I started a thought with my therapist today; “At some point, I locked my anxiety and fear and wounded feelings away. Now I don’t realize I’m feeling them till I start using unhealthy coping mechanisms to keep them silenced.” “When did you lock them away?” “I don’t know…I guess when I started trying to chameleon and fit in. People don’t like when you whine and cry and hesitate.”
I started that thought at therapy; drove home. Had dinner. Cuddled dogs. Was watching tv, playing games on my phone. And then in a flash, it came to me.
I was 15. I’d gone to his house to rehearse our lines – we’d been cast as romantic leads in the school play. He was so handsome and confident and popular; I was so nervous. Naively, I really thought we were going to rehearse…I didn’t think anyone that gorgeous could have any interest in me. I was awkward and weird. We went to the basement. We’re rehearsing, we get to a scene with a kiss – he kisses me. I’m blushing. I don’t know how the rest happened; I’m not sure I’d ever had a French kiss, let alone what came next. It wasn’t something I’d ever wanted to do…I thought it was gross. I was still a virgin when I left, but I wasn’t innocent – I’ll leave it at that.
In that moment, I wanted him to think I was beautiful and ‘normal’ so badly. He was guiding me, showing me what he wanted – I didn’t want it. I was scared and I wanted to pull away and run. But I also wanted a boyfriend, I wanted to be wanted. I was desperate for someone, anyone to SEE me. So I put the anxiety and disgust and the wound aside; I did what he told me to. Successfully fitting in meant that part of me needed to sit down, shut up and be quiet. No one cared what she had to say – I didn’t want to hear it – so I made her go away. When she gets too whiny, I use unhealthy coping skills to make her go away before I have to feel.
In the moment I realized it, sitting in my living room, I poured it out to my husband and cried and cried.
Memories and emotions can be tricky when you disassociate and are trying to stop. You don’t know they’re even there bothering you and then BANG! You’re flooded. Without a trigger. Without a warning. And you have to try to just make yourself feel them and ride the wave because if you can’t feel them, the negative cycle keeps going. But God in Heaven, is it a hard ride.
Yes, counselors struggle, too.