What happens when you invite emotions to stay a while…

 

 

I’m not sure it’s OK to spend so much time processing. But, I have tried to listen to myself and honor myself and give myself empathy.

 

Weirdly, I have been watching Glee, the first season on Netflix. This show began around the same time that my X left me. Well, it started just before, but he hated it, so I barely enjoyed it. Then he left, and Glee was the way to express my pain. Every song was like a way for me to cry.

 

So, here I sit, watching season 1 over again, and I am still crying at those songs, only I’m not nearly as upset as I was, it’s more like memory crying. It’s helping me remember the real pain I was going through, and to give myself empathy for that pain. I don’t think my X will ever understand love, and what it really is. I’m not sure I do, but I sure loved who I thought he was. And I was crushed when I found out he wasn’t that person. I really wanted him to be that person. I wanted him to be the man I loved, with all my heart.

 

2 years later, I know he wasn’t that person. I loved an illusion. He is still pretty messed up and still probably lies about me and who he perceives me to be. But, I don’t really care anymore. Or, rather, it’s the only thing left that bothers me, if I’m going to be honest. I wish, often, that I’d like to talk to the girlfriend and his friends that he’s made, so they will know who I am. I’ve been coming to an acceptance that will never happen the way I imagine it. In the spirit of inviting my feelings in, I’ve been exploring those feelings. I talk to these women in my head, K and E, and tell them my side. I agree that this is stupid and a waste of time, but I am honoring this need and conducting these talks as if they were really happening, so I can process it and get over it. It goes like this:

 

K: So, I want to know why your marriage didn’t work out, he’s such a great guy, we’re amazing friends and I really don’t get how you can let a guy like that go.

Me: Well, there’s more to the story. I am not sure what he has told you about me.

K: It’s not important. He says he felt unloved all the time.

Me: I highly doubt that since he never tried. He just kept finding other relationships instead of actually talking to me about his issues. He cheated and blamed me for it. Bottom line.

K: Well, I agree that married people shouldn’t cheat but..

Me: But what? Would you have dated him knowing he was married and living at home? Apparently lots of women will do that. I guess men, too, what do I know? All I know is I was doing my very best and going through a LOT of crises, but instead of being there for me, he was fucking other people. Nothing pretty or good about that, and there is NO excuse for it. I am not telling you he is a bad person. I won’t say that. I am telling you what happened. One day I caught him again, and he left, saying that he chose to leave anyway. He said he was in love with her and he left. He told my daughter she’d like it better there and she could go with him!! He and I said a lot of nasty things, too. My daughter is still pretty traumatized.

K: But why did he cheat so often. What did you do that made him?

Me: You don’t make choices for other people. I was not to blame for what he did. He chose to find other women through our whole marriage rather than actually be with me. He has a pattern. He sleeps with someone and decides he is in love with them. When the flush of new wears off, he gets sick of it and realizes he’s not in love. The only reason I lasted is because I had his children in a vain attempt to keep him. I should have known when I asked him early on if he’d leave me if I didn’t get pregnant and he didn’t really answer it. He would have. The charm had worn off, but he wanted children more than me. So he was willing to get those kids at the price of my happiness, and his own.

K: So, he says you kept seeing each other for months afterward.

Me: We were both very confused. I wanted him to love me, but he wanted sex.

K: So he used you? That isn’t like him.

Me: Yeah, actually, it is like him. That is him. He uses and leaves. E is doing the right thing, not getting more involved or living with him. I think if she did, he’d sleep with other women.

K: He’s a great friend though. He’s so good to me and the kids.

Me: I’m sure he is. I am not telling you anything but what you wanted to know. He asked me once if we could be friends. I decided we can’t be. Maybe when the kids are grown up we can get along, but I am not interested in being friends with anyone who could cheat on his wife and walk away from children who needed a family, most especially Eli. So as good as he might be as a friend to you, he was not a good friend to me and he hurt our children so much, and me so much. He was cold, heartless and mean. And he hates to know that about himself, but what he did makes me never want him as a friend. It would be one thing to realize after trying and counseling that your relationship is not working, but to fuck other people, tell them you loved them, etc, and knowingly leaving your children who need you, especially your autistic kid. It just makes him scum in my book. I’m glad he has friends, and I don’t begrudge you that relationship, but I can’t be and will never be a friend to a person like him.

