Monday, July 2, 2007

Emotions

Faces taken from the Wong-Baker Pain Scale

I touched on this briefly. Emotions. What are they? Are they useful, or just to betray us? What is the purpose?

When I first began talking with my doctor she asked what I wanted to accomplish. The main thing was to get rid of this fear, to get rid of my mother’s voice in my head. The other was to understand emotions. To recognize what they were without becoming overwhelmed.

I mentioned before that I was like a robot throughout my childhood. I didn’t show emotions. In my house, I really just don’t think I was allowed. My mother was wild. She’d cry and scream; she’d show anger and hostility, she’d wallow in depression and laugh hysterically. They were all over the map. But when I cried? “Crocodile tears,” she’d say as my brother laughed. “Just wants attention. Look at the robot cry.”

Emotions denied.

So I never learned. Sesame Street couldn’t teach me. Happy, sad, angry, mad. Nope, didn’t understand them at all. What I knew? Numb. That was it. Full emotional anesthesia at an early age. And my family tried, they constantly tried to get rises out of me. I remember when we were younger my mother would sing this song to make my brother and I cry. When I thought I was ready to write about this all a year ago, that was one of the more vivid memories:

One day my mother came into the living room and in a sad enthralling voice began to sing, “Hush little baby don’t you cry. . . .you know your mama was born to die- ie.” My brother began to whimper. His tears were ignored as my mother continued the song, “It’s too late my brother – It’s too late, but never mi-ind. All my sorrows Lord- soon be over.”

My brother began to scream and kick the floor. “You’re not going to die!” he spat out of a face swollen with anguish. My mother smiled down at him.

“Yes I will sweetie,” she cooed, “of course I’ll die.” From that day forward “Hush Little Baby” became my mother’s favorite song.

My mother took my brother into her lap that first time she sang. She explained that the song was written by a woman she believed was her grandmother, a slave that was beaten horribly with “whips that sliced her skin like the meat slicer at the deli. The whips just sliced right in like she was ham.” She stared at my brother, her eyes gleaming as his, puffy and red, streamed tears. His little body shivered from the force of the emotion being released.

As my mother stared at him, she began to sing again, watching greedily as he reached out to wrap his fragile arms around her. She set him to the ground, smiled, and sang louder – standing up to use the full force of her diaphragm until every mournful note bounced around the house. They bounced off of our green striped peach floral couch handed down to us from an old neighbor, bounced off of the rabbit ear antenna covered in aluminum foil on the television which rested on a shelf made from cinderblocks and planks of wood stolen from a construction site. Her song bounced around my head, the feelings of sorrow and loss and glee and power – the power of a song that no one could make you stop singing. It bounced into the recesses of my mind and I left it there, ignoring the pull for emotion, to respond.


But, I couldn’t focus. Worse still, I wanted to slip it into fiction, to not face the fact that it was real. That my life was real.

In my household, everything, even emotions were for her amusement, to satisfy her power-hungry ways. And I wasn’t going to give in. She wielded her emotions like a hammer, like the whip in her story – lashing into each and every one around her until I saw them as nothing more than a weakness that she fed off of. Or as a weapon I didn’t want to use.

Thus, when I first started crying, when I first started recognizing I was happy, I thought I was sick. I was terrified I was bi-polar. How can I feel so good one day and sad the next? When good thinks started to happen I’d be ecstatic, and then something bad would happen and I might drop. Was this normal? I was driving myself crazy just thinking that I was crazy.

Recently, in acknowledging my depressive episode, it forced me to recognize that I was happy. Somewhere there is that range of human emotions within me, struggling to come out. As with every post, it’s a long hard road that I’m on, but I’m on it. It’s funny really, I’ve always been really good at reading emotions in others, which could be from how necessary it was that I read how my mother was feeling each minute to try and predict what was going to happen. There was no better storm tracker than I when it came to my mother, not that I could avoid the damage when she let a hurricane rip, but there’s comfort in knowing what another’s feeling. In fact, it got to such a degree my mother thought I inherited her emotions. And there it is again, her stealing everything from me, even my emotions became hers. She thought I was an empath for a while too, like Dianna Troi from Star Trek: Generations.

That whole time while I could read others, I wasn’t an active participant in my own emotions and even now sometimes it scares me with the force that these suckers, so long repressed, come out. Now my friends and I joke that the first man I love won’t survive all this pent up energy, that it’s leaking out my sides at this point. I don’t fear emotions as much anymore, but I certainly don’t understand them like I wish I could. Maybe the point isn’t even understanding, just acceptance. Accept that they are there and use them without fear.

I still want a flip book though, like for little kids. I want a reminder of the myriad of choices I have as to how I feel. It’s not just all fear and confusion. There’s way more to this life. Some days I feel like a newborn, and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing.


10 comments:

Amel's Realm said...

Indeed being a newborn is not such a bad thing. You get to experience the world from fresh eyes. Enjoy it fully even though sometimes it's confusing. Emotions are confusing but they're interesting, as well. :-)))

I'm sure in time you'll get the hang of it, Vic. I'm not sure that you won't find a man who can't stand your pent-up emotions, though. You may be surprised that there are men who can stand most things for the sake of their loved ones. :-)))

And yeah, you're right. The point is in recognizing and accepting your emotions and letting go of the bad ones whenever they attack (after a period of mourning or contemplation or any other necessary period of time) and cherishing all the good ones till the good vibes reverberate from your entire being. At least that's what I'm trying to do here. :-)))

Btw, I LOVE Deanna Troi from Startrek: Next Generation. I've always thought she's SO cool and I'd love to have that kind of ability, so it's good that you can read other people's emotions well.

