Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest from the trees. Sometimes its hard to see how much you can bring your self down. Recently, my life has been turned upside down. I lost someone close to me and the world became a dark place.
Repression is a common reaction to traumatic events. People repress all sorts of things, violence, trauma and loss. To repress is to be able to move on – quickly. The side effects are often just as bad; repression invites long term suffering and inner turmoil. Typically, the common solution to repression is to be open to dealing with the emotions as they come. By deal with your emotions as they evolve, you have no need to repress. Its seems like a simple solution – until you have to go through it.
Problems arise when you allow yourself to immerse yourself in the emotions. This is what happened to me. In order to work my way toward healing I opened myself up for the emotional ride. I decided that the long term benefit of not repressing far out weighed the social concerns of functioning ‘normally.’ I let my self go. Exploring painful emotional memories really can bring you down. The problem was that I had no means to pull my self back up. Gradually, I just began to stay lower and lower. My frame of reference of what normal emotional levels were.
I have to tell you that sinking lower and lower was bad. It really did nothing for my overall outlook. However, more critically, I began to accept this low in my emotional state as the norm. I reset frame of emotional reference to this lower – and miserable- point.
This is not as uncommon as I thought. It happens all the time with drug users. New users find that each subsequent high is never as good as the last. Further, each period of coming down is longer and more severe. When they return to homeostasis, it is lower then when they began. To compensate users have to take more of the drug and the process becomes a viscous downward spiral.
In my case, my body and mind adjusted its sense of normal to fit with my most consistent emotional state. Our bodies are really talented when it comes to things like this. However, this did little for my overall happiness. It was not until I got out of this cycle that I could even see what was happening. I could not see the forest from the trees.
I don’t want to suggest in this article that repression was a better solution for me. No. I just want to make it clear that exploring any emotional difficulties should be done so with great care. I recommend finding someone who can act as a touchstone for you. That is someone who can show you the forest anytime you need to see it.