Observing vs expressing emotions

I feel like I had to learn through therapy how to communicate about the emotions I was expressing in a way that made sense to the people around me. And observing emotions is a way of communicating to myself internally the emotions that I sense and might otherwise express.
 
I've been an observer of social interactions and general humanity for as far back as I can remember. The emotions that I tend to feel - which I fully attribute to neurogenesis caused by psilocybin therapy - are highly muted. They are nowhere near at the level of intensity that I witness in other people, though for me, the distinction between how I used to function and how I now function is vast.

Still, I went from ZERO emotions (I could easily watch someone die right in front of me and not feel a thing about it, beyond "it is regrettable" - and this is still largely true, only now I can stop to think about it and those subtle flashes of sensation will happen, gradually and without my full understanding) - to having those subtle flashes of internal sensations.

Which is an extremely significant leap in how my brain processes information, and has given me access to all kinds of new and unfiltered, unregulated data that I now have to learn to engage with the same way a child must learn to understand their emotions in context with broader society. Remorse was the first one I got back, and the hardest. But I also gained compassion, and that made it worth it.

I still do not know how to express emotions. My affect is still very blunt. But I have cried, psychic tears, and I have felt optimism and hope and even joy. Being able to withstand the bad is challenging, but it is so important to grow and nurture our internal emotional landscapes. We really cannot quantify human experience in such a meaningful way, and I did not learn this until my 30s, because I was missing the data necessary to form a complete analysis.

And it is this data which finally made me truly understand the weight of the events that have happened to me and the actions I have done (which formulated the basis for how I began to feel remorse - because suddenly, the "nature" of human suffering, and why preventing suffering is important, was more than just a logical concept to me - I always prioritized the minimization of suffering where I could simply because I equated suffering with entropy, and entropy is irrational. But I could really feel, for the first time, what it was that had happened and why it was traumatic).
 
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I relate to these.
, I went from ZERO emotions
I think I had one emotion: self hate, which was anger, but highly focused. I think all the other emotions , particularly the negative ones, got funneled into that one. And I think I pretended the positive emotions. Maybe they would arise but I would snuff them and sometimes pretend to have them to be socially passing. I would transform the authentic into the artificial because the authentic was too dangerous as it was out of my control.
the same way a child must learn to understand their emotions in context with broader society.
I felt like I was a child developing in an adult’s body and some of the emotions were so tiny I didn’t realize they were emotions. I think what we call emotions are a blend of these smaller ones related to awareness and agency— that’s how I experienced it.

A baby might have emotions but without the language and self-awareness from their perspective there is no experience. (Although strangely the infant experience can be retroactively mapped, if necessary, after language and agency develops, I found.). And if that language and self-awareness around emotions never develops then people become servants or subjects of their emotions, and by extension other people, who SEEM to be the cause of all their inner turmoil. Well that was my experience, at least.

And when the emotions remain king driver of all experiences without any voice or awareness life becomes exhausting, terrifying, confusing, depressing.

So having no emotions is a way to stop the exhaustion, terror, confusion, depression, at least temporarily.

My first feelings were presence (“I am choosing to be here right now.”) and self-awareness (“I have a thought and don’t have to say that thought right now.”)

The concepts of yes and no came before that.

My T tasked me with finding joy and then telling her when it happened. She didn’t say it like that. She called it bragging. Which was smart because she knew I snuffed joy and filtered it. Of course I didn’t want to brag, I wanted to tell her all the horrible things.

It was hard, but it was novel, something to break up my misery. The first time I told her about something fun ( her task was for me to leave a message on her work voicemail right after it happened) she said in session she could “hear the joy”.

My emotional development went like that. I would express and she would label. I would confirm or deny her label. When I confirmed it sometimes it was the first time I was hearing myself say, “I feel such-and-such.” She conditioned me to say uncomfortable instead of painful or hate.

Observing emotions was mostly used for self-judgment and self-hate, but also sadness sometimes because it led to self/judgment.

These were some of my experiences in emotional development.
 
I’ve had your thread on ‘watch’ since you posted it.

It’s a difficult thing.

There is an amaaazing series of Photographs -that I don’t have the link to- exploring this topic… woh PTSD specifically. Ditto, soo many countless articles/post/personal moments as people are attempting to relate feeling XYZ but? presenting ABC.

A difficult thing? Becoming a tremendous thing.

I’ve been trying to write more on this topic since you posted… still cannot.

So, lacklustre as this is? Yes.
 
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