I am worried that I don’t feel different today.
It seems like I should be more relaxed and content. I got to spend a long weekend with my son and my new daughter-in-law. They drove over 6 hours to be here for the Memorial Day holiday. And we hosted a bonfire on Saturday with several family members from the surrounding area joining us.
We grilled, made smores, and then at dusk, had fireworks.
My brother and I played corn hole and I squeaked out a win. The weather was comfortable, and the bugs behaved themselves. Overall, it was a great evening. And even though I had to work Sunday, we found the time that night to play games and visit. Monday, we visited a local historical site before the kids left to drive home.
And so here I am again, doing the same thing in the same way and getting the same results.
I must be missing something. The residual spray from the weekend should still be washing over me, giving me a sense of calm. Or perhaps some leftover joy. Joy would be nice. I see so little joy these days.
Joy and I used to be on a first-name basis, but not recently.
Joy and I have lost touch. You know, it’s like the friend who moves away saying, “we’ll write, you will come to see me and I, you.” And even though the long-distance friendship starts with the best of intentions, I have only had it stick once. And this “sticking” took over 15 years to take hold.
So, I see joy occasionally, and it sometimes brings its cousin happiness.
Suddenly, I am reminded of the change triangle. The question becomes, “where am I on the change triangle?” What am I feeling and then what am I avoiding?
When I am visiting with joy, I have dropped to the bottom of the triangle and am one step from my authentic self. Being in an openhearted state, I am allowed to be calm, curious, connected, compassionate, confident, courageous, and clear.
Being with joy, I am experiencing a core emotion.
The core emotions based on the change triangle are fear, anger, grief, excitement, disgust, and sexual excitement. Spending time with joy and excitement is not a daily event for me. In fact, I can go days or weeks without seeing either one. But this past weekend, I got to spend time with both.
More often, I am at the top of the triangle over on the corner of the defense.
I invest much of my daily energy in avoiding feelings or even being aware of feelings. This is very exhausting, but it keeps me from “getting to the bottom” of what is really going on.
Conversely, I am not spending much time with fear, anger, or grief these days.
But once again, that is because I am spending my time in the defensive section of the triangle. Having pushed away my therapist who was able to help me see exactly where I am on the triangle, I am applying what I remember of his teachings.
In my eyes, it looks like I pushed him away as a defense against experiencing core emotions.
And I did more than push him away, I just stopped returning his emails after blowing off an evening Zoom session. Is ghosting still a thing? And knowing I did that to anyone who gets too close puts me over on the top right of the triangle.
Now I am feeling guilty for my actions, for distancing myself from anyone who depression feels is getting too close.
I had a feeling my depression was in there somewhere, just waiting for the chance to insert itself between me and my core emotions. My depression lives exclusively on the top of the triangle. It is the expert in defenses. Avoidance could be its middle name. And then there are the big three inhibitory emotions, anxiety, shame, and guilt.
Depression could author a book filled with all the ways it has had me experience inhibitory emotions.
You see, my depression never specifically tells me to do something, or that something is not good for me. My depression plants seeds and makes hints and suggestions. In the end, its goal is to make whatever it is working on seem like it’s my idea. If I don’t buy into the plan, it will never succeed. Depression is smart enough to realize that it must work behind the scenes to achieve its goal.
Dragging me into the abyss is often the goal of my depression, putting me back in the top left corner of the triangle.
From there, I am focused on avoiding anything even mildly associated with feelings. It gets me up against the wall, where nothing penetrates it. There are no emotions, no light at the end of the tunnel, and no discernable way forward. Just me, myself, and I. And while I know my depression is there too, it never actually shows itself.
But my depression’s actions give it away.
Depression will be with me until I finally take steps away from the defensive part of the change triangle. When things start to break free, depression takes its cue and retreats also. This is convenient because depression then doesn’t have to pay the bill or stick around to help clean up the mess it made of my life.
So once again, the holiday is over, and I am starting from the top left corner of the change triangle.
Well, I have been here before and I know the usual occupants. I will take my shoes off and stay awhile. Something will get me moving towards core emotions again.