Picking up where I left off yesterday, I plan to spend this morning doing some inner child work on my tendency to repress and manipulate my emotions.
Starting with the thing that was trained out of me the earliest, having big feelings. As I said yesterday, I was often told by my care givers and partners that I “overreacted” every time I displayed big emotions. Rather than allowing me to voice and process those feelings, my care givers and partners made me feel shame for feeling them. Now as an adult, I feel embarrassed for having any complicated emotions at all. Every time I try to talk to my support system about my feelings, I always end up wishing I could take it back and shove all of the emotions back in after the conversation is over. I now do to myself what my caregivers and partners trained me to do, make my feelings small and swallow them.
Instead of trying to make my big feelings more palatable for others, my caregivers should have been teaching me how to process those feelings in a healthy way. From here forward, I plan to start being more mindful of my feelings. Instead of redirecting my attention to something else to ignore my big emotions, I am going to start sitting with them. During that time I will think about what triggered the feelings. Instead of trying to push the feelings down, I will try to let them move through me. I think that it is important to honor the emotion without letting it take control. Therefore, when the emotion has passed I will evaluate what caused the feeling to come up and assess the best way to approach the issue from there. This is going to be difficult and will feel unnatural at first. I think the best way to approach this is to keep my journal with me throughout the day and jot down feelings as they come up. I need to ask myself…
- Breath through it while allowing myself to feel it.
- What is this feeling?
- Why did it come up?
- How does it feel?
When the feeling has passed I can then start asking myself honest questions about the situation that caused the feeling and how to approach it moving forward.
I just want to feel okay to feel the way I feel again. I’m sick of feeling guilt and shame for my emotions and feeling like I am inconveniencing and being judged by others every time I share something. Having to fight with feeling this shame keeps me isolated and avoidant. It keeps me from feeling close to others. I admit that, because I feel that I have to keep so much of my inner world to myself, I truly feel that no one really even knows me at all. That is a lonely place to be. Even if people don’t like my “big feelings,” at least I will be at peace with myself. I will know me even if no one else does.
I also want to note that these big feelings aren’t always bad. I have big happy feelings too that were discouraged when I was growing up. I tend to get really excited about new things and projects, but my mother always discouraged those feelings because she wanted to protect me by making me cautious. Now I am TOO cautious. I when I feel those excited feelings they are instantly cleared away and replaced by fear and doubt. I feel like I was robbed of having positive exciting new experiences because of this. Everything new and exciting is always tainted with fear, anxiety, and doubt for me. It wasn’t always like this though. I just want to be able to fully embrace the joy and newness of the unknown again.
Moving on, I want to try to undo the gaslighting that was done to me by past partners. No one is allowed to tell you what you experienced but you. If one of my children, friends, or even a stranger came to me about some of the same things that I have been through, there is no way in hell that I would invalidate them or tell them that they were making a big deal out of nothing. I would never try to tell someone that they didn’t experience what they feel like they experienced, so why do I do it to myself and allow men to do it to me?
When your partner does fucked up shit like cheating on you, physically hurting you, calling you names in an argument, raising their voice towards you, intimidating you, or invalidating you concerns by turning everything you say around into something YOU are doing wrong…you are well within your right to be upset about it. You can’t control how they respond, but you can fight not to let them change your mind about the things you know to be true. Your experienced are your experiences, no one can tell you that they aren’t real. Additionally, you are not wrong for walking away from a person or situation that is crossing your boundaries by trying to invalidate your experiences. You are not the bad guy for demanding respect.
I am writing this to myself, but to you too if this is something that you are struggling with.
Even though this is super uncomfortable for me, I think that the best way for me to work on this is to go back to my high school relationship with Lee and call it like it really was. No more saying “I think” or “I’m not sure if.” I know what I experienced, and it doesn’t matter if other people disagree or don’t believe me.
Lee was a rapist. He pressured me into giving him my virginity under false pretenses. Even when I neglected to give consent, he pressured me and coerced me into doing things that I didn’t want to do. He emotionally and mentally abused me, slandering me to our peers and classmates for clout and praise. He stole my individuality and made me feel owned by him. He manipulated me with threats to hurt himself. On one occasion he even tried to control me by bending my thumb back to my wrist. He gaslighted me every time he would cheat on me and I would get upset about it. He would cheat on me with my friends but when I would date other people that he knew, he would always make me feel like a terrible person for dating someone he knew. He was a trash human being and after 2 1/2ish years with him I was pretty fucked up. That was my experience as it was. No more diminishing my own trauma because other people have had it worse. No more avoiding the terms rape and abuse because I wasn’t physically beaten. No more taking blame for his actions. Yes, I may have continued to date him, BECAUSE I WAS TRAUMATIZED! I had been mentally and emotionally screwed with and was doing what many other victims of abuse would have done, cling to their abuser. Lee was my first introduction to sex and physical intimacy, and he really screwed me up. After Lee, I actually dated a really nice guy who respected in every way…but I left him because that respect felt like spiders crawling all over me. That’s the only way I know to explain it. From that point on, I developed a really screwed up impression of sex and relationships.
