Most of us are carrying around two parallel sets of reactions. There is the original, genuine feeling and then the feeling about the feeling.
I’ve discovered that a good portion of my problem is in the feeling about the feeling.
Something unhappy happened a few months back and my body immediately told me I was scared. The feeling was the feeling. In the same breath, however, I began piling on additional feelings. I was afraid of the anxiety that had taken up residence in my stomach. I judged that anxiety. I tried to talk myself out of it. I argued with it. I fought it tooth and nail. Every time I wanted to cry, I judged that too. I tried to tell myself why the need to cry was stupid. I started looking for someone else to tell me things were going to be okay. I floundered. I kicked and screamed. I railed. I lost all sense of my own knowing because I was working so damn hard to distance myself from the original feeling.
Guess what. It didn’t work. The further I tried to get from my scared, the worse it got. The harder I fought it, the stronger its grip.
The annoying thing is that I know better. What do I tell myself all the time? Surrender. Go under. What you resist persists.
Apparently, this is a lesson I need to learn six ways from Sunday, because it took me nearly three months to admit that all of my denial wasn’t getting me anywhere and to ask the question “what if I just let myself be afraid?”
Three months of waking up with my stomach twisted with anxiety. Three months of being afraid to brush my teeth because I just knew I was going to gag on having something in my mouth. And with two weeks of letting the terror be what it is and not judging it… I’m not blissful, don’t get me wrong. But I have re-directed myself back into the pool and I’m being a little more constructive than I was two months ago.
How useless is it to feel the fear twice? I’m scared. Okay. Now I’m going to be scared of being scared? Really?
So here’s my reminder to myself: feel what you feel. Absolutely. But don’t add layers of feelings about the feeling to the mix.
I’ve been contemplating a trip back to the tattoo shop. I had all of these brilliant ideas, but I am thinking that what I really need is to put “surrender” right on my wrist. Maybe with a little white flag.