I’ve had a migraine all day; the kind of pounding, throbbing, ice pick through your eye headache that even prescription medication can’t touch. By 9:00 pm, eight hours after the onset of the worst of the pain, I can finally handle listening to a quiet voice and talking. I’ve been bored, laying in bed with a blanket and heated rice pack over my eyes, doing nothing but thinking. And thinking can be dangerous for me; I’ve been stuck in my own head for hours now, and some of those places have been quite scary. So when Hubby suggests that we do our workbook, I agree.
He reads the chapter to me. I usually find it hard to pay attention to people reading to me, but I’ve been bored enough all day that this is enough for me. Plus, I had read ahead and being familiar with the chapter made it easier to follow along to hubby reading.
The chapter is about our emotions, and what the author’s call defensive or secondary emotions. It’s a concept we are all familiar with in our lives. For me, the easiest example is when I am angry, I’m typically feeling hurt or vulnerable or scared underneath that. The worksheets were mostly about how a different reactions from your partner can cause different emotions, and those emotions can be different based on what we have learned in our past attachment relationships. They gave different examples ranging from when your partner calls your name in an angry voice to when they frown.
Surprisingly, for the most part, Hubby and I have the same responses to cues from our partner. The main difference is that while we both tend to have the same external response, my internal response tends to be about what I’ve done wrong, or should have done better, or how I’m never good enough, or whatever. His internal responses are much more neutral; in a way, Hubby seems to effortlessly practice the mindfulness that so many therapists are suggesting nowadays.
One part of the worksheet was to fill out what you are feeling in your body when you experience these emotions. Hubby was able to do this very well, but when it was my turn, I had nothing. He wanted to know why, but I really couldn’t explain it very well. I didn’t really want to talk about exactly how detached I am from my body or my emotions. I asked him to just let it go, and he did.
We ended up snuggling and talking quietly about our feelings. Hubby told me he worries that he is emotionally dead. He said that until he met me, no one had ever even thought to ask him how he felt about something; that having all emotions while growing up was allowed, it was just that they weren’t talked about. And he worries with his job that he needs to be emotionally detached, and that he brings that emotional detachment home.
“I think I’m emotionally dead sometimes,” he said.
I told him that I disagreed, that maybe speaking in the language of emotions wasn’t his first language, and didn’t always feel comfortable, but that he was far from emotionally dead. We talk about how he doesn’t like anything to upset his equilibrium and emotions can be messy.
We talk about how I go between overwhelming emotions or numbed emotions but really nothing in between. I don’t have a lot to say about it, except that is what therapy is for. Hubby laughs at that, and says okay.
I tell him I’m ready to be done and try to sleep or at least put a show on and listen to it. He says okay. I tell him that I had finished the worksheets from the last chapter, and hand them to him as he is getting ready to play his game. I’m amazed when he sets the controller down, and asks me if I want to talk about them. I tell him no, he can just read them. He says okay, but if I did want to, we could. I smile and give him a kiss, telling him to play his game.
I put Friends on, and listen to Ross and Rachel, Monica, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe play out the drama of their lives in the coffee shop while I try to fall asleep and forget about exactly how much I have just let Hubby in. It’s a scary thing to let someone close.