Not Repressing and Unsure What To Do
I am volatile. Cheese me off and I am likely to go off on you right now, mercilessly.
I think I am starting to understand what is going on.
For my entire life, I have repressed my real feelings. They still came out sometimes, usually in the oddest and most inappropriate times. I have had little choice. As a young adult, I simply lacked the coping skills necessary to survive in the real world. No matter how bad my relationship with Barry, I would stick it out—because the alternative was living with my parents. My parents are basically good people with some issues (as we all have). My dad was a narcissist when I was growing up; he’s not as bad now. And my mom made endless excuses for my older brothers using drugs and alcohol. In her mind, they were “going through a phase.”
Yeah, right. A phase that lasts umpteen years. It is my opinion that addiction puts an end to a person’s emotional and spiritual growth at whatever age the addiction starts. In other words, a person who starts drinking at fifteen and continues for the next thirty years is a forty-five year old with all the emotional maturity of the fifteen year old.
I am the youngest in my family. I have always been treated as a child by people whose connection to reality is tenuous at best. There’s nothing quite like being condescended to by active alcoholics and addicts. And then I get criticized for having a bad attitude. For me, relationships have not been worth my time and energy because I tend to attract these chemically-dependent, narcissistic losers into my life and then I am totally unwilling to do everything on their non-reality-based terms. The need for repression is obvious for someone lacking the survival skills and confidence to handle the real world.
About a decade-and-a-half ago, I decided to take responsibility for my life. I started working and going to school. Then Barry retired and got cancer. I continued going to school until I got my MBA. Then I graduated. The Huntington’s progressed. The house declined. I realized I could not take care of Barry and the house simultaneously. My needs increased beyond my ability to meet them myself. I reached out for help and received no offers of genuine assistance, only fake politeness. The needs were urgent and real. The offers of help were not. The resources I thought I had so carefully put in place for precisely this moment in time turned out to be imaginary. Only the unmet needs are real.
And I exploded. All my unmet needs are right there at the surface. I am ready to tear off someone’s head. Where the hell did all these feelings come from? They’ve been there the whole time, but were necessarily repressed for survival purposes. Now that I have the skills and confidence that I could survive on my own (if ever given the opportunity to be anything other than a caregiver), a lifetime of repressed emotions is erupting.
I would love to re-repress some of this stuff. This level of rage has repressed for good reason. But it doesn’t work like that. I have lost the ability to repress anything.
Some of this is Buddhism’s fault. I have been meditating and letting go of feelings as they come up. Of course, I’ve tried to use meditation to not feel, but, needless to say, that doesn’t work long-term. Now I am facing my feelings and have nowhere to go with them. These emotions are not polite. The time for game-playing is over.
I have a shrink and now we are starting to deal with some of this stuff. When my car is not working, I have had an abnormal mammogram, Barry has blood in his urine, and the house has to be prepared for sale, it is hard to say to my shrink, “Let’s talk about what was happening in my family when I was 11.” When dealing with multiple crises simultaneously, I am lucky to function 5 minutes at a time. However, the past few weeks have had fewer traumas and so there is now the possibility of dealing with past stuff and not just the current crisis. Numbness has been absolutely essential for my continued functioning.
It is only now, at the age of 47, that I can start to deal with repressed stuff. I have looked online for hints as to how to deal with eruptions of repressed emotions. Everything seems to be about why repression is bad for you. Duh. I know that. But sometimes, repression is essential. What do you do when repression is no longer an option? Nobody talks about that.