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Disassociation is not necessarily a bad thing. It shields us from experiences of trauma and allows us to cope with everyday life until we heal enough to deal with the pain. It only becomes a problem when it becomes a habit and leads to an overall lack of ability to feel.

For me, disassociation is a horrible habit. When I was a child and young adult, I referred to this process as my band-aid process. I would systematically disconnect from the person or thing, relationship or association; then I would proceed to erase as much memory of that object as I could.

I have always been a highly sensitive person. I have always known the intents of people around me, and I would disconnect at any point I sensed negativity. I am a person who values highly the peace and calm around me. My dissociative ability has become an army of soldiers, quickly and efficiently dispatching any dangers to my peace and calm. When I was a child, I consciously dispatched objects of negativity. Now that I am older, it all happens as if automatons have taken up the job. This scares me.

After a lot of introspection, I have realized that this dissociative ability is the cause of my dulled feelings. I know I have a huge volcano of emotion within me, but I'm off in the distance, bobbing on the water, looking at that volcano.

Being so far from my own emotions is a loss for me. I want to be in a relationship with an emotional man, but if I cannot share the same depths of emotion with him, it will be lackluster. I KNOW that the way to truly great intimacy is to intertwine each other's great depths of emotion.

I am in touch with my emotions at any given time, on another note. I openly share how I am feeling when asked by someone I trust. But - it is awful. My emotions pop up like a comic thought bubble, and I just read the bubble to the person. I rarely/never FEEL the emotion, as if I were swimming in it. It just exists. I am angry, I analyze the source of anger rather than feeling it. I am in love, I just know I am but do not feel it as feelers do.

All of this upsets me. I've disassociated myself to oblivion. I talk with exes, and they are always sad that I remember nothing special that happened between us, or their quirks etc. I have disconnected completely from my adoptive family. I completely cut off all of my college classmates by disconnecting from Facebook and creating a new one where I have 8 friends.

I am making an effort to reconnect myself - and I am trying to stop my dissociative behavior, but I am failing. I want replies from feeler-types for advice.

Love you guys for advising :)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I'll share a poem I wrote 13 years ago, when I was 20.

"closing time"

closing time
sweep up all the debris
dust off all the counters
"make it like no one was here"

closing time
scrub, shine, polish
wash, dry, re-place
"make it like nothing was touched"

closing time
turn off the camera
store away the tapes
"make it like no one ever said anything"

closing time
pull down the shades
it's closing time
lock all the doors
"it's closing time"

let you out into the night
"you're free"

breathe

- shannamarie r.
 

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I don't know what to say here, sadly, except to say that I've experimented with dissociation with similar results to yours - using it at first just to help in extreme situations, then not noticing it take over and do its own thing and waking up one day and suddenly realizing that it's gone too far and not wanting to have it operate but not knowing how to stop it.

I guess maybe some of the things that have helped me have been to journal and write down those analyses of the sitation/feeling etc. It of course takes time, but the thing is it's let me notice patterns in my emotions and behaviors and instead of stuffing them down *somewhere* or letting them erupt inappropriately, it helps me to release them bit by bit so that they don't get overwhelming, but that I get to experience them and at the same time not pretend they're not there, or observe them from a distance. Maybe if you can do some introspection and find out what it really is you're hiding from - rather than it being something vague like "pain" or "hurt", that might give some clues?

The other thing I've come to realize is the scary part - to change and be open to others and to the fullness of life you have to be willing and able to accept pain and hurt. I don't like that proposition very much, mind you, but I don't see any way around it. That doesn't mean I know how to deal with that pain, so please don't think I'm being one of those Dr. Phil types that claims to know more than everyone but maybe doesn't know anything at all. I'm still working through it, but it seems like if you can somehow come to terms with that pain and see the good of things as they are instead of wishing they were better then you can get the benefit of the situation. One thing that I've read is a bit of advice for Type 9s - I'll quote it here:

...From this perspective, we can also see that their central problem has been how to awaken to themselves and how to maintain self-possession once they have attained it. The answer is that Nines must learn to accept suffering, especially the suffering involved with anxiety. Suffering, consciously accepted, has the ability to catalyze people, shocking them into awareness. Suffering also compels us to choose what meaning it has for us. When we choose a meaning for our experiences, we create ourselves. When Nines actively use suffering as a positive force in their lives, they not only give meaning to their lives, they sustain their awareness of themselves. The person who is able to give meaning to his or her suffering is both the self who suffers and the self who transcends suffering. In that moment, the self is aware and unified...
Don Richard Riso/Russ Hudson, Personality Types.

