For nearly a year now, I’ve been dealing internally with the fallout from three very painful relationships that were lost or never materialized or whatever. I’ve been in a vicious cycle (of deceit) that consists of the following emotional intervals: Animosity, Empathy, Resentment, Self-doubt, Withdrawal, and Sadness. It’s taxing and it’s draining, but it can be life changing if you are willing to look inwardly.
Many people go through this type of struggle and easily move on to permanent liberation from it. That’s awesome if you are wired in a way that you can achieve such an awesome escape. I sincerely applaud you and I’m even a bit envious. If “just move on” or “just get over it” is your mantra, then that is WONDERFUL. That means you don’t have to deal with the same vicious cycles that many of us do, however if your sentiment is that EVERYONE should be able to just move on or just get over something, then you are living in a detached reality. Our reality doesn’t work that way.
I’m writing this in an effort to exude my feelings that are consistently suppressed behind my inability to accurately express and explain them. I don’t want to hold onto things. Inability to expunge negative feelings from my mind (and even my heart) is not something I desire. I envy my wife because she can quickly let things go, but I also understand that we are all different and as one trait causes us to struggle another helps us to thrive. Perhaps it’s the relationship between defects and virtues, but that’s another discussion for another day.
I’ll refer throughout this post to “my current situation”. By that, I’m referring to the current challenge I’ve been dealing with internally for quite some time.
The amount of time I spend in each interval of the cycle varies, not only as the intervals relate to one another, but also from iteration to iteration.
I’m going to start with animosity because of all the emotions in this cycle, it’s the one that I like the least and fear the most. You can define it as “strong hostility”. Wow, those are two very powerful words. What this looks like in my current situation is, “I can’t believe someone could treat me that way. How dare they? What did I do to deserve such ugliness, such disdain and disrespect. Animosity, like most negative emotions, has tunnel vision. It only focuses on self. It doesn’t consider the other person or their past, pain, or experiences. Luckily for me, in my current situation, I’m in and out of this emotion very quickly and on to the next, more desirable emotion, empathy.
Growing up, I never heard the word “empathy”. I saw a lot of anger and resentment, but not much empathy. Empathy can be described as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is a positive emotion. You have to be deliberate with it and most of all, you have to humble. There is no empathy without humility. In my current situation this emotion is strong and keeps everything in perspective. It allows me to consider the other person and even make decisions that often put me at a disadvantage. Empathy is a strong emotion, strong enough to carry other emotions like resentment.
I know what you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t resentment and animosity the same thing?” At a high level they are similar yes, however I believe that animosity comes first and can ultimately result in resentment. Resentment then spends a lot of time reflecting upon its subject. Where animosity feels more like anger, resentment feels more like regret (in a general sense toward a specific subject). In my current situation, it’s a replaying in my mind of the highlights of the conflict as they relate to the disadvantages I feel I was up against. It’s regretting my actions, their actions, the circumstance, and the feelings then, now, and in the future. In this cycle, resentment speaks loudly and always bounces back to me, causing the next emotion, self-doubt.
Perhaps the most internal negative emotion in this cycle, self-doubt says, “You have no worth. You are just an ant among seven billion other ants. This other person thought so little of you, that they did [hurtful action]. It is the most debilitating emotion in my current situation. It betrays me. It demotivates me. It hurts me. It makes me feel no more worthy than the dirt we walk on. It manifests itself in my outer-world through things like, “I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror, so I’m going to completely change my look, grow a long beard and long hair etc.” Now you understand why my look changes so often. Naturally, self-doubt pushes me further and further into my mind and subsequently into the next point in this cycle, withdrawal.
Fully propelled by self-doubt, along with a clear avenue paved by my introverted nature, I withdraw from the outside world. In my current situation this looks and feels really dark. It involves me spending a lot of time by myself, working, eating, and exercising by myself, not speaking or making much eye contact with people, and disconnecting greatly from people and the sensory world. Withdrawal naturally confuses my intuition because I start collecting too much data from within my own mind and not from actual things in the physical world. It can lead to overthinking and ultimately lands me at the final emotion in the cycle, sadness.
Unlike some of the other negative emotions in this cycle, which are mostly supported by empathy, for me sadness isn’t really a negative emotion at all. It’s a soothing, relaxing emotion that bursts with creativity and supplements my empathy. It’s powerful and serves as a release of all the other negative emotions. If empathy supports the barrel (of negativity and pain), then sadness is the release valve that allows the negativity and pain to flow out (of the barrel). I don’t mind sadness and I view it differently than most people do, but I understand that a balance between sadness and happiness is important. In this cycle, as the sadness begins to run thin, and I begin to return to the sensory world, and perhaps reality, the animosity begins to creep back in and there you have this cycle of deceit.
Most often I don’t understand my feelings, however being the introspective person that I am, if I take the time and look inwardly, the riddle can be solved and I think it’s important to try to solve it. I know it’s not going to fix my current situation, but hopefully it’s going to eliminate a lot of confusion that I feel within myself.
The more we know about ourselves, the better we can be for everyone else.