Thursday, June 11, 2009

Waiting It Out.

When I was in my teens, any "negative" feeling aroused such an agitation within me that I'd take some frantic impulsive foolhardy action, anything to try to relieve the feeling. After I'd lived with active alcoholism in my first marriage for quite a few years, I'd shut my feelings down to the point that life had to be pretty stressful for me to feel much of anything at all, so when I did, it was for good reason - something awful had happened.
Barring that, I lived most of my time in a state of comfortable numbness. I didn't feel bad, but I didn't feel good - I didn't feel.

I thought, when I did think about it at all, that this was a pretty satisfactory coping mechanism. (This demonsrates how far gone into the insanity of co-dependence I was.) That numb state saved me a lot of pain. I also couldn't enjoy myself, but that didn't happen very often anyway, so hey, it was a trade-off, and one I was willing to make.

When the great thaw of my feelings began, I had no way of coping with them. As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, to use the term often used for very young babies, I couldn't "self-soothe." I could wind myself up, I just couldn't wind myself back down.

When I finally got up the nerve to ask for help with this at a meeting, the overwhelming majority of replies were in favour of hard physical exercise, while repeating one of the Slogans, or Step One, or The Serenity Prayer, as a way to block the obsessive thinking. I was very doubtful about this as a suggestion, but what did I have to lose? I was also advised to take action in the beginning of the feeling, rather than waiting until I was in full anxiety mode.

I remember getting myself and my dog ready for a walk, while my hands shook, and I felt an unhappiness that I envisioned as a tsunami that was going to wash down, sweep me off my feet and take me somewhere I didn't want to go. I had been numbed out for years by that point, and feelings were truly terrifying - they felt like a loss of control.

My dog and I walked and walked and walked that evening - she thought this was great, we went about 5 times as far as we usually did, and I somehow, without noticing it, began to relax, and drifted from a state of repeating "God grant me serenity" while trying to regulate my breathing, to a place I'd never have believed possible under the circumstances - calm, and relaxed.

I only realised this when it dawned upon me that I was admiring the various gardens we were passing, and that the knot in my stomach had disappeared.

Over the years, I've learned to self-soothe. I've learned what not to do, if I want to maintain my serenity, and what to do if my serenity is disturbed by my responses to life.

I've learned that I will have times when all I can do, is work my program, and wait the feeling out. I'm having one of those times the last few days. I don't get myself stressed out, worrying about, "What does this mean, that I'm feeling this?" In some instances, I can easily find a reason for my feelings; other times I can't. It isn't important. I can accept without knowing.

In the last week, everywhere I look, I'm seeing good people dying before their time - ones I know personally - my neighbour, and strangers to me - the guard at the Holocaust Museum.

I feel sad. That's acceptable. I don't have to fix it. I can allow it, and wait it out. This too shall pass.

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