Mistaken Emotions in Dysfunctional RelationshipsBy
In my process of Emerging from Broken, I came to realize that I had a lot of emotions mixed up and defined the wrong way. Emotions had been modeled to me by others all mixed up with other emotions and then labelled wrong so I had learned emotion in a twisted way. Because of various forms of abuse, fear was associated with love. Love was associated with danger. Compliments were associated with a warning signal. I learned to trust the untrustworthy.
About a week ago, my husband Jimmy found the exact snowmobile that he had been searching for and we decided to head up to Radium Hot Springs and pick it up. We live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Southern Alberta Canada. We have about a three hour drive through the mountains to get to Radium Hot Springs which is in British Columbia. We set out around noon and we figured that we would have about an 8 or 9 hour round trip with stops.
Jim’s parents live in Radium Hot Springs. I have not been there for at least 6 years and as we set off I became aware of some feelings that felt familiar. It felt like excitement. It felt like an adventure. We stopped at a gas station and I was thinking that it would be great to get some junk food for the trip. (I didn’t act on that thought but I did note that I often crave food as a solution for feelings of stress and anxiety) As we proceeded through all the familiar sights and landmarks, I started to have memories from all the other trips years ago that we had made to Radium.
I remembered getting ready for those trips ~ yelling at the kids, feeling like I couldn’t cope and that I couldn’t possibly get all the things done that needed to be done and have the kids and myself ready in time to leave the house. I remember being impatient with the kids because they were excited and being loud and silly. I remembered walking on egg shells around my husband and not really knowing why. I remembered that he always seemed to be in a dark mood, but I thought that he was just overburdened with trying to get his work done on our farm before we left for a holiday.
I remembered finally getting started on the journey and the kids would be laughing and goofing off in the back seat and it got on my nerves and I was afraid that it was going to get on their fathers nerves and so I reprimanded them constantly. “Shush!! Settle down, be quiet, behave, be good” and all those others types of expressions.
On this recent trip, as Jim and I got closer to Radium and approaching the Radium Hot Springs pool, I remembered rounding this same corner in the past and getting this extreme feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach… knowing that we were almost there. The kids would be barely able to contain themselves.
And suddenly, it hit me. That feeling wasn’t excitement. That feeling was anxiety. That feeling was fear and intuition. That feeling that I had always thought was excitement over getting away to visit my husband’s parents at their beautiful mountain home, was apprehension. And what I thought was the kids excitement was actually the anxiety that Jimmy and I were causing them by our feelings of fear and apprehension. We were driving to the source of most of our relationship difficulties. Without realizing it back then, we were apprehensive and nervous about being back in the home of people who we were not good enough for, who always reminded us that we “did life the wrong way,” that our decisions were not great, that our parenting skills were lacking. Both Jimmy and I were so used to this feeling that we actually thought it was “excitement”.
And being with people that define me that way and make me feel like a failure isn’t exciting at all. It is devaluing. It can become debilitating. But I didn’t know those words yet. Psychological abuse is very hard to comprehend or articulate when you have lived with it all your life.
I remember the “excitement” that my mother exhibited when my father was coming home from a business trip. I thought it was excitement, but in reality it was her anxiety. She acted the same way when he was on his way home from his regular work day. I thought that was normal. I associated it with love and marriage. I often got hit and punished when my mother was “excited” so seeing her that way was a warning and was accompanied with feelings of impending doom for me. But I thought the whole thing was just about excitement. I remember those same feelings when we were going on holidays when I was a kid. I knew the beach was at the other end of the journey and that was exciting, but I also knew that I was going to get whacked, disapproved of and yelled at, all throughout that same journey. And I learned to call all the anxiety, fear and apprehension ~ excitement.
We always have great discussions here through the comments section. These discussions contribute to the emotional healing of many. Please share your thoughts about mistaken emotions.
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