For many years, I found it necessary for my survival to suppress all emotion. I suppose since I couldn’t handle what I was feeling as a result of being sexually assaulted at such a young age, I couldn’t allow myself to feel anything. I no longer do this because I find it to be a very dangerous practice; I was very prone to violent outbursts during the time I was living as a robot. Never the less, my robotic years have left their mark.
For one thing, when I am struck with a particularly strong emotion, I often can’t identify that emotion until hours or even days after the fact. For example, my ex-boyfriend and I were briefly engaged in the first year of our almost 9 year relationship. I had had a dream in which he proposed and I made a joke about it to my mother in front of him, then he asked me to marry him and I said yes.
A few weeks later, after we’d announced our engagement to all of our friends and my parents, he sat me down and explained to me that he had proposed because he was over-excited to finally have a girlfriend; that, with me at 19 and him at 20 years old, and neither of us employed, we were too young and too ill-prepared to think about marriage and he just wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. He was right, of course, and I took it calmly and told him I wasn’t upset; it took me almost two weeks to realize I was upset. And why shouldn’t I have been? Marriage and family is a thing I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember and I was ready for that kind of commitment–I still am if I can ever find someone to commit to.
Another way my time as a robot left its mark on me is that my emotions simply do not shut down my logical thought processes the way they do for most people. This is both a benefit to me and an annoyance. As you would expect, it does help me keep from behaving irrationally when my emotions compel me to, but you would also think that it would make me feel better when I’m upset for no real reason and this is not the case.
A few years ago, I was hanging out with a guy. He told me that he had no interest a relationship beyond the physical with anyone and I told him that I have no interest in a physical relationship with anyone unless there is a commitment involved. This kind of openness and honesty laid the foundation for a perfectly good friendship without anyone being “friend-zoned” (you have no idea how much I hate that term). He still begged me for a physical relationship from time to time, but he didn’t get upset when I turned him down.
One day, about 4 months after the last day we spent together, I read a Facebook post from him that told me that in those 4 months he had met and become engaged to another woman. I was devastated; he told me that he had no interest in giving anyone the things that I want, and yet here he was giving those things to someone else. What was wrong with me that the only offers I get are for casual sex, and yet those same men are perfectly willing to enter into the kind of relationship I deserve with someone else? Logically, I knew I had no reason to feel that way because even if this guy had been willing to be more than a fuck buddy to me, I didn’t want him that way either. But knowing that my emotions weren’t logical didn’t change those emotions; if anything it made me feel worse because I knew there was no point in my being upset, yet I couldn’t stop being upset, which made me upset that I was upset.
I guess I’m still learning that I’m allowed to feel the way I feel even when those feelings don’t make sense; all logic can do is allow me to control how I behave when I’m upset so I don’t take it out on people who don’t deserve it.