identifying emotions

“How are you?” I want to vomit, scream or run away every time I hear that question. I’ve started responding back to Hubby with “Do you really want to know?” and glance at the clock to see if we have time to cover all of the feelings I seem to have at any given moment.

Migraine status: My migraine aura has eased up on me today so I’ll try writing again. I’m not so dizzy, but right side weakness and some squiggly spotty lines in my vision. My head feels like a normal headache now, pain that no longer registers on my scale, easily ignored. Yesterday I was so dizzy I could not read for more than few lines at a time, could not drive, and walked like I was drunk.

I walked the kids to the bus stop this morning and my neighbor asks “Are you ok?”. Instant fear! I know whenever someone asks that question instead of “how are you”, that they have seen something wrong. I screwed up, my facade is not working, alert, alert, you have been seen. My mind races and does a quick inventory – I am wearing pants, shoes, my hair is brushed, concealer on my dark eye circles..so what is it? I’ve learned that by not answering right away, people tend to fill in the blanks for me. She then points at my leg and asks “Did you hurt your leg? you’re limping.” Oh. that. The limp that I worked so hard for the past 25 years to overcome is back. The paralysis from age 12 that I worked and worked got myself walking but with a terrible limp for most of my life, but that had finally healed a bit and allowed to me to feel strong and non-freakish for the past year or so, yes, well, hemiplegic migraines brought it back. My eyes threaten to fill with tears at her question because I had grown used to NOT hearing. I looked away to hide my watery eyes and told her my sad story, and comforted HER as usual, that its ok, I’m ok, it happened when I was 12, I am used to it. She said something like “Good for you for adapting, that must have been really difficult.” She’s a cool old lady that has had a tough life herself, so I appreciated that she didn’t say the usual “Oh my god how terrible!” like most people. But I still wanted to hide and walked back towards home as quickly as my limp would allow.

Then I sit at home, safe from questions I don’t want to heart, but not safe from my thoughts. So how am I? Here are a few of the feelings I can identify right now.

  1. frustrated – I thought I made so much progress and to hear that after 13 years of individual therapy and hard work that I have zero emotional intelligence and lack core beliefs and use only maladaptive schema is beyond frustrating. How can this be?
  2. angry – I’ve always been angry. I can remember suppressing such fury as a child and teen and even as an adult. People would tell me I’m so patient and gentle and they had no idea I was picturing kicking in their stupid heads while I nodded and smiled. I am incredibly angry now, always there just under the surface. I am angry at my parents, my brothers, my husband, my friends, my doctors, my neighbors, my teachers. I am angry that my predictions seem to always come true, that hoping for the best doesn’t work, that working your ass off doesn’t work, that no one has been able to help me, that I’m always on my own and I never know what to do. I am angry that no one else sees the problems and just buys into this suburban american life full of NOTHING. I am angry at myself for getting where aI am now, for making bad choices. honestly this list is too long, I am angry at so much right now.
  3. confused – this emotional stuff, to be diagnosed with no emotional intelligence – me? I thought I was better informed than everyone else. I thought I was more in touch than everyone else. I’ve read so much, been in therapy, writing this blog. How can you tell me that everything I think I know about my own emotions is completely wrong?
  4. lost – I don’t know what to do with myself. I have no hopes or dreams, only a vague plan of surviving, of not dying before my next doctor appt in a long line of doctor appts. If I don’t keep myself distracted, my own brain and existence is unbearable. Migraines have taken away my job, and reading and writing and video games on most days. Hell they’ve taken away sitting up on many days. All I have left is tv in those moments. I mostly just listen, because the lights hurt my eyes.
  5. exhausted – I’m getting more sleep lately, but I’ve put on so much weight and barely get to move my body. Combined with mental exhaustion of figuring out how to reinvent my life. again
  6. depressed – definitely some darkness to my thoughts, creeps in when the exhaustion is too high or the distraction is not enough. this is not the same as suicidal. I am happily indifferent to life, which is apparently my comfort zone. I still think of death, but I’m not looking around the room on online for ideas on how to best end my life. Having trouble finding any joy or rewards and doubting they ever existed.
  7. hurting – physically. emotionally. existentially.
  8. struggling – to eat healthier, to think positively, to walk, to sleep, to hope, to be nice, to be a good mom
  9. betrayed – by family, friends, doctors
  10. trapped – in a life I can’t handle, in a life I don’t want, in a broken body, in a damaged brain
  11. restless – like a caged tiger, I know the limits of my cage but have not yet accepted them
  12. terrified – in general. My main feeling is fear, usually terror – that is what complex PTSD feels like. this new schema therapy will be gut wrenching work for the next 10 years and I will then find out AGAIN that everything I know is wrong and here’s a new list of 20 more things I need to repair to heal from child abuse
  13. guilty – this list is as long as anger but not as permanent, it comes and goes. I don’t feel guilty at this exact moment, but I know I will several times today.
  14. pessimistic – I can’t see a good future for myself. I have not yet chosen life. I’m too afraid to invest in that and have it yanked out from under me again
  15. ashamed – to be pessimistic and angry and trapped. to be this overweight. to be this immature at my age. to need so much help. to spend my days watching tv.
  16. disappointed – I am not as far along in my recovery and healing journey as I thought
  17. overwhelmed – its all too much. the feelings, the work I must do to heal, the work I must do to be a mom, the work to just be me and try to overcome it all, the work to figure who I am and if I want to be me, and what If I make all these changes, will I still be me?

