randomly stumbled upon a blog called The Girl Who Lived and started reading (I do that sometimes. I stumble upon something without any clue what it actually is, and I start reading…) and it hits home. THIS is what I cannot seem to actually explain to anyone, and why therapists often look at me like I have 5 heads when I tell them I have no idea what I’m feeling… (she was describing an occurrence of being triggered without actually knowing what triggered it, and then what came after for her).
And I sat on the couch and folded laundry and but on some mindless television. The American Idol auditions, in fact: something dumb and non-taxing, but which occasionally provokes an emotional response in me through some manipulative back story. The perfect outlet for the emotionally-crippled, who tend to take our tears where we can find them.
I found some there, that day. Only once they started, they were hard to stop. A little desperate, those tears. A little scary. Something big seemed to be threatening to happen.
It’s happening, I found myself thinking, wildly. It’s happening.
…What’s happening? the Sherlock part of my brain barged in and asked. What’s going on here?! Have I authorized this?!
Oh. Hmmmm. Tears immediately ceased. Trying to analyze what was happening seemed to be the quickest way to stop it from happening.
My husband came down from his office around then to see how things were going, and I told him what had happened with the tears, and he asked what I was feeling.
“I’m not,” I said.
“No, I mean, what feelings is this bringing up for you?”
“I’m not having feelings,” I said. “I’m having an emotional reaction.”
He looked at me. “Um.”
“Yes, I realize that those technically mean the same thing.”
“They do not necessarily mean the same thing for me. My body is having the reaction. My intellectual brain is not involved, and if my intellectual brain tries to get involved, it makes the reaction stop, so I’m just staying out of it and letting the reaction happen without trying to figure out what’s causing it, you know?”
I might need to show this to TM at some point… It may be effective in heading off the “you seriously have 5 heads right now” stare at least in regards to emotion-labeling. (I think this phenomenon is also what tripped up De and I: I was in an intellectual rather than emotional space when we worked on identifying my emotions. Intellectually, I knew the emotions I should be having, and what they would be called, but I couldn’t necessarily tell her what they actually felt like. Had I been stuck in my emotions, I would have gone round and round without being able to tell her anything. She would have suggested things, and I would have blindly picked a few because that is what would have been expected of me). Maybe I need to specify that I have no concept of what the emotions are when I am actively lost in them. I lose the capacity to understand what labels go with what feelings, and what I’m currently feeling actually is… I can grasp the concept of confusion, terror, relief, and happiness, but the subtle nuances that would separate out other emotions elude me at times like those. I can recall several times I have been asked “what [am I] feeling? what’s going on for [me] right now?” and I have no answer. Heck, when De announced her resignation from the agency, tears spilled from my eyes, but I couldn’t tell her what I was actually feeling. I still have no real idea what it was; sadness? anger? fear? loss? grief? I don’t know. Maybe all of those, maybe none of those. Maybe it was resignation? Anyway, yeah, I have no intellectual grasp of the emotions I tend to feel when I am feeling them. I can hazard a guess based on what I someone suggests I should be feeling, but I have no real concept of what the particular emotion actually feels like. A lot of the time, my intellectual understanding of an emotion does not match the emotional experiencing… And if I ever really try to examine and label an emotional experience, I lose touch with it and switch to the intellectual side of things.
I’m not the only one who experiences this?? This is awesome. Not in the “yeah! another screwed up person in the world!” but in the sense of “Yeah! I finally have a description and someone else gets it!” kinda way.