Thursday, 11 June 2015

Progress: Emotions

The Past

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.

The Present

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.


  1. My coping mechanism of choice at present is to write myself letters.

    I'm glad you're making progress!

  2. I can relate to feeling numb, I've numbed my feelings ever since I can remember because it is so much less painful than feeling. My heart really goes out to you after reading the first part of your post, 'The Past'. I wish I could change it so that you didn't learn to push away your feelings, but I can't.

    I'm so happy that you can feel happiness, but the anger etc., not so much. You'll get there. It has taken you years to get to the point where you are at now, so you're not going to change overnight, but it will happen for you! Keep going! Xx


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