A date with a coworker felt like a bright spot in 2020 (and maybe it was)?

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    Dear TeaK and Anita,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply… Wanted to write a quick reply before I head to the gym.

    To address your posts, TeaK. I do not know if it’s that I cannot say “no” to women. Part of me wanted to have sex because it has been quite some time since I had. While I could convince myself to the first time, there simply wasn’t a connection/attraction to her to continue to simply have sex for purely carnal or selfish reasons.

    I think my issue is more that I feel a sense of guilt/shame when I hurt or disappoint women. It feels as though women see me as something that I may not always be: A good man or a better man than most. I try to live up to their expectancies but often don’t. I’m sure some of it can be traced back to not wanting to disappoint my mother, but I honestly do not know.

    I did deal with anger issues with I was younger. I have never been physically violent with any woman, but I did kick a wall when I was maybe 21 after a fight with my wife at the time. I been in therapy off and on for 15+ years now, and time and work on myself and lessened the fire inside me.

    Anita, yes, I have certainly felt Acute distress and despair (and continue to do so at times). There are days—or periods of time during a day—when I am in the throughs of a dark spiral and cannot find a way to stop. I’ve learned that poor sleep or undereating “feeds” these feelings, so often a good meal or simply taking a nap may help a bit.

    As far as joy is concerned, it is a rare emotion. I have often been asked by counselors over the years if I feel joy, and my responses is nearly always no. While I treasure having the ability to get outside, and feel the endorphins when I go for a hike or a walk, I rarely find joy in it. I recognize that I am fortunate (blessed?) to have the physical ability to explore the world with all my senses, but there simply isn’t joy in it for me.

    I’ll try to expound more later.



    Dear Ryan:

    I will read and reply to you in about 7- 18 hours from now.



    Dear Ryan,

    I think my issue is more that I feel a sense of guilt/shame when I hurt or disappoint women. It feels as though women see me as something that I may not always be: A good man or a better man than most. I try to live up to their expectancies but often don’t.

    Right, so this would be a problem of feeling not good enough, even though e.g. your ex was singing your praises how good and amazing man you are.

    But if we don’t feel good enough – if we feel there’s something inherently wrong with us – no amount of outside praise and convincing will do. Sooner or later we’ll do something to “mess up”, and it will be a proof to ourselves and our partner that we indeed aren’t good enough. Self-fulfilling prophecy….

    Earlier we talked about your lack of self-worth, and this is similar, feeling not good enough, perhaps feeling unlovable? It all has to do with your childhood. Did your mother frequently criticize you? I know she scolded you for not using proper language, but did she criticize you a lot? How about praise – did she ever praise you? How about your father?

    If you’d like, describe a little bit your relationship with your parents, specially your mother, because I believe that’s the key to understanding your current problems.



    Dear Ryan:

    In your recent post, you shared that you are afraid to disappoint women, that you feel guilt and shame when you hurt or disappoint them.  As to the suggestion by TeaK that you may have suppressed your anger since you were a child, you answered that you kicked a wall in anger when you were 21, after a fight with your wife at the time, and that you’ve been in therapy for over 15 years, and that has “lessened the fire inside” you.

    As to my suggestion/ question about your ongoing emotional experiencing which you described in the past as “flat”, and which I called “an emotional monotone”, an ongoing low-intensity distress, no significant ups or downs, you answered that you certainly felt acute distress and despair and still do, at times, being in a “dark spiral and cannot find a way to stop”, especially if you lack sleep and food.

    You shared that joy is “a rare emotion.. nearly always no (joy)”. You do “feel the endorphins” when you go out for a hike or for a walk, but you “rarely find joy in it”. You have the ability, you say, to explore the world with all your senses, but for you, “there simply isn’t joy in it”.

    There was a time when you did feel joy, I know it because you were so moved when your former girlfriend’s toddler felt and expressed joy when you came to visit him: “Nearly every time I’d visit.. when I would walk in the door of their place, he would run around and scream, ‘(My name) is here! Mommy, (my name) is here!!'” (from your second thread, Sept 2020).

    When you visited he ran around and screamed with joy!

    Seeing, hearing, sensing his joy connected you to him, and through him- to your own, distanced, withdrawn, and rarely felt joy: “my practice at keeping my feelings and emotions at a distance… I have fleeting moments of happiness, but largely feel mirthless. It makes it hard to describe exactly what I’m feeling. Emotional withdrawal.. I just remain flat”, August 2, 2020.

    You wrote about your connection to her son: “my connection with her sweet son certainly helped to  break my walls of disconnect and withdrawal“, August 3, 2020, “I truly love her son and my relationship with him likely caused me to stay with her longer than I should have”.

    My closing thoughts for today with one more quote: at an early age, you withdrew, closing much of your emotions inside walls, then removed yourself from inside those walls and took residence outside of those walls. Her son gave you a glimpse into what’s inside those walls, the joy and desire!

    Often in your threads, you inserted long messages that your former girlfriend sent you, and messages that your former coworker and love-interest sent you. I used to wonder why you did that, since this is the first time I came across this practice in these forums. I think that I understand it now: you were trying to get a glimpse at what’s happening inside those walls in those messages. It’s as if you were hearing the women tell you what they see and hear inside those walls.

    “For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with accepting love and embracing it”, August 2, 2020- love was withdrawn from you when you were too young to remember, and as a result, you removed your need for love (and the joy at embracing love) from you and enclosed them within walls, stepping outside those walls.

    When your former girlfriend’s son ran around with joy when seeing you, it was like a cement block in that wall crumbled and you could see, still standing outside,  your joy that resides inside the walls.

    When a woman in your life shows up, wanting to embrace you (former girlfriend), even if a woman shows up that you want to embrace (former work colleague)- the embrace doesn’t happen, or couldn’t happen for more than a fleeting moment here and there, because you (your awareness) are residing outside the walls that enclose your need for love, as well as your joy at embracing love.



    Dear Ryan:

    I just submitted a post to another member who I believe have a lot in common with you. I think that you will find it very interesting to read his threads, particularly his subjective emotional experience of life. Both of you experienced lots of that flat emotional experience that you mentioned, rarely any joy, most of the time was either distress (sometimes acute distress) or that flat, dull affect.

    I understand more today than ever before, that the lack of joy is about not feeling connected to another person. For a social animal, such as a human, joy is in connecting and feeling connected to another person. To live while not feeling connected to another person is equivalent to living in a prison cell of sorts, the experience within that prison cell is a combination of distress and flatness, but rarely is there any joy. The rare joy you experienced some time ago was when you felt connected to the woman your thread is about.

    If you want to read the post I submitted to the other member, just before submitting this post to you, click on my name and you will find that post, plus the member’s threads.


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