Next, I started dating a guy names Frank when I was 15 or 16. He was 21! I don’t give a fuck that he was “only” 5-6 years older than me, he was a pedophile! If I needed any more proof of that, all I have to do is acknowledge the fact that when he was 24 he started dating a 16 year old child! He basically had sex with me for a few weeks, got me drunk and high all the time, and then ghosted me. He came back around when I was 19 (same time he was secretly with the 16 year old) and coaxed me into having a short affair with him. I take blame where blame is due, and in that situation I am partially at fault. I should have known better than to get involved with him, especially while I was with Ross, but I was still being led by my trauma. After I found out that he was seeing me AND the 16 year old, I cut that pedophile off for good. My only regret now is that I didn’t turn him in to the police. However, my perception of everything was so messed up. No one made a huge deal about it when he was with me as a teen. There were also people who knew he had been with the other teenage girl and said nothing about it. I knew it was wrong, but I worried that people just didn’t care or see it the same way. Yet another way that the perceptions of others has influenced my perception of my own trauma in a negative way.
After Frank, I started dating Ross. If it sounds like I couldn’t stand to be single, it is because I couldn’t. TRAUMA. Ross cheated on me the whole first half of our relationship and gaslighted me about it. He neglected me and made me feel cut off from my support system. He used to tell me that my goofy nature embarrassed him in public and that my emotions and feelings pushed him away from me. He was mentally and emotionally abusive, raising his voice in arguments to intimidate me and control me. He has and continues to invalidate my feelings and experiences by turning things back around on me. He wants me to honor and keep his bad behavior a secret yet when he found out about my cheating several years ago he shamed me to his entire family and all of our friends. Gaslighting, emotional abuse, mental abuse, manipulation. This is what it is.
Even in my childhood relationship with my caregivers there was trauma, though less so than my romantic relationships. I was made to feel like I couldn’t be myself and that I always had to be agreeable to get positive attention. I was made to feel that I couldn’t share anything that made me others unhappy or uncomfortable or else I was wrong or overreacting. My father abandoning made me feel rejected and inherently wrong. Because I had no man to look up to or no example of a functioning relationship, I was forced to base everything off of tv and my own experiences, which I have already established were not good for the most part. Being abandoned my my dad also made me seek male attention and approval for my entire life. Who knows what I would be like today if I didn’t feel like I had to do that. Who knows if I would have even ended up with a man at all, because it only just now as an adult that I am thinking that I may actually be pansexual. I am having a really weird time with it because it it a part of myself that I may never be able to really explore. Maybe I’m not pan at all? I guess I’m questioning.
These were my experiences. They are real because they are real to me. Even if others don’t see these experiences the same way that I do, they still have the effect that they had on me because of my perception of them. My perception is valid and it matters. There is so much more to my life. It can’t all be summed up into these few experiences, but I think it is a good place to start. I know that these were the major things that I have been tiptoeing around for my life. I expected this to be an emotional moment for me, but really I just feel vindicated. It feels good to be a safe space for myself, and it feels good to finally voice the things that my soul has known but has refused to acknowledge all this time.
I have always displayed symptoms of trauma, but because I never validated my experiences I thought that maybe something happened to me and I just forgot about it. Now I realize that there is good reason for me to have trauma symptoms, though I still wonder if there is something I am missing. I really want to get into therapy ASAP so I can work through the trauma and keep it from hurting me in the present. In the mean time, I am going to stop invalidating myself. I am going to allow myself to feel my feelings, and after allowing them to pass through me I am going to address them. Even if that means confronting someone about their toxic behaviors or crossing my boundaries. When things happen to me from here forward, I am going to stop questioning if I am wrong for feeling a certain way about it. It is never wrong to feel how you feel about something.
I feel like I’m going to be okay, and it feels good.
These shadow work/self development posts are truly intended for my own self discovery and development, but I thank those of you who took the time to read this. I plan to continue working with my shadow aspects and self development topics relating to the Page of Cups reversed until I feel it is time for me to move onto something new.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM