“Vague” Emotions

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, we were talking about the debates and how we feel about the political race as a whole this year.

Me: “I honestly can’t believe that this is the state of our country. I’m vaguely disgusted by it.”

Him: “Do you realize that every time you talk about a feeling, you put ‘vaguely’ or ‘vague’ in front of it?”

To be quite honest, I never really did realize that. I know I have a tendency to say “I feel kinda ____,” or “I would feel _____, but I’m too busy.” But I honestly wasn’t aware that I have let feeling “vaguely” slip into my life.

I’ve never been the best about letting myself feel emotions. I mean, this is a recovery blog, so it should be no surprise that I didn’t really understand emotions for a long time. Instead of feeling anything, I used behaviors to cover feelings up. Obviously that’s unhealthy, I am aware. But, in working through recovery, I have been trying to let myself identify feelings more often.

The truth is, I’m still not good at it.

Knowing how you are feeling, and being able to aptly describe that to another human being is hard. Feeling anything other the positive emotions, and trying to describe that to another human being, is very hard.

Which is why I often deflect with either humor, or softening modifiers.

But using “vaguely” in terms of feelings is a mirror for how I actually experience feelings. I really have very little idea of what goes on with my emotions and feelings. It is still very hard to identify how I feel, despite the fact that I’m a person with very strong opinions and convictions. I feel strongly about certain topics, but my feelings in general are not strong.

It takes so much time to get yourself out of denying your feelings, and into actually feeling them.

I sometimes call my mom or talk to my sister, and I’ll say “I think I just feel sad.” I am desperately trying to get away from telling everyone, all the time, that I am “good” also. “Good” is not a feeling, an emotion, or even really a state of being. What exactly do you mean when you say you’re “good?” I honestly don’t know what I mean when I say that, because it’s basically a knee-jerk reaction to anybody asking about my existence.

Part of recovery is learning to do things differently. If I do not learn, I will eventually go back to maladaptive behaviors, because that is what I know. My recovery is dependent on learning other ways to manage my existence.

That includes learning how to feel my feelings.

What I’ve learned recently is that people are mostly okay with me when I share how I am feeling. I have a handful of supportive friends who will respond empathically, and I respond in the same way to their feelings and emotions. Not all people do, and that’s okay; it’s hard to always be empathetic, and you do have to watch out for yourself as well.

Trying to learn any new language is challenging, and describing your own emotions is learning a new language. I don’t have all of the words I need to speak to how I feel, yet. This is why I put in modifiers and humor, to avoid having to speak in-depth about my feelings.

My challenge to myself this upcoming week, and to anybody else who would like to join, is to fully accept the feelings that I have. I will likely not be able to remove all of the modifications I bring to my language surrounding feelings, but I will maintain awareness of the issue. I will do my best to own how I feel, no matter how challenging it is.

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