Problems showing emotions

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Writingthepain

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Problems showing emotions
« on: February 04, 2021, 05:05:21 PM »
A lifetime of living with an emotional, mental abusive npd mom has left me finding it difficult to express, identify and show emotion. This is because throughout my life if I showed any emotion even too much laughter I would be shut down and told off by my mom.
The result is years later that people think I'm cold hearted, potential romantic partners have had no idea that I like them. Often if I have an emotion I'm not sure why or what caused it. In some social situations I take my cue from others around me and have to work hard, almost acting out a fake emotion that I dont feel inside.
Of course I do have emotions and the few times that they break free results in a total uncontrollable meltdown. I find it terrifying.
Can anyone identify?

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SunnyMeadow

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2021, 05:21:14 PM »
Me!  :heythere:

It has taken me years to be able to express regular, simple emotions. I could NOT tell someone, my husband in particular, when something was said that bothered me. I wasn't allowed to as a child so I never learned it. He had to pull it out of me. Because I kept everything bottled up and acted like nothing bothered me, a period of intense stress caused my body to go on high alert. I developed a stress induced autoimmune disease.

I used to feel cold hearted and acting with fake emotion in social settings. Not fun. I'm sorry you have this issue too.




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JenniferSmith

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2021, 07:25:50 PM »
Maybe not exactly the same as you, but as I got into my mid-20's, I slowly began to realize that I had very little ability to identify and label my own emotions, and to express those openly to others.  All for a variety of reasons from my childhood and family.

I was fortunate to find a very good therapist who very slowly helped me work on this. I needed a therapist to guide me through this, as I was just too shut down to do it in any other way. I personally think that a warm, nurturing therapist who is very comfortable with emotions is the best candidate for this sort of work. At least that is what I needed to help me work through this. It took several years of therapy for me to make the changes I needed.

I still have challenges in this area, but therapy broke me out of my shell in a major way.

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Hepatica

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2021, 11:40:06 AM »
Writingthepain,

I watched a Dr. Ramani youtube video yesterday called: Did You Develop This Habit and I realized that I had a lot of what she talked about. Especially the part about not liking any attention directed toward me. I was shamed after years of being around attention sucking NPD's. And when attention is directed to me, I shut down and become extremely self-conscious and even scared.

When I first went to therapy one of the main things we worked on was telling the story, stopping and finding words to communicate what the emotion was I was feeling. Sometimes she told me what she was feeling, because I couldn't even find the words. If she felt sad hearing my story she modelled that back to me, because I was so numb.

Now I work on it with mindfulness meditation and sit with a feeling, giving a space to show itself and being curious and non-judgemental about it. I find it really helpful and healing.

It takes some slowing down and wanting to care about your own emotions. I know I harp a lot about self-compassion, but I think this is really important for creating the safety inside of yourself, to let the emotions reveal.

You can do it!!
ďThere is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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Maxtrem

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2021, 06:25:36 PM »
I'm going through a lot of the same thing. My psychologist told me that it is a form of defense mechanism developed during childhood against abuse. Our emotions end up being set on "neutral" for both good and bad events. This allows us to avoid, for example, problems with addictions, depression or suicide attempts. Of course, I have emotions, but not as intense as most people. My girlfriend enjoys all the little joys of life on a daily basis and it fascinates me, I wish I could be like that.


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Wolf

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2021, 06:58:13 PM »
A lifetime of living with an emotional, mental abusive npd mom has left me finding it difficult to express, identify and show emotion. This is because throughout my life if I showed any emotion even too much laughter I would be shut down and told off by my mom.
The result is years later that people think I'm cold hearted, potential romantic partners have had no idea that I like them. Often if I have an emotion I'm not sure why or what caused it. In some social situations I take my cue from others around me and have to work hard, almost acting out a fake emotion that I dont feel inside.
Of course I do have emotions and the few times that they break free results in a total uncontrollable meltdown. I find it terrifying.
Can anyone identify?

Yes, I can absolutely identify and have almost the exact same problems that you mention, also undoubtedly due to my mom's constant verbal, emotional, and mental abuse. I find it almost impossible to express feelings and emotions sober, leading to the exact same problems you mentioned. The only way I'm able to naturally express myself fully, especially romantically, is by drinking alcohol until I'm either puking or on the verge of puking lol. Obviously, I'm aware this is unhealthy and dangerous. My goal is to try to emulate my drunk self while sober. I've also read about a supplement called phenibut which has effects similar to alcohol without the sloppiness and (supposedly) without the dangerous effects, when used in moderation. I may try that at some point.

