Officially, my last day at work will be 8 days from today. I have 5 more work days until I set off to become a broke college student. At least 3 of those days will be half days and it is quite likely that I won’t even have to come in on the last day. I have roughly 40 hours left at the organization where I have been employed for over the last 3 years (the longest I have ever been employed at any one place).
I’ve been busy getting files transferred over to my co-workers, finishing up a few projects (including one that I’ve been trying to finish for 3 years now) and helping to get everything ready for the meeting which I thought would be my last (instead, I have been granted an early pardon, so I will be departing the organization at the same time they’re departing for Florida).
Oh, and ignoring my feelings.
I know they’re there. Consciously, I can identify at least a dozen emotions associated with this transition – excitement, fear, relief, sadness, joy, frustration, etc. It’s really a mixed bag. The acknowledgement of these emotions is purely academic, though, because I am all stoic inside. I am completely numb to all of these conflicting emotions right about now.
I can’t feel them, but I can see them. I see them in my behavior elsewhere. Though I’ve been in recovery for a few years now, I’m still an alcoholic and I still have a hard time processing my feelings. When I am confronted with big emotions, I am either overwhelmed by them (like how I have ALWAYS cried whenever I’ve gotten angry or frustrated – it’s hard be taken seriously when you’re bawling) or I just pretend they’re not there (“Oh, so my dude is screwing around on me? Eh, I always knew he was a tool”). I never know which extreme I’m going to get, but rarely have I had an appropriate reaction to a feeling. It’s always either no big deal or the end of the world with me.
The over-reactions are so much easier to handle. Yes, it can be embarrassing to turn bright red from the rising blood pressure of fear or anger or to break down in tears at any sort of confrontation. Those things are generally short-lived, though, and I can always remove myself from any given situation and come back to it when I’m more composed.
The numbing out feels so much better in the short term, but oh, it causes so many problems in the most unlikely places… and it generally goes on for a much longer time.
All alcoholics are experts at numbing out. We drank primarily to avoid our emotions. Boss riding your ass at work? Let’s get trashed so we won’t have to think about how frustrated and powerless this makes us feel. Have to go to a social function? Let’s get blotto so we won’t have to feel uncomfortable and out-of-place. In recovery, we strip away the drink or the drug, face the emotions and find
better ways to deal with them ways to actually deal with them. The desire to numb out is so ingrained in us, though, that we instinctively fall back into the habit long after we’ve stopped drinking.
Just because we decide, either consciously or unconsciously, to ignore our feelings doesn’t make them go away, though. Unless we actively work to deal with our emotions head-on, they will sink down under our skin and begin manipulating us like some sort of sadistic marionette. We see this easily with our over-reactions because our inadvertent acts occur immediately in response to the stimuli. It’s more difficult to see how we are controlled by our emotions when we are ignoring them because our inadvertent acts are delayed and come out in response to innocuous stimuli. I call it cross-pollination.
Alcoholics aren’t the only ones subject to the horrors of cross-pollination. We all know how it goes: Man gets bawled out at work, comes home & snaps at his wife who then yells at the kid who takes it out on the poor dog. If the man had dealt with his emotions regarding his confrontation with the boss instead of stuffing them away, then he could’ve been clear-headed by the time he got home from work and the poor dog would still be happy.
I doubt that any of us will ever be completely free of this sort of behavior, but we can learn to recognize it and head it off somewhat. In a situation like I’m facing right now, the emotions aren’t going to go away overnight. I am in a transition stage which means I’m kind of floating around for the time being. I am constantly confronted by 6 different contradictory emotions all at once. There is no way that I can consciously address every single one of them before I have to deal with something or someone. The best I can do is just acknowledge that my feelings at any given time aren’t necessarily in response to the current stimuli and ask God to direct my thoughts and actions so that I can act accordingly instead of reacting blindly.
40 more hours.