I am well acquainted with “that feeling when I don’t even know what the fuck I’m feeling.”
And, I suspect, most other people with a mental illness, trauma damage, and/or addiction could say the same.
Growing up, I had to ignore my feelings that got in the way of my earning an anemic and perverse form of love by achieving and performing.
As I got into my late teens, I was already emotionally stunted and trained to ignore my feelings. On top of that, my Bipolar Disorder kicked in and the feelings that came were often distorted, intense, and/or excruciating.
So I learned to numb the pain, fear, shame, rage, intense sadness, hopelessness, dejection, inferiority, and anxiety. These were the feelings that predominated and that I could no longer push aside. Nor could I endure them. Or so I thought.
For many years I masked and anesthetized all of my feelings with Alcohol, Marijuana, Porn, shop-lifting, running, food restriction, relationships, political activism (you read that right-and it is a compulsion others have had), and spending. A viscious, miserable cycle of compulsively using substances or engaging in behaviors to run from the one thing that terrified me most. Emoting.
I have been in some form of Recovery since 1993. Yet it wasn’t until 2010 that I started connecting with my feelings.
Initially, it was a begrudging detente. But over time it has evolved into peaceful coexistence.
And gradually, I am learning to love and appreciate my emotions as essential facets of being fully human and for the many invaluable purposes that they serve.