Expressing emotion is difficult. No surprises there. If I’m upset, angry, needy… these are all things that I feel the need to hide. However, I also have a hard time expressing the good emotions; happiness, appreciation, excitement. I often know these are how I’m supposed to feel in a given situation but I don’t quite feel them right away or know how to express them properly.
Especially if it’s something that someone has done for me; I may appreciate what they’ve done, but it can feel strange to have someone do something for me. Because I’m not used to it, or not used to things turning out how I hoped or better than I hoped I’m not prepared to respond. I won’t necessarily have an appropriate emotional responses immediately; it will come a little later. The recognition and the cognitive appreciation may be there right away, I’ll KNOW what they did was something good, but the feeling the emotion itself takes a little longer.
However when someone has just done something nice for you, it would be pretty ungracious to wait a while before thanking them. I often have to express myself in a way that I believe is appropriate. Express myself in a way that I think will demonstrate the feelings that I know I’ll have a little later. It feels a little disingenuous to me because I tend to overcompensate just a bit, but I want the person to know that I appreciate what they’ve done and I want them to feel appreciated.
I can’t very well say, “Hey, I know you just did this thing for me, but can you get back to me in a couple hours so my feelings about it can resolve and I can thank you with a fully connected consciousness of emotional and cognitive recognition?” How weird would that be? Instead I act how I believe I should respond if I were to have a connected response.
I was thinking about this, because part of my continual therapy homework is to write down and recognize my emotions when I have them spontaneously. As you may know, I had a tattoo session on Friday. It took almost 6 hours, on my ribs, with only 4 five minute breaks, and we’re about halfway done with the color. However, when we finally wrapped up for the day and I took a look at the work he had done, it was absolutely stunning. The coloration came out more beautiful than I expected and I was thrilled. Very appreciative, and very grateful. I was able to be in the moment, feeling those emotions and express them to my artist appropriately at the appropriate time!
Not only that, but Tech Boy came by around the 4.5 hour mark and brought me snacks. I asked him to stop in and see me and he just offered to bring me a snack because he figured I’d be hungry. I thought the gesture was very sweet, but what was more sweet, was the fact that when he did show up the snacks he brought me were multi colored fresh peppers and honey whole wheat pretzels. Things that are healthy and delicious and that I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating which tells me he pays attention to how I am. And then! He left early because he wanted to make me dinner when I was done because I’d probably be starving. Seriously, how sweet is that? Again, in the moment, I felt genuine appreciation. Not disconnected. Not delayed.
This is such a drastic change for me that as I was in the shop feeling these things I was also noting the fact that this was a sensation that was different for me. I don’t expect this to be a constant thing yet, but my emotions and my cognition seem to be connecting at least some of the time. In appropriate ways! That’s definite emotional progress in regards to my dissociation and detachment, and in my ability to allow others to do things for me without feeling threatened or guilty about it. I’m kind of proud of myself. It seems a little silly to be proud of myself for doing something so normal as having an appropriate attached emotional response, but hey, I’m Borderline with a Dissociative condition and it’s taken me a lot of work to be able to do that.
Therapy and healing for Borderline Personality Disorder takes a long, long time. It can be a little discouraging to do this work week after week and not be sure it’s helping. It’s nice to see that, indeed, something good does seem to be occurring.