I am not sure if you remember me. I wrote to you previously in regards to my issues with depression and self harm and suicide. And thank you, by the way, for answering me so thoroughly. It really meant a lot.
Apologies in advance if my letter is at all poorly worded. I am very tired as I write this. But I will do my best to communicate my thoughts.
One thing I mentioned in my previous letter was that I do not often express my emotions to others. This is due to my severe trust issues that sourced from crucial moments in my past. Today I would like to talk about this a bit.
To put it as simply as possible, my relationship with my parents as a child did not encourage emotional expression. If anything, it punished it. As such, I often feel very alone. Starved for attention, even. However, I find it very difficult to accept the sympathy of others. I think that I would like to be loved, but I would be too uncomfortable to suddenly receive it after such a long time without. My thoughts are a bit too jumbled to put into words at the moment. But I think I am afraid of love. Somehow.
It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But it's true. Love and being loved are the two most terrifying concepts for me. I guard my emotions so fiercely. It is frightening to imagine allowing someone to know you so personally that way. Having them dedicate a part of their lives to you, and yours to them.
If ever I find myself caring deeply about someone, I push them away. Because I cannot handle emotional intimacy. And because I do not want to drag them down with me. Considering my current mental health state. I want to protect them from myself, and myself from the inevitable emotional intimacy.
Another part of me has become complacent with my own isolation. Which I do not believe is healthy. Most of the time I eschew personal subjects in conversation and avoid talking about my true emotions. This has all become very natural to me now. To refrain from expressing the emotions I view as weaknesses and disregard them entirely. To be untrusting in order to protect myself. If ever I make a mistake and spill my sorrows to someone, I later become wracked with regret. Wishing I had just kept my mouth shut. So, as I'm sure you can imagine, that intimacy I mentioned earlier is almost nightmarish to me. And yet a part of me craves it. Despite the major negative effect it seems to have on me. From here stems my confusion. I can assume that I am drawn to emotional intimacy due to the lack of it in my childhood. But as a result of that same lack of support I received, emotional intimacy makes me very uncomfortable. It is confusing and saddening to me. That I am somehow unable to accept something that I need most.
Truth be told, I think I'm an irredeemable pathetic excuse for a human being. And I don't even think that I deserve to be loved. But love and support seem to be two necessary factors for lessening my suicidal depression. Both of which I am severely lacking. So I am not sure what to do. At all.
I do not exactly have any specific question for you, but rather a request for advice. I'm not sure where to begin. Any wisdom you may have would be very welcome.
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(Sorry this is late, hon)
What you are experiencing is a direct result of the fact that your parents were emotionally distant from you. It is in our infancy and childhood that we develop our ability to bond with others by first bonding with our caregivers (usually parents). When that is not provided for any reason, it is like not being exposed to a language as a child, making it extremely difficult to learn to speak to others as an adult. Once our brains have stopped growing and establishing their synaptic connections, then we are kind of set in our ways, so to speak. Extreme forms of emotional disconnection stemming from childhood are called Reactive Attachment Disorders.
This does NOT make you an "irredeemable pathetic excuse for a human being." It makes you a damaged person, but it is NOT your fault any more than it is the fault of someone who lost a leg in an accident or who is blind or deaf. You were not only, apparently, deprived of emotional connections as a child but, indeed, punished for being emotional. Naturally love and friendship and other forms of intimacy freak you out now! You were never taught how to be emotional and how to bond to other human beings.
Are you doomed to be like this forever? Well, while it will be a struggle for you, I do believe you can regain some of the emotional attachments and trust that you have lost. The first thing you have to do is rediscover joy in your life. Pursue any little things that bring you happiness, such as music, movies, games, connecting to Nature, adopting a puppy or kitten. In fact, that last one would be a very good thing for you. Although I like kitties, I would recommend a puppy. They form such loving, trusting bonds to their owners that some of that love is bound to rub off on you. You will learn to love the puppy, and that will help reestablish an emotional education for you.
Second, if you can, seek out some counseling. Now that you know what you are dealing with, you can seek some guidance in leading you back to an emotional life. Please note that expressing emotions is not a sign of weakness or unmanliness or anything like that. It is the confident person who is unafraid to show how they feel.
Third, start keeping a personal journal. In your journal, which you should work on each day, write down what happened to you on that day and then try to express how you felt about each experience. This will help you identify emotions and what triggers them. You see, what we are trying to do here is to reestablish the broken synaptic connections in your mind that, over time, will make it easier and easier to feel again and to recognize what you are feeling.
Fourth: exercise. Exercise? What's that got to do with emotions? Nothing about your body works in isolation. Mind and body are one, and a healthy body, a feeling of connection to your body, actually fosters emotional and mental health, as well.
Fifth, start putting yourself out there. You are correct that social isolation is not healthy. When you are ready (and don't push yourself), start going out, even if it is by yourself. Go to a baseball game and try to strike up a conversation with a fellow fan; go to a church and say hi to the people sitting in the pews; go to a flea market and talk to the people selling their wares. This way, you can start working on your conversation skills without much worry because, hey, they are just passing acquaintances, so no pressure.
Once you start feeling more connected to your emotions again and have worked on the art of conversation a bit, then it's time to look for a more personal interaction. Perhaps it is with a fellow furry, or perhaps someone you meet at a bookstore. Dip your toe in the water, start slowly, and work at your own pace. This will take time, but you can do it.
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