Unfeelingness, still

Old 01-03-2016, 01:26 PM
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Unfeelingness, still

Hi folks.

Background to my question: I'm almost 2 years sober. I have some mental health problems but am being treated with psychopharm pretty successfully. I have some resentment against my brother stemming from adolescence. He's having a serious period of major depression and anxiety. He has a long history of depression, went off his meds, hasn't been able to stabilize again.

Is it unnatural that I care so little about his suffering? Why don't I feel for him? I think about him, but my feelings are more annoyed than concerned, even though I fully recognize that he's at risk for suicide. Is it part of the damage that occurred in my emotional development? I have a hard time even sending him an email and haven't spoken in person to him in more than a year.
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Old 01-03-2016, 01:34 PM
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I don't know Courage but if it makes you feel better I have similar issues with some of the people in my family.

while I forgive them I have no desire to pretend that everythings ok and sunshiney now, or to allow myself to be close to them.

I spent a lot of years doing things because I felt it was expected of me.
I've found a real freedom in recovery in being authentically who I am.

I know intellectually what that the socially prescribed 'right' thing to do is, I just claim the right to act authentically.

In my case, my brother would not be comforted by me being around, anymore than I would be in his position.

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Old 01-03-2016, 01:50 PM
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voices ca**y
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Hugs Courage. You don't appear to be lacking in the compassionate department if that helps.

I have similar issues Courage (mostly mommy issues). I didn't start drinking heavily until my 30s but I guess other things can stunt emotional development so who knows.

I just had an 'episode" last night(this time it was precipitated and didn't come out of nowhere at least) of intense feelings followed by numbness. Maybe the numbness is a defensive mechanism and maybe it's part of the problem. ??? I ended up ranting to a forum full of people who understand where I was coming from and then cried for a half hour. A year ago I would have broke down for days before I went numb.

Combining having a genuine unresolved resentment with the person and them also being in a helpless state is confusing as hell. I guess the question to maybe ask yourself is ;" do I feel I am making progress"? How would you have reacted a year ago to this situation?

I think annoyance with someone suffering mental illness is not uncommon.
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:03 PM
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I think it's heathy to be honest about how one feels without judging should we feel differently. Sounds pretty normal to me.

I pray for some close to me having these same feelings. When I find someone is on my mind I tend to reach out - maybe that's what you're think it's time to do perhaps.

Thoughts for you today and your brother
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:14 PM
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It's a tough one, families can be very, very hard on us. I haven't seen my brother in possible six years and he too suffers from mental illness which I believe came from his job, I have tried talking to him on the phone but it's simply not possible, so for my own sobriety he knows how to contact me and I leave it at that as we were once very close,

Wishing you the best, this journey can and is a tough one especially for me when it comes to family dynamics.
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:21 PM
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You know, I feel the same way about my brother. . .
He had a very bad fall on his European trip in Holland, was
hospitalized, had some surgery to re-insert his hip replacement back
in the socket, and had to fly home early.

I felt sorry for him in a vague way, but also noted to myself that I wasn't deeply
moved or upset or particularly worried.
We also have a fair bit of childhood and adult resentments around my
alcoholic mother, but even with that, I felt bad that I didn't feel bad. . .
I don't know if it has to do with the anhedonia I've felt for some time now,
or if it's just the past history informing the present reality.

I wouldn't worry too much about it.
You can't force the feelings if they aren't present anyway.
Enjoy the high desert and the peace--send him some if you can.

One thing I noted with your White Queen signature line
If your back in NYC in time was this:

Wishing you a fine 2016 courage--
I'm still sober since our pm "talk" by the way--47 days now
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:18 PM
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Marchia in Aeternum
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Courage, is this a side effect of your pharmas? My AD left me strangely blase.
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:51 PM
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I find that the presence of blood relationship has minimal influence on my genuine feelings towards people. For me, it's all about my interest and the actual relationship between them and myself. I have a few relatives that I disconnected from a long time ago or never truly established a connection with them. (Sad to say, but even my mother was one... I more just analyzed her and our relationship and never truly got involved or tried to fix it.) Some of them try to reach out and pull me in every now and then, but if somehow the substance or common ground is missing, I typically care very little and am not really able to maintain anything with them... no resentments really, just lack of interest/motivation. And this is not my pattern with good friends and people generally close to me in a way that developed naturally between us and wasn't just a given... quite the opposite, definitely not averse to intimacy. I tend to be highly selective in my personal relationships.

On my end, I know that there is a default factor that I tend to feel I have limited resources (time, energy), especially when I am stressed myself and then I would withdraw... this is something I have been working on for ages now with good changes, but the default character cannot be denied. It's a defensive strategy in me for sure that I have tried to peel off but I doubt it could ever be lost completely. My interest also tends to be very focused and the focus is determined primarily by internal forces not external factors very much. A similar mechanism exists for me also in the impersonal world: I tend to want to deal mostly with stuff that interests me and sometimes refuse to do even things that are necessary if I have no interest. Then there is sometimes guilt but other times just nothing.

You don't write much about the relationship with your brother so this is the association that came to mind from my life.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:18 PM
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Courage: Is it possible that you came to a point where you just grew weary of feeling so much?

