A couple of weeks ago a colleague of mine left her job at work. A group of us went to the pub after work and at the end of the evening we all said goodbye to her. As I did so, I suddenly felt this strange sensation coming over me, as if something had suddenly been released inside. By the time I got home I was in emotional turmoil, feeling totally abandoned by this person, wondering how I could survive without her in my life.
For the past two weeks this feeling has continued, interspersed with sudden periods of crying, wanting to get rid of this feeling of despair and wanting to talk to somebody about it who would understand what I am going through. I have felt very alone, on the outside carrying on with my life perfectly normally, yet on the other hand on an emotional roller-coaster inside trying to work through this.
Getting to know me.....
I'm in my early 40's, married/in a relationship for over 14 years with two beautiful kids. As a child I was often left by my parents who worked away from home. I was looked after by a nanny before going off to boarding school. It all seemed quite normal to me, for the most part I was very happy, that was how life was.
However, what I didn't allow myself to feel was how much I was hurt by my parent's 'abandonment', emotionally I learnt to believe that if I was good and did what other people wanted then they would stay and they would look after me. Of course this didn't happen. So I grew up emotionally dysfunctional in many ways, always feeling not good enough, under pressure to succeed, having very low self-esteem, always very nervous and anxious, finding it hard to make friends.
When it came to more intimate relationships, I was unable to allow myself to get really close to women, looking, irrationally, for someone who could offer me the unconditional love that would make everything alright. A lot of the feelings became magnified as I grew up and interacted with the world around me.
My dad died suddenly in my late teens, emotionally I shut out the pain I felt to look after the rest of the family. Blocking out feelings was something I had learnt to be good at, it hiding any vulnerability I might be feeling would keep me safe I felt.
Into my twenties and as I tried to cope with life, all this baggage just made things worse. I managed to hide from people, though I became aware of a slight eating disorder - the more anxious I became, the less I ate, I suppose it was a cry for help, hoping people would notice. Eventually I became depressed, not that I was aware of it. My doctor diagnosed it and suggested therapy which came as a real shock to me, I thought I was fine.
Initially I was on medication but came off this as I learnt, after 25 years or so, to really get to know myself, who I was, how I felt about things, meet the little me inside and find out how I had ended up like this.
I was in and out of therapy for 10 years or so. During that time I fell in love with a girl for the first time. Sadly our relationship came to an end when she had to go back to her own country. After saying goodbye, I was overwhelmed by a sea of emotion. For the next 6 weeks I cried almost everyday until it was all out, the pain of all that happened over the years finally finding a release.
My time in therapy allowed me to experience these feelings, all those years of emotions being held inside, suddenly able to come out in a safe environment. In group sessions I met people with other issues who I could relate to, a relief to know it wasn't just me feeling like this. At the end I was a stronger person, I don't claim to be cured or feel 100%, but I do now know why I feel the way I do, and how to deal with it, that these feelings are OK, they are part of me, descended from my childhood and I can embrace them and listen to what they are saying. Pretending they are not there or trying to shut them out is not the answer.
So, what happened a couple of weeks ago?
My own thought is that a number of things conspired to come together. Saying goodbye to this colleague felt very similar to the scenario where I said to goodbye to my first love and maybe tripped a switch. For the little me inside, this person shows all the attributes little me is looking for, she's very caring, loving and warm, she ticks all the boxes of someone who would look after me and make everything OK. And now she has left.... and little me is distraught, this isn't how it's supposed to be. For little me, it was the unwritten, unconditional rule that she would always be there that had been broken and is so hard to accept.
I suppose it just shows how fickle our emotions are, I was really amazed about how powerful this recent event has struck me. When you least expect it they through your world upside down. I'm just glad I know why and that I now how the capabilities to care for myself, however hard it can seem.
It's felt a big relief to be able to write all this, I don't know if it makes much sense to anyone reading it, to be honest I don't mind if no one reads it, to me it's been an opportunity to get this off my mind and out in the open.