How do you know what’s genuine?

“You really connected with your anger just now. It seemed really authentic.”
“I don’t normally think of myself as an angry person.”
“What do you think of yourself as?”
“I’m more often sad. I think sadness is my racket emotion. I tend to turn anger into sadness, mostly subconsciously. I’m much more comfortable expressing sadness. I’m good at being sad.”
It seemed a weird thing to say, but she didn’t say so.

We got into a conversation about how I’m good at expressing an emotion I’m not actually feeling, particularly an emotion which I think the other person wants me to feel. If I think they’ll respond well to happiness, sadness, anger, vulnerability, strength, whatever – I try to show that.

Perhaps it’s easy for me because I dissociate so readily.

But then how am I meant to know what I’m actually feeling?

“I didn’t see any anger in you for the first few weeks,” my therapist notes. “Perhaps you feel more comfortable, that you can show that side?”
I just nodded and she continued.
“That’s good. This is a safe space where you can express any emotions without any judgement. None of them are wrong. They’re all okay.”
“That’s different to the real world. Certain emotions are less okay there. I’m not supposed to be angry. I’m supposed to hold it in.”

So I’m suppressing emotions. Notably anger that I didn’t know I was feeling. I vented and ranted for a while and then it disappeared suddenly. I felt my body change as the emotion disappeared. It felt real, powerful. Then… what am I feeling the rest of the time? If I actually let myself connect to what I really felt, would I even be able to control it?


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