Name That Feeling
In the entry titled “Believe your bank balance” I detailed my struggle with thoughts that usually lead to me going gambling and I came up with a thought that was extremely effective for me at combating those gambling thoughts. I turned the new thought into a sign, printed it out and stuck it on the back of my front door. It reads “STOP GAMBLING – According to the bank you have NEVER won!”
That thought always brings up the image of my last bank statement and the feeling of dismay and shock as I realised just how broke I am. It is always followed by the amount I worked out would be in my bank account right now if I had not lost it all gambling. I believe that statement a lot more than I believe the thoughts that accompany me when I go gambling.
The new thought has been so powerful, so effective, I have not seriously considered going gambling since I printed it out and put it on my door.
It has not, however, stopped me from feeling the things I realised tonight are what always trigger thoughts of gambling in the first place. Not being able to think the thoughts, not even having to fight them this time, is leaving me with uncomfortable feelings and no way to cope with them.
I ate, I watched TV, I played the computer, I talked to my brother online, I tried writing but bit by bit my discomfort level rose. As my discomfort level rose my interest in doing any of the things I usually do dropped and thoughts of gambling began to intrude. This time they didn’t linger or keep coming back because the sign on my door was knocking them on the head almost as soon as they entered my mind.
I grew more and more uncomfortable and more and more distressed. I became irritable and it got really hard to bear so, in a last ditch effort to cope, I shut everything down and went to bed hoping I would be able to find solace in sleep.
As I lay there I remembered the advice of one of my therapists. She asked me to focus on the messages from my body – what position was it taking, how was it feeling, what was it doing and so on. She instructed me to look at each thing my body was doing and try to name what thought or feeling was triggering the bodily reaction. She said if pain arose I was to let it come, feel it, then wait for it to wash over me and subside.
I decided to try this exercise since sleep was not coming thanks to my restlessness.
I paid attention to my body and realised my jaw was tensed and I was having trouble keeping still. It dawned on me that my body was resisting something. It was trying to get away from something but what?
I made a conscious effort to relax my jaw, keep my body still and let whatever it was I was fighting off come. As soon as I dropped my defenses my mind was just filled with thoughts and they triggered feelings that were really hard to bear.
The images I found on the internet last night flooded into my mind. Last night I found out the man I have wanted since 1999 and have not seen since 2000 is still alive. Not only is he still alive – he and his band reformed for a one-off show and I never knew. He performed just a few months ago and I wasn’t there! There were pictures of the concert online. Last night I saw him for the first time in seven years and I’m not even going to try and describe what that did to me.
The site that contained the information is selling some CD’s. The owner of the site is a member of his old band. I ordered the CD’s and, somewhere deep inside, I hoped the site owner would somehow reconnect me with my unrequited love. He did not, of course, he just told me how much the CD’s would cost.
As I lay there with the image of how he looks now fresh in my mind the feelings came. I was flooded with a sense of loss and an aching emptiness that was so hard to bear I wanted to jump up and do something, anything, just to make the pain stop.
I resisted the urge to do something to escape the feelings and trusted my therapist – she told me it would pass if I just waited and let it wash over me. She was right. It did pass and when it was over I was able to sleep.
I wonder how many of my gambling sessions happened because I was not willing to face up to how much it hurts sometimes to be without him?
I wonder if I would be over him by now if I had not been so determined not to let myself be grief-stricken over the loss of someone I never got closer than a kiss on the cheek to? My feelings for him make no sense so I have consistently refused to let myself feel them and here I am – seven years later – still fighting them off!