Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Emotional Vacancy

I once started a journal with the line "This is for all the people who didn't know me, and all the ones who thought they did."  I think I was 14 and being all profound and shizz.  I was right in the middle of those crazy, hormonal, teenage years.  Where every little thing takes on such weight.  The emotions that plagued me during those years are still so raw on my soul.

I have always been an extremely sensitive person.  I get hurt easily.  I cry often.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I don't hide my emotions well. 

Wait...let me rephrase those lines...I got hurt easily.  I cried often.  I wore my heart on my sleeve.  I didn't hide my emotions well.  All of that's changed now.  Maybe it's just what comes with age, but the strange thing is I still feel that sensitive girl in there, but I keep her on lock down.  I've trained myself to not cry, to not care, to not get too close. 

After years of feeling like I was always giving more than I was getting, of taking everything so personally, of getting knocked down by the slightest word or action - I stopped it.  I built thick walls, impossible to climb.

I'm not sure when it happened exactly.  I do know the first time I realized it though.  Three years ago.  It was just after Christmas, my sister called me crying.  My parents had split up.  My reaction?  Shrug.  Oh well, saw it coming.  Not one little fiber of my being ached.  My family had suddenly dissolved, and I didn't care.  People were sorry, people were sad for me and my response?  "Why?  I'm fine.  Seriously, I couldn't care less." And I truly, deeply meant it.

In the weeks that followed, I didn't shed a tear.  I didn't feel sorry for either of my parents.  When I asked my mom why it was never brought up before it just ended, her comment was somewhere along the lines of "Well, I tried - but Jaime, you know how sensitive you are."

But I'm not.  Not anymore.  I'm not that moody teenager scribbling feverishly in a journal.  I'm not that passionate college student crying herself to sleep at night.  I'm not that emotional young adult whining to my mom about a fight with a friend.  And though those feelings are still there...deep inside...I never let them out.

I thought it was a good thing.  I was way over the top before.  Now I could just be normal.  Have normal emotions.  But I think I may have gone too far the other way.  Being emotionally vacant definitely has it's perks.  I still get hurt, but I don't let it show.  I don't dare let on that I care.  I rarely cry anymore, because I associate that with weakness.  I don't dare show my weakness. 

However, there are down sides.  I don't hug, I don't say "I love you," I don't get excited over gifts or surprises, I'm not passionate about anything.  The good and bad of that is the same - keeps people away.

I see my daughter, so completely full of love for everyone and everything and I wonder how to preserve that in her.  How do I keep that trusting spirit without letting it hurt her?

I see my son, so very passionate about everything in life whether he's angry or elated and I wonder how I cultivate that in him.  How do I keep that passion and drive from beating him down until he's just like me?

My only saving grace is that when it comes to them, there is no emotional vacancy.  I love them recklessly.  I tell them that and hug them and kiss them with abandon.  I get excited and passionate for them - with them.

But with the rest of the world?  That line I wrote so many years ago rings true...because I can't imagine that I have allowed anyone to really know me.
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