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IcedCoffee

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2021, 07:04:35 PM »
My goal is to try to emulate my drunk self while sober. I've also read about a supplement called phenibut which has effects similar to alcohol without the sloppiness and (supposedly) without the dangerous effects, when used in moderation. I may try that at some point.
https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-09-09/dangerous-abuse-of-anxiety-drug-phenibut-is-on-the-rise

Stick to the alcohol, but maybe in lower "doses."

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Wolf

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2021, 12:27:13 AM »
My goal is to try to emulate my drunk self while sober. I've also read about a supplement called phenibut which has effects similar to alcohol without the sloppiness and (supposedly) without the dangerous effects, when used in moderation. I may try that at some point.
https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-09-09/dangerous-abuse-of-anxiety-drug-phenibut-is-on-the-rise

Stick to the alcohol, but maybe in lower "doses."

I'm aware of the risks of phenibut addiction, which is why I'd only take it 1-2 times a week at most. But thanks for letting me know. Idk if I'm gonna try it for sure but I need some alternative to getting sh*tfaced lol

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nanotech

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2021, 08:50:52 AM »
I can so relate about the not wanting attention. I never wanted anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me as a child.  I hated  fuss and attention. I just wanted to avoid emotions I think. They felt dangerous somehow.
As an adult I continued to struggle with birthdays and opening presents. My daughter aged 10, one day asked me why I Ďalways look so seriousí when opening a present?
Didnít I enjoy presents?  :stars:

After this I always made a conscious effort to look happy, mimicking how others react when getting gifts!

The other aspect for me is that because  expressing emotions naturally and healthily  wasnít permitted, I must have inadvertently channelled them into my body language.
This was tolerated by my FOO.
Other family members (FOO) would do it and that was fine too- as long as things went unspoken.
What it left me with as an adult, is an inability to hide my more extreme feelings and reactions. It doesnít matter how professional I am verbally. Itís seen in my body language.
 This has caused me issues when working with people who I donít get on with too well.

A kind work colleague tried to help me when I was struggling to work with another person who was being difficult and confrontational.

I told my friend that although I did find her challenging, I felt I hadnít done anything to antagonise her; I was being very polite and professional.
She said,

ďAll your emotions show on your face and body. She  knows how you are feeling just by looking at you.Ē

There were others who didnít enjoy working with  her, but I would watch in amazement as they successfully hid this from her, laughing and joking etc, for the sake of a smooth work environment.
I canít do any of that, no matter how hard I try.





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feelingandhealing

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2021, 03:04:16 PM »
I can completely identify with this. I have a uNPD mother too and a father I never knew. I have always struggled when it comes to feeling emotions and being and revealing the "real me". Many of my co-workers do not really know me because I reveal so few emotions at the office. Even when I am in therapy sessions, I find it extremely difficult to 'feel' the emotions that we discuss. Same thing in journaling. Journaling is helping to identify the emotions that I am feeling and experiencing. Yet, being with those emotions and truly experiencing them is very difficult.

Perhaps one reason why its difficult for ACONs to show/feel emotions is because we have adopted a role-self (or pseudo-self) instead of being our true self. That is described in detail in Lindsay Gibson's book, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents.

Like anything we want to face, identifying it is the first step.  Well done for doing that. Here is sending support and courage to you and all of us who have problems showing emotions       
You Can't Rush Your Healing - Trevor Hall

Isolation is a darkness to experience, but not a place in which to live - Kubler-Ross & Kessler

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all4peace

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Re: Problems showing emotions
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2021, 10:11:04 AM »
Writingthepain, this sounds really relatable. Families who struggle often have a pattern of difficulty around identifying, feeling, and expressing emotions. Someone on the forum, years ago, recommended the work of Karla McClaren. What I love about her writings is she explains the purpose of each emotion and the message it is trying to send us. This helped me get more comfortable and appreciative of my feelings, and eventually with expressing them, because I finally understood that my feelings were important messengers with vital information. It's been a growing process. My best to you as you heal this vital part of being a whole person!