My brain likes to chew on things. I often find myself going over and over something that I said or did. Something that I’m not sure, on reflection, was done correctly or well or with the proper emotion. I can shut the chewing down for a while, but there’s a tendency for my mind to sink back into those thought patterns, rehashing the past over and over again until I’ve convinced myself that I took the worst of all possible paths in my interaction. 

That’s a monster. 

A voice popping up and criticizing my actions of the past. Nagging me to be better, to be more, to be perfect. An expectant weight of emotion. Inflicting suffering on myself mentally, but to what purpose? Is it like picking at a scab, only in my mind instead of on my skin? 

I don’t think I’m the only person to do this, but it’s not something that gets talked about a lot. 

My monster is an isolationist. It doesn’t occur to the monster to push any of these feelings out and inflict punishment onto other people. Maybe that’s a function of it being my monster. A function of who I am as a person. I’m not one to lash out, not very often. I more often lash in, punishing myself for perceived faults. 

I punish myself when I’m angry. I’ve read the phrase that anger turned inwards is depression, but I’m not sure if I quite agree with it anymore. I’m not depressed, and I doubt that I ever medically have been. I’ve just had lots of emotions, BIG emotions to deal with. And, over the years, I’ve dealt with these big feelings in various ways, some better than others. 

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I had been better as a child at suppressing my emotions. Would I have been better off? I would have been yelled at less, because I would have cried less… But I wouldn’t have learned how to process those big feelings by avoiding them. I mean, I’m no expert at processing them now, but I have strategies. 

Like, I know that I get irritable when I’m hungry. I fully embrace the term hangry, because I’ve felt it in my bones when backpacking. Knowing that, I can acknowledge that the emotion is coming from a physical need, and isn’t a response to the situation that I’m currently in, or the person I’m currently with. Same thing if I’m frustrated or upset; I try to recognize what the cause is instead of either punishing myself or, on occasion, lashing out. 

It takes time to develop that sense of recognition. Time and self awareness. I’ve been trying to more fully develop my self awareness as I’ve dealt with the IBS diagnosis. After all, if a physical need can turn into an emotional state (hunger leading to hangriness), then surely an emotional need can turn into a physical state. Our bodies and minds are intertwined. So by being more aware of my emotions and what I’m doing with them, I might be able to reduce the impact of my emotions on my body. 

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