Coat opening time. Please pray for me that I don’t delete this later.
I can do a lot of things. I am strong, smart, creative, talented, and compassionate. So this is not a woe is me post. It’s just me sharing my weakness, a weakness that exists in and amongst my strengths.
One of the things I struggle with most is emotional weakness. My definition of emotional weakness: the inability to recover in a normal time period after exposure to an emotional stressor, and/or an abnormal or inadequate reaction to the stressor, i.e, a heightened sensitivity to emotional stress.
added later: I think this also could be *shame*
I decided that maybe I could use some techniques to work on strengthening my ability to deal with emotional events and trauma that are similar to the ones I have used in learning how to handle physical pain, because my emotional weakness is painful to me.
This is slow going. Trying to see my emotional vulnerability in the same way I see physical pain is really hard. I seem to have an extreme aversion to the feelings that go along with things that cause me emotional stress and therefore I resist. The idea that I need to just relax and let the feelings wash over me like a wave – well, that’s easier said than done.
There’s another layer to this: my fear of the fear of the pain. So not only am I taken down when something unexpected comes along, I also have a negative response to the *idea* that a certain situation or person or event could possibly cause me emotional stress or pain. I think this is even worse, because I am creating a false reality and trying to hide from that.
It’s this kind of anxiety that, when it flares up, can keep me at home, hiding, not making calls and not answering the phone or the door. I can get really snuggled down in my own little cocoon and disappear from life.
Or if I have a commitment, I will start to stress about it sometimes days in advance. This could be anything, even a visit from or to family. I’m anticipating the feelings I could have in that situation and getting anxious about that possibility. It’s a miserable feeling that gives me stomach aches, unease, and depression.
All in anticipation of something that may not even occur.
Just thinking about all of this gets me holding my breath.
It’s a hot mess.
And it happens a lot. Just ask my poor husband.
Here I am at 56, struggling with something like this that really holds me back.
I have quit so many things.
Friendships. Communities. Clubs. Educational endeavors. Anything that puts me face to face with people, or even makes me encounter the idea of being face to face with people. Because people have gotten in my face and hurt me. I know this is just what happens as part of being human but it seems so much larger to my heart.
I have deleted so many vulnerable, honest blog posts because I felt so exposed and I was sure that people were judging me. And I cared about that; I didn’t want to be judged in a way that I felt was inaccurate. Or even in a way that felt accurate to me. All of this has been speculative, mind you.
And when I have experienced the pain of actual rejection, which feels, I think, so much more painful to me than to “normal” people, those events have reinforced my expectation of future rejection and I don’t ever want to feel that again, ever, and so I go into hiding all over again. I am not resilient. I do not bounce back quickly or become stronger after hurts like these.
If I were to relate this to physical pain, it would be like stubbing my toe and having to spend days with my foot up to recover, then being afraid to walk for fear that I might stub it again.
So my task is to breathe, to go on what I know, to put myself “out there” because I refuse to create a speculative reality. And when I get hurt, when I stub my emotional toe, to breathe through it, relax my entire body, and just move through the pain.
Because my dis-ease is not only hurting me, it is hurting other people that I care about.