I did it. I'm in.
I've been able to feel and cry for two days now. I have cried for the little girl who was never loved and was never allowed to even understand and feel that simple fact. I have cried for the frightened, terrorized, and abused child who had to play the role of the happy, grateful daughter, even to herself. I have cried for the adult who is still largely living in this hell and will forever be left with this black hole.
I was able to do this after I connected all the dots of why I didn't allow myself to feel my feelings.
I realized it wasn't fear of pain, or mere detachment, or simple protection of myself. We ACoNs can take pain. We're not wimps. It really was not about that.
It was the opposite. It was the compulsion to be strong.
It was fear and obligation and guilt. The terror of betraying my parents by proving, through my feelings, that they hurt me. What I was never allowed to do as a child.
I remember being told "You're so ugly when you cry" and "Don't cry or I'll give you something to cry about" and I remember that the moral of the comic I drew - described in The Torture Chamber For Babies - was that if you severely beat your children because they cry, they will cry more. Crying was forbidden because it made them look bad and because it annoyed them.
The only moral defense I ever had was not reacting to any way they hurt me at all.
Crying and feeling hurt by them is the ultimate betrayal. It proves it was real. And once I realized this, I wanted to rebel more than ever.
And I feel real now. I've taken a huge step that cannot be undone. I've felt more for everything and everyone, too.
I even feel more empathy for my parents - like feeling truly sorry for them as children, too. And it's the opposite of excusing anything. They excused and idealized and obeyed their parents.
It didn't drown me and the world didn't come crashing down. There's pain, but I've never been afraid of that, and it feels much better than being dead. It's everything I'd hoped it would be.
It's a first step of many, and I know I have a long way to go still, but it feels like the most important breakthrough for me yet.