Because the grass is always greener on the other side, and from a distance, astroturf looks like a well-manicured lawn.
As background, my father was dying of a genetic neurological disorder, which at the time I might have had, but turns out I don’t. He had recently fallen and hit his head, exacerbating his condition and he wouldn’t be able to live alone anymore. My family was making the situation worse. As most anyone would be given the situation, I was extremely depressed and anxious. My family certainly didn’t notice or care, although they’ve never been very good at being supportive. But I have lots of close friends I consider kind, caring people and none of them seemed to notice or care, even though I was trying has hard as I could to express that I needed help.
About 6 weeks after my dad’s head trauma, I saw my family doctor who noticed something was wrong and I started taking an anti-depressant and looked for a therapist. It took about a month to get into the therapist and the medication had started to work and I’d made a significant step in my family situation. Feeling better, I talked about the situation candidly with my friends. They all felt badly for not doing more, but said they saw no indication at all I wasn’t handling the situation with aplomb. This was particularly troubling because I had tried my hardest to express that I wasn’t and evidently nobody noticed.
So although we talked about my stressful life situation, from day one I wanted to address the fact that my blunted affect and emotional numbness wasn’t “working” for my life.
I don’t know whether my therapist would agree with my recounting, but from my perspective - Early in therapy we spent a lot of time doing stereotypical talk therapy type stuff. We talked about my childhood and things that tended to push me toward withdrawing emotionally. Like DCnDC, nothing traumatic ever happened to me.
My mother wasn’t particularly nurturing and she was prone to hysterical rages. Feeling overwhelmed and unsafe at home and even as a toddler being aware that her anger was ridiculously disproportionate started off my life long pattern of withdrawing emotionally. We discussed lots of other times in my life that reinforced that tendency. A particularly acrimonious divorce, etc.
I can’t precisely articulate how any of it was helpful. It certainly wasn’t about blaming past-versions of people in my life for how I am today. I remembered all those events in my life but I didn’t have any recollection or awareness at all about how I felt about them or how they impacted my current emotional processing.
Eventually I came to understand that although I genuinely thought of myself as emotionless, it was more numbness and lack of awareness of emotions. I set out, with ongoing aid from my therapist, to seek out positive new emotional experiences and try to experience them fully. It seems like there ought to be more to that than just trying to experience emotions more, but there wasn’t.
I should mention that “blunted affect” was never a great descriptor for me. I was less emotional than your average guy, for sure, but I was interesting and engaging to talk to. It was more the stronger emotions that I wasn’t experiencing or expressing. I was sort of skipping across the pond rather than splashing all the way in and ever since I’ve been trying to get deeper. I’m still working on it.
DCnDCYou are pretty much the essence of cool.
I’ve actually been trying to emulate this type of thing in my life. When I feel tensions rising, and my emotions running high in a negative way, I consciously try to turn them off. It makes decision making and avoiding stupid mistakes much easier.
It seems to me to be a simple choice. I recall working out one time to the point of exhaustion, and consciously thinking to myself, “calm down.” It was weird but almost instantaneously I went from gasping for air to walking upright completely normal. I have never been able to repeat that moment but I will never forget it.
You sound like you’re playing with the Forer Effect. Everyone feels like this sometimes.