There are lots of emotions. For many people like myself who’ve been abused, expressing emotions or sometimes even feeling emotions was life threatening. I learned to hide my emotions or turn them off so that I didn’t feel at all. It was too painful to feel betrayed by someone who was supposed to protect me. It was dangerous to become angry. It was dangerous to be sad. Sometimes refusing to feel became a way of fighting back, a way of refusing to give to an abuser what they wanted most: my pain.
Emotions are slippery things though and eventually they came out sideways. I exploded in silent at the people I trusted most. My frustration, grief and rage turned inward and became depression and suicidal thinking. Turning off and hiding away my feelings had stopped working for me and was actively working against me.
I was stuck in a quandry. I’d been without a full range of emotions for so long that I wouldn’t recognise most of them if they walked up and plinked me on the nose. I had no useful frame of reference anymore and no safe form of emotional expression. I needed some guidance to help me identify what was roiling about in my head.
Then serenity worked in my favour. Around when I was trying to figure out the more subtle ranges of feelings (as opposed to extreme grief or rage) I started grouping them. There were 5 categories of main emotions and a list of variations beneath each.
I’ve provided that list here. It isn’t a comprehensive list of human emotion but it is a start. If you have similar difficulties identifying feelings then you may find this list handy. Check in with yourself periodically during the day, especially if things seem to be swinging out of control. Sometimes just identifying a feeling helps to relieve it somewhat. Your mileage may vary though.