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Feelings behind the feeling? Grief masking anger?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Birdie, May 23, 2013.

  1. Birdie

    Birdie Peer Supporter

    Hi all,
    over the time I noticed that I am experiencing less emotions "than normal" what my therapist calls a light form of alexithymia. But there's one emotion that has always been very strong and still is: grief and sadness!
    I also experience from time to time a little bit of anxiety and sometimes, but rarely, experience anger and feelings of shame and guilt. I did not now what joy is...I mean real joy...felt it for the first time I remember in my life a few weeks ago and that was so weird but awesome because I could feel it right in my body, too. It was completely clear to me that this must be joy. I was both excited and shocked because I am 34 years old and that seemed to be my first conscious moment of joy. Ok, but that's another story (and a strong indicator for me that I am on the right path and slowly getting out of my permanent numbness).
    So over the day I am often experiencing grief and the need to cry (grief was always one of my strongest feelings, even in my childhood), often without any obvious reason. One the one hand that's not such a big miracle because I had many losses in my early life and grief would been the normal reaction (but not in it's chronic form).
    What I am actually wondering about is if the grief is masking some other emotions like fear or anger? It's a bit strange that - no matter what - I mainly feel grief even if anger would be the more appropriate reaction to something!
    I have especially problems with feeling my anger. My father was a choleric and my mother never was aggressive ("angry? Not me!"), repressing her feelings of anger. For me, showing anger and rage as a child, meant that I was "like my biological father", a very bad person due to very bad genes (in my family one likes to blame the genes for many reasons).
    So I grew up with two extreme models of aggression seen in my parents: showing them in a very inapropriate and abusing manner and repressing them and always being the perfect and kind person.
    Is it possible to feel one emotion instead of another? And how do I know? Could it be that there's lot of repressed anger and rage behind my chronic grief?
  2. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    HI. es it could be anger and rage behind your grief. As you start to explore your feelings, these things will likely become more clear to you. Which feeling it is exactly really doesn't matter. Getting them out of you is what matters!
    As you journal about certain situations or feelings, other emotions may come up. That's ok.
    Can you think of some situations in your childhood? Even if they don't bring up emotion right away, try to sit with the memory and see if any feelings comes up.

    Perhaps write (journal) about the losses you mention and FEEL the sadness of these losses? Or anger? And then acceptance of these losses.
    Yes it is possible to feel an emotion and have it be a smokescreen for something that's deeper. But journaling can bring these deeper feelings up.
  3. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I completely agree with this. In fact I was getting ready to say something similar before I saw Lori's reply.

    What matters is that you are exploring these emotions and learning to feel them.

    Although Sarno focuses on the subconscious rage we feel, I think it's important to remember that trying to guess at what's going on in our subconscious is a fool's game. If it's subconscious, it's outside of our awareness. I think it's more important to deal with the feelings we are aware of. The more we deal with these, the more our subconscious will offer up its secrets.
    Gigi and Leslie like this.
  4. Birdie

    Birdie Peer Supporter

    Thanx for your replies. You're right: guessing at what's probably going on in the subconscious may even generate tension. So dealing with what still is and being aware of what is just in the moment would be more reasonable.
    In the moment jornaling seems not to be the right approach for me as digging in the past and in old memories stresses me out without having the ressources to deal with this. So this often leaves me with symptomes of hyperarrousal for days befor my system calms down again becaue I am completely exhausted. I am just working on building up ressources to deal with my past before I will explore childhood trauma and other problematic issues. Perhaps journaling on current stressors would be ok.
  5. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    That sounds like a good plan, Birdie. Ultimately you've got to trust your own instincts.

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