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Feeling Triggered is Better Than Feeling Nothing

Something happened to me around the middle of November. After years and years of suffering it was like a switch was flipped in my brain. I kind of feel like, having been through it and now being on the other side, there was nothing that I could have done that could have forced me to open my eyes. Then again, maybe all of the trying and working and forcing were pieces of the puzzle that brought me to what I can only refer to as my eventual spiritual awakening. The bottom line is that I’m resisting the urge to really sniff out what happened and just accepting that it has happened.

What has happened exactly? Well, I’ve managed to stay present through everything life has thrown my way without leaning on the use of my usual terrible coping mechanisms. I am, in effect, raw-dogging life. This is not to say that everything has been pleasant though because life has (as it tends to be) been peppered full of hellish shit. To be frank I would say that it’s been extra difficult to manage because raw emotion is so foreign to me after all of this time.

I had forgotten just how emotional I am by default. I had forgotten how easily I become overcome with feelings, my own or the feelings of others. Watching a movie I’ve seen a million times, or singing a song that jogs a specific memory can send me over the edge completely. A glance in my direction or a certain tone of voice will throw me into a defensive spiral. What’s different now seems to be a kind of willingness to ride it out and see it through without getting derailed. I am experiencing for the first time what it is to be aware of my emotions, something that I have never really done before. At times I am still wholly swept away by my immediate experience, but I am no longer desperately seeking external methods of switching it off. I’m starting to understand that everything, including hard feelings and intrusive thoughts, will be temporary.

That probably seems obvious but for those of us who struggle with distress intolerance, it can be impossible to see our way through painful experiences. Let’s be real about it: drugs are so hard to stop using in part because they are effective ways to avoid our pain. Of course, the other side of that is that they don’t actually fix the problem and it will still be waiting after the comedown.

Trust me on this, I studied it extensively.

You know, it’s funny because I get completely tied up in feelings and they scare the hell out of me. Sometimes my grief or anger will threaten to whisk me away forever and in the moment it feels like absolute torture so I’ve taken to reminding myself that no matter how upset or offended i am, it beats feeling nothing at all. To feel, while often unpleasant, is part of what it means to be alive. I guess I think of all those we’ve lost. I guess I remember the days we have are limited and allow myself to have gratitude for even the hardest of days.

In September I opened my eyes to the idea that I needed to give myself more love and acceptance and though my 21 day undertaking was a big old failure, I ended up on a path to somewhere even more amazing.

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