I don’t know when I decided that negative feelings were something I shouldn’t be having. As with everything, it probably has to do with a sensory overload brought on by stress and terror when I was a small child. Not knowing how to handle the unpredictable moods of someone whose mental state bore a curiously strong resemblance to borderline personality disorder is pretty normal for a first-grader, I’d imagine.
And for years, I’ve sought out and been attracted to people who shared many of the same traits, so it’s not surprising that this has been a lifelong phenomenon – the one where I throw myself into relationships where I focus so much on the other person, I don’t have to think about myself, or I eat all the things, or I overschedule myself, or some thrilling combination of all three. Anything so I don’t have to spend time feeling bad things. Anxiety. Sadness. Loneliness. Some thrilling combination of all three.
But they’re not actually all that bad, these feelings. I mean, they’re not fun. And sometimes the anxiety is enough to drive a person out of her skin, and sometimes the sadness is heavy enough to demand sleep. We won’t even get into the loneliness, or the anxiety about loneliness, and the things they can do in the short term. But they’re all short term, really. I don’t feel like that all the time, and I know I won’t feel like that all the time. So why not just feel them? Why not invite them in, have them sit on the couch next to me and snuggle up so I can get to know them really well and maybe they won’t be so scary anymore.
My therapist thinks this is a sign of great progress. I guess we’ll see.