I sat across from the therapist in a comfortable chair. Our conversation started, “What emotions are you feeling about being here?”
I couldn’t name one.
Not that I didn’t have some, mind you. I just couldn’t articulate a single.damn.one.
I was confused, annoyed and surprised I guess. But those were just words and it wasn’t really an emotion like sad, happy or excited.
After a couple of minutes our conversation changed direction, but I don’t recall having an answer to what emotion I was feeling at that time.
In fact, my inability to name an emotion really got my attention. How could I possibly NOT even be able to name an emotion? I was a psychology major for heaven’s sake! I was learning how to help other people figure out their emotions and situations. Helping people understand themselves was one of my major reasons for being in college at my advanced age of 38! But here I was, not even able to understand myself!
It took a couple of months for me to really come to terms with my own emotions and what I was feeling. It turns out that “angry” would pretty much sum up how I was feeling. Throw in some pretty severe anxiety and depression and yep, I was pretty much an emotional disaster.
Although this started as “marriage counseling,” the day came when I realized I was the only one truly “married.” No amount of counseling, therapy or discussion was going to change this situation.
Of course I blamed myself.
Maybe I could have done something different. Better. Loved harder. Become an uber Proverbs 31 woman. But the truth is that none of those things matter if your spouse doesn’t want to be married to you anymore.
It took some more time for me to attend a counseling session and bring a prop to signify what I was feeling. Hey, I was feeling something! I had found an emotion all right: PISSED OFF. I pulled out my prop, my pretty dish towel and dropped it to the floor in the middle of the marriage counseling session and I explained that I was “about to throw in the towel.”
Despite my best efforts at being a “good wife,” my text messages went unanswered, he stopped showing up for dinner. Then he stopped showing up altogether for several days at a time. I knew OBVIOUSLY that something was going on and it wasn’t good.
But back to having an emotion, OMG I was finally feeling something! I don’t like how I look when I cry, but there was a good amount of that going on. Not only was I pissed off, I was also angry, sad, shocked and horrified.
Something else also happened. I found my backbone again. I stopped being pulled into the bullshit behavior that someone else was choosing to engage in. I started to do my own thing and I stopped worrying about what anyone wanted for dinner other than the cat, the dog and myself.
I also started to see my own personal value. I had to discuss and ponder this idea of having inherent personal worth, NO MATTER WHAT. But slowly it began to creep in:
I am valuable.
I am worthy.
I deserve respect.
I deserve honor.
I deserve to be treated well.
Over a period of time, writing, journaling and talking things through with the therapist I began to truly understand that in order to fully live and be fully loved and honored I would need to file for a divorce. A necessary, healthy decision in order to save my own life and sanity.
Within a few months my FREEDOM papers were in my hands. No longer did I have to tolerate abusive, narcissistic behavior. I could feel emotions again and I learned to stand again in my power.
Some days are a real struggle, balancing power with a desire to be respected or loved. Learning to speak up when shit isn’t right! Recognizing that emotions are raw, hard and necessary to move through some of the most challenging times of our lives.
My hope is that some of this story will resonate for you. 😉 And if it does, I invite you to join the group Extreme Personal Value and join us in finding ways to increase your sense of personal value!
Here is the link and please feel free to connect with me!