I have shut off my feelings for so long that I don’t know how to feel them. I don’t identify how I am feeling, and I often cover them with other feelings. For example, when I feel angry I instantly cover that and turn it onto myself, or change it into a different emotion like sadness or guilt.
I think work on identifying how I am feeling might help. Here’s one exercise:
What are feelings?
The following is a list of feeling words. Say them out loud. Try out different tones of voice for each word, or say it louder or softer. Pay attention to your feelings as you say each word. What sensations does it stir up? How does your body feel? Do some words fit you but not others? Write in any other words that especially describe you. When you are finished, underline the three words that you respond to most strongly.
(from The Courage to Heal)
Excited – no sensations stirred. No body response at all. Doesn’t seem to fit.
Frustrated – tension, jaw clenching, louder voice. Butterflies starting in stomach.
Hurt – pit in stomach. Lump in throat. Voice childlike. Toes twitching.
Tender – images of my girls. Melting in stomach.
Frightened – this is really me. Instant feeling in stomach – churning. Toes twitching again. Breathing shallower and quicker. Heart rate increased.
Jealous – no response.
Sad – slowing down, lethargy.
Contented – Lightening, weight lifting off me. Heart felt lighter.
Loving – tension all over body. Lump in throat. Fear responses too.
Depressed – heaviness. Everything slowed – breathing, heart rate, even typing rate!
Elated – slight raise in heart rate. Feels alien.
Edgy – Linked to anxiety. Heart beating harder and slightly faster. Lightheaded.
Timid – a frightened child./ The Little One. Wanting to be small physically, to hide away in a corner or behind furniture. Overwhelmed, overpowered.
Happy – my family now. Lighter, brighter feelings. Clarity.
The three words I responded to most were frightened, frustrated, loving.
I need to work on identifying how I am feeling. A lot of the time I don’t know how to deal with the feelings I experience. I can’t identify them, I am scared of them and I don’t know what to do with them. I’m struggling to deal with things because I can’t allow myself to feel. That’s one reason for the dissociation. When I dissociate, I don’t feel what I am feeling now. I know I need to allow myself to feel my emotions but I am really scared of doing so.