I have emotions. Its a new deal for me. I don’t really know how to deal with them. Let me explain. As a kid, I was a very emotional child. I laughed and played. I was outgoing and charismatic. I also cried at the drop of a hat. I was seen as a bit of a cry baby. I remember very clearly my Dad telling me I had “a strange sentimentality.” I never understood that and he could never explain further. However, I took it as a judgment thing and set out to hide my emotions. I didn’t want to be seen as weak or emotionally loose. It really didn’t work out so well for me. I had a girlfriend in HS. She decided to break up with me so that she would be available if this guy wanted to go out with her when she was on vacation. I was crushed. I hurt. I cried. I called her often (probably more often then when we were dating). It took me a very long time to stop thinking about her. I was a love sick puppy for months. I did the same thing with a girlfriend in college. Both times I really crashed and burned. Each time, I decided that I would shut down my emotions. I would hide from them, rather than feel them. They leaked out over time and festered inside for a long time. They were caustic, humiliating, and damaging.
When I met my ex-wife, I had perfected the ability of hiding emotions. I had self righteous anger and indignation. I was humorous, but generally at the expense of someone else. I pretended nothing bothered me, but inside I was a bundle of confusion, slithering like maggots on a dead body. I tried to share emotions often, but it came out as a victim. There was so much hurt, pain, and despair that I had denied. When I opened up, it overwhelmed me. I had held on to it for so long, I didn’t know how to deal with it or how to let it go. Part of me didn’t want to. I had grown accustomed to feeling like that. It was awful, but comfortable. However, the maggot wiggled between my fingers and the emotions came out in spurts. She tried to comfort me and support me. It felt good and I liked the idea of partnership. However, subconsciously I figured that if she loved me because I was a victim, if I wasn’t, she couldn’t love me. I played the role. I resented it. I drank it away.
I decided to change. I decided to accept life on lifes terms. I wanted to stop being a victim of life and of myself. As I tried to feel again, to live again, it became clear that my wife would soon be my ex-wife. She liked being the hero. She liked being in charge. I imagine she thought, “If I didnt need her to take care of me, did I need her at all?” Either way, she and I became more and more distant. It freaked me out. I felt her pulling away. We became less and less emeshed and I bled. I hurt. I panicked. I felt the rejection from every relationship. I felt the rejection from HS, College, and beyond. I felt the rejection as my kids became estranged. I took on the shame.
I really worked on avoiding the shame and the fear of rejection. I thought I had learned new skills. When I broke up with the love of my life two years later, I felt the same rejection. I am so afraid of being unlovable. I romanticize the relationship. I slip back into the “need” to be with her, rahter than the “want.” I was afraid of being alone.
A friend talked to me about working through these emotions. Learning to understand them, accept them, feel them. I try. It is hard to learn how to do it after years of hiding all emotions, running from them in terror. I acknowledge them. I accept them. I even thank them. I diffuse the romantic picture and let it seep with the reality. I get to a point where I think I am doing well. I think I have resolved the hurt and pain. I get to the point that I have moved on. Then something happens, the full moon, a flock of birds, a gentle chill in the air. I hurt again. I brood and get lost. I feel the fear of rejection. I start to think about finding comfort in another person. I stop myself, realizing that fear is not a reason to get into a relationship. I am acutely lonely for a little while. I am in pain. I feel nauseated. I feel depleted. The victim mentality resurfaces and I want someone to take care of me. There is no one around and I feel the rejection again. It consumes me like a fire. I stop, drop, and roll. I start again. I accept myself and my emotions. I acknowledge. I thank. I forgive. Its another day. Maybe, someday, I will be able to do this. I have a strange sentimentality, apparently.