26: It’s Just a Feeling


Susan David gets me.

The first time I truly internalized these insights, I was like, “Ahhhhh…it all makes sooooo much sense now.”

So. Much. Sense.

Now.

Yesterday I was a mess. 

I felt angry about the trauma of the adverse childhood experiences perpetuated on my life due to my family’s legacy of alcoholism, abuse, and neglect. 

I could see clearly how my trauma-driven codependency defines my perception of intimacy, vulnerability, and love. 

I felt “stupid” for my recklessness and the enthusiasm I brought to situations that undermined my values and goals. It warped my sense of identity in my relationship with others and corrupted my sense of boundaries. I thought of loving actions as self-sacrifice. 

It isn’t…and if someone treats self-sacrifice as a tribute, they don’t understand loving either.

The story about the feeling is I’m playing on emotional repeat, and therefore, why bother?

Emotionally yesterday felt like I was living in a bottomless well. Five hours of restless sleep didn’t help. 

I didn’t run emotionally. I didn’t hide. I didn’t eat my way through it. I didn’t try to avoid it. I admitted what was happening, wrote it out as meditation, and went about the day. 

I worked my work. Breathed. I rowed. Breathed. I hung new art. Breathed. I worked on a side project. Breathed. I cleaned. Breathed.

I felt bitter nearly every moment, but I did it anyway. Not perfectly. Not enthusiastically. But I did it.

I went to bed.

Then I resentfully, hooked up my CPAP so I could keep breathing.

Then I slept.

I woke up and could see that thoughts are just thoughts, feelings are just feelings. Those uncomfortable experiences aren’t directives to act. They aren’t even real. As Therapist Uncensored reminds me, “Stories follow [neurological] state.” Stories are just opinions about how I am feeling and how I am thinking. Often my imagination about the moment gets ahead of the reality of the moment.

Just because something, someone, or somewhere stirs feelings of discomfort at this moment doesn’t mean it will be there every moment.

I need to remind myself that every moment is a different moment and I can begin again with each breath. 

Yesterday was practice for today.

Additional Readings

David, Susan. 2020. “Susan David, Ph.D.,” Susan David, Ph.D. <https://www.susandavid.com/> [accessed 2 March 2021]

Part 1: Impermanence – Awakening Through Insecurity. 2018. “Part 1: Impermanence – Awakening through Insecurity – Tara Brach,” Tara Brach <https://www.tarabrach.com/pt-1-impermanence-awakening-insecurity/&gt; [accessed 2 March 2021]

“Take the ACE Quiz – and Learn What It Does and Doesn’t Mean – Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” 2019. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University <https://developingchild.harvard.edu/media-coverage/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean/&gt; [accessed 2 March 2021]

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