 

I know, it’s not a real conversation, and it will never happen. But for now, it satisfies a part of me to tlak that out. I can fulfill a wish without actually hurting anyone and help to heal myself

 

K nor E will ever ask me. They think I’m the bad guy, and that’s OK. My children will prove that I’m not a bad person in any way. If they’d like to talk to me someday, fine. If they never do, fine too. It does bother me that a friend of his that I was once friends with too, thinks there is something wrong with me, but you know what? Again, not my issue..she doesn’t have to like me for me to like myself. This is a very important thing for me to get. It’s OK to honor my feelings of wishing to impart the information from my side. I know that it would not help anything to do so, and no one needs me stepping in and telling them how life is. They can live their own, and I will live mine. I’ll figure this out.

 

I invited the feeling in, I have been playing with it all. It does indeed help.

I like taking care of these emotions, it clears stuff out, it makes me more open to the world again and a lot less sitting inside myself freaking out about not being able to talk to these people and defend myself some how. I don’t need to, really. I just need to work it out for myself and get past things. It frustrates me at times that it takes me so very long to work through things, but you know what? I’m doing that instead of pushing it aside and moving on with all my baggage.

 

The other thing that I had to invite in this week is my feeling of resentment that men can walk away from their kids at age 47 or whatever, and have NO problems finding a relationship because they don’t spend all that much time with their kids. Most women don’t really mind a couple of young kids because they know that they don’t have to parent them or even see them if they don’t want to. But this is not the case for me. I’m 46, fat, and I have young kids, one of whom has autism so won’t be moving out, ever. Men at my age don’t want to date me. I have too much baggage (this term bugs me too..they are children). A man believes that I wouldn’t have time for him, plus they barely look at a woman who is fat in the first place, not to mention that my autistic kid is intimidating to them. I don’t look at dating as a commitment, but I don’t really know how men see it. I may be totally wrong about this since I haven’t really tried to date for a long while, though.

 

Luckily, I don’t want to date right now. Every so often I wish I could be held and rocked a bit when I am emotional, but I’m not really in a place where dating would work for me…I still have work to do on who I am and where I want to go and I’m not altogether sure how to date since I spend 80 percent of my time with my kids. I don’t know much, huh? Oh well!! I am learning to live happy alone. I think this is a necessary skill everyone should learn. I wish I had when I was younger, but better late than never!

 

So that’s the result of letting those feelings in and hanging out with them.  You should try it sometime!

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Musings, explanations, and so on.

So, I promised a blog post. I truly thought I was going to write it on my “favorite” cause, Autism awareness, but I changed my mind while I was in the shower because I was contemplating the concept of Empathy. I just finished reading the chapter on it in my Non-Violent Communication book in order to begin preparation for monday’s discussion group, and it struck me that I needed to read that chapter exactly when I did. Relating it back to autism, one of the hardest things I have to do is make an attempt to empathize with my son on a daily basis. He really can’t tell me what he is feeling or what his needs are unless they are immediate basics like food or drink or bathroom, etc. So I have to play the deciphering game every day. I imagine I’ll be playing it for the rest of my life, really. 

Then it struck me, aren’t we all really playing that game? Is this why my higher power sent me the messages it did this week? I had been praying to get past some resentment and anger that I’ve been experiencing. I got some amazing advice yesterday and the last group of NVC and now today from the book itself. 

1st, last week, my other group folks at the discussion group said to me, “Have you tried empathizing?” and I said basically, “I am angry, I don’t want to empathize with that jerk”. Well, I’ve been contemplating this all week and my mind just kept repeating that, “I don’t want to empathize with him, I don’t like him, he’s a jerk, he did this and that to me, he hurt my family, he’s a bad man” etc, ad infinitum for a while. So, a long time ago someone told me that an effective way to get rid of these bad thoughts is praying for the other person and/or praying from relief from bad thinking. But when I thought about this, it really meant, try empathy. Try it on yourself and try it on him and see if that helps you.

