Unless you're well equipped with the emotional, social and biological tools to navigate the storm, it's a long and difficult ride. It makes me wonder about people who never really had the resources to overcome difficult emotions from the beginning, those whose childhoods were so derailed that they had no chance when the teens hit... and more narcissistically, myself.
There's been a lot of denial of the years. A lot of daydreaming. And it started real early. Unfortunately, you can't shut down one emotion without shutting down unintended ones. When you dull out the pain of rejection or shame, for instance, you lose some of your ability to feel certain pleasures or joy.
One could say that children are at the whim of difficult emotions unless taught otherwise... still... there is always choice and it does play a role in all of this. Perhaps actual decision making doesn't really happen until the pre-frontal cortex is fully developed (around 22 or 23 years of age). It's the thing that allows you to make rational decisions in spite of overwhelming impulse and emotion. You want to chug half a mickey? Well, the five seconds of approval doesn't weigh well against projectile vomiting on the girl you like, no matter how appealing the former and how much you can "totally avoid" the latter.
With it, I have begun to sort through that pile of denied, mishandled or blatantly ignored mistakes and errors on my part, as well as reconcile the more difficult emotions like shame, anger, fear, anxiety and despair. With each success, I unlock a feature of my emotional landscape, but there are many still left untouched.
That's not to say that life was brutal or unforgiving. There were times I was granted the opportunities to have features of a normal life and yet I still chose to wander a path adjacent, to remain a vagrant without being exiled. But now, thanks to my fully mature brain, I now have a rudder. I can now return to the path most traveled and perhaps find comfort and familiarity where there was only uncertainty.
It's a strange phase of life to be in.