“I can’t feel what I am supposed to feel,” she said. Well, Duh.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy teaches that we can feel differently if we tell ourselves things. We can speak to our emotional self cajolingly or sensibly, and despair at disasters can become a stoic acceptance and continuing useful action. So, Situation, Thought, Emotion, Behaviour: what I think is going on in this situation affects how I feel about it.
Or, we can see that we do not perceive or think correctly, and correct our thinking so our feelings are not so bad. Black and white thinking: it is either perfect, or it is a disaster. Well, no, things are usually in the middle. Do not be downhearted, it is not that bad.
Unfortunately this denies my feelings. Things are not perfect, and therefore I am terrified. That I am terrified of something illusory which is only in my own mind does not stop the terror. And I know what I am supposed to feel, quiet satisfaction that everything is going smoothly. I can’t feel that.
When I was a child, I was split in two and my two parts were set at war with each other. I have been liberating myself since. My freedom matters to me more than anything else. I have many voices on my inner committee, but I might call these two the Actor and the Prisoner: the Actor who felt, desired, reacted as she was supposed to, and the Prisoner who must not be seen even by herself.
Could the war be over? I don’t know. I do know that as an adult my old ideas of “how I am supposed to feel” do not apply. There is how I feel, now. If I imagine it is other than it is, I will be conflicted and disappointed. I will feel numb rather than feeling the appropriate feeling.
There are still Appropriate Feelings swirling around, in the culture and in particular groups and situations, and I may not pick those up; and as an empath those may overwhelm me; and I don’t know, and will not speculate further here.
I am concerned that words affect my feelings. If I see a situation in a particular way that will affect how I feel, and the world I have constructed through verbal understanding may obscure the world as it is. Impure feelings are a response to my previous understandings. Pure feelings are a response to the situation as it is now.
If I think, “They ought to be better than that! It’s no better than a glorified-“, the result is disappointment, resentment, peevishness. This does not advance my goals.
If I centre down, consider, seek out what I perceive, and what I feel about that, there might be some hope in the mix.
My own inadequacy and the terror that inspires is a strong habit. That seems to fit best with the Words, the description of how the world is and should be. I write down a possible verbal understanding of a particular situation, and realise that if I put a question mark after my two word summary my perception changes completely.
-What do you hope for?
-I hope for hope. I have seen what I can do, and I have done it. I hope I will see something I can do, and do it. I am not sure what it might be, now. I will see it is worthwhile and give it my energy.
What I want is to “flow like water” as Lao Tzu said, or “Pray continually” as Paul said, or to integrate as a whole human being, or to find my Inner Light or Reality or Freedom.
The world I inhabit includes others’ perceptions. I am sure the problem is not me, but others disagree.
Now, I feel gratitude and warmth. There has been an act of generosity towards me. I am surprised. She had suggested it and I had no expectation of it. It is an unaccustomed feeling. I was briefly tearful.
Right now, I have a common goal, getting the Labour vote out at the election, but that will end tomorrow, and become different goals requiring different action. My comrades are not my friends. We have this one thing of intense importance in common. We might make friendships in time.
I love Geertgen tot Sint Jans. I love the complete innocence of these faces. And Jesus apparently emerging from the tomb but still carrying the Cross is a powerful image I don’t recall seeing before. Other artists either have him carrying the cross, or hanging from it, or being lifted down from it dead, or Resurrected with the Cross behind him. Even the common image of Christus Victor, on the cross but robed and triumphant, arms wide in blessing, shows bare feet but not all that blood. I am not sure what to make of it.