I’m typing this tipsy – not because alcohol is my essential coping mechanism or because it’s fun to obliterate a bad memory or feeling but because I simply enjoy getting rather tipsy. Four years ago and for the first time in my life I learned to drink for fun. We all naturally lean toward some kind of copying mechanisms whether it be demolishing a big block of chocolate, shopping for yet more things we don’t need or fishing that packet of fags out of the bin that we said we’d quit. It could even be by being overly bossy and controlling of people or situations.
From age 13 I made it my aim to drink a litre of strong white cider every Friday. That was my day which kept me going through a week of repressing my feelings. That was when I stupidly thought that I could really feel my emotions and let loose. I was doing that but I wasn’t processing them or understand them unfortunately. It was more “Let’s have a laugh and forget about all of the crap – woo whoo!”
Forward a year age 14 and now I’m on to drinking quart bottles of vodka because the cider just isn’t doing it for me anymore. I have to drink it quickly because it has to take effect but then I have to sober up somewhat because I need to get the bus home at at 10.00pm.
I realise now I was always blocking out negative comments from others, negative feelings about myself and generally not allowing myself to feel. Maybe I naturally felt too much as a kid and decided it was sort of scary. Maybe I was made to feel by a relative that someone else was in greater emotional distress so I was to play down any anxieties as if they were of less importance. Maybe I felt I always had to be in control so that I didn’t cause a scene.
Basically the reason doesn’t really matter. It was the fact that by my teens I would do anything before I would actually feel anything. By my early 20’s it was cigarettes for when I was stressed. Sex for when I wasn’t feeling in control (“well I’ll soon change that!”), beer to let my ‘real’ personality out (witty but pretty wild) and dancing while loosing time in alcoholic oblivion so that all I was thinking about was the beat and the base.
What happens when the club shuts, you’re on your own, you’ve run out of booze and fags and you’re starting to feel again? I mean you are sobering up and that uneasy, lost, bewildered feeling is starting to creep back in.
Luckily by my late 20’s I had The Bloke. He ‘left me’ to go to the 24/7 supermarket, he hadn’t dumped me in the way that I misunderstood. Afterward he scrapped me off the floor and basically rescued the sweet, kind, closed off, bitchy block of stone that he’d been going out with for 3 months.
That’s when I learned to actually feel my emotions again.
I say feel – not deal with. Two very different things those.
I was raw and adorably childlike yet frustratingly childish in my neediness.
It was a long difficult road but fast forward 5 years and I like embracing my emotions now. Emotions fill us with joy or sadness. It doesn’t matter – what matters is that we have them and we should embrace them as that’s how we can learn to cope with them – even appreciate them.
Now I’m in my mid 30’s I don’t automatically decline a hug when I’m sad because “I’ll loose it and start crying” because that’s ok. I don’t have this awkward pretend empathy because I don’t know how it feels to go through a particular emotion. I don’t have a silent rage inside of me anymore or a feeling of unjustness that I need to burry.
I feel everything and it’s freaking fantastic – even the really crappy bits.
Guess what? I’ve lost control quite a bit and done some ugly crying (you’re crying for god sake, who cares whether you look pretty) and I’ve had mini emotional meltdowns where it’s all felt too intense. Embracing your emotions really takes some getting used to! However, I’ve not completely fell apart. I’ve not been disowned by everyone (one person yes, but that says more about them than me).
Even if I was left with no one and had to start all over again it would have been the right choice. NEVER EVER FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULD BURRY YOUR FEELINGS DEEP INSIDE. We are humans. We need to feel. This is what separates us from robots. It’s what makes us truly unique. It’s okay to cry and let it out. You don’t need to be ashamed of this either. If you learn to feel then you learn to accept those feelings and you learn to cope with them over time. They are part of you. The joy and the despair – it’s all you. It’s what makes you you.
Love and giant bear hugs.
P.S. A few days later – I learned some rather alarming news about my health in a series of letters from my Neurologist to my Dr that I’d requested (for ATOS) and I looked up the three (yes three) conditions online on very specific professional sites . What I found out really worried me but I was busy reading the specifics of each one and the fact that one is very rare and I couldn’t find a reason for the other erm..Then I found that two conditions can at least be slowed down by drugs – phew! Then I was late and had to rush. I didn’t process it properly and spent the next few hours calmly explaining it my loved ones and looking on the bright side. Then A couple of days later I burst out sobbing for around three hours because what the bloody hell this is some seriously scary shit! It was classic – I did exactly what I warned everyone against. I guess it’s hard to see the wood for the trees sometimes. So yeah, I need to head the advice I’ve written above a lot more basically.