Monday, September 26, 2011

A Lack Thereof

I am beginning to dive more into the self-help books I should have gotten into some time ago - like "Children of The Self-Absorbed".

I jot down notes all over the page and most of them are along the lines of "me", "I do this", "YES".

It is startlingly heartbreaking - although I am discovering that I have a severe case of  lacking empathy. I believe this is because I was never taught it, and through the years I repressed any extreme or intense emotion I've ever almost experienced. This is catastrophic to the healthy family life I want.

Logically, I get it. Well most of it. Emotionally, I've yet to fully feel it, and perhaps that's in part because I've never really felt, and it's so emotionally intense.

I am not sure, but I'd rather understand myself and my situation, sooner rather than later.


  1. i doubt you severely lack empathy. people who severely lack empathy are assholes. shrug, some people for some reason love to talk about how whatever you feel 'isn't really empathy, for this this and this reason.' it's because there's empathy left in you despite all the shit you've been through that you are still a sane person. you wouldn't be you without it. but i'm glad you're at the beginning of this emotional journey! emotions! how fun! i do love'll get easier.

  2. Every new adventure starts somewhere, and wanting to understand is a good place to start. If you lacked empathy, you wouldn't care what happened to your sister. The trouble for ACoNs is that we are expected to have empathy with people who use it to manipulate to their own ends. The struggle is learning to be empathetic without being a doormat. Difficult? Yes, but not impossible.

  3. What a great concept for a blog. I think most of us struggle with self-absorption and indifference.

    With regard to post, I would say that the fact that you're trying to understand your lack of empathy is in fact some form of empathy. Keep digging and you'll find it.

  4. Step by step, you will get there. One of my stumbling blocks was I didn't know how some feelings felt. I didn't identify the reactions correctly. My doctor accused me of being depressed and not knowing it. I knew it all right but defined it differently. A lot of work that my counselor did for me was to help me identify and name the things I was feeling. Growing up my emotions and feelings were denied and 'corrected.' More accurately they were distorted and stomped on until I didn't get it at all. I will say you are going into an awesome adventure. It will have alarming lows and dizzying highs. In my estimation so worth it. Good luck.

  5. How does a child survive an invalidating environment? Any way they can.

    Numb is but one accommodation to a narc family system. It takes time to develop a true sense of physical/emotional/psychological security. One of the most deleterious impediments to "thawing out" is continued contact with the very individuals who conceived and executed this invalidating environment.

    NC ensures the burgeoning sense of self a place of safety and security for continuing this journey. A "foot in each world" guarantees a chapped ass. Minimally.

  6. I just bought the book, too.

    Are you sure we're not related?

    And is it that you lack empathy? Or you're just numb from the severe emotional beating of years and years of abuse?

  7. Lisa- I've been that asshole. I didn't think of consequences and if I did, it was fleeting and then a "eh, I'll deal with it later". I don't want my children to be that way which is why I think somewhere deep in my cavernous war-torn emotional shell, I've got some version of empathy. I want to embrace that, water it, throw it in some sunlight and watch it grow.

    Judy- Difficult indeed! I'm more familiar with "sympathy" than I am with "empathy" and even being sympathetic for me was few and far between.

    Mariah- just toss me a spade!

    Ruth- Mostly I've hit some pretty nasty lows as of late but it is getting better. I'm finding my own fit for therapy, reading more often, and hey, even actually feeling some stuff. Heh. I was one of those "put on a show of feelings" becuase I saw how some feelings looked, but like you didn't know how they felt. I want to feel, and feeling is tough...

    Anon- and such is why I've gone NC with those who've continually invalidated me, however I still live with those behaviors I've been conditioned to have.

    Kiki- ha! Maybe! Actually, I think I'm capable of empathy, however, it's actually feeling it, putting myself in someone else's shoes, feeling their emotions, that's something I struggle with and usually ultimately fail at. I was never taught that as a child. I was taught to act a certain way in certain situations to get the most out of it. Emotions didn't really play a part. Act this way, get this out. Act another way, get something else. The whole life thing was a game I think, a stage on which I was never taken out, and here I am, on the 26th act!

  8. You are right LSV the lows come first. Anger is awesome. It shields hurt, frustration and fear. So feelings are like ogres and onions, layers and they make you cry. I am still working on the crying part. I went through some intense conditioning not to cry. Still don't cry much but wow can I feel. I agree feeling is tough, numb is easier. You are doing better than you think.

    Dead serious - the words to allow me to post were heri keri. Some feelings can feel like this. You may even wonder why you are trying. Be patient you will get there.