I finally figured out what is happening to me.
I am going through an Emotional Cleanse.
It makes total sense. All the tears. All the crawling back up out of a hole, only to get pulled back down again by new unaddressed emotions could mean only one thing. I am detoxing my emotional state of mind.
I am giving myself permission to let all of my feelings flow out of me so I can get back to having leading a balanced life, that includes regular old bad days and regular old good days.
Sunday’s depression has passed. I knew it would. And to tell you the truth, short-term depressions are not bad. They are part of life and remind us we are emotional beings. We all need to acknowledge this. We all learn from our ups/downs.
In the past I have done a lot of running away from sad/painful emotions, only to put on happy face after happy face when deep inside me, there’s a lot of turmoil.
Another thing I figured out is that I am so afraid to allow myself to feel too good or too bad because after having had two psychotic episodes I am so afraid I am either going to go off the deep end again or have harmful thoughts. I am so guarded about staying on an even keel that it is preventing me from experiencing normal feelings (on the inside and out).
There’s a chance I am an overly emotional person in a way, and you know? That’s ok. I am also a very sensitive person when it comes to feelings. That’s ok, too. I used to be ashamed about that. I grew up with a domineering father and two big brothers who modeled how my Dad treated me, which was not always nicely. In fact, he verbally abused me time and time again.
Then when both of my brother’s were out of the house, it was only me living with him and my mother from when I was 16-18. No one else was there to share the brunt of his outbursts, except my mother of course. She took the worst of it.
When she tried to protect me from his wrath and stand up to him, he berated her and told her that she was babying me. So that’s what I learned to believe. I learned how to be tough and bury my hurt. I also learned to believe that I was his captor and if I tried to experience any type of self-discovery that normal teens do, I was reined back in with strict discipline.
I cannot change any of this. I know this. It happened. It’s over.
Also — despite the verbal abuse, I know my Dad loved me. He just never told me — he never expressed it the way I needed/wanted him to. When he’d go at me, I remember I’d run up to my room and sob. When I got over it, I would take a white index card out of my desk and write out all the things I wanted to say to him.
Never once did I read those lists to him. I was too afraid. I was too afraid he’d yell at me more. I was too afraid he’d silence me. I was too afraid he would tell me I was overreacting.
So I tore them up.
My Dad did the best he could with me. His own father rejected him and I know that affected how he treated my brothers and me. Displaced anger, I am sure.
In absence of the emotional love I craved from my Dad, there was the financial love. He took care of me. Who could stand up to that? I had my own room, clothes, food, trips, extras. He even put me through college. How on Earth could I point out one of his flaws to him and let him know just had badly it hurt me when he put me down? His money prevented me from speaking up for myself, and it obviously made him feel good about himself. But I was so afraid of expressing myself to the rest of the world the way I wanted to. All I could hear was his negative voice in my head and see the green dollars in my eyes.
When I was in high school, there were times after he would have an outburst — he was a ticking time bomb that I never knew when would go off — I began to binge/purge. It was the only thing I could control. I had no other control over any of my life. Most of my decisions were made for me. I know he did it out of protection, but between him and my older brothers, I was in a cage.
My doctor’s appointment went really well yesterday. I am settling into a dosage of medicine that she and I both feel comfortable with. Yay! I hope we are right. I am ready to get back on the joy train. She told me I am getting there, and I agree, but that I am the type of person that expects immediate results.
Life doesn’t work that way, especially when delving into heavy, unresolved emotions. I am trying to free myself of my Dad’s final reign, that believe it or not, I still live with.
If I told my Dad today that he still controls me to a certain extent, I am pretty sure he would say something like, “Well don’t let me do that. Why are you hanging on to me? You have your own life to live.”
This is a hard, embarrassing truth. But a truth that I need to flush out of me to move on.
When I was 24 years-old I heard my Dad tell me he loved me for the first time. It was life-changing. I remember exactly where I was and where I was standing and how it involuntarily caused pause. Those words out of his mouth meant so much to me.
But then he did a bad thing.
He had an affair.
Not only that, but I became is confidant — for 15 months. For 15 months I harbored his secret and didn’t break loyalty. I had my reasons for doing it, but I think another reason why I did it that I haven’t realized until now, is that because after all the verbal abuse I endured growing up, I finally had a Dad who told me he loved me. I didn’t want to lose that.
So this time around, he mentally punished me. (Or did I do it to myself?) It was such a messed up time for both of us. I’ve had to move on since then but my “Daddy issues” still haunt me and that became abundantly clear when in 2011 and in 2013, they contributed to psychotic episodes. My brain couldn’t handle any more verbal/emotional silence about my feelings. I snapped under the weight.
There’s so much more here, and I am still figuring this all out. At this moment. In therapy. As I am driving my car. As I lay in bed at night. I am having realization after realization and it feels good, but I have more work to do to flush all this out of me.
I have to talk to my Dad and tell him how he made me feel.
The crazy thing is that I have talked to so many friends about this through the years and had deeper conversations lately with my aunt, my mother, and my husband. Since my four tissue night, I’ve had five tissue afternoons, I’ve had 10 tissue nights, and one night I lost track at 12. I’ve started talking about this in therapy, plucking a tissue from the box as needed. (There’s an analogy in here somewhere about tissues vs. beer).
