Friday, May 27, 2005

Lone wolf

Progress, making headway. Therapy has been hard work, but I’m getting it. I’m applying the skills I have learnt.

I’m learning the difference between a state (anger), a trait (angry), and a mood – a longer lasting type of emotion. Learning to accept the fact that emotions are functional – but only primary emotions. Secondary emotions are less adaptive, and can sometimes be problematic. For example, feeling anger about feeling sad.

Secondary emotions are learned – often when we are children. We are told to shut up and stop crying, or that our crying is just plain stupid. When we feel an emotion, our parents tell us it’s not the right kind of emotion. This is the baggage that clouds the mind.

I remember a time when I was a kid and we were going away on a trip during the school holidays. It was a family trip, but my grandmother who lived with us was not going. I thought I was going to miss her, so I hugged her when I said goodbye. My mother made fun of me – somehow made me feel ashamed for having felt so sentimental. I don’t think I ever hugged her again.

I also remember that when I was a child, I knew it was important not to show emotion because it was a vulnerability which my mother could pick on. If I was happy, she would make me sad. If I was excited about something, she would make me feel ashamed. I learnt to crowd out positive emotion and became quiet and serious. Pulled on a façade that made other people stay away. I thought that was a good thing because people will only hurt you one way or another. That was my belief.

I guess throughout my life it’s been a sort of self fulfilling prophecy. I believed people would hurt me if I got close to them. I did things that made them shun me. It proved to me that people did hurt me all the time. For so much of my life it’s been a life of isolation. I called myself a loner, a lone wolf, almost proud of being so independent, so cool in a way.

But sometimes I get curious, and I wonder what it’s like to be a part of family. I catch glimpses of family life when I attach myself to some people. But it never feels real. I realise I am only hanging on by the outer edges, looking in but never truly fitting in. It’s never my own family, though I can pretend all I like. It’s an illusion, and even I cannot delude myself that far. When it comes down to it, blood runs thicker than water. I can’t deny that.

Weekend ahead. C is away again. I’m on my own. I guess I’ll go running.


Anonymous said...

My dad was that way too,and I isolated myself as well.They just pick on every little thing we do until we cant do anything but just shut down.


Kitten said...

Showing how you feel is NEVER a bad thing..always better to let it out than hold it in, allowi g it to simmer and stir in with other things....keep up the good work.

borderline savvy said...

Good for you for making so much progress in therapy. I am envious. What you are learning is so valuable. I also learned to shut up my emotions. When my mom and sister and I would laught, my step-father would yell at us long and hard so that we would think twice about doing it again. Seen and not heard. Even grief was not tolerated. Just blankness. I'm sorry your mother made fun of you for hugging your grandmother, and I'm sure it meant so much to her. I became quiet and serious, too. We have that in common as well. Nothing like a parent (or stepparent) to kill the spirit of life in a child.

Go trail jogging and swim this weekend. And I'll be talking to you.

P.S. I'm proud of you!

The Mass Defective said...

Progress is good, I'm glad to hear you're headed in that direction. I learned a bit about first & secondary emotions in my brief time in DBT. Haven't been able to use that info yet though.

I think a lot of us with mental illnesses learned to lock our emotions away. A defense mechanism that may have served us well as children, but as adults it hinders our ability to connect with others, to build healthy relationships. Hopefully we'll learn to break thru the facade. Sounds like you're headed that way. Good Luck & take care of you!

James said...

"But it never feels real. I realise I am only hanging on by the outer edges, looking in but never truly fitting in."

Yes, this is how I feel about the entire world. I never seem to be be able to be fully intigrated into society.

I often get frustrated with talk therapy but I know that it is necessary to help me keep in touch with reality.

Emotions are indeed difficult and I find connect via the internet to be easier then in person. I am happy to hear that you are making progress. Keep it up my dear friend.