Friday, February 16, 2007

Emotions vs. Thinking

Over the past few months, I have realized what I am trying to achieve in therapy is a sense of wholeness. Due to PTSD and other issues, I have spent a good part of my life living what amounts to two lives. There is always a secret me, a part that I am ashamed to show to the real world. I learned to live this way as a child – I kept the part of me that was ashamed about being abused, ashamed about wearing yard sale clothes to school locked away deep in me. I always knew that person was there, but I didn’t acknowledge her.

A few months ago, the therapist had me do an exercise in which my logical self (my thinking self) had a debate with my emotional self. What was revealed was very, very telling as it relates to not only my desire to achieve wholeness, but the two parts of me that still exist. The first therapist I ever saw said that my ability to disassociate with one set of feelings in order to operate in another was the equivalent of multiple personality disorder, though I don’t quite go so far as to give my personalities names and I know myself as both personalities. So, as I did this debate between my logical and emotional parts, I sort of revealed to myself some of the traits of both personalities that fight for control in my subconscious.

My logical self is basically the part of me that has lead me through the most “successful” periods of my life – helped me to go to college, helped me to work my way up the ladder in my career, find a handsome, ambitious husband filled with the wonder of a million new things. But then, low and behold that emotional self, which had not had a chance to live began to kick and scream, wanting a real place in my life. That pissed the thinking self off. She had always been in charge, and she was safe and she wasn’t going to give in to any flighty emotions. Emotions are bad things that create problems, she said. Of course, over time, the emotional side had grown, right along with the thinking side, but simply had been stifled and pushed aside – especially in a marriage where emotions were also not seen as healthy, but rather unhealthy or weak.

As it turns out, I have unconsciously been working toward wholeness for a long time – but there is a severe battle between the emotional and the logical parts of me. The logical side, the thinking side is bound and determined that it has to be in control and is very bitchy and condescending to the emotional part of me, the part of me that feels so needy and almost empty at times. The emotional side is a bit smug as well though … feeling that the logical side can “think” it is in control, that it can function without emotional healing and love, but knowing that in fact the thinking side is really miserable without befriending the emotional side, and eventually must learn to co-exist and unite with the emotional part of me.

For years, I have craved and hungered for someone to just hold me, tell me they love me not just in words but in actions, feel good being next to me, touching me. I have wanted someone to hold me while I cry, to tell me how good it feels just to laugh with me and to be close to me, to be honest with me. I have wanted to separate the distance between myself and another human being, to show that I was not repulsive, that I was worthy of love and capable of it as well, that I could be touched and not hurt or made to feel dirty. The child in me that was violated wanted to be touched in healing ways that showed me that my body was good and sacred, to be soothed and comforted, to be spoken to in soft, vulnerable tones that let me know that the other person was opening his heart to me as well.

I have tried to control my husband into doing these things, shame him when he didn’t give me what that child was craving, but somehow I could never just open my own heart enough to show all my hurt, and to ask for help in healing, to say this is what I need and why. I tried, but always in ways that were not direct, again, often shaming and blaming, or lashing out when I was really needing something soft and loving. In retrospect, I think it has been ironically hard for me to trust that someone, anyone could or would actually want to help me in the ways I have needed them to. I have wanted their help, but I have closed them out. I remember so many times I have yelled at my husband, “Please, just let me in, just let me see a little bit of what is inside of you.” But all he was seeing of me was my frustration, my weakness, the results of that inner turmoil, of my need. He had fallen in love with the logical self, and never knew the emotional self existed. I never trusted him with most of my real feelings, I was never truly honest with him about many things. When I began to be severely depressed and seek out emotional support wherever I could find it, I closed him out completely. He would ask me how my counseling went, how my meetings went – I would never tell him much more than “fine,” “good,” “OK.” I could never bring myself to tell him what took me to that counselor or to those meetings. I still can’t. I have no idea why …

Through counseling and recovery work with others who suffer from the same sorts of problems, and special friendships I have began to be honest, to see what it feels like – very freeing, the world doesn’t fall apart just because I show myself to it. But there is still something that prevents me from being totally honest, afraid of judgment, afraid of losing control. Most of the time, I just want to run away and hide in a world where there are no feelings. But I know that is killing me too, slowly and surely making me completely insane. I live with a civil war inside my head day after day… how to free myself, I have no idea.

I guess the only answer is one day at a time.


dexplorer said...

Well I’ve just discovered your blog and have been reading heavily through it. It’s searingly and heart achingly fascinating. I’ve made a couple of comments on earlier posts just this evening.

The first real love of my life was a sex addict, or nymphomaniac. She was also just incredibly, achingly, utterly sexual and completely sexually submissive and lost in the moment and acts. Beyond thrilling. Mind blowing. Esp. at my age. Lasted a year, when I was 17-18, she was 16-17. Of course she broke my heart at the end. She’s always had a pulling influence on my life, though not really my more than fling pattern since then. Tough there have been other problems. The whole sex diminishes to almost nada thing with the more stable and intellectual women I’ve chosen for wife, and longer term relationships since (and NO they didn’t seem ice queens, heaven forbid. But later, well….)

Anyway. This is by far the most genuinely hopeful and self knowing post I’ve seen you write. The initial duality, the secret you and the public rational you speak of has a LOUD ring of truth. There seems some real objectivity here. Previously about the only thing you really wrote objectively about was the extent and degree of your sex addiction. Yes it often seemed at least partly a sort of half boast. Or a flirtation here too, in personal revelation blog land.

You’re few comments about your husband before also had very little ring of real truth to me. He was a cardboard man. What you say here is very different. I don’t really know if there’s any real future there beyond just a front and a comfortable base and bank for your addiction, which you now seem to be moving away from. At least now it seems a genuine possibility. Perhaps your main lover is part of that.

One thing I’m sure of. You can only be fully whole when you’re telling the truth, or very much mostly, and this huge duality is washed away. That might be a truth in which you don’t speak hurtfully about a massively sexually cheating past he never asks about, but truth about the present and your feelings, and he can more touch and feel you. That does seem unlikely, but this is the first post I’ve read where I felt you actually talked about a real person. Or it might be the full truth with your current main lover, past, now and future. It COULD be a truth that involved a lot of sexual freedom, or a truth where you were in fact finally faithful and monogamous. But I’m sure that truth (none of us are 100% truthful), fundamental and basic truth, is essential for you to be and feel well. And generally content and happy, rather than mostly desperate but momentarily thrilled.

if you want to talk off here ddexplorer at earthlink dot net.

Rae said...

Hello again ... thanks for the genuine interest in my writing -- and your very keen perceptions. This was the first writing I had done in a long time that felt very "real." I do feel like I have a lot coming my way right now .. a lot of understanding and sorting that's leading me to a better place.

I agree with you 100 percent that truth is the one friend I have, the one hope for help that I can count on.

And truth be known ... I do think I began this blog with a little bit of boastfulness. I've continued it because it's a record of how I have gotten through this these years and months.

I'm glad you're reading and offering feedback. Thanks.

MICKY said...

Greetings Rae
The past is all our accumulated memories. These memories act in the present and create our hopes and fears of the future. These hopes and fears are the psychological future; without them there is no future. So the present is the action of the past, and the mind is this movement of the past. The past acting in the present creates what we call the future. This response of the past is involuntary, it is not summoned or invited, and it is upon us before we know it.
QUESTION: How are we going to be free from the past?