I don't know if this helps or if you're even having your question answered... I do hope so, though...
 

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I'm sorry to hear you had such a taxing past. While I can only imagine how strong and frustrating that response must be for you now, I've also had periods where I shut down emotionally. Something that helped me, a bit ironically, was getting out of my head.

Do you do any physical activities such as sports, yoga, hiking, etc? I'm sure there's some study that could back this up, but I know there can be a very strong connection between our minds and bodies. If you're in a negative or "blocked off" emotional state, your body may become similarly stiff. Even if you're healthy, you might unconsciously be holding yourself in a closed off way (arms crossed, hunched shoulders).

It doesn't seem like it would affect much, but I do remember a TED Talk where a psychologist showed that holding a more confident, dominant pose for even a few minutes vastly increased people's attitudes. That's just one example, but I found that being active helped my mind release blocked up emotions by starting with my body.

I did interval and weight training by myself - particularly the interval training was very fast and intense. I felt exhausted afterwards, and in a way I could release the anger/sadness I felt in an external way. My mind was blank while I was actually doing things, but I felt like I could be more honest with myself afterwards. When my physical reserves were depleted, it helped my mind be vulnerable again as well. You could start with letting yourself just "sit" with those memories after exercising. No set goals, just slowly letting yourself reconnect with them. You may find you start allowing yourself to feel in more ways than one.

It's a gradual process of course, but after a history of building up defenses, one has to give themselves time to heal.
 

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have you considered therapy?
 

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have you considered therapy?
I have, but the nearest therapist who accepts my insurance is 2 hours away. Not feasible. I was initially searching for a therapist because I have very strong and inborn abandonment issues.
 
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I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but when I need to feel emotions than I go in my room where I'm the only one around and allow them to come up. That way I can work through them by myself, and realize that they really aren't so terrible, but I don't have the added stress of someone else being in the same room as me. Once I've worked through them that way, it's much easier to let them out more naturally around others, because they feel safe, and I know I'm in control of them. Are you so disconnected from your emotions that you can't even feel them when you are alone? I'm not sure what to say in that case. I tend to hide mine until I have the time to go through them on my own. I'm truly terrible about talking about how I feel with anyone though too. I sound stilted. I find physical affection is far easier to show. Maybe you'll find that's just the way you show feelings when you get into a relationship. There is nothing wrong with that. You can show a lot of emotion through it.
 
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I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but when I need to feel emotions than I go in my room where I'm the only one around and allow them to come up. That way I can work through them by myself, and realize that they really aren't so terrible, but I don't have the added stress of someone else being in the same room as me. Once I've worked through them that way, it's much easier to let them out more naturally around others, because they feel safe, and I know I'm in control of them. Are you so disconnected from your emotions that you can't even feel them when you are alone? I'm not sure what to say in that case. I tend to hide mine until I have the time to go through them on my own. I'm truly terrible about talking about how I feel with anyone though too. I sound stilted. I find physical affection is far easier to show. Maybe you'll find that's just the way you show feelings when you get into a relationship. There is nothing wrong with that. You can show a lot of emotion through it.
Yes, I am that disconnected. I can identify them just fine, but I cannot feel them.

Yeah, last year I met a guy who opened a Pandora's box of emotions (my volcano) easily. I was practically swimming in them, and it was a joy-inducing experience. But when he showed me that he had just used me (INFJ, mind you), I had to spend the next 2.5 months gathering everything back up and putting it away.

If I hadn't put them back in their box, I feel as though I would have gone insane.

Thank you everyone for responding, it means a lot to me.
 

