Growing up, expressing (negative) emotions never got me anything good. There were two possible reactions that I encountered:
1. 'I don't want to leave Singapore (the only home I remember).' Doesn't matter, it's going to happen anyway. 'I don't want to get rid of my toys/books.' Doesn't matter, it's going to happen anyway.
2. 'I'm being bullied.' Well, why don't you change so you're not as weird? 'I don't have any friends.' Well, it must be your fault.
As I grew older, the latter morphed into my parents' constant comments about my weight. If I were thin, obviously, I'd have a boyfriend, a better job, my friends would stop keeping things from me and lying to me. The onus was always on me to change. I still have trouble expressing dissatisfaction with anything that it's in my power to change. After all, if I haven't taken steps to correct the situation then I have no right to be upset about it.
Expressing negative emotions never got me comfort, or sympathy. I either got told to suck it up or else to fix the situation myself, without help. So eventually... I stopped. I started to bury my feelings as deep as I could. I became able to talk about the bad things that happened to me without batting an eyelid. I remember learning that a guy I was interested in at university didn't feel the same, and I felt nothing. My interest in him switched off immediately, because it was hopeless, and I wasn't upset or angry or disappointed. I felt like a robot.
It's taken over two years, but I'm finally starting to feel real emotions for basically the first time.
It's brilliant! I feel actual happiness again! I'd forgotten what that was like it's happened so infrequently. I can feel happy over a video game, over waking up on a sunny morning, over the prospect of stew for dinner. I feel connected to things. The world just feels more real. I can't explain how surreal it is, or how amazing.
On the other hand, it's terrible! As well as happiness - I feel sadness and anger more acutely than I have in years. Over big things and small. I feel frustrated, trapped, miserable. It's absolutely unbearable. Not Feeling has been my coping mechanism since before puberty. I've never learned how to deal with real emotions as an adult. I don't know how the rest of you live like this. When the negative feelings come (as is unavoidable in life) all I want to do is shove them back into a box and forget about them. It's the only way I know how to keep suriving on a day-to-day basis. Because crying at choir, at work, on the bus... that's not practical! So I want to numb it all again, because I don't know how to deal with it.
But if I do that, I'm not only not be making progress - I'll lose all the positive feelings too.
So I guess I need a new, healthier, coping mechanism, at least until the negative emotions stop being so new and raw and overpowering.