So I was trying, but not really understanding it, not really DOing it, when I had a meeting with my pastor yesterday at UU to discuss the talk I am going to give about autism and my son. Now, my pastor, as all good pastors usually are, is an amazing listener, and has great skills in empathy and non-violent communication. His wife is trained in NVC as well. He did what a good empathizer does and asked me if I wanted some advice on a new way to think about how to handle these negative emotions and I, very eagerly, replied, Oh yes! because no matter what I was doing in my inner dialogues and prayers, nothing was really relieving me of the bad thinking and I was beginning to feel upset with myself for my inability to “get over it” as it were.

So, his advice was basically, “Invite the emotion in like a house guest. Recognize it, talk to it, treat it like a welcome friend who has something to teach you.” (I am paraphrasing naturally). I was, quite frankly, blown away by this. He took down a beautiful poem by Rumi that he’d posted on his door and read it to me, which basically stated in an extremely beautiful way, the same concept. Why, goodness, I could actually LEARN something?? This spoke to me, the eternal learning person, as something I could recognize and do. So, all day yesterday I contemplated the emotions that were hanging about in my “house” without trying to understand them or banish them or do something about them. I felt pretty calm all day, but not perfect, of course.

However, this calmness really helped me in dealing with my son deciding he couldn’t sleep well. Like any child, he was excited about spending the day with his father today at Take Your Child to Work day and was a bit too over excited to sleep well. He came in, naked, at 5am, looking for some help getting dressed for the day, then promptly fell asleep as soon as I did that. Meanwhile, I was wide awake. I tried reading some fantasy novel that I’ve taken out of the library. I tried tossing and turning, but my brain was awake and wanted the rest of my body out of bed and drinking coffee, so I got up.

Long about 7am, I was getting a bit bored waiting for the kids’ dad to come get them and decided to read my chapter on empathy. I had been putting it off, see above, because, like a little kid, I was mentally stamping my foot “I don’t want to empathize with that bloody bastard, nyah”. So, I just started reading it, and like the sunrise, I felt myself dawning with understanding of what empathy really is. And how necessary this message was for me today. I learned some stuff and I will have to work at putting it into practice, but I marveled at how, when we ask our higher power for help, if we are not listening, we might actually miss the information it is throwing in our faces! I had my group, then my friends, then a pastor, then a book all giving me the same messages. EMPATHY. Recognize your emotions and accept them. Recognize that other people have emotions, they have needs, you can listen for them and recognize them. 

Whoa!!! Ok, I think I got this!! When I am contemplating alone, like today, and learning to welcome the anger, resentment, annoyance, frustration, etc. While I welcome these emotions and examine them, I will probably have some insights into what the need is that is not being fulfilled and see if I can do something about that. In the meanwhile, I am not throwing emotions down into a black hole to be handled later, but I am handling them. I am empathizing with myself. This is a pretty important skill when you are a single person. There aren’t that many people in your life that have the time, the knowledge, or the inclination to spend time figuring out your emotions and helping you fix them. Most of us have to pay someone to do that. But if you can figure out this skill on your own, you can do a lot of work and grow and change and get healthier.

More importantly, all those people you encounter, even the ones that bring you negative emotions, you can turn it around by actively hearing them and learning to recognize their emotion and need. When my X is 20 minutes late getting the children, instead of being really angry with him, I can wonder how he is feeling. Maybe he is trying to tell me by his words, “I’m sorry I’m so late, the traffic was bad, or I had something I had to finish at work and couldn’t get away in time.” He is trying to say, “I feel bad about being late and not calling/messaging” or “When I call you, I know you will feel angry with me, so I am afraid to call and hear the anger since I know I cannot fulfill your need for promptness and I don’t want you to be angry with me”. I can hear that he really needs to be empathized with. I can say, “That must have really been frustrating, trying to get done so you can be with your kids!”. Instead of getting accusatory as I am wont to do at these times because I am upset and am not having a need filled. By empathizing with him and finding out what he needs, I take the focus off of my anger, my frustration, and you know what? By the time I get done empathizing, I am no longer upset. I’ve gained an understanding, I’ve had my need for explanation fulfilled, I’ve had my need for peaceful interaction fulfilled, and I feel better without ever even having expressed my own irritation where it wasn’t needed. Maybe the next time, he won’t be afraid to call because he knows I understand how upset he is? Maybe. Time will tell.

I have so far to go, and so much practice to do. But thank you, higher power, for giving me the messages I needed. Ask and ye shall receive.