Thursday, February 2, 2012

Emotional Fear And Other Things

I admitted something to myself in a recent therapy session: that I was afraid of my emotions.  I'm afraid because I don't know how to properly express them in some situations.  I'm afraid what will happen if I start to feel things that I've not known in the past.  It's a shame really, I think, being afraid of the unknown - how would we have ever gone to space, or made any discoveries.  But I guess that's speaking in generalities. 

But that's me, part of my lack of expression and suppression of emotions is that I don't know what will happen once I express them.  I even find myself holding back during therapy sessions because I'm embarrassed.  It's like this facade of my previous life is coming down and I'm trying to maintain it and I believe it's because what's behind it is this raw, damaged, being.  He's scared isn't sure how to handle that.

I find this to be very sad in more ways than one.  First, my kids.  How can their father be this miserable thing?  That's not fatherly!  I do remind myself that I am going to be the first male figure they know and will probably idolize for a time.  Although, now that I think about it - I'm not sure I ever really wanted to be like my father.  He wasn't emotionally available and was grooming me to owe him basically.  "I do for you so you can do for me" I think was his philosophy and now he and his wife hide behind their religion.  Forgiveness is everything! they say.  Judge not lest you be judged! they preach.

Well here's the thing: I don't have any problem at all with passing...assessment...on a person who got behind the wheel, drove drunk, and killed his passenger.  This person was dating my father's wife's daughter and they were oh-so-accepting of him.  Admittedly, he seemed like a fine person, but I didn't know this fact about him at the time.  And so, damn right I'll look at him differently, and should one of my kids arrive in a situation like that, I won't have a problem saying hey, listen, you killed someone when you were driving drunk and you're not going to kill my kids.

My father and his wife disagreed with my wife and I on this subject.  They won't budge and you know what, it's not our job to do that.  But then, for them to be spiteful to my wife and I is vomit-inducing.  They're preaching forgiveness and do unto others and on the other side of their mouths they're spitting fire at me and my family for what...for calling them out?  I decided some time ago that my father's "real" family was his wife and her kids.  I wasn't a part of that, no matter what he told me or how much he tried to (what I think now) pretend that I was wholly important to him as his only son.

Tangent I suppose.  But I find now, that the more time I spend away and not in contact with my mother or father (and all the other FOO) the more I can feel emotional reactions to things.  For instance, I listen to NPR daily and I end up speaking out loud now reacting to what their interviewees say or to whatever story they're running at the time.  I can't remember a time that I've done this (and I don't just mean with NPR, I mean reacting like that to anything).  The ratio of length of time separated from my FOO to my emotional reactions cannot be coincidence.  Notwithstanding that people don't start really coming into themselves and understanding a lot about themselves until mid to late twenties (which it seems now that doesn't even hold water...).

I had a dream last night that I was yelling at my mother.  I spent the whole dream just yelling at her.  I don't remember what about (though I suspect that's not important) and I don't remember what I said, I just remember anger and yelling. 

I want to be engaged in my life.  In my wife's life.  In our kids' lives.  I find myself doing that more and more these days which is utterly fantastic.  I like feeling even though I have some reservations (subconscious survival mechanisms!) and some fear about them, I still like feeling, being knowledgeable and a very little bit passionate about things.

Passion.  Now that's something I'm looking forward to fully embracing.


  1. Whoohoo!! Expressing emotions takes practice like anything else. The world is a whole lot richer with them than without them. It's worth the work to make them a full part of your life. Go you!!

  2. Fear is a feeling! Embarrassment is one too. No one's ever on top of themselves all the time and we all have different ways of expressing ourselves and we're all afraid, at least a little bit. And you're a good dad!
    And that's funny, the thing about the NPR, I do that too now. I can't read a book without talking. I used to talk when I transcribe things. There's so many things to argue against, there's just so much stupidity out there, you just gotta let it out.

  3. Sounds like you are making great strides. You are probably right that there is a direct connect between time away and your own emergence. An experiment you might want to try if you have a space to do it, buy a box of clay pigeons, the kind used for target shooting. Find a back alley or someplace that leaving marks on the wall is OK. Take each one and think about a time you felt angry then shatter the clay pigeon against the wall. It is a safe opportunity to express anger. I actually laid down painter's plastic to make clean up easier. Fear of emotions does a lot to stifle them. You are doing great.