emotional detox

In the midst of several terrifying moments as a teenager I specifically remember ordering myself to “check out”.  I would say it to myself over and over until I could reasonably handle the moment.  My heart would still be racing, my chest would still feel tight, the physical symptoms of fear, sadness, or anger were there, but at least I was not feeling.  I knew that if I could feel what I should be feeling I might just lose it altogether.  And then what…?  The first time I “checked out” it worked wonderfully, I didn’t die or start screaming or cry uncontrollably.  Instead I was able to walk through whatever it was with a blank face and a working composure.  This became my favorite way of coping and after a while I didn’t have to talk myself through it, it just happened automatically.  This type of coping was necessary at the time, but not without consequences.  I am now seeing pieces of what that strategy has done to me.

I remember one lovely afternoon staring blankly at my homework while my dad was talking to me about something, I don’t even remember what it was.  I do remember when all of sudden he stood and yelled “Damn it Ally!  Why do you always have to be so hard!” and then he slammed my door on the way out.  I let that in long enough to wonder “what do you mean by that and what do you want from me?”.  And then it was gone from my thoughts, but not forgotten.  I know now that he was frustrated because I was unresponsive.   I couldn’t let what was on the inside come out because I was afraid of spinning out of control.  At my parents house kids didn’t express anger or argue, and if there should be an argument then you just didn’t talk to each other until it blew over.  There was no room in the house for my teenage angst.

In a marriage repressing feelings, people pleasing, and not discussing the hard stuff doesn’t work well for very long.  I’d not thought about the “checking out” for a long time, I didn’t think that I was doing that anymore.  Nonetheless, my “hardness” is doing me a disservice.  I am not a blank face but I can’t express myself very well in emotionally charged situations.  I don’t do conflict well.  Emotions leak out without clarity. As circumstances have forced me to recognize it and I’ve spent the last week trying to just feel whatever there is to feel.  Tried to not control it or self protect, but just let it wash over me, through me.  It’s like standing in the ocean and having wave after wave break over top of me, pounding me over and over.  It’s exhausting, painful, confusing, relentless, and sometimes a relief.  I frequently catch myself shutting down again.  It’s an effort.  I already don’t feel like talking about it anymore.   More later…

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5 thoughts on “emotional detox

  1. KayLynn says:

    Ally,

    Wow! You are brave to face all of this. I’m glad you are seeing the reactions of those around you who need you to be you – all of you. You could, if you chose, solder the blinders onto your heart and keep moving. Apparently you want more from your life.

    Ally we all did what was needed to survive our parents (who learned from their parents what to do) and frighteningly your parents, like mine, probably stepped in up a notch from whence they came!).

    You have made a choice to break the chain of dysfunction by virtue of understanding that hardness is a measure of rocks and water – it is not an attribute you want ascribed to you as a wife or mother.

    I’m sure that Brad married you because he saw the woman underneath who needed to feel safe and be protected. You understand it is now safe to come out of your shell. Big Hugs remember nothing good comes easy. Unlearning skills that protected you is a process. Be patient and take good care of yourself.

  2. mouse says:

    Ally,

    My thing when I was a kid was to detach (much like checking out) myself from emotion, this continued through my relationship with Alpha. Actually it continued long passed that relationship. I would avoid any type of conflict because I was fearful of hurting feelings, or upsetting someone. Now, work conflicts, I didn’t view as such, so those I could deal with easily. Personal relationships I struggled with. And sometimes still do, mostly with my female friends.

    I also had a hard time telling people no for any reason.

    This is where Omega helped me the most. First he wouldn’t accept my shutting down, or detachment, he insisted sometimes dragging emotions out of me. He would let me chewing on something for a few days, then encourage me to spit it out. It wasn’t easy to do and at first I fought back pretty hard against it. It was an invisible chain and I would pull and tug, or even pretend wasn’t there.

    Eventually I learned to accept it and share my thoughts when I have them. Yes sometimes still it takes me several days to work them out, but they’re shared when I do.

    Just wanted you to know that you’re so not alone.

    hugs,
    mouse

  3. mouse says:

    sorry just realized got my link wrong…blah

  4. Ally, it was so sad to read that you went thru so much turmoil and it affected you so badly. I too, remember shutting down my emotions, it started when I was a tween, to the point where I literally walked around with my arms around myself for protection. It was a slow process to change, and some of the things that I wanted to shut out are difficult to remember but I know that they won’t hurt me anymore. I still have times when I want to shut out the world and not feel anything, but those times are shorter lived now. You are very brave to open up and feel those emotions, it’s worth the effort in my opinion. Wishing you bliss-Elysia

  5. Sara says:

    Ally, beginning to see these things about your self, feeling things that you used to shut out, and now looking for new ways to handle them differently, even if you have not found those yet, is the start of growth. Good for you! What you could handle as a child is not the same as now, even when things FEEL the same. This all sounds very important and very brave.

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