I think there are a few more in there swirling around, but my eyes are too tired and my brain is too tired, so I will go back to the couch and the tv. So I have a good start, I’m actually in tune with my emotions and have a strong language for them. The emotional intelligence I think I am lacking is how to identify what thoughts, which schema, has triggered the emotions. Schema gets triggered and I think is actually the basis for these emotional flashbacks I get, where I’m not reliving a certain event, but a certain mix of feelings, which then has me react with a behavior based on those childhood feelings. Nothing ever worked as a child, and I was left to figure it out myself. So I am perpetually blasted with a feeling of hopelessness, fear, anger, being trapped, etc – all of those above. My next post I’ll start going through the schema with an example.

I have not started schema therapy yet – only I’ve read about it on my own. So my conclusions may be wrong at this point, but I need something to analyze, and I figured if I document it here, than I can compare and adjust later.

One strength of mine, undeniably, is my willingness to learn, to be open-minded, to be flexible, to try. I understand there is often more than one right answer, and that sometimes there is no answer at all.

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6 thoughts on “identifying emotions

  1. I too hate that question!! How are you? Nobody really wants to know the answer to that, yet inside it sets off turmoil..Good job in listing out your emotions and commenting on them and then finishing with something you are good at. For me I have to honor and acknowledge those feelings and balance with some success or positive,

  2. I hate the feeling of being the same place I was ten years ago. The truth is that I’m not. I’m not looking forward to tackling the schema list you posted, but it’s time.

    You have the right to be angry about everything. You were handed a lot of horrible things to handle, early in life. While others rhapsodize about the golden age of childhood, you battled to survive. You grew up in a war-zone called ‘home.’ You did what you had to do to survive.

    Consider this: What you did to survive worked. However, you have grown and changed for the better so much that what worked before doesn’t work anymore.

    Instead of giving up and choosing to remain in the past, you are determined to fight for a better future.

    You are making progress. Tearing up old, rotting foundations looks horrible, but the end result is worth it. You are worth it. Several of my blogging friends have been talking about remodeling, as in “This Old House.” I watch the program and wonder how in the world they’re going to go from everything torn up to beautifully livable. Little by little, they do. Every single one of my friends talks about how much more work it was than they imagined. You’ve taken the most important and difficult step: You acknowledged you need help and sought it. Many people don’t. Good for you. Keep fighting for you.

    I’ll keep praying for you; you’re on my prayer list.

  3. Small steps, sometimes it feels as if we go backwards doesn’t it? It doesn’t feel progressive. I wrote the other day about dancing with my monsters, they do come out to play now and again. There isn’t a thing we can do but give them the music we want to dance too. I suspect any of us who take on these battles hate those questions, the temptation to answer is great.

    The headaches? As your doctor about Botox treatment. May not be something that would work for you but we are considering it for mine, thought I would pass it on.

  4. I wish we could sit down an talk together. I recognize all those feelings. My counselor told me that he was going to help me rip out my foundation and start over. I write him on Mother’s day to thank him for teaching me what I should have learned as a child. I am so impressed by your courage evidenced by your statement, “my willingness to learn, to be open-minded, to be flexible, to try.” Cheering for you from my computer.

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