HELP, I’M overwhelmed –
I can’t cope with all these feeling!
REVIEW Intro of previous post (‘Under-Feeling’)
IN THE PRESENT: keep in mind: “If it’s hysterical it’s historical”, therefore our emotional intensity comes from the Inner Child, who had to stuff & store all the hurt no one helped us process, day after day, year after year!
• WE add to the mountain of misery we already carry from our past by feeding our self-hate, guilt, shame along with the reluctance to leave people who are emotionally unavailable &/or outright abusive . Yet we stubbornly resist doing emotion-release work because we say we don’t want to feel the WIC’s pain – while we’re creating more pain with our damage! Over-Feelers (O-Fs ) are already suffering! Why not clean it out & be rid of it?
• Being swamped with old pain (and new) blocks our ability to have pleasure! We know we’re not happy but are so used to being miserable we believe we’ll never be free if it. “Does a fish know it’s wet?” The unexpressed grief & rage keeps us stuck & obeying our family’s Toxic Rules.
• ACoAs need permission and courage to express all emotions (Es), BUT in the right places & in safe ways, learning how to handle them appropriately whenever they surface. Yes, O-Fs are afraid of letting out intense rage & terror because we really don’t want to hurt others. But sometimes, when our huge abandonment button gets pushed, our Inner Sadist (I.S.) raises it’s head, & we can’t stop ourselves from saying & doing cruel things. Afterward we usually feel guilty, ashamed & remorseful. So, as much as we can, O-Fs try to push those big feelings down too – just not as successfully as U-Fs.
2. OVER-FEELING (O-F)
O-Fs cannot easily hold in our feelings when hurt, so from childhood on we were reprimanded, punished, made fun of & misunderstood – at home, in school & at play. We cried too much, were depressed, felt suicidal, threw tantrums, were clingy or rude, withdrawn or flamboyant…. The more we expressed our pain the more we were abused, so the more pain we felt; the more we showed our distress at being abused, the more we were punished for it! It was a vicious cycle.
Expl: Jinny was a very bright, intuitive & hyper-sensitive teenager. Not only had she been emotionally & mentally stressed since birth, but then the hormones kicked in. Her ACoA parents had no clue how to deal with her – the narcissistic mother wanted her to ‘shape up’ & the depressed father identified with her but was powerless himself. One evening, in the kitchen, yet another insensitive comment her mother made set Jinny off & she began sobbing.
— Her father came in & told her to stop, which made she cry harder – so he slapped her. His reason: “You were hysterical & I was trying to snap you out of it”. It’s something he had once read, so thought he was being ‘helpful’! Jinny was devastated by his betrayal – as he was the kind one. She knew she was not hysterical & could think quite clearly! Not everyone can “walk & talk & chew bubble gum” but she could, yet after all these years (17) her father still had not bothered to find out who she really was!
• As a result of our experiences, O-Fs often hate having emotions but can’t stop ourselves, so we despise our ‘weakness’! Rarely or never comforted, we were left desperately alone with our pain – profoundly terrifying for any child. Combining no comfort with being penalized for expressing legitimate suffering taught us to loath being so sensitive. Therefore O-Fs also have pushed away some emotions, hiding them from ourselves, but still acting them out for everyone else to see!
• This enormous backlog makes un-healed O-F ACoAs very touchy & easy to flare up. One woman in early Recovery expressed it as : “I’m an emotional hemophiliac – touch me & I bleed”!
EXP – a BETTER way to cope with Emotional Intensity
• Sue is an O-F with a strong-willed Inner Child. With great love & effort she has developed a bond of trust with her IC in Recovery.
• Sue is on a blind lunch date in a small upscale restaurant. The man is an engineer, all left-brain & totally un-self-aware. When he asks what she does & she says Astrologer, he begins a lecture about how unscientific & ridiculous that is! Sue can feel her kid’s rage building to an explosion, but she knows that if she lets her kid attack the man for insulting her & her chosen profession, she will only be making a fool of herself – and in such a small space!
— just before the angry words can leave her mouth, Sue asks the man to talk more about his work. She’s not interested and is not listening, but it stops his ignorant comments AND diverts her emotional energy long enough for her to have a private talk with her kid: “Honey, there’s no point in rebutting. Remember we’ve been taught to think: ‘How important is it?’ This guy wouldn’t get it anyway, & we’re never going to see him again. The only important thing is that I don’t want us to be embarrassed here & sound like the crazy one, since I know we’re not!” Her IC agrees & is mollified.
NEXT: Over-Feelers – #2