How do we “untangle” when feelings seem to react & stimulate each other?
“I am often furious, very ashamed of it and avoid telling people about it because it has gone on for a long time. I do try Focusing but it only helps momentarily. I can find a kind inner voice for a bit but again it doesn’t last. I know these things do keep coming back and I need to be patient.
“The fury is, on the surface, with my husband not clearing up after himself in so many ways, and I feel like a disrespected drudge. He’s also very anxious, and I feel I have to make it all right for him. It goes back to my mother’s anxiety about me having a disability and me believing it was my fault, never talked about.”
I’m so sorry things are hard for you and you’re having a hard time finding help with it, or a way to be with it.
It sounds like you have the kind of situation that Barbara McGavin and I would call (in the Treasure Maps to the Soul work) a “Tangle.” It’s a situation that affects your whole life, where there are a number of strong emotions and parts of you reacting to other parts of you, and there’s no clear way out. In fact you have tried a lot — even Focusing — without getting free of it.
So let’s start by pausing.
Find a space and a time when you can be alone and quiet, without interruption, and give that time to yourself. Be comfortable. Maybe have a notebook with you. This is your pause.
Once you get there, you are going to acknowledge all the different parts of you that are warring inside you, like this:
“I’m sensing something in me that ____________________________.”
“I’m sensing something in me that is furious at my husband.”
“I’m sensing something in me that is ashamed about being furious.”
Then take those sentences inside and just check if the words get how it is.
Maybe you’ll get, “No, it’s not ashamed at being furious, it’s ashamed at having a problem that hasn’t changed in so long.” Just let the words change until they feel right. Your job is to be the listener, to really listen closely to yourself and sense what fits, what gets it just right.
When the words fit exactly, even if they seem awful, you will get a deeper breath.
You are Self-in-Presence; you are the space that holds it all.
When you can acknowledge each of these parts of you, YOU get bigger. YOU are the space that can hold it all.
You said you sometimes find a kind inner voice for a bit but it doesn’t last. BE the kind inner voice. And if you can’t be kind, that’s OK. You can work up to kindness. Start with simply being able to say hello.
This will not be easy.
In a Tangle, so many inner parts are reacting to each other that it’s really hard to be neutral. One part is furious, another is ashamed. One part is yearning to change, another part is tired of it all. It will probably take some time just to acknowledge it all.
Your body can help you. As you acknowledge each part of you, notice how it feels in your body. Let a gentle hand go to the place where you’re feeling that.
Now be the listener. You said that the fury is “on the surface” with your husband. That shows you are already sensing there is more to it, underneath. You can acknowledge both the surface and the underneath. That place in you is not wanting to be disrespected. Let it know you hear that…and keep listening for the “more” that it doesn’t want for you.
Fury, anger, comes from a deep knowing that how it is, is not right. You might want to make a space to honor what you deeply know. In the space of Self-in-Presence, that honoring is more likely to happen.