Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Emotional IQ....

Me and emotions are not very good friends.  We met late in life... okay that's not completely true - we met very early in life but I was told that emotions were bad, I got in trouble when I was shy or scared or sad or angry or whatever.  I learned to put on the happy face and make very little waves.  I learned to do whatever made the person I was with happy - or content.  I stopped crying completely.  I probably didn't cry at all from the time I was about 7 or 8 until I was twenty something.  Maybe there was something in there during that time but I don't think so.

Anyway - my mom is a great... fun gal - a great friend - but she wasn't a great nurturer.  Recently she yelled at Jason while he was throwing up and crying because he was over tired and missing his parents.  (he was staying with her one night after the comic-con where he had stayed up too late for 3 nights in a row and it had taken its toll out on him).  He'd called me on a cell phone crying for me - and I was doing a fine job of calming him down when my mom came in very annoyed with him.  "Jason!  If you are going to keep crying and getting sick the least you can do is keep it down and stop disturbing the rest of us."  A delight, my mom is.

Anyway - I called my mom on her house phone and let her know I'd heard her and just how unhappy I was about it.  I've been working for 2 1/2 years to get Jason over his separation anxiety (up to and including therapy for the little guy) and he's so so so much better - but being yelled at in that situation is not helping anyone.  Anyway - my mom was so annoyed that I'd heard her.  Annoyed that technology exists that makes it possible that I heard her.  Not annoyed that she'd let her frustration get the better of her... hell as far as I know, she thinks yelling at the vomiting boy is a fine thing to do.  She never apologized or in any way let me or Jason know she thought her behavior wasn't just fine.  Needless to say she'll not be watching him again.

But the point is - this little episode with Jason has totally tapped into all my childhood stuff with my mom - not to mention all the obvious mama bear stuff I've got going on.  Emotions were bad because they were inconvenient to her - not part of her plan.  She was a tornado of emotions and took out every frustration on my sister and I.  We dealt with that in different ways and my way to was to just turn off all emotions.  Learn to want and need and demand nothing - no sympathy, no comfort, no help, nothing.

This only doing what was expected of me led me to doing things I didn't want to do; with drugs, with boys.

Oh hell...

this wasn't where I was going... the point is... I am very emotionally ignorant.  My walls have walls.  I came by it very honestly.  I learned to shut it all down as a kid and so... I missed a lot of years in learning how to deal with the world emotionally.  I've got nothing to fall back on.  I've learned a lot about emotions as an adult but I'm still pretty much an idiot about them.  I can feel them now.  I can even describe what I'm feeling a lot of the time, but I have no ability whatsoever to non-verbally communicate my emotions.  If I'm sad or depressed or hopeless I will look outwardly just like I'd look if I were happy or calm or peaceful.  Some of that is that I can distract with the best of them.... Hey look (pointing over your shoulder) there's a big bird, you've got to see it.  (and while you're looking hopefully you'll forget whatever it was you were going to ask me).  But most of it is - I just don't have a clue how one does that.  There's nothing remotely natural about it.

Anyway - this is on my mind cuz this is what we talked about in therapy this week.  I went alone as Dan is out of town and we talked a lot about emotions.  We've previously talked about how mine and Dan's dysfunctions matched nicely when we got married.  I was brought up not to want or need anything and he was brought up to run from people who want and need things.  We were a match made in heaven.  The problem was - I got a lot healthier in my late 20s and I've only gotten better and stronger since then.  I'm still an emotional idiot - okay, maybe not an idiot - but definitely not normal (and I mean that in the best possible way.)

But I'm really good with who I am now.  I'm really comfortable in my own skin.  Sure I wish there was less skin to be comfortable in - but my outside does not define me.  I am happy with who I am.  I am happy with the decisions I've made.  I want more out of my marriage - I am expressing wants and needs.  The wants and needs I have are not unreasonable.  But to my poor husband with the lessons he learned they are frightening.  They are pressure.  They are ways he can fail.  Fail me, fail himself.

You've all heard me talk about the things that are wrong in my marriage.  It's hard to feel love from a man too scared to reach out to you.  But I'm not doing him enough of a service.  He's a good and loving man.  He wants to do the right thing.  His childhood fucked him up but good and he has even less skills than I do.  He's still in that place where he runs from wants and needs and he does that because the wants and needs from his mother were no where near reasonable or sane.  It's a gut level instinct to him to protect what's his and keep everyone else out.  Does it mean that just because I know he's a good and loving man - that that will be enough to keep me here with him for the long haul - nope, it doesn't.  There will need to be changes.  I have needs that have to be met.  I have to feel safe and loved in my home - it's not negotiable.  But it does mean that staying here with him - and going to therapy with an open heart is absolutely worth my time and effort.  I have a sincere desire for my marriage to last for the rest of our lives.  But I love myself enough to know that doesn't have to happen for my life to be complete or good or a success.

As an aside... I was just thinking today about how I was taught to hide my emotions - I wonder if that's why I'm fat - all that stuff had to go somewhere.  Of course now the opposite should be true too - I'm pretty good about feeling my emotions if not about showing them - the weight should just fall off, don't you think?


Tina said...

What a very thoughtful post...So often we get on here and skip the really important things we should blog about (I know I am guilty of this way too often). I still protect most of my feelings. Kudos to you for 1. working on the whole feelings thing. 2. trying to make a better life in that area of your kids 3. working on figure out what you want in your marriage 4. sharing these things with us in such an open and thoughtful way.

love ya...xxxooo

~Lisa~ said...

I know that it is easy sometimes to keep things, emotions, to myself. To hide them somewhere deep inside me where no one can see them, feel them, touch them - no one but me. I don't know why I feel this way though. I love how you are growing into yourself, how you're working these things out - and becoming a more complete you - How you're becoming comfortable with who you are..

Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself with us, and giving me much to think about..


vickyd said...

This is such an important post...I, too, was raised in a household without much emotion (not to the extent yours was, but similar). I still have issues today with showing emotions and I am certain that it had a lot to do with why I ended up morbidly obese.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with was really a lightbulb moment for me.

Banded Mommy (Angie) said...

I was brought up in a very similar setting. I was not allowed to show any sort of emotion and when I did I was told that I was making my mother feel guilty. Even if what I was upset about had nothing to do with her... I was making her guilty. So I learned to hide everything until it became all bottled up and I blew like Mt. St. Helens. Being with my husband has taught me that sharing everything actually can make things better and not make people feel guilty. I think that you are on the right track to making your marriage better. It takes a lot of courage to do this and in the end whether or not the husband wants to participate, you will be better... that is what counts.
Good for you, for taking care of YOU!

Darlin1 said...

What a caring woman you are that you continue to work on all aspects of your life!!

Amanda said...

a very very thoughtful post!
I think the biggest struggle will be deciding when you've worked just enough and not been met in the middle by your husband. You're the only one who can decide that and although I have no advice on helping you decide it I can honestly say that you really are seeing things clearly and are doing really well! So keep it up! Keep fighting for you and your kids.

FitBy40 said...

I'm so glad Jason has you as a mom. He's in the right hands.

Ronnie said...

I don't really have anything to add, as the rest of these ladies have pretty much said it all, but I love this self-realization... and I know you'll find your way and you and the hubs will work it all out. *hugs!*