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I have, but the nearest therapist who accepts my insurance is 2 hours away. Not feasible. I was initially searching for a therapist because I have very strong and inborn abandonment issues.
Yeah I'm sorry to hear that. Your post was touching and I wish I had something good to offer but dissociating from strong emotions is common but sometimes the real cause is unclear so therapy is helpful. The very things we dissociate from, and like you say for good reasons too at least initially, are also the things that make us who we are. So when people dissociate for a long time, there comes a point that they get this sense that they are either robots or that they are lost. But to find the way home and also experience life it also means to face some demons of the past and that can be both time-consuming and difficult. Yet sometimes the desire or the need is strong enough that we are willing to put the time and effort and do it.
 
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My friend is helping me to go through an emotional purging.

I have to purge my core belief, the pains I have experienced and that built that belief, the emotions I feel when that core belief is triggered. I'm pretty damn good to have come this far in a couple days.

I already have all of these entities identified within me, separated from my person, visualized... But I have yet to purge them.

The way to purge negative core beliefs is to adopt a positive core belief.

Hopefully someone will benefit from this thread in the future. I hope so.
 

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I...have done the exact same thing...it was so simple...nasty emotions? Don't want to be "here" as something happens? Tired of listening? Just withdraw...dissociate. Go away.

And now I am so out of touch with myself that I'm practically alexithymic. When someone asks "how do you feel?" I genuinely don't know, so I go off of physical condition. I tried therapy, but it just never clicked.

The closest I've gotten to being "connected" with my emotions was from a very strong semi-lucid dream that I woke up shaking and crying from, and that was only after meditating every evening for a few weeks before. Admittedly, the meditation is still helping. It isn't as quick as I'd like, but I'm slowly feeling more attached to myself.

Good luck to you on your journey :)
 

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I...have done the exact same thing...it was so simple...nasty emotions? Don't want to be "here" as something happens? Tired of listening? Just withdraw...dissociate. Go away.

And now I am so out of touch with myself that I'm practically alexithymic. When someone asks "how do you feel?" I genuinely don't know, so I go off of physical condition. I tried therapy, but it just never clicked.

The closest I've gotten to being "connected" with my emotions was from a very strong semi-lucid dream that I woke up shaking and crying from, and that was only after meditating every evening for a few weeks before. Admittedly, the meditation is still helping. It isn't as quick as I'd like, but I'm slowly feeling more attached to myself.

Good luck to you on your journey :)
Real change inside yourself will always require lots of time, energy and focus. It is something that will have to continue throughout life, so as not to reenter the dissociative state again. It took a friends death to realize how distant I had become from feeling my emotions. I remember the day he died and I found out about it, that first I denied it as a hoax but sitting in a funeral and being the only one with a dry face, is clearly a sign about yourself. Even though I have long ago accepted death as inevitable does not mean I should still not be feeling something. That was when I decided I was lost from my emotions and lacked understanding of them and needed to spend time re-feeling my past negative feelings that I buried. Came to realize the amount of stuff I didn't know about myself and the tons of shit I was lying to myself about. It has been a year and a half since that day and have made real improvement but still always feel that weakness to push those feelings down and bury them.

My turning point in finding my emotions was a couple months after my friends death when another friend came up to me and asked where I been and why I didn't answer anyone attempts to contact me. Told her I enjoy alone time every now and then and she made a comment that came from left field. All she said was, "You have a lot of people that love you!". At first I was too numb from shock that it took until I got in my car to make a delivery that a sudden downpour of tears overtook me. It was both memorizing and terrifying at the same time but were not your typical sad tears. No melancholy lingered in my gaze or a drop in overall energy. No, this tears were caused by something that I lost long time ago, happiness. That is correct, everyone, the more I pushed the sadness away, the more I forgot the feeling of being happy. It clicked a couple days later that I was not searching for happiness in life but learning how to make the most out of any situation that crossed my path. I needed to hurt before I could learn how to heal.

Best of luck to all who find the need to start a life search.

Peace,
TheLordlyOne
 

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Someone asked me if I was able to get in touch with my emotions. I did, this is how.

Hi duen, yeah i can relate to what you wrote. I was very detached in my youth, still am in fact. there is definately a buffer between me and reality. Did you manage to reconnect to your emotions over the last few years? If so what helped?
Yes!

It took meditating (you are already good at this!) on my core values. Core values are very short sentences that make up your person. My old core values:

I am unloved. (Moon conjunct south node)
I am unloveable.
I do not matter.
I am not special.
I am not wanted.

