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Author Topic: Disconnected from my own feelings  (Read 162 times)
daughterandmom
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
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« on: October 23, 2015, 02:52:12 PM »

Hi everyone. This is my first post in the Personal Inventory board; until now I've been in the Coping and Healing From a BPD Parent section. I apologize if this is not the right place for this, I am fairly new to this board- well actually all boards.

Here's a quick summary of why I am asking this question: I started therapy for the first time a few months ago after a lifetime of not feeling normal, not feeling like I understood what everyone else is doing or why and always feeling on the outside looking in. I managed to function okay, albeit with extremely high constant anxiety until my last of four children grew up and moved out. Then I shut down and got really stuck. Depersonalization, which I have had since childhood, got really bad. Spent nearly a year doing basically nothing. Fighting with myself to do basic household chores or take a shower. Finally knew I needed help and found a therapist with the goal of getting unstuck and working again. My belief was that I had maybe generalized anxiety or something and I just needed to get a hold of myself again. It was a complete surprise that after a few sessions he established that I had severe ptsd from sustained childhood trauma. I always knew my mother was crazy, but until this moment I did not know that it had anything to do with my current problems. I'm sure many of you can relate?

Anyways my question is this. My therapist keeps asking me how I feel when I am relating things. I don't know. The only feeling I can identify is anxiety. He says I don't feel my own feelings, but I take on those of others.

I don't really know what this means or what to do about it.

I've really been trying to look inside and identify my feelings, but usually I am either very anxious, or less. Or depressed. When other people are sad though, I feel that deeply and carry it all day and worry and try to fix things. When other people are happy, especially my kids, I am happy for them.

Does anyone relate? Has anyone found a solution?
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Lifewriter16
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: GF/BF only. We never lived together.
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2015, 03:22:13 PM »

Hi there daughterandmom,

I'm not in the slightest bit surprised to hear that you are finding it difficult to get in touch with your emotions. Distancing ourselves from our true emotions (which also includes replacing our actual feelings with anxiety or depression) stops us from feeling the full horror of our own pain. Nor is it surprising that you can feel someone else's pain and not your own - that's a safer way of feeling too. You could look at the material on co-dependency as it's a symptom of that (but not exclusively).

There was a point in my life when I couldn't feel anything. I had cut off from all my emotions when my grandfather died when I was 12 years old. Very gradually, I learnt to have emotions and I learnt to find the right label for them. Therapy will help. Give yourself time to learn to trust your therapist. From what I've read in your other posts, cutting off from your feelings was entirely understandable in the circumstances. Be very kind to yourself. Don't bully yourself for not knowing what you feel. It takes time.

Love Lifewriter

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eeks
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 11:23:54 PM »

Hi daughterandmom, welcome to the Personal Inventory board!   

Anyways my question is this. My therapist keeps asking me how I feel when I am relating things. I don't know. The only feeling I can identify is anxiety. He says I don't feel my own feelings, but I take on those of others.

I don't really know what this means or what to do about it.

I have written recently about children who learned to stay "tuned in" to a parent's feelings, to anticipate their reactions in order to avoid or minimize abuse.  This is a possible reason why someone might "take on others' feelings".

Also, your mother's personality disorder likely impacted her ability to help you learn emotional self-awareness and regulation.  Healthy parents model this for their children, based on what they learned from their own parents (it can be learned in adulthood through therapy, and/or techniques like Focusing, Nonviolent Communication, and mindfulness approaches that work directly with emotions)

"Your own feelings" are your body's response to the environment, including interactions with other people.  I don't know what type of therapy your therapist does, or how long you've been going, but is there any kind of work with becoming aware of emotions and sensations in the body? 

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daughterandmom
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2015, 07:40:18 PM »

Hi Lifewriter16

Thank you for you words of encouragement. I have been feeling frustrated with myself for not making more progress, but what you had to say helps me and gives me hope. Thank you  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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daughterandmom
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2015, 07:50:25 PM »

Hi eeks

Thank you so much for your reply.

Excerpt
I don't know what type of therapy your therapist does, or how long you've been going, but is there any kind of work with becoming aware of emotions and sensations in the body?

I have been going for about 8 months now. He said I am at a point of awareness now, whatever that means, so I assume that the next part is fixing the holes that I am now aware of. We work on mindfulness and he said he does mostly CBT with me because I have very black and white thinking.  Other than asking me what I am feeling, and making me aware of how I am holding my body, I don't know if we are doing work specifically for that. He has asked me to get into a yoga class as well as something like pottery and/or music to work on sensory things but I haven't been able to get myself going enough yet. Do you think those things will help?
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