Yesterday as we walked down a mountain together, I talked to my partner about hard things.
We had watched Woody Allen’s Manhattan the night before. While he loves Woody Allen, I struggle with his movies. Having grown up on Disney princesses and Chick Flick romances, it’s hard for me to face the often hard truth that Allen portrays in his films. While I know real relationships are not like the movies, I feel a lot of pain when a movie portrays something too close to the truth. I turn to movies as an escape from reality, not a reflection of reality.
This is something my partner and I differ on greatly.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the movie during this hike we went on. Thinking on what about it, exactly, made me feel like someone was turning a knife in a fresh wound.
The movie spoke almost too nonchalantly about being unfaithful. It focused on two kind of love triangles that intersected. I knew I hated that, but I knew there was more to it.
At one point in the movie Diane Keaton’s character, Mary, talks about her ex husband.
Mary: My husband, well, my ex-husband had an affair when we were married.
Mary: Yeah. At least one that I know of. And I never mentioned anything because I felt that I was deficient in some way. That I was bad in bed, not bright enough, or physically unattractive.
And I think that was it. A suddenly saw a lot of myself in this character that I didn’t particularly like. It made me face things in myself that I chose to ignore before. You see, when my first relationship ended I thought it was entirely my fault. I thought if I just changed something about myself we would live happily ever after (ugh). And I’m honestly pretty ashamed of that. I’m even more ashamed to say that I still struggle with thinking that. Whenever my partner and I hit a hard point in our relationship, my first thought is almost always how can I change to make this better. I hate that I’m so quick to assume that there is something wrong with me. Even though I know many other people think this way too.
Anyways, as I explained this to him, I started crying. I always cry. But sometimes it’s not the most convenient. I apologized, as I always do, for crying. And we laughed about it together. And then I said something more profound than I realized, something along the lines of: it’s hard processing all these feelings that I’ve been ignoring for twenty six years.
You see, in the past I would have just shut the movie off the moment I felt uncomfortable. In the past I would have just zoned out at the first sign that something was upsetting me. In the past I would have turned to food to push down the feelings the way some people turn to drugs or alcohol. (This is not to say you should stop doing this, I’m just explaining my story)!
Basically, for a long time I ignored my feelings instead of processing them. Learning from them. Turning into them and into myself. Over the year, thanks in part to therapy but mostly thanks to my work in body acceptance, I have become very aware of my doing this. I have gotten to a point where when I feel something, I look at it with a magnifying glass to figure out what’s going on instead of running away from it. It’s not always easy. In fact it’s almost always really hard. Especially if the feelings are related to a relationship (be it with family, friend, or partner).
But this statement really made me think back to my post on Friday.
What if these antidepressants make it so that I can’t recognize these feelings any more. I know according to that therapist, this medication is supposed to lift the heavy cloud of hopelessness to open the doors for discussion in therapy. But what if I don’t actually have that cloud? What if what I’m scared of feeling is just these negative feelings that I’ve been ignoring for so long? What if when I mute those feelings down, even a little, I won’t be able to recognize them any more? Or maybe I’ll be able to ignore them more easily again. Is this truly what I want?
I’m not sure. This is probably something for me to discuss with a psychiatrist. Maybe I’ve grown enough that I can proceed with more awareness. This is certainly something for me to consider, to chew on, as I move ahead with my life. But as always, I just wanted to share my thoughts here in case they help someone else struggling with this same conundrum.