldn’t count on others to help me when I needed it. My family didn’t care and I needed them to.
Where it came from – I endured my abuse alone. I had to raise a child without any support. My life experience was, me doing it alone.
What could I do – Remember that I am not alone. I had a husband and kids who cared and were here for me. If I felt unsupported, I should have told them how I felt.
Doing this exercise helped me understand my feelings.
How about you? Do you have a difficult time facing your feelings?
Here are some links to articles on feelings that I think are helpful.