Posted by: C | 2008/07/04


I think I have come to the sad, pathetic realisation that I am an incredibly emotionless (or perhaps angry) person. I am not even sure why. I don’t believe I have had a worse life than anyone else – in fact, it has probably been better than most. I need to sort this out. It is affecting my life – my relationships, or lack thereof. It must be affecting my child. I have a temper that takes a split second to crack, I have a sense of humour that floors people (which is only funny when you’re not the one being floored) and I have the patience of an angry wasp. Everything irritates me, everything annoys me. I deliberately choose relationships that are never going to last. By that I mean that I dive head first into affairs with married men (please don’t slam me for that – I know it is wrong), but I balk at developing a relationship with any available man. Yet I do not feel I have never been seriously hurt in any relationship, I am usually the one breaking them off. I ended the 8 year relationship with my 4 year old son’s father 2 years ago. We drifted apart and the year prior to the end, we lived separate lives. I cheated on him before we drifted apart (although that was not the reason we split), in fact, I cannot recall any serious relationship I had where I did not cheat - I am not proud of it but I have just never loved nor trusted anyone enough to give them my all. At (rare) times, I actually like who I am – I have qualities that I can be proud of – I am intelligent, I am very devoted to my job, I am very good at what I do, I have excellent relationships with my internal clients and management and I know they appreciate my work. It seems to be the only thing that defines me. I realise I have huge social shortcomings. I really want to care about people. I so desperately need to be close to people. This façade I parade around is just not working. The only reason I socialise at all is because I dread going home to an empty house when my son is with his father. I battle to build up relationships with other women also. I am judgemental and often unkind towards people who have any trait I do not approve of. It can be something as simple as someone not liking cats! I lose respect for anyone who is emotional – which is completely unfair. I am 30 years old. My father is an alcoholic and my brothers and I spent our entire childhood protecting our mother, and then ourselves, from his abuse. We were all physically and verbally abused. The abuse stopped after my younger brothers made it clear that they would not tolerate his nonsense any longer. This was only after I had moved out of home – which I did at the age of 18. Both my brothers have been to rehab for drug abuse, one came clean after the second time, the other one has only just rescued himself from years of addiction by settling down with the love of his life. I started working immediately and lived alone. I had to return home when the company was liquidated, I stayed for a while and then my son’s father moved in for about a year. We moved out together and lived in numerous places. When I left him, I bought a townhouse and have not moved again. I ended up rather far away from my family though, and can only see them every other weekend. When I left my ex, I was rather depressed since I was now a single mom, and I am still heartsore that I received no support from my family at all. My father was furious with me over it. Besides maintenance and scheduled visits, I do not get much support from my ex regarding our son. I work all day while he is in crèche, collect him and sort him out, and then I often work from home also. In other words, I do not see other people during the week (socially) at all. I have a good job, I earn decent money and will do nothing to compromise that – as a single mother, I desperately need all the money I can get. I do not have any baby-sitters and I socialise at the company pub every second Friday, only because I dread going home to an empty house when my son is visiting his father. Even that is starting to become an issue as every male person I become friends with assumes he has the right to get over friendly with me – and as soon as someone does that, a barrier flies up and I lose all the trust I built up in them. I do not believe I am leading them on – I dress decently and am more unfriendly than over-friendly. I feel as if I have forgiven my father. We have a fairly functional relationship – if he annoys me, I leave. I am just not sure I have ever forgiven him for breaking me down when he was supposed to be building me up. He made me hard. I hate that – I want to be protected and loved, I want someone to care about whether I make it home in one piece. I want to feel that I don’t have to be on top of everything. I am as independent as hell, but I cannot stand it. I have been “praised” for being strong and independent – I hate it. It is awful being me. It is awful being this person, this “shell”. I despise not caring about anyone. I am not lying about that – I love my son, and that is about it. I do know that if anything happened to my child, I would break. It would kill me instantly. I cannot think of one other person I’d be devastated over losing. It cannot be normal to be so unemotional and so callous towards other people. I come across as friendly and warm to the people I work with – in a work situation, but it really is just an act. I don’t feel that way. As soon as something gets a bit too deep or too intense, I smile my excuses and get out. I cannot deal with genuine kindness and love. Is this normal? I have given up on finding a partner to share my life as I do not believe I will ever be able to love someone properly. I have been told that I am beautiful and have a wonderful personality and all that but it means nothing to me. I feel incredibly lonely and empty. I want to be understood and that will never happen. I want to be accepted and if I drop this act, that will also not happen. If anyone knew how little I felt about everyone, I would not even have the handful of “friends” who I have managed to keep up until now. Its not fair on them, they’re good people and they make an effort, but I hold back and keep everyone at a distance. Even my dad, who has shown a bit of remorse for what he did, I feel nothing. He just annoys me when he gets emotional.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Sometimes after years of abuse, one developes defenses including reluctance to feel one's emotions, which may protect us from being hurt by others, but which also "protects" us from love and tenderness. It sounds as though you devoted yourself to doomed and impossible relationships, so as to avoid genuinely feeling and loving relationships and the challenges that would bring. YOur long message suggests you have great potential and insight to use in proper psychotherapy, preferably of the CBT format, to work through these issues and choose a better and more functional set of expectations, assujmptions and habits of thought.
And an excellent response from anon

