For a very long time now I have refused to show and talk about my feelings or explain myself to anyone who is not extremely close to me. Extremely close are only my husband and my best friends. Even from them I am sometimes hiding how I feel, especially when I think they might be influenced in taking a decision. Do you know why that happens? Because I truly believe that expressing your feelings has a manipulative purpose. I know with my conscious mind that is not always true. But I still have not been able to really convince myself of the fact.
I grew up with a parent figure that used feelings to get us kids to do things. Then I was in a relationship for ten years where he would use emotional blackmail and emotional manipulation on a daily basis. He would withdraw his attention and love when I would not do what he wanted me to do, or he would show me he is hurt and upset until I would succumb to his will. Other times he would spin and push and pull me with his words until he got me so confused and emotional that I would burst into tears and accept anything just so that he would stop.
I could not trust his feelings and I could not trust my own since he could play so easily with what I felt. I have learned to shield myself against it by not sharing feelings and not trusting others showing their feelings. I learned to be completely rational, and that helped me a lot in taking a life changing decisions and achieving things I set out for.
Some could wonder what is wrong with all this and why would I want to change it. Well, because it’s not good, obviously. Not the way it works now. Not on it’s own. Because being completely rational keeps me from trusting people who are not as rational as I am and, oh, boy! there are a lot of these people. Some of them I love and I want to be able to understand and trust them. And it also keeps other people from warming up to me because they see me as cold and impersonal. They do trust my judgement and they come to me for advice and to help them solve some of their problems. They also come to me for help because they know I’m a woman of my word and I am very able. But they do not call me to share their joys. And they have learned to not call to share their sorrows either because instead of just listening and being there for them I offer solutions.
When they are hurting, people do not want solutions, they want caring, and loving and moral support. And I simply do not know how to do those so natural, so humane things. And I wish I could. I wish I could just relate to what they are feeling, to just feel alongside with them. But I have learned to transform all hurt into anger and anger gave me power to change things in my life and I want to share this power. But it’s not power people need when it hurts. Not for themselves, not for someone else to manifest it and change things for them. They want their wounds tended and they want encouraging words so they can find their own way into dealing with whatever hurt them.
I know that and I understand that. But I have waged war against all those who hurt others in any way, and I want revenge for all those wounded because I see myself weak and helpless and wounded as I was, and I hate that image. I have not yet been able to truly forgive myself for not knowing how to react, how to protect myself back then. And again, my conscious mind knows there was no other way, it keeps telling me: “Yeah, but you were a kid and then you were just to young and unexperienced, you did not know how to do anything, no one thought you about how things might work in this world. They were people who were hurting themselves, it was not about you, it was about the way they knew how to be in the world.” And I know all this, I really do KNOW. But I cannot feel it. I cannot feel compassion and love for the kid that I was, for myself for not being better.
The paradox of it all is that somewhere in the not so far past I started studying to become a psychotherapist. However, at some point I just stopped. How could I be there for people who come for help when all I can do is give solutions? That would not make me a good therapist just as it does not make me a good friend. Because what really makes therapy so efficient is the relationship one develops with the therapist. So I decided to take a brake and give myself time to get in touch with my feelings, and learn to translate them from anger into what they really are. To learn to manifest those feelings and trust that other people will not see me as manipulative because of showing what I feel. And if they would take advantage of me because of showing vulnerability, trust that I can heal and recover as I always have.
I would really love to hear and it would also be helpful for me if you would share your own stories on how it is to see, interpret and express feeling, your own as well as that of others. How and what do you do to be there for others? What do you do when someone you love is upset with you? Please feel free to just share your experience.