I Thought I Was Unfeeling
For so long I felt unfeeling. I felt like I needed to be ashamed. I listened to others’ assessment of my behavior, to others understandings of how I act, and to my fears of what they would say, or worse what they thought they would ‘know’ about me… All of the disparaging things they would know… I rediscover that about myself all the time. That I continue to feel fearful and ashamed of a reality of me that others construct. I notice it now. And rediscover that that version of me is not the true one. It is not MY truth. Unfortunately, every time a little time passes, life drags on, and I fall back down a muddy slope in my mind, back into believing that I am not safe here, back to believing that I must defer to what others see and that any of their negative experiences of me absolutely l MUST be who I am. And THOSE are things I put my energy towards.
This will stop soon though. I am feeling that there is some more accurate truth about me. And it is not to be found in the woes and fears of others. And my energy has gone into what feels like a black hole for much too long. I am going to learn to tell MY story of feelings. Not others’ stories of my feelings.
At the end of 1999 my grandfather died. I didn’t get to know him especially well – like, I mean have long adult conversations with him etc and get to know his feelings on politics and his deepest secrets. But he was one of the people in my life that I didn’t have to worry about feeling that feeling of insecurity or impending doom around. I enjoyed sitting beside him, cuddling with him if ever I got to. He had farmers hands and rolled his eyes at ridiculous things (when no one was looking). He was so knowing and sensible and sensitive, but like me reserved himself for moments when that side of him would not provoke others who weren’t quite as reflective.
My aunt and uncle brought him to visit me in Ottawa during the months before he passed away. I saw the look in his eye, even more deeply tender. Like we were both hiding love but both swimming in it together at the same time. I wanted to say goodbye more tenderly. I wanted to share more of my experience of him with him. But I let other things, what I thought were more pressing but were simply more imaginary obligations, get in the way. I didn’t allow space for my loving expressions toward him. And of course, that meant I did not allow space for my grief…
My mother asked me to go be with her at his house during his last couple of days…to support HER. It was a few months after his visit with me in Ottawa. She didn’t just ask me to go with her. She felt she needed to use guilt me into it. Without realizing it, like I had my whole life, I said yes to my mother because I saw her approach to me as proof that I was I neglectful and unsupportive, uncaring daughter if I didn’t go with her. I look back at how incredibly scared and uncomfortable I was of being in that place – around only her and my aunt (her sister). My mother has almost always been a person from whom I felt I had to hide my true feelings. I learned she would steal them all away…or she would express her judgments and I believed I was exactly those judgments. I had to go with her and be this empty terrible person around my sweet sweet grandfather, in the moment that he would move on from us.
Until about now, in my head, the story of my grandfather’s death was one about me not feeling, being a cold, emotionally frozen, frigid daughter, who was not compassionate enough.
I am amazed to discover that that story is note accurate.
I lay in a bed on the floor of my grandparents’ farmhouse, the night he passed away. When he left us my mother came into the room. She came close to me and said he was gone. I pretended to be asleep. And she tried to cry on my shoulder…she tried to use me as her pillow…
Why did I pretend to not be there.
I pretended because I had nothing left to give her. If I gave her another ounce I would break entirely.
It was not because I didn’t care.
I pretended so I would be able to grieve, so that my existence would not disappear into her, so that I would exist. So that I would exist. Sleeping and keeping my affections to myself kept me in existence.
By going with her I pretended to be what she wanted. I pretended not to need to grieve. To not need her attention to my grief, to not feel.
That was the only way I knew how.
But now I know…I felt I had to choose. Her or me. I thought I had to choose.
The thing is, we can’t choose. It’s impossible.
I feel whether I choose or not. I feel whether she likes it or not. I feel whether she agrees, or sees, or supports me or not.
I hid my feelings out of fear of being told they were less important than hers.
Importance is neither here nor there.
Feeling is all.
Posted on June 24, 2016, in Addiction, Adult Children, Alanon, Balance, codependence, Creativity, emotional abuse, emotional sobriety, Gratitude, health, Inner child, Outer Child, Parenting, recovery, Relationship, Self-Care, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.