The Right To Feel
by Peter Hawes
Glass artist, small business owner, public speaker, writer, counselor, mental health worker, voice hearer Founder and president of Voices Inc Recovery for mental health.
As I sit here contemplating both suicide or self harming I am reminded of how far I have come.
For you see, I recognize these for what they are. They are feelings and emotions from both my past and present.
Would I act on them? No like any emotion they will pass.
Is there a valid reason to feel like this?
Fuck yes for I have been hurt in the past and had so much stuff happen that would make me feel this way.
People think that because I am this figure that does public speaking on recovery, that I never have a bad day.
Interesting theory, yet I am human and all humans have a bad day.
Do I still have trouble with my voices? The answer is no. I now have absolute control over them.
They all speak to me respectfully and are quite helpful.
See, for so long, I have suppressed my emotions and then my voices held a lot of the emotional pain to keep me safe.
I was taught by family, by the system, and also by life, that it was not ok for me to feel certain things.
In most cases it was just safer for me not to feel, for my emotions were so intense, I would have been destroyed if I let myself feel them.
Now after a lot of painfully hard work, I own my emotions and as intense as they can be sometimes, I now know that it's ok for me to feel them.
But if my work has taught me anything, it's that all emotions are good and there for a reason.
Anger, as a response to being hurt either physically or emotionally
Shame and guilt, as a response to something I have done, that I shouldn't have or something that has been done to me.
So while I sit here feeling these intense emotions for many reasons relating to past traumas all of which I am justified to feel, I know that this will pass and perhaps by writing this it is a way for me to occupy my time til these intense feelings pass.
It's quite interesting, actually, how my thoughts have turned to thoughts of acting, and through introspection, I can realize that my emotions are at a high, and thus my neo cortex has switched off and I am not thinking rationally.
You see, if you have ever done biology you would know the brain is divided into 3 parts.
Tri-une brain theory states that each part has built on top of the other over years of evolution.
We have the reptilian part that controls our basic needs to eat , drink and find shelter
Then we have the mammal part that is like a rat this part controls our sex drive and our fight or flight type responses
Then we have the neo cortex, the enlarged, spaghetti looking thing, that surrounds the other parts,
The neo- cortex controls our rational thinking, and is what defines us as humans.
Now, when an emotion gets to a high, the other two parts have the capacity to switch off our neo cortex as we enter our fight or flight type response.
The sad part is that in doing this we lose our rational thinking.
Everyone in the world would remember a time when they were in a fight with there loved one and said some stuff out of anger then later when you calmed down went back and apologized and said “I didn't mean what I said, I was just so angry I wasn't thinking clearly.”
Or maybe you have had that done to you?
The reason we say thing we wouldn't normally say is because our rational thinking shuts off and we enter an attacking mode fueled by our emotions, most of the time it's verbal attacking.
This is evident in all emotions, with different responses for different emotions. (It is worth noting that those diagnosed with mental illness, would have more suppressed emotions, and thus these responses would be at an extreme level. Thats how you got your diagnosis in the first place)
As I sit here feeling what I am feeling, I know that my neo cortex is switched off, and my thoughts are fueled by my emotions.
Recognizing this is a vital step, as now I am aware of why I am thinking of acting on these feelings and thoughts.
That in its self will prevent me from doing so.
My life is great, I know that, everything is going so well and this will pass .
It always does.
I remember the days when I was so out of touch with my emotions being almost scared of them, or the system telling me to ignore them as they are “just symptoms of my illness” and that advice just making things worse.
The voices yelled comments at me, reflecting how I felt at the time, and me, unaware and fueled by the fear of not understanding my experience, would act upon these feelings and do things that were not in my best interest such as self harming, attempting suicide and attacking people.
It's only through learning about my emotions, and also the voices and how they relate to them, that I was able to recognize that I had a right to feel like this and not to be afraid of it.
I also learnt that every emotion is appropriate.
While I sit here feeling all this, I also feel quite relieved that I am letting out some of my emotions that I suppressed in the past.
For I know that when this passes I will be carrying round less emotional baggage with me.
I think if we begin to understand, not just our experience, but also our right to feel what we feel and how to deal with it, be it hate, feeling suicidal, anger, or any of those emotions in which society deems as negative, along with our parents teaching us not to feel, then we can recognize them for what they are.
Normal human responses, appropriate for what we have been through.
We have all been through traumas of some sort and we have a right to feel the emotions we feel and the intensity that they are.
I have been raped, operated on 28 times, emotionally abused, physically abused, bullied, betrayed, hurt, unheard, lied to, manipulated and pushed to the point where I was nearly destroyed.
Do I not have the right to feel the magnitude of intense feelings I feel?
The answer is yes, I do!
It's only in feeling these intense emotions and letting them out, then we can begin to heal and move on.
Just remember guys, no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad you feel, you all have a right to feel it as only in feeling it and releasing it can we move on and rebuild our lives.
Remember that no matter how fucked up your feeling, this will pass.
It always does.
We are Survivors!
Stay tuned for my next article on emotional suppression and controlled release
A Sculptural panel I made one such night using glass and razor blades and then fused to for this piece which has been in two art exhibition already.