The Good And Bad Of Emotional Withdrawal

There are many times in life when we use coping methods to self-protect against pain, disappointment, rejection, and any other unfortunate situation one finds themself in.  Everyone is different and employs their own mechanism for dealing with melancholy emotions.

I have the ability to detach.

Over the last several years, I have wondered and analyzed how I am able to behave this way and I cannot explain it, but it is something I have done since childhood.  It has helped me when friendship fall apart, relationships fizzle, and disappointment runs high.  Though not always immediately, I find it easy to separate myself from a crappy situation.  They say time heals all wounds, but for me, I believe it is this somewhat crazy skill to mentally remove myself.

Particularly when it comes to people.

When I was a teenager, my biological father/sperm donor decided it would be easier to walk away from his relationship with me than deal with the inherent problems in his third marriage.  My once regular relationship with him ended abruptly when I decided one horrible night that I would no longer subject myself to the resentment and unhappiness that eminated from his wife.  I cried for hours and woke up the next morning with eyes so red and swollen it looked like Mike Tyson had spent the last several hours knocking me around.  Surprising to any good parent out there, the SD did not try to maintain any kind of contact with me.  Of course he checked on me the next morning, but after that the calls stopped.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that he tried to establish a relationship with me again and it was only because he was having problems with his wife.  At that point, he was not in contact with two out of his four children and I’m fairly certain he was more concerned with how that would look to the people at his church than he was about being a good father.  I can’t remember ever hearing I’m sorry for him completely walking away from me and treating me as if I was a mindless, emotional being.  All because I have a vagina.

Luckily, I kept my emotional distance and didn’t believe everything he told me.  When it came time for graduation, he was only invited because my mother asked me to invite him.  She told me that it would mean a lot to him to come, especially because he hadn’t gone to my sister’s.  I ended up giving him a ticket because it would make my mom happy and I knew deep down that it was probably the right thing to do.  To this day, he still thinks she turned me against him.  Idiot.

I can count on one hand how many words we have exchanged in the last decade and I am ok with not having a relationship with him.  It’s funny—and a little sad—but I have no happy memories of the SD.  I don’t remember ever running to him with a problem that only Daddy could solve or being excited to see him.  There must have been good times, but I literally cannot remember a single one.  This is where my skill has worked in my favor.  I don’t have happy thoughts of him, therefore I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not having him in my life.

Unfortunately, I find myself cold, distant, and quick to let people go.  I mean, if my biological father could so easily walk away from his child, anyone could walk away from me.  I have a hard time trusting people and can build emotional walls incredibly fast when things turn sour.  I can be completely devoid of emotion and I worry that this characteristic would make it hard for someone to love me.

This is when my “gift” becomes my curse.

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3 thoughts on “The Good And Bad Of Emotional Withdrawal

  1. Liz says:

    I think many people go through a stage where they don’t trust people and emotionally detach after someone has hurt them. I know when hubs deployed the first time, I emotionally detached because it was easier to pretend like he didn’t exist and go on with my own life than think about him all the time and wish he was there day after day.

    I know someday you will have the strength and courage to open up again, and let people in without worrying about getting hurt. It just takes a long time to be ready for that again. Love ya, girl!

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