Thursday, July 10, 2003

Feeling like an alien in my own family

I recently got an email from my cousin in Denmark. Unlike the majority of my family, she's someone I actually feel connected to, someone I can talk to.

I was an "alien" within my own family. I was born into a very "old"-- and old fashioned-- European family. Things were always done "a certain way," and I grew up in the spectre of the saying "Children should be seen, but not heard." As an introspective and highly sensitive child, I was OK with that.

The thing about my family-- as a group of people-- is that they are all (with the exception of this one cousin) "emotionally constipated." It is like someone has gone in and deactivated the DNA that connects them to the concept of "feeling." I mean, most of them are nice enough, and I suppose they mean well in a very "practical" sort of way. But I was never able to "connect" with any of them-- so although I grew up with a fair number of people in my life, I always felt completely alone. And, to this day, I have never been able to determine how the feeling dissociation in an entire family got to be so complete.

Personality inventories such as Myers-Briggs and the enneagram talk about "feeling" types and "thinking" types, and so forth. In my family, "non-feeling" struck me as more of a lifestyle than a personality trait. People who "felt" were viewed as weak, and occasionally as "hysterical." It was a desert wasteland for me to grow up in.

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