Supporting beliefs and predictions:

Nobody loves me.
Nobody wants me.

Linked issues:
Caring, sharing, unconditional loving, balancing my giving and receiving

This is my personal work list. Be objective when you make your own: Typical negative core beliefs

What I did was enter my heart place while meditating, which is a white room in the center of a big fiery sun. I went over my life, and analyzed all of my painful memories that supported the negative core beliefs. Each memory became a handful or a huge wad of clay - and I built a statue with the clay. I did not exclude any memory. This took a couple days.

I started to focus on positive core beliefs and reasons they were true and applied to me.

When the statue was finished, I began to purge myself by disposing (burning by dropping pieces through a black hole in the center of the white room into the Sun) of pieces of the statue and saying positive core beliefs for each burned piece.

The Sun is my own personal visualization- I am sure you have or will have your own.

After this I felt like a new person. It became easier to share and be nice to others. I was always polite, but that is different from nice. You are more able to become vulnerable with select others, and vulnerability is where the ability to feel is.

I can answer any questions if I was unclear, this was my journey.

AND JOURNAL, JOURNAL, JOURNAL! Journaling is good for us head types. iOS app I use: DayOne. Apple Store link:https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/app...s/id1044867788?mt=8&at=10lnHI&ct=dayoneappcom
 

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I don't usually post on this forum, but your post popped up accidentally, and I thought I could offer a different perspective because I am mostly the opposite of you. I am INTJ, and I always know what I am feeling, and I never disassociate. My feelings accompany me constantly, but I control them. Usually I do well at this. When I fail at holding them in, the volcano erupts outwardly. I go off by myself to cry, but I openly rage at people.

I want you to know that nothing bad will happen to you if do this. Live in your feelings until you break open. Crying resets your brain. Just don't let people see you vulnerable like that. Bleeding attracts sharks. Keep your outer boundaries strong.

Yell at people. It feels good afterwards. They deserve it. If you lose them, you have lost nothing but the source of your anguish. At best, they might respect you more and re-establish a more balanced relationship. Either way, you will feel better about yourself.
 

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I understand that dissociation can be a mechanism that you may have conscious control over in some cases but from what I've learned and read, it's not particularly protective. In fact, it leads to a higher chance of being traumatized by what happened during those periods (especially if these occur repeatedly) because your brain is not processing and storing these memories properly. Dissociation is thought to stem from your nervous system going into a sort of break-down mode (sort of what happens when you accept death because you've given up fighting or fleeing). This also reduces activation in your thalamus which is responsible for sending nervous input to the right parts of the brain. Later it's harder to retrieve the whole image and process it/gain perspective on it. So a scent may trigger part of a memory while a word may trigger another part of the memory that you react to but you don't remember it properly etc.
All that being said dissociation is one step below fight or flight on the coping scale. Therapy would honestly be the best option (with a trauma informed therapist) but you said that this would be difficult to come by.
I can reccommend a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk It'll give you a much better understanding of where these reactions come from and how you could go about easing back into your body and your emotions.

Based on what is said in that book, as well as personal experience here is some more concrete advice:
The goal is to get yourself to a point where you are physically and emotionally relaxed and connected to your environment. Things like meditation and yoga can be good for this. Basically it's to get your nervous system out of dissociation and also out of fight or flight into a state of safety where you are able to calmly connect with immediate sensations. In those states explore how your body feels and whatever other feelings may come up and allow them to just take you for the ride. Don't force it, don't judge it, just wait for it to come to you. It will be difficult at first. Personally I would actually get a lot of visceral fear as I was starting to let go of the past and future. This is good. Stay with it, explore that feeling as well. All of this is basically to get you to practice transitioning from dissociation to a state of actual calm.

As you get more comfortable with accessing your emotions you can also try evoking painful memories from the past, bit by bit and mourn them, write about them, explain them in a more coherent and contextualized way. This is more to process events that are still evoking painful or unbearable emotions. The goal of this is not so much to drown in your emotions rather than get through what you didn't allow yourself to feel and think before. In this case it's really crucial to intermittently check in with the present and check in with your body and re-establish a sense of safety. If you need to put on a phone timer to remind you to come back, and do something that's meditative or that makes you feel safe. Have something that keeps you grounded to the present. It's sort of finding your way out of a flashback.