Feelings and emotions are part of being human. They have their place and if we didn't have feelings it would be a mighty cold world and we would miss many of the "highs" even though we also have to experience the "lows". But, sometimes feelings can really take it out of us, if you know what I mean. I think this is perhaps a more common thing that happens in families than we realize.

I've discovered, sadly, that I can hardly tolerate being around some of my siblings, especially when a few of them get together and feed off of one anothers' emotions. Then they start drinking together and it's just NOT a GOOD thing! It saddens me, for sure, but right now in my life, I just don't have much of a desire to spend time with them. I'm not quite sure what to make of it myself! So, I'm glad you brought this up.

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Old 01-03-2016, 04:19 PM
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Thanks to everyone who replied. As you all most sympathetically pointed out, it's complicated. At bottom my lack of empathy towards my brother has to do some very nasty family dynamics, which contributed to making us both twisted people. One such person can hardly spare any love for the other, esp. when he helped turn the screw, can she?

Anyway, it's not like a scene where I showed up and gave him hugs would change his situation. & in reality if I were to see him & try to dig deep for feelings, I'd have to wade through all the muck with him first, and he doesn't need that kind of trouble.

P.S. trach, I don't think it's a psychopharm side-effect because my emotions were even more limited before -- they ranged from self-pity to self-hatred LOL.

P.P.S. Hawkeye thanks for the SVA suggestion & I'm ***so*** glad you're not drinking!
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:27 PM
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Sometimes that kind of feeling isn't consistent, definitely not as consistent as they make it out to be in TV. Familial love and desire to protect, I mean.

Sometimes it's nothing for a long time, and then all of a sudden it hits you like a sack of potatoes and you suddenly think about things from the other person's perspective.

It's better to be able to forgive, even if you don't want to get involved.
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:44 PM
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I spent a few years pretending (not always successfully) that I didn't resent a particular family member but it didn't work. I acted out in passive aggressive ways and just became more resentful over time. It was damaging to both of us and achieved nothing. I have no contact with this person now . I felt very guilty about it for a while, but those feelings gradually dissipated. What I had thought was compassion I now think was more my own attachment to the idea that I should be a compassionate person. The reality was that I felt differently. So I guess I have claimed the right to be my authentic self, whatever that self may be.
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Old 01-03-2016, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Dee74 View Post
I don't know Courage but if it makes you feel better I have similar issues with some of the people in my family. while I forgive them I have no desire to pretend that everythings ok and sunshiney now, or to allow myself to be close to them. I spent a lot of years doing things because I felt it was expected of me. I've found a real freedom in recovery in being authentically who I am. I know intellectually what that the socially prescribed 'right' thing to do is, I just claim the right to act authentically. In my case, my brother would not be comforted by me being around, anymore than I would be in his position. D
Wow Dee, thanks for these wise words
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Old 01-04-2016, 04:58 AM
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I really liked D's post
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Old 01-05-2016, 01:52 PM
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Courage, I was just reading through this and I've struggled off and on with the concept of actually caring for people. Like why I don't feel for people. Really, any people. Even family members with whom I have NO issues. Like my kids. I think I've built protective walls up so high and so thick that it's hard for anything to filter through. So I just feel flat a lot of the time. Gradually I've noticed it getting better. Better enough that I actually sense that it might be a problem. I've got a little more than two years too. Were you a warm, fuzzy emotional person before? I wasn't. So maybe I'm just learning something that I didn't learn as a child.
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Old 01-05-2016, 03:40 PM
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Family dynamics are often very complicated. My father and I were close when I was a child, but not so much as an adult. We didn't speak for several years over something he said. When I finally visited, I noticed that he repeated himself a number of times. This was about 5 years or so ago. Long story short, it was the start of Alzheimer's. He is now in a nursing home and doesn't really know that I am his daughter. Ironically, I am now his legal guardian and conservator.

I know that I should feel regretful and remorseful for the lost time with him just prior to his illness, but I really don't. I feel guilty for even saying that, as I am a caring person. I am grateful for not beating myself up, just perplexed, I suppose. I feel bad for not feeling bad...
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:06 PM
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now's the time
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I have a very, very complicated relationship with my sister. She was a violent and abusive presence growing up due to a pretty intense spectrum of mental and physical illness. We still all walk on eggshells a bit with her because she still tips over into rage and such in a somewhat unpredictable way.

It's not really her fault. They don't have a firm diagnosis but it's certain that she has some kind of behavioral disorder, along with a physical illness that affects hormones severely.

But I still have a hard time feeling empathy for her. And she really deserves it. As hard as it was for me to grow up with her, she has to live with these mood swings every day. She's very isolated because she treats people poorly. Etc. Etc. But that switch is still off in my brain 90% of the time.

So... I don't know if it's common, but your situation sounds perfectly relatable to me. My guess would be that it is pretty common.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:20 PM
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I don't think that you're unfeeling at all. You are concerned about him, but there is nothing you can do for him since you can't fix his depression. You are also understandably annoyed at him since he discontinued the medication, which has put himself in this situation. IMHO, your response is completely appropriate since it is beyond your control.
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