In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover

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plantsandworms

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In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover
« on: October 10, 2017, 10:37:45 PM »
I've been in a pretty steady downslope/period of regression for the past two months, ever since hearing that my grandmother had died. I am no contact with my entire family and have been for a while now, but her death just brought everything right back to the forefront. Suddenly I was having an overwhelming amount of emotional flashbacks on a daily basis, and in nearly every aspect of my life. I started to isolate pretty badly because it felt weird to grieve someone I hadn't seen in ten years, but it was happening anyway.

Lately I've felt some sense of normalcy returning, but then yesterday I woke up feeling this way that I can only describe as reckless. It felt numb and the lack of anxiety/depression feelings made me feel powerful I guess. I skipped work and drove out to my childhood neighborhood about an hour away, just driving up and down the streets feeling like I was in a dream. It felt nice to be immersed in that nostalgia and see how things had changed. Then I drove myself to the movie theater, and lo and behold The Glass Castle was playing. I watched it and was fascinated by how many of our experiences overlapped. It was a matinee showing and I was the only one in the theater, so I let myself laugh out loud at the worst parts (a coping mechanism of mine when I'm feeling upset by a memory). It felt nice, like exposing myself to a trigger and not being overtaken by it.

But then this morning I woke up feeling more hopeless than I have in a long time. I skipped work a second day and just cried for a long while. I feel a bit like no matter how far I progress there will always be things that yank me right back to the beginning of my journey. But I know I've learned a lot and every time I make that journey it will be easier and I will get further. It's just hard to feel like I'm getting anywhere right now. And most of all I just find my behavior so mystifying, why did I do all of that yesterday? It was like I didn't have a care in the world, and I'm a person who often tries to carry the woes of the whole world on her back.

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rbswan

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Re: In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 11:20:23 PM »
Wow, beautifully written.  I'm feeling a lot of empathy for you as I understand the cycle of emotional flashbacks/numbness/healing and I have no contact with my FOO for 2 years now.  When I read in one of Pete Walker's books that emotional flashbacks/grief/bouts of blame will never fully go away and we learn to weather those storms (with decreasing intensity hopefully), I was originally discouraged.  After weathering a few myself, I am beginning to understand and can sometimes recognize them as part of the tapestry of my emotional life.  However, during a hurtful emotional storm, I forget, and it's dark and feels hopeless.  I often find myself in a completely different place, emotionally, on some days as well.  My best guess, for myself, is that it is my limbic system or PSN system, jumping a groove and adjusting to actually feeling those dark feelings and grieving them out instead of stuffing them.

Recently, from some of my reading and therapy, I have started to have this instinctual feeling that I would have had a form of "emotional flashback/hangover" even if I came from a loving family.  I believe I was born a highly sensitive person before I was subjected to trauma and that it is a strength in this male dominated (I'm male) overstimulated world.  Unfortunately, I feel that the wounds are felt at a deeper level.  I have felt overwhelming feelings of love and compassion as well as the dark, lonely feelings.  They have been all too brief, but they have been there. 

I'm so grateful that I'm not alone but sad that others feel the same despair that I go through.  I was so grateful to read your post as I am weathering a fairly long bout of grief while having to "keep it together" due to a work audit.  At the end of this month, I was actually thinking of driving to my home town, not telling my family I'm there, getting a motel and driving to my old school, old house and other places so I could fully grieve what I have had to hold in for the past month.  Thank you again for posting and you are not alone.  I am hoping for self-love for us both during this season of our lives.  This is brave hard work!

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plantsandworms

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Re: In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 04:04:18 AM »
rbswan, thank you for your thoughtful response. I can 100% relate to your description of being a highly sensitive person. I have a network of "chosen family" these days and sometimes I feel such love for them I feel like I might die.

I definitely encourage you to drive through your hometown. I moved a lot as a kid but all within the same city, and last year I did this little project where I drove to every house I'd lived in and took a picture of it. I also drove to the schools I had gone to and my favorite neighborhood hangouts. It was helpful to me to look at those places in real life and think, "These places are real. These memories are real. I didn't make this up." It did take its toll emotionally however, especially because my family still lives in the neighborhood and I was terrified of running into them. Anyway, I kept the pictures and they've helped me to order my thoughts about my childhood in a more linear and less chaotic way. And I cherish them because I don't have copies of any photos from my childhood otherwise.

Thank again for your thoughts, and I actually just ordered that book you mentioned this morning so I look forward to reading more about what you've mentioned here. Hope it gets better for you all the time.

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rbswan

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Re: In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 05:41:16 AM »
Thanks for your comments.  Your reflection about your trips back home "These places are real.  These memories are real.  I didn't make this up" is the perfect frame of mind for what I feel that trip will be about.  I'm preparing for some big feelings and am in a place where I think I can feel them without too much disassociation.  Thanks so much for your insight.

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JamesG

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Re: In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 07:28:50 AM »
what a sensitive and well written post. Totally get that.

You are not just grieving your grandmother, you are grieving the normality that could and should have happened. Occasionally I get these moments remembering life before the crap hit in my relationship, or before my brother wrecked our family and before my poor father became ill at the young age of 45 and I just ache. The good times can hit so much harder than the bad because of the failure of the promise they represented. When I look back at the memory of my father and I walking or watching old movies together I could just weep. Why couldn't that have continued? Why did my brother have to tear it all to pieces with such inexplicable malice? It's the whys.... just why? What a waste... and for what? So yeah, I get those emotions and the need to reconnect with the past these places represent.

And you didn't skip work... you were dealing with a health issue.

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plantsandworms

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Re: In The Midst Of An Exhausting Emotional Hangover
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 03:53:17 PM »
Thank you for your post, JamesG. You're totally right that I am grieving what could/should have been. It's funny that I didn't put that together myself, because I even went so far recently as to make a mental list recently of every potential intervention point I had with my grandmother where she failed to step in to what was happening in my home. But most of all I've been caught up in a memory of her taking me to swim in a pond by her house. It was a moment where I felt like a totally normal kid. I'm so comforted/sad to hear that you have been through similar things with your family members. WHY? There really are so many questions without answers in that regard. Thanks again for providing that perspective.