There are some interesting memes out there in cyber space saying that love never causes us pain and I don’t really believe them. We can love and long for something from someone we care deeply about that we never receive in return and that does cause us pain and yet HOW we respond to that pain once we understand what it means for us well a degree of control is possible in that we can choose to let the feeling be and rise up without magnifying it with the thoughts of resistance or non acceptance, which in my experience only cause us to hurt more.
I was thinking of this issue of resistance a great deal on my walk to the park with Jasper today. For many years when we would arrive at the dog park with everyone standing in a circle talking casually and with great ease to each other, I would so often feel left out. At times my heart would ache as I tormented myself over why and what I should do or was not doing to belong. Now I don’t go through that pain as much. I make an attempt to connect and if it doesn’t work I just walk away and sit under the tree or go and read my book and I accept that most often I feel on the outside of groups. Sometimes I do connect though and at those times I just need to remember it’s not necessarily a result of something I did wrong when I dont feel connected.
Same thing with speaking my mind on issues or just expressing strong feelings I can be met with a brick wall at times or others have another point of view or disagree. At those times it is important that I hold onto my reality while respecting their right to theirs. And when it comes to emotions it was only a few years ago after a very painful event with family where I was very sad and rejected by them that a friend explained how expressing our true feelings can challenge and scare others. This realisation had just not occured to me before. It just always hurt to have my feelings responded to with rationality and coldness and then to be blamed for messing up others ‘good time’.
I came from a mildly narcissistic family in that my parents and a couple of siblings were split off from emotions and in later years when the older sister I was close to and affirmed by was overly medicated I got the harsh treatment from her so often when I was emotional which hurt but as I see it now was all down to her meds. I came away feeling there was something wrong with me, feeling there was no safe way to express my true feelings or even know about them until quiet a number of years into my own sobriety. Before that I learned to do what my parents did, drink in order to wind down and later used this more than even them when a series of traumas and tragedies hit in my family which left me so alone. And all along I blamed myself and that even continued into the first few years in AA, until I sought therapy and after my marriage ended a deeper understanding of the family roots of my alcoholism and unresolved grief/emotional attachment and separation issues.
It has taken me a long time in therapy to notice how I do blame myself and as a so called ‘misfit’ who is really just actutely sensitive has a hard time in groups for a very good reason if those groups involve those also steeped in toxic shame and arent full of very sensitive conscious people either. Developing emotional sensitivity not only to my own hidden emotions but to the numerous strategies and defences others use to hid from or deny them is taking a lot of emotional recovery work for me and most especially in the family where I was the scapegoat for a lot of years and still can be with my brother if I stand up or react emotionally…. I also gained insight into the scapegoating of others throughout all of this recovery process and by reading about others going through the same.
So now if I express an opinion or my feelings it’s really a lesson for me to try to stand by them, rather than immediately give over, collapse or energetically play dead. And yes, it is true that I cannot say with great conviction what is right for others as I only have my own experience and path, it will resonate with some and not with others as that is just life. As Peter Walker explains in his book on codependency the hardest lesson he had to learn was to be able to cope with the disapproval of others, in order to own his truth.
For me loving has often involved a lot of emotional hurt and pain but there is a reason for that. I want to learn about another kind of love, though, one that comes when my soul is really recognised as well as the soul of others. For when that occurs in my life it is the sweetest gift of all. The pain is less when I love and give my heart too to those who are emotionally available and now a days I can take care of my own heart when that doesnt happen. Disapproval or rejection does not mean that I did something bad or wrong.
Could love really mean
Being able to extend our selves emotionally
Into the reality of others?