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Emotions elude me

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by kevin95630, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. kevin95630

    kevin95630 New Member

    Part of why I believe in the TMS diagnosis is that it resonates so well with other things I have experienced. Some years ago, while working on depression, I participated in group therapy. The thing that stands out to me about that was how we would "check in" at the beginning of each session, by telling the group how we were feeling.

    There was a big poster on the wall with a hundred or so different emotions listed and illustrated with a cartoon. Usually, the only way I could come close to identifying an emotion was to look over that poster until I found one that seemed to fit. Even then it was a struggle.

    I was not the only one who had trouble with that. We all did. And for some reason, the therapist didn't follow up by pointing out when someone checked in without describing an emotion. "I feel OK" was one that was often used. Or the participant would launch into a diatribe about events or troubles in their life. That it was so difficult for everyone to describe their emotions was something that really stuck with me. I'm sure it's awkward for anyone to talk about their emotions, but here was a group of people who had come together and were paying for the experience, and yet still running away from the exercize.

    I've thought about that often, but until I began to pursue this program, I haven't done more than just think about that! Clearly that is an important part of what created the issues that brought all of those participants together with me into group therapy. And now I understand that it how I came to have TMS.

    The problem is, I really have trouble getting past that. On occasion in my life, I have been overcome with emotion for brief periods of time, and at those times it is intense. Then it passes and I'm back to being stoic.

    I used to have emotions. I know I did. Certainly fear and anxiety. And I still experience and am aware of feelings of overwhelm or worry. But sitting here now, trying to identify what I am feeling right now? Nothing.

    I think it will be huge for me to be able to become aware of my emotions. I want it. I need it. But how to get there?
  2. kevin95630

    kevin95630 New Member

    Sad! I'm feeling sad right now, because I can't feel my emotions. How's that for irony?

    I was sitting here thinking about what I wrote before, and was reading some in the "Ask a Therapist" section, where it became clear that mine is a classic TMS patient's problem. As I read others describe the same thing and the response from the therapist, it hit me that I was feeling sad about my inability to feel or identify my emotions.

    I still feel that sadness. But now I also feel another feeling. Hopeful and encouraged. I felt a feeling, I identified it, and I learned that my problem is commonplace among TMS folk. Others have worked through that. So will I.
    Durga likes this.
  3. kevin95630

    kevin95630 New Member

    Something else I've noticed is that when asked, in a social setting or as part of a "program", something like "What do you like to do for fun?", or "What are some things that bring you joy?", I draw a complete blank. I think I should have a quick and easy answer for that, and when I realize that I do not, it is embarrassing or awkward. Like the exercise in this program to identify something that I enjoy doing, schedule a time to do it, etc. For me it was, just...huh?
  4. hecate105

    hecate105 Well known member

    My husband had the same problem. He realised when he started doing the TMS work that he just didn't really 'feel' emotion. He could see it and identify it in others, and be compassionate to them - but he really had difficulty finding and expressing them in himself. So it was a 'red letter' day when he announced to me that he was truly happy!
    He has done the Structured Educational prog and journals and occasionally meditates and reads posts on here. So - I think that it is by doing all that - that he has started being able to identify and 'feel' his emotions. We tend to talk about how TMS affects us and others, but we follow our own pathways through the 'healing'.
    The disassociation with emotions seems to start (at least in him) in childhood. He decided very early to be responsible for himself as his parents were so busy with others. This seemed to have led him to 'blanking ' his emotions. His family are very emotional and loud - so this too I think put him off expressing himself.
    So it is probably worth looking at you early years and seeing if there is a cause/reason for you to have stopped feeling emotion.
    I think it may be quite common in men, as they are generally told when small to 'be a man' , not make a fuss, stiff upper lip, boys don't cry etc. Which seems crazy - as a real man (imho) confronts things in his path, ascertains a way forward, is able to deal with situations - being strong but resilient, to do that you need to be emotionally aware and have empathy and compassion for others.
    kevin95630 likes this.
  5. kevin95630

    kevin95630 New Member

    Thank you for your generosity of spirit in responding to this, to a complete stranger. I am touched (and I feel something as a result!). Seriously, it impressed me initially that you would respond like this, but when I started to compose this response, my eyes filled up to overflowing and I felt it very deeply. There are certain things that I do feel, and often quite powerfully. Typically it is something like this, where people demonstrate kindness and compassion and a desire to help others simply because we share the same planet.

    I'm reminded of my response to the Antwerp Station flash mob, which from the first time I watched it, always has the same effect on me. Hundreds of strangers working together to choreograph and present a beautiful moment in the lives of people they have never met and then walking away.

    Thank you! Oh yes, there is no doubt that my early years were problematic and have contributed greatly to this. As did my choice of a career, which for 20+ years reinforced the notion that a break from emotions was an admirable trait, if not essential to getting the job done on a daily basis.
    Durga and hecate105 like this.
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi kevin95630,

    What a wonderful post/inquiry you made: Expressing that you don't feel much, being curious, and then feeling sadness and love, tenderness as a result. I think this shows how close we are to our truth, and how we often contact our truth surprisingly easily when we put our attention and sincerity toward our inner life. Bravo!!

    Not feeling things is a natural defense posture we take to not feel vulnerable. And it goes so deep that it doesn't seem like this pattern of not feeling is workable. Yet, I think it is workable in the way you are using: to inquire into the "lack" of feelings without judgement, and be curious. Your feeling of sadness about not feeling, to me is a deep opening, opened by your sincere investigation, and you allowing the impact of "not feeling." Our inner life wants to be felt, and you are satisfying something deep.

    Andy B
    hecate105 and kevin95630 like this.
  7. hecate105

    hecate105 Well known member

    This forum is full of 'beautiful people' - disguised as aching, broken children... beneath it all, we are resilient and capable of great compassion and kindness - and you are now one of us...:)
    Durga and kevin95630 like this.
  8. Durga

    Durga Peer Supporter

    So beautifully said!
  9. Everly

    Everly Peer Supporter

    This is so me. All the advice to “tune in”, “listen to yourself” seems foreign to me. I do feel emotions when something particular happens, if I experience rejection, If I’m angry, but they are strong, momentaneous and very fleeting. Its bizzare, because Im empathetic and encouraging to others. So I have had this whole strong person thing going on ( well up until I got TMS ) for years, and I now can barely scratch the surface of what I feel cause most feelings are around TMS. Anyways, thank you for your post

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