Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flow of Facts

It has come to my attention that my emotional Richter scale has not registered a whole lot of emotions on the whole, for much of my early life, which continued into the present.  Specifically, my lack of emotional response to criticism (other than intermittent bouts of rage in the last 3 years) and praise.  Registered tics are small hills up and down from the baseline, but a mountainous tic, there isn't.

I think to compensate for the lack of emotion, whether it resulted from lack of proper development and teaching, or from a manual block that I put in place to help me survive, I see my life not as emotional milestones (well not until recently) but as a series of events, facts, like they came from a history textbook, and not from a soulful human being.

I think that's why I can simply say, oh yes, my mother had a decade long affair and destroyed our family, without blinking so much as an eyelash.  I do however, think that's a problem, which is why that's something I'm working on.  It helps me to understand my life if I put it into a history text-like format and perhaps that's a result of something I did to myself or something else.  Time will tell I suppose.

I do have emotional responses though, especially when it comes to my kids, and lately, my wife - which is a good thing.  I've always known when I was growing up, and I've said this before, that I've felt a little out of place when it came to reactions, which is why I watched TV and played video games.  I was able to simultaneously escape the unfamiliar world by engaging in a fantasy, and I also got to observe emotional scenes and characters' reactions.  That way, I would be able to react how I thought I was supposed to, basically I would be guessing.  I'm not sure how that worked because I can't remember much of the day to day stuff growing up.

I did want to take the easy way out too - what if there was something misfiring up in that big ole head of mine?  I looked into hypnotherapy a bit, but nothing too in-depth, in the hopes that my hypno-state would reveal something in my past that would make me go "oh THAT's why".  I also thought I should get some kind of brain scan thinking that a neurological problem would be the answer to my mal/dys/dis-functions.  I'm slowly finding it's not that easy.  Change is work and work is change.

I wrote the letter to Little Me with my son in mind, because in looking exactly like me, he probably acted similarly to me as a lad too and I have the chance to reverse the effects of being raised in a dysfunctional world.


  1. I remember my first counselor asking, "Did you know you have a nervous laugh?" It was the first time someone pointed out that my responses to certain events were not appropriate. My first long-term assignment from her was to recognize when I laughed when I shouldn't and stop it. Not easy. it's decades later, and I still occasionally slip into a nervous laugh. You're right: Change is work, and work is change.

  2. There is no easy way, and I don't believe there is anything fundamentally wrong with the way your body and mind work (just my opinion here). I'd bet that you have very tenacious defenses in place that helped you survive, but now stand in the way of you fully embracing life and freedom. Your defenses are telling you to avoid the painful underbelly you've managed to silence and ignore - just get a brain scan, take a pill, hypnotize etc. etc. Our defenses are incredibly tricky and they love to sidetrack us.

    If you're anything like me, you cut your connection to your emotions because they were too much to bear. Reconnecting to your life force is a process - you're used to short-cutting and bypassing all that by just telling yourself everything is fine. That it didn't hurt, didn't matter, that your needs and wishes are unimportant. I'm suspicious of doctors who want to fix us with the same kind of short cuts.

    I believe in you!!
    infinite support,

    1. Based on my emotional reactions as of late - both positive and negative - I'm thinking that it was more that I put in manual blocks rather than some neurological disorder that's rendering me emotionally useless. I'm sure I went with the mis/disfunction option becuase that was easier than breaking down the blocks I put in place for two decades. I mean - if the Berlin Wall came down, mine can too right?

      Support appreciated!

  3. I went the medical team route, ended up at a high level brain hospital for five days strapped to wires and video taped. Brain was fine. I was disappointed. Emotional trauma causes long lasting damage. The longer the trauma the more profound the damage. Pealing off layers of numbing takes time. Your determination will get you and your little self to where you want to be.

  4. I guess there is no easy way...

    Sometimes I think I'm not entirely ready for the hard work and effort that I need to put forth. And that is not good.

  5. LSV, you did what you had to do to survive. It's a tragic irony that the things we do to survive pain and trauma growing up become our own obstacles to living as adults - obstacles we alone are responsible for dismantling. I don't know if I'll ever get to the bottom of the pit of rage that I feel about this fact. But we can do it. It is possible. We both married people who see our potential, push us to live more honestly - and I know we can transcend the indifference that insulated us from pain for so long. One step at a time.


  6. Numb is a normal response to trauma, Little One. Really. It's exactly as upsi and Ruth referred to-a psychological adaptation that allows us to survive an abnormal/threatening reality. When you live in a war zone it's essential to emotionally detach from the situation to survive another day.

    Until you find a place of psychological safety that adaptation is a normal response to a crazy situation. Little by little you'll thaw out.....not all at once but in increments the feelings WILL surface and your ability to integrate the feelings into your daily life without feeling overwhelmed by them will allow you to feel "whole" once again-or perhaps for the first time in your life. I am consistently amazed at how emotionally "flat" people demonstrate when describing the horrors of their lives and to me, it's a true bench-mark of a traumatized human being.

    FWIW, I don't view the numbness of survivors as abnormal in any way, but rather a dynamic response that speaks to their innate strength and will to survive.