teaching my emotions

This morning I began, once again, to ask ‘Where is Mom?’ I pictured Dad as the person asking where Mom was. My response has to be, ‘She’s over at the barn,’ ‘She went to Laura’s,’ ‘She’s over at the Greens,’ ‘She went to the store,’ ‘She’s down in the basement,’ or something. Those answers triggered neutral emotions.

I started to do that routine, and one of the voices immediately answered, ‘Dead,’ but the whole point of what I’m doing is to give the *other* answers and trigger whatever emotions come from them.

The other incorrect answers trigger feelings that I need to teach. I need to teach them that they are incorrect. The only way to teach that is to experience them and believe them as though they are true, only to discover, to my disappointment, that they are not true. You can’t do that by just answering the question right away with the truth. You have to get your hopes up by believing something that is wrong, only to find out that it doesn’t happen.

So, I answered, ‘She’s at the barn.’ I tried to make myself *believe* she was at the barn. Imagine how hopeful and excited I would be! I said, ‘I drove all the way from Pennsylvania. It’s been so long since I saw Mom! She’s taking so long over at the barn!’ I was irritated with her for taking so long at the barn whenever I had just driven many hours from PA after going over a year without being able to visit, due to my own pathetically failed life. Hurry up over at the barn! Nicole just got here! If that happened, I would just go over to the barn myself and meet her.

But instead of feeling hopeful and excited, I started to cry.

You have to do this process a couple of times in a couple of different ways. You have to usually feel one particular emotion under normal circumstances, but then realize, in this situation, it’s no longer true and you have to feel a different emotion – disappointment, sadness, heartbreak. I was so hoping I’d get to see her again! It’s been forever since I saw Mom! I took time off work to come down here! The only way to do this is to *really try* to believe something which is false – Mom is only over at the barn. Mom is at the store and she’ll be home in half an hour. That’s why I haven’t seen her in a little while.

When I go back to State College, Mom will be more of a ‘home base’ which always exists in the background – when all else fails, I can call Mom on the phone. I can call and ask about what’s going on at home. I can hear her voice. I know that it’s possible for me to get in a car and go down there and I can look forward to seeing her again because I miss her and it’s been so long. I can look forward to meeting new neighbors and new friends that she’s gotten to know.

‘Looking forward to’ is an emotion, anticipation. I have to *feel* that emotion, I have to believe it is real. Make me get my hopes up. Make me truly believe that something nice is about to happen.

Whenever the emotions get processed as they should, this will trigger a little bit of the wrong emotion, followed by crying or some other emotion that you normally wouldn’t feel. I got my hopes up but I was disappointed, I forgot, I’m not gonna see Mom when I go down there to visit. I was all ready to call her on the phone and tell her something, and hear her voice, but I can only talk to Dad, and I love Dad too, but I really was hoping to talk to Mom. I was just gonna ask how things are going down there and what’s going on.

In the last few years, in the last decade or so, she got to know some new children of the neighbors, and she loved them and they made her happy. It was like having some more grandchildren. She got to show them the horses and interact with them. I loved hearing about that. It made me happy to know that she had something new that she enjoyed in her life. I wanted to give her grandchildren, but couldn’t, because of the disasters of my life.

I wanted to hear Mom’s side of the story when I called on the phone. Dad’s side of the story was always interesting too, and I often got his story through a periodic email that he sends out to everyone, which is like a little blog.

Oh, I remembered what I was going to say about this process. It happened in the movie ‘What Dreams May Come.’ Robin Williams was interacting with Annie, the wife who was left behind. He was talking to her, telling her he’s still here, he’s still with her, he isn’t gonna leave her. Instead of triggering the warmth and love this would normally trigger, it triggered agony, and she began to wail and sob. That’s when he knew it was time for him to walk away and stop hurting her.

I have to do that same process internally.

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