Despite the very real disease that I can’t seem to get away from, no matter how much sunshine this spring is bringing, there is one fact about my emotions I struggle with constantly. I am a hider. I am a person that buries her real emotions so far under the elusive makeup of a smile that often those around me will never know my true heart.
I discovered this when I was first diagnosed. My therapist at the time, and to date the best therapist I ever saw, told me that I bury my real emotions so far down, it was amazing I could pick up my feet to walk.
I suppose I have been doing this since I was a child. My parents were very strict, and my mother was a demander. She had higher expectations for her children than they did for themselves; straight As, perfect manners, nice presentation. There was no wearing of jewelry or makeup in my house, there was no staying up late, and there certainly was no television. Music was the music my parents choose, and the clothes were those my parents found acceptable. They were not and are not cruel, they were never angry or very upset with us, but that was mostly because I towed the line. I was never a rebel, I never colored outside the lines, and the only freedom I ever needed was in my mind. I was a mental patient long before I took my first medicine.
With the strict and overwhelmingly disciplined world I lived in, there wasn’t a lot of room for emotions. My mother never seemed to have any; in fact, she often said her greatest mistake during my childhood was telling me too early that Santa wasn’t real. She may have felt joy, pride, anger or any other emotion, but she very rarely demonstrated it. She didn’t cry in my presence, she didn’t have anything but a steady and calm demeanor since the moment I came in this world. I can’t even imagine, to this day, my mother going to a party or even drinking. While my father was all emotion, he was neither around much and with him I grew up with an image of a mannequin – something fake and impossible – in my mind anytime I thought of the man. He didn’t seem to have real feelings either.
From there it was a simple matter of not telling my mother how I felt; she simply never asked. So I buried it.
Then of course, there is my real problem with trust. Blame it on my parents, blame it on my disease, blame it on whatever you wish; I have a problem trusting anyone. I just can’t do it. I don’t want to trust anyone. And while that causes numerous headaches in my world, it also brings me comfort. If I can’t depend on anyone, than no one can ever truly let me down. I don’t trust anyone enough to allow them that far. Would I be devastated if some things were to happen in my life? Yes. Would I be destroyed? No. The exception is my children; while I don’t believe a mother should ever trust their child – that’s just neglect – they do have the power to destroy me. They are the only ones.
So without trusting anyone with my whole self, it is easy to never share my true feelings. So I buried it.
I could go on and talk about the fears I have with sharing. Will they like the real me? With reveling my true thoughts will I destroy something precious, like a relationship? Isn’t it better to sometimes sit on what you feel, in order to let others live harmoniously? Does anyone really even care what I think or feel?
The therapist I am working with now often comments on my inability to really share, even with him. He is a doctor that my husband has not met, and my family doesn’t even know where the doc’s office is located. He is a doctor that would not call my parents, or my children. He is not a man who would talk about me in an open blog. But I don’t tell him all; for the simple reason, I don’t trust him not to take my truth and morph it into something for him to use. I always get comments that if I can’t trust a doctor who can I trust? And I often counter with, doctors are human therefore, I can’t trust anyone. And believe it or not I am actually okay with that. I still get something from my therapy, and that is the important part.
I say all this, because once again last night my husband said something devastating to me. Something that literally tore me to pieces. But rather than getting angry, I felt this amazing calm. I knew, immediately, that I was burying all my true feelings in an attempt to placate, or at least tolerate what my husband, the man I am supposed to love, just told me. In the grand scheme of things, it was huge what he was confessing. And the bigger my emotions, the more I seem to shut down.
When I bury emotions, I immediately feel a sense of calm and peace. Almost as if by not acknowledging the real truth, it no longer exists. Almost by suppressing those very real feelings, I just don’t have to deal with them. I can say words like, “that’s fine” or “I’m fine”, without ever having to reveal the truth. It is a coping mechanism. It is the way I survive.
I have always felt that we are a sum of the many parts of our lives; the past, the present and our hopes for the future. We are what this world has created, good or bad, great or evil. We are what this world has taught us through our parents, through events, and even through the lessons that someone along the way thought it was important that we learn. We are not who we are born as, and we are not who we are when we die. Rather we are a work in progress constantly being shaped by the very real and very fake truth that we recognize.
I don’t know the moment I decided this life was too much for me to feel. I know that my favorite therapist once said to me, those with bipolar and those with your level of IQ will often feel emotions much higher and much lower than anyone we will ever surround ourselves with. And the IQ – it will stop you from ever being able to accept the level of emotion you were born with. My mind is a perfect storm; high IQ that demands the answers and ability to find them, and the emotions that stop me.
I suppose it is bad on one hand that I didn’t break down and cry last night after my husband told me his news. I suppose, on one hand, it is dangerous to bury things so far that they have no hope of ever being released. They corrode the soul and the vessels that I put them in until something happens. What I am not sure of, but I imagine I will one day find out what happens when the soul finally expands beyond the boundaries the earth’s gravity will allow it. And what do I do then…hide.