I am angry right now. Angry, and disappointed, and really really angry. I feel calm, too. I don't feel angry like I want to break things, or scream and yell. Just pissed, and disappointed in the world. I am not really having thoughts, just feeling it. Every week in my suicide therapy group, we make a chart of our feelings. Too bad my scanner quit working, or I could post them on my blog. I use colored pencils and make them into art. The first one I did was all over the place- lots of colors and different shapes within my circle. (You are supposed to do a pie chart, but mine are some screwed up pies.) My emotions were confused, and I was confused about them.
The book I just finished and my therapy group's focus on feelings are encouraging me to let myself feel it. Often I try to intellectualize and talk myself out of my feelings, but right now, I don't feel like doing that. Now my feelings are abundantly clear. Pure. My mother's voice, the one that tells me I am overreacting, that I am too emotional, has faded away. When I realized where that voice was coming from, I stopped listening to it. Now that I realize that if I just let myself feel it, it will pass, it will not take me over, I feel bitter. Bitterly angry about everything that has happened. Bitter at the world for putting me through this. Bitter that it is so hard to just be who you are.
After finishing Emotional Alchemy, I went back to reading How to Raise Your Self-Esteem. I started it a while ago, but only got about 1/3 of the way through. I started from the beginning again, and now I am 1/2 way though. (It is a pretty short book.) It has a very different philosophy than Emotional Alchemy, which draws a lot from Buddhism, often hinting that our perceptions, even our sense of self are merely illusions, schemas we follow even when they do not match reality. The book pushes mindfulness as a way to break free from habitual thoughts, feelings, and reactions. I have noticed that lately I recognize my feelings more, and I am better able to identify how I am feeling. My feelings charts are becoming more structured, and less chaotic.
How to Raise Your Self-Esteem focuses on strengthening your sense of self, rather than discrediting it. Yet, these 2 books are basically saying the same thing- accept who you are and live up to your potential. For instance, here is a quote from Emotional Alchemy:
"To some extent, our schemas embody ways we have given up part of what is possible for us. Abraham Maslow put it powerfully: "If the only way to maintain the self is to lose others, then the ordinary child will give up the self." Some schemas--and the ways we've learned to respond to them--represent a sense in which we've sacrificed our potential in a bargain to preserve connection." (page 87)
And from How To Raise Your Self-Esteem:
"But when you fail to live consciously (and this is one of the most important facts about human psychology), the deepest and most primitive level of your being tends, in effect, to turn against you--by generating pain at the level of self-esteem. It is that deepest "I" we offend when we default on the integrity that positive self-esteem requires." (page 69)- i.e. be true to yourself.
I dressed up today to go to the doctor. I wanted him to take me seriously, or at least take my stomach problems seriously. He diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome. There is no cure, and the only treatment is to just keep doing what I am doing- avoid foods that bother me, take vitamins and supplements, and exercise. It is a diagnosis, though. It is something. He asked me about my weight history, so I told him I had been under 100 lbs twice in my adult life- when I was in grad school and I was in the hospital for a week because I could not stop throwing up, and when I lived on the streets. He seemed shocked. I'm a financial analyst wearing a suit. Go figure.
I suppose my anger probably means that I am still struggling to accept the reality of my life. My digestive system is a mess. My brother is dead. It's hard for me to trust people. "To thine own self be true" is harder than it sounds.