My Dear Friends and Readers,

I sit at the card table of emotions. I would like to bet all of my “chips” on something or someone or some event and yet I cannot because there sits a “governor” who controls or triggers my ability to play. That governor is called emotional detachment. It’s a condition associated with both anxiety and depression.

There are two kinds of emotional detachment and in my case certain people trigger it and sometimes I choose it. The first kind of emotional detachment is when someone can not emotionally connect. That’s me sitting at the card table of emotions unable to bet. The other kind of emotional detachment is when someone chooses to detach in order to emotionally survive.  An example of the second kind of emotional detachment would be  a parent who emotionally detaches from a child who refuses to seek treatment for a life threatening illness. The parent must detach in order not to be emotionally drained by the emotional world wind of  a loved one who won’t do what’s necessary for their well being and there is nothing that the parent can do. This second type of conscious detachment is considered a positive and healthy thing to do. The first form of detachment manifests from a broken past triggered by something or someone in the present.

But have some empathy or sympathy for the emotionally detached- the kind that can’t emotionally connect. The emotionally detached appear aloof and seemingly unperturbed. Oftentimes this aloof behavior hides anxiety and depression. This is the case with me.  Emotional detachment can start in childhood when an infant senses that his caretaker does not like him or the caretaker gives inconsistent messages. For instance, the child’s bad behavior is ignored one day but punished and criticized  on other occasions. The child will resolve these inconsistent responses with the only tool he has which is to detach. In other words emotional detachment becomes a way of not being harmed. Nothing risked no gain, but no pain.

Of course such techniques results in massive emotional failing. While it resolves inner disputes by not having to cope with them, it comes at  a very high cost. The outcome of continued emotional detachment is a lifestyle that is not rewarding. Nothing really gets you down or up. You can process almost everything logically but there is no enthusiastic attention paid to anything. People who are detached end up alone without close or loving relationships.That’s because the moment the emotionally detached get close to somebody they experience a sensation of uneasiness or disquiet. The sad result is that the psychologically disconnected person who is trying to prevent emotional harm is actually harming him or herself in even more devastating ways.

My emotional detachment started a very long time ago.  I am only discussing and discovering that I am at the effect of it because of visits from two of my sisters on separate occasions.  I would be terribly sad if I lost either of them, yet I don’t feel anything for them. I cannot experience their love for me and I cannot feel my love for them. It took two separate occasions to get me thinking that there was something out of wack with me.  I had anticipated their visits. Things were going well and yet I felt empty and unconnected. The odd thing was that during the visit with one sister, two colleagues came to visit. I felt emotionally attached and loved being with my friends. I realized that unlike my friendships, which were chosen, my siblings were not chosen and our divergent life experiences and history trigger my emotional detachment. They could hurt me. They have hurt me.  During their visits was testing  whether I still feel the hurt or whether I am still angry. What I found out was that I felt nothing. I called it a closed heart. It is called detachment. I thought that I would look  up how emotional detachment manifests and I recognized myself in the definition.

Emotional detachment can be healed. Counselors say to first start out by choosing to respect and allow all emotions. Suppressing your emotions will only lead to heartache because suppressed emotions can pop up at inappropriate times. The second step is to realize that your emotions and your actions are not connected. You can be very angry and yet not become violent. When these intense emotions arise  therapist  suggest that we try to figure out what’s behind them. Are you angry because you have been hurt or are you sad because you feel betrayed and alone?  Rather than isolate, which is what I do, counselors suggest that the emotional detached reach out and try to connect with someone. Take good care of yourself and accept this pivotal fact: you need other people in order to heal your emotional detachment. When the inability to emotionally connect persists seek professional help.  

Just realizing that my pervasive sadness has a name: emotional detachment makes me feel a little better. I will work on connecting and not being critical of those who are overly demonstrative, sensitive or emotional. I guess in someways I am envious of those who have and express big emotions.

With love and in health,

Brianna Clark
The Addict Writes.

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