One thing I refuse to do — is to stop the tears until they subside naturally.
Of course, there will be more tears in the future for other heartaches and heart breaks — that’s ok. I will try to handle them in a more timely manner than I have to this point.
In college I studied emotional intelligence. I understand and know a lot about emotional intelligence. The sad thing is, that I haven’t applied it to my own life.
One of the big drives on that front is because I want to model emotional intelligence for my kids.
To this point, I have defeated denial about having a mental illness (bipolar disorder), identified problems (unresolved emotions), am finding solutions (cleanse), making goals, healing, cleaning out my emotional closet… and… well… I’ll just have to see what else.
I will move on from all of this in one way or another. My Dad and I will grow closer, but in a healthier way, I hope. I can’t speak for him, but I am certain he carries guilt about how he treated me in high school and the mistake he made by telling me he was having an affair and then using me as his pillar, while I nearly crumbled with the weight.
In tandem with the emotional cleanse I am going through, I picked up where I left off last fall with the “stuff” cleanse. I started going through old boxes from my childhood bedroom that got dumped on me, as well as unopened boxes from our move. That project got put on hold when I started feeling crappy in November.
Now that I am coming into myself in a new way, I got inspired to continue the “stuff cleanse.” Kind of fun to work on these parts of my life in tandem.
I cannot wait to see how I am going to feel after healing (for the most part) and done throwing stuff away and out of my life and finding special places for the items I want to keep. I guess you could say that my mind and physical space are undergoing a renovation.
What kind of foundation do I already have?
What does the framework look like when I review it?
The new floor plan?
What do I tear down?
What do I leave?
What do I not forget, but paint an intentional, pretty picture over it?
What secrets do I want to hide in a secret passage way that I only show to a few special people?
What kind of mementos and pictures do I want to keep close?
What newness and light do I want to let in?
What will my front door look like?
In a way I am getting rid of the yucky wall stains and broken appliances, uncovering the attractive features that have been there all along, and creating arched entryway ways, a spiral staircase, built-in book shelves, and sky lights that are all possible with hard work and creativity.
I guess it is up to me to undergo this renovation in time. I don’t want to give myself a deadline, but I have a birthday coming up, so I am going to give myself a year to work on myself and reevaluate.
My first step is to change my internal voice. To tell myself I am worth it and silence all the negative, destructive thoughts.
The next time I’ll see my Dad is in May. When I talked to him earlier this week I told him I wanted to have a “meeting” with him. We set a place and he happily agreed. Then I told him, “You have been warned.” But I followed it with a light-hearted comment. I guess we can both chew on it for a while. Thankfully for me, I have over a month of therapy to gather my thoughts.
A part of me thinks my Dad is going to laugh in my face when I tell him about my past hurt (because we have a solid relationship now, aside from the emotional stronghold he has over me, but I think I am the one who has to let go of that).
The other part of me thinks he is going to try to silence me, but I can’t worry about that now. I have to deal with my emotions first and then see what happens. Maybe I’ll muddle through this and realize I don’t even need to address any of this with him. That I only need to address it inside myself. That my perceptions of reality will completely change.
(I actually feel guilty for dispelling all of this about my Dad, because I truly do love him so much. He has always been my protector, but my worst critic and that has bumped up against my sensitivity to his opinion of me. The whole “honor thy mother and father” thing is needling me, but I also feel like I have to dispel this and I’ll never know if/how it’ll help me unless I release it out into the world).
Holy drama, I know.
Maybe all this will turn into serious-gone-funny fodder for a larger story someday??
One way or another I feel some sort of conversation with my Dad coming, and I am confidant we’ll be all the better for it. He’s a smart and clever guy and loves me. It’s anybody’s guess what’ll happen.
Last thing for today.
Over the years I feel like I have used my Dad as a scapegoat for a lot of things. If something doesn’t go right, Dad’s fault. If I had a problem, Dad’s fault. And so on. I know he is not to blame for everything.
I simply need to tell him: You hurt me in the past and then start living my life free from any expectations I feel like he has for me. It’s my life and I need to take that power and get on with my life instead of always worrying about his opinion or losing his love.
New self talk:
BE ME AND STOP IMITATING HIM OR TRYING TO BE WHAT I THINK HE WANTS ME TO BE.
(See how much progress I am making?!!!)
In some ways, this blog post is a really freaking embarrassing confessional. I mean, I have given my Dad a whole corner of my heart that’ll be free (I think?!). He’ll still be in there, but contained. (I am so curious about how he is going to respond to me. He’s totally unpredictable though).
Mostly, I am curious to see what my life is going to look like when I get to a new and unseen (emotionally) balanced place. A new part of my definition of “balanced” means that I don’t want to be afraid to jump high in the air in jubilation or tumble to the ground in defeat, or scream at the top of my lungs when I am (justifiably) angry, without setting off alarms of an episode.
I want to feel both ends of the emotional spectrum and everywhere in between without being so guarded about my bipolar disorder or about what others (aka my Dad, etc) might think of my behavior. I also want to speak my own mind. Take a stance on my opinions.
It’s a lot to look forward to. I hope other people can appreciate my realizations, spirit, and new outlook on life.
Editor’s note: All these thoughts and feelings are evolving. They may mean one thing today and another thing another day. This post is self-exploratory and truthful in this moment as I try to make sense of my life.