emotional reactivity

Emotional reactivity

In Psychology by Ivory MagazineLeave a Comment

It’s hard to explain the effects of sexual and emotional abuse. For me, the most frightening part is the reactivity I have to the emotional wounds that they left.

It comes as a sudden, sharp blow right through my heart centre, so powerful and shocking the first urge is to be sick, the second is a rush of blood to the head as my mind tries to make sense of what just happened.

These wounds are too frightening to share so instead they fester. All the blades of hurt received over a lifetime, maybe more, plunge through my chest in a cacophony of pain. Now it’s one big, giant electric wound and it really fucking hurts.

I’ve been stood up. Is he lying? Is he like all the others? Then the paranoia. Is he seeing someone else? Is his business, his friends, his life more important than me? Am I worthy of his love?

And then the real question I’m left with… Why do I keep giving up on my own life, my own time, my worth, simply to heal the past. Why can’t I just love myself instead?

I’m dreading the day he sees my wounds in all their glory. When I send him abuse like all the others, via text of course, and if I’m really pushed then over the phone but never, ever in person.

All alone with a screen, it’s safer to direct the rage inwards and the quickest way to do this is to destroy what caused me happiness and what has just been threatened. Love. If it’s blazing into ruins I might as well fan the flames because hurting myself physically would be too easy. Instead I want to burn.

This fear and pain and anger combined is why emotional wounds are so dangerous. The switch in your mental process as soon as they have struck is nothing less than psychosis. It’s terrifying and destructive.

The pain usually reaches me via text. It’s social media, writing and snapchat which enables the daggers to fly. I don’t think it’s coincidence that mental health problems are worse today.

I would send hateful texts, curled up smoking cigarettes on the floor, hardly able to breathe, unable to eat. Obsessed. My mind couldn’t let go and the thoughts wouldn’t stop circling.

Just me and that cold, hard screen, texting and reacting to things that may have been a joke, or may not, but in person at least could have been discussed rationally with human touch.

Today, the wounds are just as strong despite the healing I have done, but they pass quickly and soon make sense for what they are. And for the first time ever I understand them. I can see it for what it is, for the big, messy, agonising injury it is.

Before I understood my wounds I detested them. I detested myself for having them more than I detested those who helped create them. This makes the whole process incredibly toxic.

But when you’ve been through painful emotional experiences, when you’ve been cheated on, lied to, raped, or any other form of abuse, the pain never truly disappears. You have no control over what you feel. What you do have complete control of is how you react to it.

The first thing I do is turn off my phone.

The safest thing in those moments of chaos is to get away from technology. Cry and release the physical emotions from the wound. Do something to calm down, distract and take care of yourself, have a bath, read a book, watch a film.

Often when these daggers arrive they’re a warning sign. That I’m getting in too deep, that I’m falling for someone I shouldn’t. That I need to take a step back and refocus on myself. Stop myself from falling too quickly to a point I can’t handle.

I suppose these wounds are a gift. Just a very painful and debilitating one, but perhaps that’s what it takes to stop me from losing myself again.

Stay focused. Stay focused on you. You are important. You are loved. Don’t let fantasy destroy all you have been trying to create. Don’t let the feelings of worthlessness and fear drive your decisions. Come back into the now and remember who you really are.

By Marianne DeVal

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Ivory MagazineEmotional reactivity

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