I thought I was over my past. I have the ability to talk about the nasty stuff without a flicker of emotion - not because I am fighting back the tears or making a significant effort, but because I don't know how to connect with those feelings. My teenage years called for a poker face as far as my home life was concerned. For one thing, drawing attention to our situation outside of the house would 'cause trouble' (and there were enough things 'causing trouble' in our house without me adding to them) and for another, expressing my feelings was a waste of time - it didn't get me anywhere. I think I have a PhD. in "Not Making a Fuss"
So when I sat down to create my Life Journey, I was surprised at feeling very shaky and very sick (Oh for heaven's sake, get a grip, girl), but true to form I decided that this was not the time or the place to fall apart. The other people taking part in the exercise are potential work colleagues (many of them experts in counselling, psychotherapy and mental health) and I didn't want to expose myself as a complete nutcase. (This is a strange assumption to make considering that these people are probably the most likely to recognise that I am not a complete nutcase...)
I pushed myself through the exercise, dismayed to realise that half an hour of frantic scribbling had not captured half of the shit I went through - wow! If I wasn't so adverse to the shelves of self-pitying heartbreaking true life 'sob stories' I could write a book about this! (I liked 'A Child Called It' but then everyone started jumping on the bandwagon. Or maybe I'm just pissed because they all beat me to it :o)
Sorry, I digress. Later in the evening I discovered that several other people had come across things that had upset them. And like the sensible and emotionally sound people that they are, they risked their mascara and excess snot, had a good five minute cry, felt much better and got on with it.
Why can't I do that? My teacher said last week "you look at your feelings through glass" and this is so true. But I don't know how else to look at them. I can't even remember half of them - let's face it, this was over 20 years ago now. But I know that the buggers are still there.
Over the past 20 years I have had numerous attempts at counselling all of which have gone so far and then failed because - in the time-honoured tradition of "Nothing to see here" - I managed to convince each therapist that I was 'fixed'. Either that or the whole therapy process has pushed me in to such a dark hole for so many weeks until the therapist has said 'okay, that's enough. Now you need to start pulling yourself together'
Oh how I love those words.
I have no idea how I am going to fix this. It reminds me of the scene in "As Good As It Gets" where the Jack Nicholson character with obsessive compulsive disorder is told that he needs to make an appointment to see his doctor. How can I resolve my issues when the biggest one of them is a learned reaction of protecting myself by denying that my issues exist? Catch-22, no?
I think I might start with the Temper Tantrum route for a week or two, hurl myself on the floor and kick and scream whenever I don't get my own way and see where that gets me. And then after that I might try some Drama Queen therapy by bursting in to tears when anybody asks me absolutely anything ("Would you like fries with that?" *sob!*back of hand to forehead* "You have no idea how that makes me feel! How can you ask me such a thing?! I am emotionally damaged for life now!")
And then we'll take it from there, I guess.