The Journey 

Since September 28 of this year, I’ve been attending a group therapy program every Monday and Wednesday all day to help me better manage my Emotional Regulation Disorder. It’s run by Mental Health therapists and psychiatrists and while the work is challenging, it’s making a difference for me. I’ve had a few “A-ha” moments already and I’m thoroughly taking advantage of having access to the psychiatrists and their insight and wisdom. 
One such moment for me was coming to the understanding of my fear of feeling emotions fully. I have such difficulty with dealing with “negative” emotions such as fear, anger, and even sadness that I have a tendency to stuff all these emotions inside of me and turn them into shame. To put this in perspective, here’s a simple example of how easily I turn the emotion of anger into fear: 
I’ve asked someone to perform an important task for a project and they didn’t do it. This affects the whole team now and the person doesn’t seem to be bothered by this. I’m angry but instead of expressing my anger, I stuff it inside. 
Later, I sit with thoughts of “I should have explained to the person more of how important this work was”, or “I should have done the work myself”. 
I was so afraid of expressing the anger to the person who failed to meet the expectations because I didn’t want them to stop liking me. Instead, I found ways to shame myself for their shortcomings. 
I see the above example repeated in many areas of my life and am now recognizing that I carry around a lot of shame. Most of it is unjustified, kind of like lugging around someone else’s heavy luggage. Here’s how I could have handled the situation instead, and left myself without their shame. 
When they failed to meet the expectation, I could have expressed to them that I was disappointed. And let them know the impact this was having on the team. By doing this, I put the responsibility for their actions back on them. 
I could have asked what they planned to do to rectify the situation and how they would avoid this in the future. An honest conversation could have happened about their ability to meet the needs of the team and the program. 
I then would not have had to take on the shame of saying “I should have done it myself”, as I could accept that it was the fault of someone else that it didn’t get done. 
Being able to have these conversations takes courage and skill. This group is teaching us assertive communication skills and how to maintain interpersonal relationships. I’m learning that I need to set boundaries and that in doing that, there will be some people that may not like or respect that, and that’s OK. My self-worth doesn’t depend on someone liking me. That’s huge to get to that point. 
I always believed that I had to be the “nice” girl and please everyone. That conflict was a thing to be avoided at all costs. But if I’m to have conviction in my beliefs, and someone disagrees with my beliefs, there will be conflict. In order to maintain who I am, I must be prepared to defend my beliefs and boundaries, even if that means conflict with those around me. 
I grew up believing that nice girls don’t get angry. When I feel anger approaching, I’m uncomfortable and immediately tell myself that I shouldn’t be angry because it’s wrong. But I’m learning that anger is a normal and healthy emotion that is there to tell us when we have been wronged or had an injustice done to us. Once again, when this would happen in the past, I would turn this into blame and shame and tell myself that I deserved the things that happened to me. I must have done something for people to treat me this way. 
Unraveling these complicated knots of emotions is a challenging task, but with support and hard work I believe I can do it. It’s just another part of the journey to discovering the real me. 
 

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About wendyenberg

Living the best life I can with BPD, Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and PTSD. Mental illness won't stop me from achieving my dreams - it will inspire me to keep fighting harder.
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2 Responses to The Journey 

  1. Good for you! The step after allowing yourself to FEEL anger and identify the feeling, is to learn to harness it into appropriate responses for feedback to the person who ignited the anger. But first, you have to become aware of it.

    Anger doesn’t always have to lead to conflict, and conflict doesn’t always have to inspire anger – and neither need to be removed from your emotional skill set. We need not BE our anger, once we learn to express it appropriately, so we don’t have to be afraid of owning it.

    Shame, on the other hand, serves no useful purpose – so throw that in the garbage where it belongs. 🙂 Onward and upward.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  2. EVA says:

    Thanks for sharing

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