It must've been hard having to be numb all through those years, but hey...it's a new start for you, so CONGRATULATIONS on being reborn again and HUGS!!! :-D

Amel's Realm said...

Oh, I found this article...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20070630/sc_livescience/brainscansrevealwhymeditationworks

The first line hit home, so I'll write it down here:

If you name your emotions, you can tame them, according to new research that suggests why meditation works.

Amel's Realm said...

Oh, one more comment. Rambling, actually he he...

I felt like being reborn again myself when I moved here. Lots of people who moved to a new, foreign place abroad felt like being reborn again. I guess when you're reborn again, you have to make sure you are kind enough to yourself when you stumble, when you feel confused, when you feel stupid, when you feel down, because you've just being reborn again!!! :-)))

It's like learning to be a child again...learning to be curious about anything and letting go of the pressure to run fast (by thinking that we're adults) as it won't get us anywhere. Sometimes walking step by step, slowly, at our own pace, is the best thing to enjoy the sight. :-D

OK, enough babble he he...

Victorya said...

not rambling! I like your viewpoint. I just wish I had more time to respond right now (at work, lol)

and thanks for the hugs! Hugs right back atcha.

Amel's Realm said...

Oops!!! Have a GREAT day at work then, Vic!!!

^_____________________________^

heavenabove said...

Emotions can indeed be a powerful weapon, perhaps moreso than we think. It is terrible that your mother used emotions with such spitefulness. Even at my age, I still don't have the ability to weild emotions at will like that lady, nor would I ever want to.
Your post is enlightening-I will strive harder to understand the full effects of my negative emotions before I damage anyone or myself unintentionally.

I think with your strengths and great insight, the man you find will be lucky to have you. And do not settle for less of a man than you deserve!

This may seem out of place but have you ever watched the Star Wars movies? Well, your mother and her fine-tuned emotional control remind me of the dark and hateful Emperor. Ah yes, such evil does not prevail in the end. Keep up your good work!

Victorya said...

Amel - I think you hit the nail on the head - I do feel so reborn, but in a good way - like a religious conversion type of way.

Also, while I haven't read your article yet I agree with the first line. Half the reason,maybe the main reason, why I'm writing this all down is to take control over what's happening, kind of trapping the past in cyberspace and less in my mind.

And I love your association with being in a new country, it must be scary but amazing at the same time. I see the similarities - having to relearn even the basics of speech and social customs. You must have amazing strength (and love) to do such a thing!

Heaven - I just want to clarify that I don't beleive there are such things as 'negative' emotions- there are just emotions. however, when you use them against people that's where the danger lies. Fear and anger are just as important as joy and love. But when you purposely try to trigger these to get what you want (like threatening to throw an arachnophobe in a room full of spiders if they don't do what you want). That was more how she used the emotions, like making my brother cry by singing about her dying. And in her eyes, his tears proved he loved her.

Amel's Realm said...

Hey, Vic!!!

Indeed you're right. I was gripped by fear when I was flying here. I started thinking of all the bad, worse, and worst possibilities of living here (for example: my husband dies before I can get on my own two feet, etc.). However, I decided to stop that insanity and just take it one day at a time and it hadn't been nearly as scary as I thought it'd be. In fact, it's been MUCH MUCH better than I thought!!!

It HAS been confusing, esp. the first few weeks when all I heard was "yada yada yada" (my head got dizzy after a while). Now I can pick up some words, so that helps, too. The first month's been hard, but blogging's helped A LOT (as I want to be able to communicate intellectually with other people in English). Having some close friends who have similar experiences does help, too. They can comfort me by telling me how they felt when they first moved abroad (making me feel normal, so to speak).

I'm learning to take it as an adventure, all the good and bad sides of moving to a new country. I'm learning to take it step by step, not trying to absorb everything as fast as an "adult". I'm learning to give myself some slack. I'm learning not to be too hard on myself (the first month I kept on beating myself up for doing so many little silly mistakes, example: like not knowing the function of some foreign cooking utensils).

It IS like a HUGE challenge to love yourself. It does take effort and energy to love yourself when you're reborn again, but it's all WORTH IT!!! :-D I'm still learning all these new and old lessons, but I won't give up.

One other thing that helps is for me to think that there's a reason for all of this. A GOOD reason. And I'm gonna stick to it. I'll always keep in mind that I'm here for a good reason and I'm going to make the most of my days. Again it's NOT easy, but I can always try my best. :-D

Oh, and one thing that helps, too. In the Bible God's promised us that every trial we're facing won't exceed our ability to go through it, so I'm gonna keep that in mind, as well. :-D

Btw, I like the way you said it: trapping the past. It's like a visualisation technique that I once read in Chicken Soup for the Soul (if I'm not mistaken). There you have to write down all the things you want to let go in a piece of paper (or pieces of paper) and then you perform a burial service. Letting go isn't easy. I think sometimes you have to do it over and over again, but I believe it gets easier as time goes by.

One last comment: Yeah, what your mother did was horrible. She manipulated other people's emotions to get what she wanted. That was really unhealthy.

phaseoutgirl said...

Hey Viktorya,

I found my way here from Shrink's site. You are one strong woman, and you will find someone who will love you as you are.

cheers, for being so brave...

:)

Victorya said...

Thanks for the visit phaseout! It's funny, I don't see it as strength as much as a necessary action. It's a necessity for me to start chronicling how I feel I guess.

Hope you return!