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Think About It... Acceptance doesn't mean you approve; it doesn't mean you're happy about something; it doesn't mean you won't work to change the situation or your response to it, but it does mean that you acknowledge reality as it is--with all its sadness, humor, irony, and gifts--at a particular point in time...~ Freda B. Friedman, Ph.D., LCSW, Surviving a Borderline Parent
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Author Topic: Emotionally shut down  (Read 1655 times)
neverending
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« on: December 15, 2008, 06:33:23 AM »

I feel like at some point in the past I shut down emotionally, and now no matter how I try I can't turn it back on. I find it hard to empathise with other people, and hard to trust my emotions in life. This has resulted in over-relying on logic and thinking, even with relationships with friends or lovers that is supposed to be emotional, in my case I calculate the cost to benefit ratio and can pretty much use logic to control my emotions. But I'm not happy, I feel trapped. And if you calculate things to the extreme there is no point to anything, no passion, no joy in life.
And of course intimate relationships suffer, because I've pretty much reduced love down to a list of factual criteria that increase the possibility of getting what I want while not being hurt. but while logical it's not a nice way to treat someone, it's very mercenary.

But I think I cling to this logical method as the only path I had out of madness, and now I'm terrified of abandoning it.

Maybe I need to be more balanced, but I don't know how! Anyone else have this problem? How do you cope with it?
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Ami
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2008, 06:43:55 AM »

I am getting back in touch with my  feelings.I understand how you feel. The book "Your Body Never Lies" by Alice Miller taught me that I need to respect all feelings. I had an Enlightened Witness,someone who would stand by me as I felt these scary feelings.
 Now, I have learned to honor all feelings, let them be and feel them. Then, I have insights and slowly  feel more centered and real.
   Ami
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hopethereishope
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2008, 07:09:29 AM »

Hi Neverending! I had a similar problem but wasn't aware of it… I couldn't feel any “negative“ emotions, I was probably used to pushing them away and continued to do so. There was only room for “positive” in my life, only bright and shiny feelings so I never saw anything hostile, bad or frightening till it hit me right in the face, though to be honest… it took some time to process it. I wasn’t able to properly label my feelings… I didn’t want to feel disappointment, anger, sadness… but in the end I was forced to feel everything, to cry a lot (at one point I couldn’t cry, conditioned: brave girls don’t cry).
When I found out that intellectualization/rationalization was also a defense mechanism I was lost. It’s not easy to feel if you had to repress your emotions since you were born. But once you let yourself experience all that’s within you it’s very liberating. It’s you… you show yourself respect, trust… and you see that there’s nothing to be afraid of… you go through the pain… it’s within you anyway, but now you face it… the same goes for anger, disappointment and every other feeling…
Love… you can’t buy love, love is not about logic… and if you think that you can save yourself from being hurt by being logical about it… let me tell you, this won’t save you from being hurt. On the contrary, it can strip your defenses and you might end up questioning your judgment and berating yourself for the choices you’ve made based on logic.
I’d also suggest you check Alice Miller’s website.
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Cassy
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2008, 08:51:31 AM »

I'm the same way, no feelings, just Dr. Spock logic.
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Nalyd
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2008, 02:39:36 PM »

neverending, do you have a good therapist?  Someone to help you cope with all the pain you have suppressed throughout the years?

After enduring so much pain and madness, a person tends to shut down and become numb.  Post traumatic stress or shock comes to mind though this is an emotional shock.

I question myself when it comes to anger and pain.  If someone hurts me emotionally I put the situation under a microscope trying to decide if I should really feel hurt or if I am overreacting.  Because I don't want to be like my mother and think everyone and everything is out to hurt me or get me, I have let things slide which I feel any normal person would not.  I also constantly wonder if my anger is justified.  Bascily, I question my emotions at every turn.

Getting in touch with your feeling and realizing you are entitled to those feelilngs are your first step.  Yeap, easier said than done and something I have a hard time doing myself.  It won't happen over night, it may not happen over the period of years, but it is a step.



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spinningdoc
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2008, 04:14:07 PM »

Nalyd

I'm another one kind of in this boat - it's not that I don't have feelings. I just have to process them very slowly and carefully and get used to them, and build my trust that they're okay, like lowering myself into a hot bath. I'm intellectually bright, and creative, but I feel emotionally slow on the uptake sometimes, like I'm just not getting stuff that everyone else takes for granted. It must be like not having a sense a humour. I learnt as a kid to be very, very controlled and it takes a long time to relax that.

It's as though my calibration for emotions is off. I thought, until a few years ago, way after I knew my mother is completely hatstand, that BPD-esque extremes were okay, and just as you describe, I've had to slowly, logically figure out how to communicate, for instance, when I'm angry, and how angry I am. All I can say is that, like a toddler, I think I'm getting the hang of it and internalising the 'rules'. Most people learn this stuff as kids. We didn't get the opportunity.

In the meantime, when I have to, I've learned to let myself pre-empt intellectually what my emotions will get to in their own good time, and conversely, to figure out what it is I'm unhappy or angry about - rather than what I think I'm unhappy or angry about. They're pretty often very different.
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"Why did your mother say you were 'a beautiful genius'? Was she taunting you?" - Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock
1stof4
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2008, 07:34:46 PM »

... it's not that I don't have feelings. I just have to process them very slowly and carefully ... I'm just not getting stuff that everyone else takes for granted... I've had to slowly, logically figure out how to communicate, for instance, when I'm angry, and how angry I am...

I bet this describes a lot of us who had BPD parents, because the BPD's feelings are the only ones that matter in such families. We learn to hide, squelch, stifle, mislabel, and misdirect our own emotions to avoid attack. We keep our guard up so much of the time that we forget how to let it down. That was my experience of depression: I had stuffed so many "unsafe" emotions that I couldn't feel or identify the "safe" ones either.
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Nalyd
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2008, 08:18:04 PM »

We keep our guard up so much of the time that we forget how to let it down.

Perfect description 1stof4.  Somedays it takes a sledge hammer to rip that wall down.

Spinningdoc it is a learning process, a very slow and painful one (or at least for me). 
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