"Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world.
It beats money and influence.
It is no more or less than faith in action."
- Henry Chester
Yesterday's post comments both stated that #7 Get emotional is difficult. My sister reminded me about how as children of a narcissistic emotions were number one on the list of things to be controlled by her. I our family the only emotional person was mother. If I was sad, I was told I should be happy. If I was excited, I was told to calm down. If I was happy, she would tell me something awful until I felt sad then should would want me to cheer up again. Emotional abuse is a prevalent part of growing up with a cluster B personality. Subtle, deniable, emotional jabs and tweaks telling me how I should feel in every situation. NM decided what should make me happy, sad, or simply ran right over how I felt about anything. The pedophile neighbor twisted my emotions for his pleasure. My pain was his pleasure. The only thing I knew what to do to stop his pleasure is to stop all reaction to what happened to me. Emotional abuse is on going long term attack on a person. I found a counseling website that gives a definition that closely fits what I believe. However, there is not a general consensus amongst professionals.
What is Emotional Abuse?Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.
Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching,” or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones (Engel, 1992, p. 10).
The main portion of my counseling focused on reconnecting me to my emotions. When I started counseling, I talked about feeling like I was on the outside looking in on how people lived. I still remember the evening session the day after my mother-in-law died. I first made sure my children were with my DH and then I went to the session since I had several things to ask KavinCoach. I didn't want to cancel at the last minute. I briefly explained to KavinCoach that DH would not be there and started to ask what I wanted to know. He stopped my question and asked me, "How do you feel about it?" I almost looked around the room to see if he was talking to somebody else. You know that sick feeling you get when a teacher asks a trick question, that was my initial reaction to his question. I didn't answer so KavinCoach asked me, "Are you happy?"
My very puzzled, "No."
KC, "Are you sad?"
Again I answered, "No."
Then came the 64 million dollar question...."Do you feel anything at all?"
Again I answered, "No, why should I, she's not my mother."
Not a shred of emotion available to share. We spent the rest of the evening talking about her and that I knew her and liked her but I was also very aware that I was not the wife she wanted for her son. I didn't feel upset about that either, it simply was how things stood and I felt neither sadness or sorrow about her death. This began several months of KavinCoach trying to get an emotional reaction from me. He would purposely say things designed to upset me since anger is the easiest emotion to set off. I remember a session that I was starting to get upset. Then I set it aside and calmed down right in front of him. He stopped mid-sentence and asked, "How do you do that?" I stared at him. He continued, "You were getting angry." My cautious, "Yes," hung in the air. He continued, "But now you are not, there isn't any tension in your face that show you are even suppressing anger. Where did it go?" I had no idea. I just knew that in any given situation I could wipe clean all emotion. I didn't know that this was not a common reaction to emotional stress. I used to admire Mr. Spock on Star Trek and the tremendous control that his character had over all emotions. KavinCoach explained to me that much of what he did was to work with emotions of a client. I felt like he threatened to stop seeing me if I didn't allow access to my emotions. I felt afraid then but didn't know how to express my fear. He continued to probe my emotions and finally concluded that I was an emotional moron. I still chuckle over his exasperation and phrasing. He then gave me the most enjoyable assignment I ever had. He told me to get a box of clay pigeons from a hunting store and to name things that I feel angry about and throw them against a wall to shatter the little clay disk. I took it a step further and made a photography project out of it.
I actually labeled each of the 90 orange disk with something that I felt angry about. I laid out plastic sheeting by the wall where I was throwing the disk for easy clean up. I smashed them against the wall one at a time. Shooting pictures with a film camera. After the first 90, I went out and bought another box and broke all those, too. When I went for my next session, I explained to KavinCoach what I did. It was his turn to be puzzled. He finally explained that this was not the reaction he was expecting. He then went on to explain that most people, meaning not me, didn't even finish the first box before quitting and not having anything else to say that they were angry about. That was the first time I knew quite clearly that there was a lot of emotion inside of me, it just wasn't easily accessible by me. Reconnecting me to my emotions became the crux of my counseling with KavinCoach. Reconnecting me to my emotions was the key to integrating my personalities. Reconnecting me to my emotions was a long pain filled process. I joked with KavinCoach the week I finally connected, "You asked me about feeling angry, I found it." I called the cesspool of anger, Lake Rage. It bubble and boiled constantly. Reconnecting did not come with an ability to control how I felt. It was either on or off, nothing in between. It was a rough couple of years as KavinCoach worked at teaching me how to drain my emotional lake of rage, all the hurts, fears, frustrations boiling constantly that I either ignored or suppressed. KavinCoach knew it was essential for me to connect with my emotions to be a whole thriving person. I needed to be able to feel what I felt at the time I was feeling it. Interesting thing for me, once my anger was acknowledged and discussed, joy and happiness crept into my life right along with it. By stopping all emotional pain, I stopped all emotion. The process is not easy but so worth it to be able to get emotional.