I don’t know about you but there are times when I’m in conflict that I forget to really listen to what is being said to me. Especially if it’s a rehash of something that has happened before. Oh I try to pay attention because I understand that what is going on is important but as often as not the mind starts to wander and then the old tapes start to play. You know how that goes when you are trying to guess which part is going to come next or you’re formulating your response in you head and just waiting for an opening that never comes.
But it’s important to pay attention because sure enough just when you think nothing new is happening bam it does. This happened to me just the other day. I thought I knew where a conversation was going when something new happened. I was told that I am emotionally unavailable. I’m glad I was paying attention.
This was something that I didn’t understand. I thought about it for awhile trying to figure out just what was meant by that. Finally I did what any reasonable person does when faced by a new term that sounds ambiguous and bad at the same time. I googled it.
Well that was a good call. There is an abundance of information on this topic and it runs through a spectrum of thoughtful commentary to vitriolic hate. A lot of it seemed like afternoon TV man bashing to be honest but as I read more and more a core of truth started to reveal itself to me. I’m not going to go into detail about what the term emotionally unavailable means because that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to see how this applies to me and the ongoing battle for my mind.
So the question remains am I emotionally unavailable? You’d think this was an easy question to answer but like most things in life it’s more complicated than that. The answer is both yes and no. A lot of being emotionally unavailable has to do with a lack of commitment to relationships and I don’t think that applies to me. But where I find myself answering yes is the part where I hide myself emotionally from people. I am very guarded with my feelings and I usually keep them to myself.
As I continued to think about this I asked myself a question I like to avoid whenever possible. I asked myself why. Why do I keep my feelings to myself? I mean I have them I just keep them hidden inside never to be shared with anybody else. I think Worthless is at work here once again. Why would anybody care how you feel anyway he’d ask. Feelings are dumb just squash them he’d tell me. Or here is one of his favorites if you share that feeling it’ll come back to get you. You’re just giving out the ammunition that everyone needs to attack you.
As I read the tweets and blogs and articles over the past week or so I saw over and over the hurt caused by people doing just what I’d been doing. I never occurred to me how hurtful not sharing feelings could be both to myself and to those that I claim to love and care about. There is good news though. Being emotionally unavailable is not a medical condition it is something you learn. That being so it can also be unlearned and so I am on the path of unlearning.
To those of you that I’ve hurt in the past by doing this I apologize. Mostly I say this to the important women in my life. To my mom, my sister, my daughters, and my wife I’m sorry.
If you’re doing this yourself I implore you to think about how your actions are hurting those around you. Be honest with yourself and get help if you need it. I can overcome this and so can you.