Our Next One Month Travel trip
In three weeks we leave on another trip. This time it’s to Belgium with a two day stop in Istanbul. I’m excited about the trip but I’m also anxious. The reservations are made. There are just a few more details to handle. It ought to be a time for pleasant anticipation as we prepare for an adventure Instead I am anguishing over details and second guessing four readiness for the trip. It won’t stop until our bags are checked at the airport. Until then I can mange the emotions but not eliminate them. Even though I can justify everything in our plan, deep within me there are big questions about the trip. They center on the expense but there is a deeper thread which is much more difficult to dismiss. Something inside me insists emphatically that I don’t deserve to go. I haven’t earned it.
I’m good at rationalizing decisions and explaining away objections. I can counter each one. I can explain that yes we can afford the trip. I can show how responsible and frugal we are in our retirement lifestyle. I can tell myself that after 50 years working and raising a family, we deserve to indulge ourselves just a little. But it doesn’t really help. The nagging is relentless and I’m not persuading myself. Each doubt and criticism I address is replaced by another. Each point I make is challenged again and again.
My conscience says I’m cheating.
I am taking pleasure and indulging myself before earning the right. I’m not good enough. I haven’t paid my dues. On an intellectual level I can dismiss these criticisms easily. But these doubts don’t respond to intellect. I have spent my life managing emotion only to find that, in the end, emotion is managing me.
This conflict is not new. I have struggled all my life making important decisions and taking what I want. Sometimes I did what I wanted. More often I deferred- waiting until I could measure up. I rationalized about my agony, saying that it was constructive dialogue to ensure making a good decision. I even felt good in denying myself pleasure because I believed that it made me stronger and better in the long run. I can see now that it did not. It only reinforced the belief in my inadequacy. It kept me from pleasures- small and large- that I could have enjoyed without getting anything in return.
I don’t know what triggered this attack. I understand that the relentless criticism is at least a part of the reason that I distrust and try to stifle emotion. What I don’t understand is why I have this self-destructive force within me and what I can do about it. I built my life on reason and intellect. I deluded myself that better understanding would help me overcome self-doubt and criticism. I am still waiting for that to happen.
Recently I have been challenged to question the role of emotion in my life. Instead of dismissing and managing emotion should I embrace it? Reason and analysis have been my life management tools through life. My accomplishments have been good but I know they fall short of my potential and my goals. I have kept emotion on the sidelines thinking that by keeping it in control, I was making my life better and less painful. Emotion is built into the human experience. What do I miss by suppressing it? Is there a possibility that emotion could move me to my goals more quickly? It is hard to believe.
Emotion is painful
I have years of experience that convinces me that emotion only brings pain and anguish. Emotion is a powerful and malicious monster.. It is unpredictable and terrifying. Finally it is unmanageable. I don’t expect any good from it and yet it won’t go away. Can I actually open up the box where I have trapped it and let it loose without my world falling apart? I don’t know.
This post veered away from the initial issue. Somehow my fixation on controlling emotion seems connected but I don’t know enough to see how recognizing emotion can help me act with more resolve and confidence and get more pleasure from my accomplishments. I do know that I would like that if I can avoid the pain that emotion has always brought me.