Flick by Celine Chung

Ok, so the title of this post might be a bit on the dramatic side. No, I'm not saying I lack entirely emotional engagement with other people. Ha, that would put me in a category of personal challenges that I probably wouldn't talk about online.

But a close friend of mine asked me recently if I had missed anyone. You know, like really craved the presence of someone specific when they are not around. And, to be very honest, I couldn't answer.

It's not like I don't remember that feeling because I do. But it's been a while since I've been in that space. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say I haven't allowed myself to go to that space. Until I was asked the question, I never really thought about it.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I don't think it was one specific event.

Perhaps it's the result of an accumulation of absorbed less than positive exchanges with family where I'm left with the task of making sense of people who allegedly love you and hurting you in such specific and devastating ways. Or maybe dealing with the ongoing disappointment of people judging the kind of person you are based on their usually very racist gut feeling. It could be navigating the treacherous waters of dating and trying to be vulnerable and open despite knowing many people will not appreciate the effort it takes to stay in the place.

As life goes, it's most likely a subtle combination of all these things.

But at some point, I numbed part of my emotional self to deal with the uncertainty and the danger of trying to be a decent person in an indecent society, where constant violence and injustice are blasted from every media platform. Of course, this does not represent the totality of the world, but being shown the worst on a loop is... taxing.

And to some extent, I think we all do. Living in a culture where capitalism rules everything around us is tough, man. However, I don't realize how blunted I have become. There's just an emotional pitch I will not go to because that means being invested in a way that has not always worked out so well for me. And while my waking mind forgets as it prioritizes, the trauma of it stays in the body, like being unable to move a particular way after a significant injury. The result is just there.

I'm not necessarily afraid of connecting with people because I still dig the experience of good company. One of my safe spaces is just kicking it among people I like. That's fun. But a stress response still happens at the idea of connecting beyond the initial pleasantries. I have a visceral feeling of dread at the thought of going deeper.

As my therapist says, I know I must be patient and let it take its course. There is a point of origin, and I must go through that process to discover and adjust. It's not something that's going to be fixed overnight. And there is an unquestionable comfort that comes from naming a challenge.

But it's startling to realize how much one can be conditioned to float from who one is for the sake of survival and being able to get through the day. That said, I think I've been on autopilot for a while, and I need to be more intentional about making space for myself instead of trying to adapt to whatever I come across.