I am a thinker. I have been called an over thinker. To which I am pretty sure I replied (and wrote a blog about) there was no such thing as an over thinker. And I really haven’t seen my habit to overthink as being an issue.
My second favorite thing is to do. Doing. That is what results from all the thinking I do. Action. Lots and lots of action. Often times it is not right action, or even all that productive. But there is action. Always. I am a being that is in a perpetual state of action. Which (until recently) I didn’t really see all that much wrong with that either.
What I have realized recently is that I do all this thinking and doing in order to avoid feeling. I hate feeling. Unless it is happy. Then I am all in. But hard feelings: sad, angry, upset, disappointed (I really hate that fucker), grieving, loss, betrayal, I will do almost endless amounts of thinking and doing to avoid even being in the same zip code as any of the above.
I have also come to realize that they are just normal feelings. All of them. And many other people go through life with a certain level of acceptance about them:
“My parent died and so I am sad and grieving. “
“My marriage or relationship ended so I am upset or perhaps angry.”
“My spouse or significant other cheated on me, so I feel betrayed.”
“My partner or the person I thought was my partner isn’t really capable of being a partner and I feel disappointed.”
This is not me. For most of my life I did one of two things: I either thought my way out of feeling:
“My parent was old and it was inevitable and they had a good life.”
“My marriage wasn’t all that satisfying so I am glad to be moving on and ready for what comes next.”
“I have absolutely no time for someone who would do that so I am moving on.”
“Guess he was not the right partner.”
Or I got fucking busy:
“I have a funeral to plan and a wake and a celebration of life and...”
“Time to date...a lot.”
“I think I am going to move across the country and start a new career...”
“I am going to go man shopping because I can find a new partner...”
Thinking and Doing. It has been my reliable, two step process for living. And it was working (at least I thought so) until it didn’t.
So I have avoided feeling. The only acceptable emotion for me to feel, ever has been anger. Anger allows the expression of emotion but with the feeling of strength and power.
"My parent died and I am fucking ANGRY!"
"My marriage ended and I am fucking ANGRY!"
"My spouse cheated and I am fucking ANGRY!"
"My partner isn’t capable of being a partner and I am fucking ANGRY!"
See, so much better. Not vulnerable. Not weak. Anger allows the expression of pain but without all that attendant bullshit of actually feeling something that opens you up, softens you, maybe rounds out the sharper points.
I can liken back to 28 years ago and see that my more intimate journey with other feelings began then. Up until then all I had was anger and occasionally, rage. It wasn’t a good combo and it wasn’t because all I felt were those emotions, it was just that I could only label and allow anger because it was the only one that didn’t scare the living shit out of me, until it did.
When I got sober I was fighting men in bars. Like often. That was where my anger took me. I would just erupt. Go off. Lose my shit all over them, which was problematic on lots of fronts.
I have had to process all the grief, sadness, loss and disappointment that I wouldn’t allow myself to experience those first 25 years of life. And that has been a hard, and often times, ugly journey. And it continues to this day.
I still do not want to feel with every fiber of my being. Feeling, really does feel like it is going to kill me. Slowly and torturously one fucking feeling at a time.
Life is full of paradoxes and I am finding that my healing and growth always seems to require me to embrace the very thing that I am attempting to dedicate my life to avoiding...and in this case all the thinking and doing in the world will not stop all the feelings I am having right now.
My father is dying. Slowly, then not so slowly. I have seen it and been aware but I have been so busy doing and thinking that I have been able to keep this hard, very hard reality from actually landing on me. Me feeling this loss of my father has been akin to trying to nail jelly to a tree.
My relationship is over and I am so incredibly sad. I love this man but I can’t accept him as he is right now and I can’t hang on waiting for a change in him that will likely never come. And how terrible is it to love someone whom you demand change for you. How arrogant is that? How un-loving is that?
My son and I are estranged and I do not see an end in sight to that either. One phone call from him and I feel all the things that caused me to put the emotional distance there to begin with...while he is making progress (so I hear) I do not feel like he and I have made any at all.
Three significant men in my life and I am having to learn to live without all three of them. Instead of loving them and holding them close, my only choice is to let go. And while I am sure this isn’t hard for you to imagine, letting go is not one of my favorite things either...except when I am using it as an action, and letting you go seems like something that is so easy for me. I cut you off and walk forward without you. That kind of letting go I am almost surgical about. And that is because it is just another tactic in my arsenal against not feeling. If I cut you out and off, like some offending gangrenous limb, I move forward completely free of the stench and decay.
So I really do not want to feel what I am feeling. I do not want to watch my father die. I do not want to love the man that I do that I cannot make a life with. And I do not want to not speak to my son but talking to him makes me feel worse so...
I am struggling. I wish I was the kind of person who could just fall to the couch and sob uncontrollably for awhile but that is not my stock. I don’t come from a family of criers. We are endurers. We are more stoic. We are more hardy and controlled than to ever allow tears to take us over. And I regret that a great deal actually.
I want to think my way out of all this feeling. I want to do something, like fucking anything to not feel all the disappointment, sadness, grief and loss. I want to not feel which is why I drank. Drinking takes away all the bad feelings, until your drinking gets to the point where you come to and all you have is wreckage. Then you have to start fucking dealing with all of that. But what people don’t see is that that vicious cycle of misery allows for more thinking and doing. Which is why my sobriety is a fucking miracle. I intentionally left a pattern which allowed for endless amounts of thinking (why did I do that AGAIN?) and doing (let me now have to work extra hard to dig myself out of those 40 holes I just dug myself into). Being a drunk is the perfect vocation for someone who loves thinking and doing. Because you have endless amounts of things to think about and then fix. And with all that thinking and doing, there is absolutely no time to feel.
But I am not newly sober and I do not want to relapse. I do not want to have to push myself into yet another thinking and feelings funnel, roaring through my own life like a tornado that causes everything and everyone around me to suffer. I just move through and on, never turning to see the destruction I have caused in my relational wake.
I am very sad that my dad is dying and that there is nothing I can do to change that.
I am very sad that Shannon and I broke up and there is nothing I can do to change that.
I am very sad that Logan and I can’t relate to one another or even talk on the phone and there is nothing I can do to change that.
So, I am sad. A bit despondent. Scared. Grieving and struggling. And I do not want to do this by myself but I really do not know how to let anyone else in. I can talk about it but those are just outgrowths of my thinking. And if I am doing, then you aren’t likely going to be able to keep up with the pace and level of my doing. In fact, you will likely think, “What the actual fuck, you are RIDICULOUS!”
And I am not sure I can bear any of it. I can’t not think. I can’t not do. And I really, really, really do not want to feel any of this.
So I pour it out here where some people who know me might read it, but mostly strangers on the internet will. And that helps me in some perverse way because the strangers aren’t close enough to me to cause me to have to stop thinking and doing and feel all that I so much do not want to.
And for those of you who know me and may even love me, letting you into this kind of pain is something that I do not even know how to do...I want you to care and show concern. I just don’t know how to let you. Because care and concern are feelings. And, as I think I may have mentioned, I am also estranged from feeling. And all I can muster today is to be honest about this and myself and hope that some gut level honesty will change the course.
I pray it will.