When you're having better days, or moments where you're not feeling too threatened or in danger, try to be mindful and connected in social situations. Practice feeling that meditative safety interacting with other people. It helps to do this with pets first. Animals are a good place to start an interpersonal connection without the social aspect. Personally this is where I'm at right now, I'm trying to get back to a place of allowing myself to be open to other people but animals are much safer.

Before relapsing I got to a point where I really could be vulnerable and receptive to the people around me. I didn't have to think about my words or reactions. Everything just became more spontaneous and in the moment. I felt safe an accepted and had a sense of belongingness. This is in my opinion the goal to aim for. Think of children and how they interact with friends.

Best of luck and courage with this! Check out the book if you can!
 

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I understand that dissociation can be a mechanism that you may have conscious control over in some cases but from what I've learned and read, it's not particularly protective. In fact, it leads to a higher chance of being traumatized by what happened during those periods (especially if these occur repeatedly) because your brain is not processing and storing these memories properly. Dissociation is thought to stem from your nervous system going into a sort of break-down mode (sort of what happens when you accept death because you've given up fighting or fleeing). This also reduces activation in your thalamus which is responsible for sending nervous input to the right parts of the brain. Later it's harder to retrieve the whole image and process it/gain perspective on it. So a scent may trigger part of a memory while a word may trigger another part of the memory that you react to but you don't remember it properly etc.
All that being said dissociation is one step below fight or flight on the coping scale. Therapy would honestly be the best option (with a trauma informed therapist) but you said that this would be difficult to come by.
I can reccommend a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk It'll give you a much better understanding of where these reactions come from and how you could go about easing back into your body and your emotions.

Based on what is said in that book, as well as personal experience here is some more concrete advice:
The goal is to get yourself to a point where you are physically and emotionally relaxed and connected to your environment. Things like meditation and yoga can be good for this. Basically it's to get your nervous system out of dissociation and also out of fight or flight into a state of safety where you are able to calmly connect with immediate sensations. In those states explore how your body feels and whatever other feelings may come up and allow them to just take you for the ride. Don't force it, don't judge it, just wait for it to come to you. It will be difficult at first. Personally I would actually get a lot of visceral fear as I was starting to let go of the past and future. This is good. Stay with it, explore that feeling as well. All of this is basically to get you to practice transitioning from dissociation to a state of actual calm.

As you get more comfortable with accessing your emotions you can also try evoking painful memories from the past, bit by bit and mourn them, write about them, explain them in a more coherent and contextualized way. This is more to process events that are still evoking painful or unbearable emotions. The goal of this is not so much to drown in your emotions rather than get through what you didn't allow yourself to feel and think before. In this case it's really crucial to intermittently check in with the present and check in with your body and re-establish a sense of safety. If you need to put on a phone timer to remind you to come back, and do something that's meditative or that makes you feel safe. Have something that keeps you grounded to the present. It's sort of finding your way out of a flashback.

When you're having better days, or moments where you're not feeling too threatened or in danger, try to be mindful and connected in social situations. Practice feeling that meditative safety interacting with other people. It helps to do this with pets first. Animals are a good place to start an interpersonal connection without the social aspect. Personally this is where I'm at right now, I'm trying to get back to a place of allowing myself to be open to other people but animals are much safer.

Before relapsing I got to a point where I really could be vulnerable and receptive to the people around me. I didn't have to think about my words or reactions. Everything just became more spontaneous and in the moment. I felt safe an accepted and had a sense of belongingness. This is in my opinion the goal to aim for. Think of children and how they interact with friends.

Best of luck and courage with this! Check out the book if you can!
Thank you very much for your words and advice.

What you have said is very true.

Shortly after I made this post, probably in 2014 — I managed to successfully dismantle my system of dissociation. I did this through meditating (I could go into it in more depth, but I would prefer her not to). I may have posted about this above.

But the situation is solved, and I have my emotional man now. My emotions are freely expressed, and I feel them as though I am swimming in them like normal people.

Happy!
 
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