My first “grown up” romantic relationship was with a lovely German girl I met the day I arrived at my Army post in the village of Treysa, West Germany. She was smart and funny and sexy, and we were together for something like four years. She was a good girl friend.
I was a good boyfriend too. Mostly.
I’ve been remembering certain things the past few days, as I’ve dealt with the after-effects of my electroshock therapy, tossed around like a cork on a sea of emotion churning, chaotic, and deep.
Then, I was young and passionate and immature. I had some anger issues. I lacked a certain measure of self control. I know this sounds like I’m about to launch into some darkly revelatory reminiscence, but the truth is (mostly) a lot goofier than that.
I’d get pissed off, usually for no real reason, and I’d lose control of myself. I remember several times telling her off when we were at the local disco, then storming out of the club, into the night, marching my sullen ass back toward the barracks nearby.
Stomp. Stomp. Curse. Stomp. Mutter. Step…Sigh.
I wouldn’t get more than a couple hundred yards (wait, this was Germany, so meters) before all the fire and bile would drain out of me. I’d turn around and return to the club, to my girl, all sheepish embarrassment and regret. After the first couple of times, she took it in stride and forgave the bubble of crazy.
I was barely post-pubescent then, freshly twenty years old. Over the years, I got used to my own emotions and gained control over my reactions to things, as we all do with time. I stopped being such a freakazoid, stopped pitching fits, felt like a grownup.
What also happened, it seems, was as decades passed and I suffered from my depression, the emotions I felt lost power. Maybe this happens to everybody to some extent, I don’t know. But it definitely happened to me. So at the same time I was gaining self control, I needed it less because I was losing passion. I was with my ex-wife for over fifteen years and we were unhappy a lot of that. But we very rarely argued. At all. Our discord simmered, it didn’t boil over.
I’ve blogged a couple of times this week about how I’ve been weirding out and losing control to emotional extremes lately, since having the electroshock. I speculated that my emotional pathways had been blasted clear of years of gunk that accumulated from the depression and an accompanying retreat from the vitality of life itself. Once I started thinking in those terms, looking at my reactions, consciously examining my feelings, I became convinced this is indeed the case.
It’s like the reset button knocked my emotions back to the power they had when I was twenty, stomping around like a goon pissed at little things, but I’m severely out of practice in dealing with such intense reactions. Add the fact my weight is currently lower than it has been since before I was twenty, and it’s almost like I’m the young me again, which is kinda cool.
Starting over. Starting fresh. Passionate and vital and motivated and full of life.
Recognizing the need to regain self control in the midst of this has started that process, but it’s not that simple. I may know why my feelings are turning on a dime, why positive stimuli feel great but negative stimuli are maddening or crushing, but knowing doesn’t lessen the power of the feelings themselves, in the moment.
But I’ll get there. And I’ll be the better for it, able to feel fully, able to enjoy that passion and pour it into living, but able to keep from creating needless conflicts over stupid things.