I had the first session with the new therapist last night and I noticed an interesting thing.
When I talked about my parents and my childhood, my throat sometimes squeezed and my voice wouldn't come out. It's like I knew there was an emotion under there somewhere, but I couldn't really feel it or express it or even identify it.
It felt like wading through murky waters and tripping over something without knowing what it is.
Did I feel anything back then, when I was 4, or 6, or 8? Or was I already burying everything? Are these grief, anger, pain that I felt or normally would have felt if I hadn't emotionally detached from myself?
My therapist encouraged me to express my feelings freely and I just couldn't. I tried going back to the words that I had trouble pronouncing, but it was already gone. I did have several thoughts, though (these are always easier) on why I can't express my emotions:
"I can't be weak. When you express hurt and pain and anger, you're weak. If you cry, you're very weak and you're admitting someone can hurt you and thus has power over you." (my therapist said the opposite is true - you exorcise your parents' power over you when you acknowledge what you needed from them but never got. I like the sound of this, but can't make the leap to applying it)
"I can't be needy. If I'm needy, I'm boring and inconvenient, not only to my parents, but to everyone else too." (my therapist said the need of a child to be loved is a very real and legitimate need. I like the sound of this, but can't make the leap to applying it)
"I can't be emotional. This is not me. I'm not one of those emotional people." (not necessarily true, as I have no idea who I really am, and most likely a result of projection, but still the word "emotional" sounds dirty to me)
These are the things I said in session. Later, I tried more to release my feelings, and I started feeling increasingly anxious.
Then I had one of the worst anxiety nightmares ever in which all the possible catastrophes I could imagine happened (from war and destruction and the bombing of our neighborhood to being late to pick up my kid at preschool and having to buy her neeew shooooes before the next paycheck and crying about it and being gossiped about because of it).
It's like I'm deadly afraid of expressing my real feelings about my parents and my childhood, so I'm stuck at "numb." There's a scab on my heart and I wonder what's underneath, but am afraid to pick at it. Perhaps for good reason. Perhaps not.
If I express my buried feelings,
it will be real. it can't be undone. they hurt me and were bad parents and I had a bad childhood.
I will have really betrayed them. really disobeyed them. horrible punishment will ensue.
I somehow know, feel it, that this was the ultimate betrayal when I was a child. To show to them or anyone else that they were less than perfect parents. I showed it by crying, being emotional, being sad, being hurt, being angry in reaction to their actions. I distinctly remember being told I'd be given something to cry for if I don't stop and feel it in my bones that this really wasn't just an empty threat.
Crying and feeling the proper reaction to their treatment is the ultimate treason and that's probably why I still can't do it.
But I might if I start thinking about it as the ultimate rebellion as well.