As I mentioned before, my husband experienced terrible abuse as a child. One of the effects is that he’s terrified of having a good time. He feels that if he enjoys himself, a cosmic punishment in the form of some horrific calamity will be visited upon him. This gives him terrible feelings of rage and anxiety.
He’s been working on this with his psychoanalyst for a long time. These feelings receded pretty quickly in all contexts except beach vacations. He really loves beach vacations but they were all spoiled for him by what psychologists call “unbearable affects.”
It would have been easy to numb these feelings with alcohol, drugs, or medication. Alternatively, he could invent a narrative where he doesn’t go on vacation because he’s too busy at work or it’s too expensive or there’s some other excuse. But he kept working on it with the analyst.
And guess what? It helped. We are going home today after a two-week beach holiday during which unbearable affects didn’t make an appearance.
It’s very, very hard work to fix a broken psyche. It’s easier to hide behind the idea that “this is simply how I am.” But we were created with a capacity for great internal peace. We have all been given the gift of joy, tranquility and pleasure. If this capacity has been broken by life, we can recover it.