It still surprises me how quickly I feel the urge to resort back to old habits, despite having become stronger and more in tune with my emotions over the last few years with Ben as my cohabitant. Maybe being so aware of how I feel can actually be a hindrance of mine in certain circumstances.
During this lockdown and current global crisis I have dealt with the array of emotions and fearful thoughts better than I would have ever predicted. However, I do still have days where I feel a bit lost and they have happened sporadically throughout the last few weeks. I can have a really upbeat day and the next could be the polar opposite. I know this is completely normal and it isn’t necessarily linked to Ben by any means – he’s actually been behaving for the most part. But I have certainly picked up bad habits in regards to dealing with difficult emotions over the years and even when you’re in recovery, it isn’t linear. It has many ups and downs but the strength that you gain is what helps you keep riding the waves and staying above the surface.
One of these habits is avoidance. When I feel a confusing or negative emotion my first initial thought is to find a distraction; how can I stop feeling like this? What can I do to shake this feeling off? This is all well and good but that emotion is only going to be bottled up, which we all know isn’t healthy. I have been trying to teach myself to sit with my emotions more – not to rush to occupy my mind – but to feel what I feel and accept it. That’s no easy thing; in so many situations we are encouraged to ‘find the positive’ and focus your brain on something else – I’ve applied this technique myself countless times. But these emotions need to be recognised and not shunned by yourself or others. It is normal to not feel constant happiness; emotions are ever-changing and can fluctuate for a number of reasons. And sometimes no reason at all.
The last couple of days I have felt a slight unease and could tell I had a lot more nervous energy bubbling inside me than I’d had the previous week. Now, saying that, I am still happy by no means. I am feeling grateful, blessed and hopeful. But you can still have negative emotions that coinside with the positives. You can feel gratitude and still feel sadness. You can feel hope and still feel fear. I woke up this morning with the intention of being productive as I have every day I’ve been off work. However, I woke feeling deflated and I have noticed this becoming a pattern when I’ve been at work the previous day. Maybe this is due to work giving me a small sense of normality; maybe its being around other people, sharing our fears and wishes together; or maybe its work giving me purpose and responsibility.
So today I allowed myself to just feel the way I felt. I didn’t try and fight against it. Did this help me feel better? Honestly, no. And that’s okay, I didn’t expect it to be that simple. So I reached out to a friend and told them I was struggling today. And I immediately felt scared. It’s hard for me to openly admit that because I will always preach about talking to someone being the best thing you can do. And I stand by that wholeheartedly. But what I won’t ever do is give the impression that its easy. Even after nearly five years of voicing my emotions/fears, I still find it incredibly hard. I have always had a fear of people judging me, of me being too open and honest and subsequently pushing them away through fear or them running for the hills. This has held me back from asking for help before and that’s not what I want for myself. Ben would thrive off the silence.
This friend responded the way I always knew she would – she gave me reassurance and support. Admittedly this doesn’t just alleviate the negative emotions, but it reminds me that I’m not on my own with them. And it also shows me acceptance. People’s responses to you when you’ve reached out for help are crucial. They are the tipping point between beginning to move forward, or crashing all the way back down.
As always when I write whilst finding things difficult, I’m not sure of the real purpose of my ramblings today. I needed to get into words the thoughts I had inside my head, and hopefully they will help others who are feeling alone.
Reach out: there are people who care and who won’t run in the opposite direction. There are people who will accept your feelings and work through them with you. For the pure reason that they love you and care for you unconditionally…
…throughout the storms, sunshine and everything in between.