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: C | 2008/07/07

Anon, I appreciate all the advice and time you have spent on assisting me. I used to write poetry often, and when I got involved with my son's father, I stopped. Think it might be time to go back to writing, because, as you have pointed out, it does help, and I know it did - it managed to get me through my entire childhood (relatively) sane :-)

Reply to C
Posted by: anon | 2008/07/07

Hi C,

There are places where you can get help. Try the psychology dept of your local nearest university.

Also try Lifeline tel no above, they offer 24 hr free telephonic counselling line and also free face to face counselling....they aren't psychologists, only lay counsellors but are highly trained and can be helpful when you are feeling alone and stuck.

A good therapeutic way to explore all of this is by writing, journalling, also you will be able to find very good books out there... if you are close to a Lifeline Centre and go for counselling, they may be able to lend you a book or recommend some reading. You can also try your local library.

Reply to anon
Posted by: C | 2008/07/07

Thank you for the kind responses, and the helpful advice given. I cannot afford to go for any sort of counselling right now, time and money are both an issue, and my medical aid is unfortunately exhausted. I will have to try and work through this myself for the time being, perhaps with advice and support. Thank you.

Reply to C
Posted by: anon | 2008/07/05

Hi C, often children who suffered a lot of mental,emotional, phyiscal and sexual abuse as children, can end up with depression, disassociation behaviour.....that sort of describes why you have no feeling....etc. Things became really traumatic and as a young child you had no experience on how to cope with these things, so you distanced developed other ways of coping.

Your current behaviour and past behaviour seems to be self instead of building yourself up, you end up breaking yourself down.

Hope you understand I am not attacking you here but perhaps by understanding where this all comes from, you can work this through with your professional psyc and change certain behaviours.

Remember too, that you are mirroring to your son, so he is learning to disassociate himself as well....he is looking to you and his Dad (your ex) as role models. Your role models were your parents.

Its never too late to get help.

The anger you feel may also be related to all of this. Remember anger is not necessarily a bad negative emotion, as we can all use the energy of anger and focus it in a positive way....for you, ask yourself WHY you are feeling so angry. What provokes your anger.... How much of your anger may you have been surpressing all these years?

Our social skills are learn't as children and as you get to know yourself better, you will be able to develop better coping mechanisms that are perhaps more socially acceptable.

Reply to anon
Posted by: anon | 2008/07/04

Sounds like C, you really are a very lonely person, who at work, behaves a certain way, wears a mask so to speak but deep down you are not happy. Have you ever had counselling seems your relationships or lack thereof is probably based or has something to do with your past. There is a link, the child you came from a dysfunctional home, your father figure was not constant or reliable, the abuse, his alcohol, etc. you perhaps had the feeling of never knowing what was going to happen, you had to protect yourself, so you put up a guard around you. This is now happening in your adult life. As soon as anyone gets close to you you back off...its like you are afraid of letting go an truly just being yourself or enjoying....its like you want it but don't think you are worthy of being happy. You say you don't like yourself. So perhaps its the acceptance of who you are, perhaps your parents never gave you the unconditional love, you doubt people, look for love in the wrong places, you tend to get involved with married men, because either you know you are safe there, they are involved so can't get too close to you, or perhaps you are looking for the fatherly love an acceptance you never got as a child. For whatever reason/s you continue a sort of dysfunctional type of relationship/s what you are doing in the longterm is really hurting yourself. You have to begin to learn to love yourself just the way you are. Warts and all. Before you can expect anyone else to love you, you need to be the first to love and accept you. You may want to write a list of all your strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect. What is it about yourself you do not like. What is it that can be changed. By accepting the things that can not be changed and working on the things that you can change is one step in the right direction. Counselling can help you. Your son will also notice the change in your behaviour. By being numb all the time with no feeling, except you say for the love of your son, sounds like depression. Life is so short, its worth getting some help to work through your issues. In the end you will be a happier person, self confident, happy with you, not rely on anyone else to make you happy, enjoy your own company, set boundaries for yourself.

Wishing you all the best.

Reply to anon

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