Posted by: Marie | March 25, 2009

(36) Shutting down the emotions

Post #36
[Journal entry written to my therapist on Sunday, May 18, 2008]

Hi, Mark –

This week has been a mixed bag for me – As I am slowly adding good habits to my daily routine, I feel good about the changes I’m seeing, yet I can feel my anxiety growing steadily.  I have been down this road (taking steps to take better care of myself then “crashing and burning” when I start to see results) so many times that I am conditioned to anticipate my failure.  I keep talking myself into believing that I can do “it” this time – I can be successful – the strong compulsions are gone and I am only dealing with habits now – strong habits, but habits that I have the ability to change now.

For the most part, I believe that I can be successful this time, but I’m very anxious – it is like I’m driving up a very windy mountain road on which I have crashed the previous 278+ times I have driven it – it is understandable that I feel fear and anxiety as I start driving through each curve.

I am learning to reach out to people when I’m feeling this fear – if I don’t reach out, the fear grows and it becomes this private hell that feels too big to handle.  As soon as I reach out, it loses its power.  My real struggle, before I reach out each time, is deciding what I really want – to be healthy or to be comfortably absent from life.

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About my homework assignment (creating a list of the times I have been rejected) . . . .

Here is what I’m learning . . .

I believe acceptance and love from men is conditional and tenuous and, in each and every case, will inevitably disappear at some point in time.  My distrust runs so deep that shifting that belief feels impossible.

Given that, I am shocked that I came back to counseling after I thought I saw “evidence” that you were rejecting me.  However, coming back to you felt like my last hope – if I didn’t come back, I doubted things would ever be different for me, so I went against my core belief and gave you my trust again.

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I am noticing I seem to have two modes of operation:  1) very emotional and introspective, and 2) very logical and action-oriented.  Another way to look at it may be: 1) state of being and 2) state of doing.

When I am in the emotional state, the flashes of memory from when I was four years old are vivid, and I am keenly aware of how I internalized what happened – how I took on the core belief that I was bad.  I can easily remember each individual step of the process we just went through to begin comprehending my history.  It is fairly easy for me to be angry and/or sad about all of it – the emotions are so strong and real that I have to stop what I am doing and allow them to come out, usually accompanied by many tears.

Then, when I am in the logical state, it is as if none of that every happened.  The old memories and the recent emotions don’t resonate with me – it is as if they were never part of my experience.  I can barely remember our session where you tossed the book and I felt my “badness” being tossed out with it – it feels like maybe I read about it happening to someone else.  It is as if I am a total separate person trying to empathize with someone else going through a rough time – I can hear the words and can visualize the scenarios, but I can’t really understand or sympathize – nor do I really want to.

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As I go back and read through what I just wrote, a phrase jumps out at me: “it feels like maybe I read about it happening to someone else.”  I had always thought that the origin of my rape fantasy was from a movie or a book – it felt like it came from a book, but I would have been too young to read, so I assumed it came from a movie.  So, maybe I have a pattern of dealing with the ugliness where I make it be about someone else, a make-believe secondary “bad me”.

When I am in the logical state and I play back the “movie” from when I was four, and I play back the “movie” of our session where you tossed the book, and I play back the “movie” of me lying awake at night, sobbing, just a couple weeks ago, I am the main character, but it feels “fake” and “pretend” and “distant”.

I can assure myself that none of it really happened because it is just a “movie” or a “dream” – that I am being rational in the current moment and that I can look back and see I was being overly dramatic during those times – I reject the validity of my emotional times.  Then I get angry with myself for being so overly dramatic and causing a big deal over nothing – I feel despicable for letting my wild imagination get the best of me.

This does not feel like a “healthy” or “normal” way of dealing with stuff.  I wonder if, in time, I will integrate the two parts so I can “do” and “accomplish” while still retaining a connection to what happened and the emotions I feel about it.  It feels like I can’t operate in both realms at once – I have to shut down the emotions in order to be productive.  This concerns me.

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I have been thinking that we could start meeting every two weeks now – my “stuff” is getting easier to handle and is not coming up as violently as it was earlier – it seems that I am doing more “living”, as well as applying and practicing what I have learned, in between insights.

Also, my focus is less on “surviving” from counseling session to counseling session and more on implementing my plan, so two weeks doesn’t feel like an eternity now.

Does this work for you?

– Marie


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