Tonight I’m feeling useless. It’s a feeling I have all too often, and one that I know is wrong. I’m not useless. I’m actually quite helpful. But all those days of productivity and help don’t always matter. Sometimes you feel useless even when you’re not.
I was talking to someone the other day about feelings, and they said feelings don’t lie. I disagree, I find my feelings lying to me all the time. It’s like the dog that was trained to expect food any time he heard a bell. His mouth would water even if there was no food. My brain does that to me. Sometimes everything will be going perfectly fine but inside I feel like something bad is about to happen. My anxiety gets the better of me, tells me to run, hide, escape. But I’m just sitting in a theater watching a movie and nothings wrong.
I’ve had people tell me that those feelings are valid. That doesn’t help me. In fact that makes the problem worse.
If I validate that feeling of anxiety and say it is normal and natural I am less likely to confront it and try to move past it. I want to be able to go into theaters, concerts, conventions and other places crowded with people without having an anxiety attack. I will never be able to do that if I say my feelings are valid.
Instead I tell myself the truth. My feelings are lying to me. What they are saying has nothing to do with reality. I am safe. I am confident. I am going to be okay. And I’ve even begun to accept this truth.
It’s taken years but just this February I was able to speak on panels at a convention, and I only wanted to run away once. That was an accomplishment. I never would have gotten this far if I had been telling myself my feelings were valid.
When I went to the doctors office the other day they drew my blood, and I have a huge phobia of needles. There is nothing logical about my phobia but I found myself shrinking away, and on the edge of tears because of a normal thing many people do every day. The nurse started telling me my feelings were valid and it started making the fear worse.
I wanted to tell her she was wrong. My fear wasn’t valid. A phobia isn’t usually based on something that can hurt you. The needle doesn’t hurt that much, and because I tense up so much because of the fear it even makes it hurt worse. My fear is causing more problems than it helps.
But I guess this is the new psychology today? Everyone’s feelings are valid? What if I feel deep hatred for a person just because of x, y or z? Is that valid? What if I’m afraid of a big burly man just because he’s a man?
Maybe our feelings should be examined. Maybe we should find out what is causing the feeling, like that bell making the dogs mouth water, instead of just giving into the feelings. Maybe sometimes they are wrong.
I know years ago I use to feel so lost and alone that I wanted to die. I would sit in the bathtub praying that I could just die because living hurt so much. Was that valid? I don’t think so. I think depression is a lying bastard and if someone had said to me “your feelings are valid” I might have done something worse.
Your feelings are how you feel, but that doesn’t mean they are the truth. Your feelings are based on partial information, part experiences, hormones, memories, and so many other things. And sometimes your feelings get muddled up in all the hurts and abuses you’ve had that they can’t see the truth; you are loved, you are wanted, you are helpful, and you will be missed.
Depression is a lying bastard. Yes, your feelings are there, but they aren’t always right. Try to find out why you feel that way. That might be the start of healing. It was for me.