On discussing feelings and difficulty talking to therapists

When I was a kid, talking about feelings was damned near verboten. Or rather, if you brought such things up, you’d be told to “stop being stupid” and basically to shut up. And I think that’s why, now, when people say, “you can talk to me if you need someone to talk to,” my [internal] response is something along the lines of, “What the fuck? No.” (Likewise, I was also discouraged from playing make-believe because it was “lying” to pretend something was something else.)

I was always kind of shocked when, on television or in real life, I’d see families who not only discussed how they felt about things, but also hugged each other, said “I love you” to each other, parents told children they were proud of them, etc. That never happened to me while I was growing up. I eventually started being able to hug people at family functions and to hug friends I hadn’t seen in a while, but this is not an action I would initiate myself, and touching people still seems kind of weird to me.

I think this may also be why I was unable to really talk to any of my therapists over the years. There is a sort of major blockage that prevents me from verbalizing anything related to feelings (especially negative ones) out loud, ever, to anybody. So, over the years, I decided maybe I should stop seeing therapists. Not really through any fault of their own, as they all had different styles and tried different things, but because I was not able to talk to them (or anyone) about myself. When this goes on, on and on, for 25 years or so, you start to feel like everyone’s time (and a lot of money) is being wasted.

That, and, since childhood, I’ve always had a mental image of myself sort of like some kind of badass gunslinger in an old west movie. I just kind of go around with a pokerface, nothing apparently bothering me, sometimes getting drunk and telling funny stories. There is no room for feelings in my self-image. There was the idea that having feelings was a weakness. Not just expressing them (which is obviously worse than having them), but to have them at all was a shameful thing to never admit to anyone. I never managed to get over that. Sometimes I’ve gotten pretty good at repression, though.