I am deeply sad. I am actually clinically depressed, suffering from major depression and I have struggled with this debilitating kind of depression for most of my life. I feel down. I feel darkly burdened. But I don’t really feel. Doesn’t make much sense, I know. I understand, with my mind, that I must be experiencing a lot of grief and pain. I understand, with my mind, there must be a lot of buried anger, hurt, confusion and a myriad of reactions to the millions of things that have happened to me during my life. I know this because I’ve read a bunch of studies that have been done by well credentialed, very reputable people who have checked the data and verified their finding and determined that when people go through the kinds of things I have gone through, they have a fairly standard set of reactions. I’ve also been in counseling for years and have been told about these fairly standard set of reactions enough times that I do pretty much believe at least a few of them would probably apply to me. But even beyond that, when I ping my heart, or what is left of it, I get a weak return ping that verifies the truth and reality of what I am reading and being told. We are all a little different, but we are all a little the same too. Here’s an example of how it works.
You grow up in an abusive environment. You react in certain standard ways. You tend to vilify yourself and see your parents as saints. You tend to take the blame for the bad things that happen, believing it is all your fault. Because you don’t want to believe that the people who are supposed to love, protect and nurture you would do such horrid things to you because THEY have a problem. No. It must be you. So you swallow your anger and aim it at yourself. You can’t aim it at the people you are totally dependent on, now can you? That would be even more scary than believing it’s your fault! So you make yourself out to be the bad guy and hate yourself and don’t believe you are worth anything. It’s one of many, many, many “normal” scripts that we tend to follow when subjected to abuse as a young child. There are thousands of these scripts. You just have to learn which ones you’re playing. You will have a library of them. They shape your world view, how you see yourself in that world and what you think of yourself in relation to that world.
They also help you avoid emotions. They help you bury them, run from them, deny them, change them into something else and act as if you don’t have any.
Today, now, after all these years, I barely register emotions at all. Here’s an example of the difference between me and “normal” people.
I have a friend who lost her husband 7 months ago after 20 yeas of marriage. He didn’t leave her on purpose. He died after fighting a long battle with cancer. He loved her to pieces, called her his princess and cherished every moment they had together. She has been crying, writing about her loss, talking about it to anyone and everyone, crying some more, remembering him, missing him, riding an emotional ocean that ebbs and flows, that is sometimes calm and sometimes stormy. She is FEELING. She is EMOTING. She is LIVING. Even though she has experienced a great loss.
I, on the other hand, lost my husband after 22 years of marriage because he fell in love with another woman. He never loved me, though I faithfully believed God would somehow remedy this if I could just. keep. believing. and hang on a little. bit. longer. It was a devastating blow to me when he left on many levels and in many ways…spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally. And I felt…numb. I still haven’t cried. I still haven’t talked about it or grieved or done anything but keep getting up in the morning, even though I deeply dislike my life and am so alone I feel like I’m living in a dark chasm, totally cut off from the rest of the world. I can say the words…that he left me for another woman…and I feel nothing. I KNOW there is pain there. I KNOW it had a huge impact on me. But I can’t feel it. I just feel depressed.
I can’t tell you how greatly I envy my friend her ability to cry and scream and laugh and grieve. And I am envious that so many people have rallied around her. When my husband left me, I had one friend who stood by my side. She was so busy with her 4 kids, she didn’t have much time to spare, so I didn’t get to see her that often. But I knew she was in my corner. Most people avoided me. Like I was shameful. But this friend who lost her husband is considered a hero among women because she keeps getting out of bed every morning. Like I kept getting out of bed every morning. She has 3 boys who love her and need her…a reason to keep living, perhaps? I had a dog. I could have used a little support. A little cheering on. She, the hero, has a whole freaking squad of cheerleaders. I’m happy for her; really, I am. But damn. If I had been able to cry and scream and laugh and grieve, would people have been there for me too?
I need to escape from the prison I’m in…the one that keeps my emotions locked away in some deep dark place inside of me that I can’t access. I have a million tears locked away inside of me that I need to cry. I am way overdue for giving in to a fit of racking sobs. I need to scream. I need to feel. Truly feel. Deeply feel. Grieve. Let it out instead of keep it all tied up within me where it’s causing me to drown in depression. It’s numbing my soul. It’s destroying me. It may be too late; I don’t know. And I don’t have any idea how to make this happen. How does one make oneself feel? It seems to come so naturally for most people I know. For me, not so much. Why is it so easy for others and so very, very difficult for me?
Why can’t I simply feel what I feel and react accordingly? Why does everything in my world have to be so difficult. So complicated. So confusing. I am frozen inside. And I’m afraid I will never heal if I don’t thaw. And cry. And grieve. And scream.