I am an emotionally closed person. I have been the majority of my life. My usual phrasing for people is "emotional constipation" and that's about the only part of my emotions that I will volunteer. I would rather stroll naked through a mall than go to therapy or counseling. I'm more comfortable saying the word "vagina" than I am saying the word "feelings" (Ugh...I don't even like typing it...). I'm not saying it's right or ok, but it is what it is. In most cases, I will simply make it clear (when necessary) that I don't do emotion, sympathy or attachment. For those that are in my close circle of friends I go into a bit more detail. We joke about how closed off I am. How I would be the worst character in a horror movie since I don't scare easily and wouldn't freak out at the usual cliché things. How I could do all the break ups for them since I don't have heart strings to pull at. When something happens that would upset most people, we smile and I say "yeah but I'm dead inside". But almost inevitably, those close to me and those that barely know me will make a comment about it not being true. That, in reality, I care and just don't want to show it. For those that I'm not close with, the comments roll off me. Those that are my good friends are partly right. They are right in that their constant and stubborn refusal to accept the way I am is something I very much care about.
For example, I don't do birthdays. It's not an aging thing. After 3 years in a row of truly horrible birthdays, I decided that any attempt to celebrate the day would result in disaster and I would be happier to just have a normal day. I shared this with all of my friends and family. The reasoning, the logic behind it and that I truly desired absolutely zero recognition of the day. No cards. No gifts. No cakes, cookies or treats. Not even just a happy birthday wish. Absolutely, positively nothing. And one by one, they have almost all ignored me. They buy a card that's not a birthday card because "technically it's ok". They give me a "just because" gift that "just happens to be on a special day". And every one of them has been truly hurt and offended when I refuse to accept them or return them. I tried very hard initially to soothe hurt feelings but after a couple years of this it got tiring. I began to question what it was I was apologizing for. I clearly and blatantly stated that I did not want any gifts, cards or recognition and they gave me one anyways. Why am I the bad guy for enforcing my request? Why do you get to tell me that I don't really feel that way inside? I know how I feel and right now I feel mad that you can't honor my request to literally do nothing. So which part of this is my fault? Which part was unclear? Which part was so difficult that you just couldn't comply? Which part of the way I am is so glaringly unbelievable to you that you get to decided you know me better than I know myself? Let me give you a glimpse at me and maybe that will help you understand that, yes, I am genuinely that dead inside. I am genuinely that cold.
At a very early age, I learned that in my particular family, a thin skin was a liability. Without getting into detail, if I wanted to survive long enough to be able to start out on my own I better be physically strong, mentally tough and emotionally empty. And any emotion that was there had damn sure better not show. That was my foundation and as unpleasant as it sounds, it set me up perfectly for becoming a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) wife. When your husband is a LEO, it permeates into every aspect of your life. For this particular topic, this is relevant in a couple ways. I know more than I want to. I know better than most how many pedophiles are in the community my children play in. I know better than most that the second chance someone is claiming a right to is actually a third, fourth, fifth or sixth chance. I know better than most how many of my co-workers have a serious criminal record. Not because my husband has run illegal background checks but because I've learned to spot the signs. I can spot those that have past addictions and I can usually predict with disappointing accuracy how many of them are going to relapse. I can also point out the ones that are in the middle of relapsing and lying to everyone around them. Liars are everywhere and once you learn how to spot them, you can't turn it off. Even though some times I want to. I'm cynical and jaded and despite the cold start in life I mentioned earlier, I didn't used to be this way. It's harder and harder for me to see the good in people. In the last 2 months alone I have uncovered a predator that my children were deliberately exposed to by colleagues, I have witnessed the burial of a fellow LEO, I have been lied to by a friend who was having a legal "misunderstanding", I have discovered some relationship ending indiscretions of a friend and I've had to step back and watch as a friend unknowingly walked down a fiery path of destruction but I'm bound by confidentiality from saying anything. I have lost track over the years of people that I've had to walk away from because not only were their choices morally wrong, but a direct conflict with my husbands job. I am ridiculed and harassed and mocked because I won't stay at a party where people are openly smoking pot but in reality, staying could cost my husband his job.
So yes, I really am that cold. I have hardened my emotions and turned off most of what I call optional humanity. My life only has room for the base emotions and I've stopped connecting with people freely. I am hard to reach and I need to be. For my own survival. And honestly, I'm happier this way. When I tell you I don't feel sorry for someone, I mean it. When I say I don't have time for that kind of drama and headache, I mean it. When I say someone's hardship is their own fault and they can deal with it on their own, I mean it. When I say I'm not interested in making friends, I mean it. When I say I'm not sad about something, I mean it. When I say I don't want any celebration of my birthday, I. Mean. It. I am not your project. I am not something you need to fix. Take me or leave me but you can't change me. And don't be surprised that I'm not actually invested in what you decide to do. I truly, genuinely, from the very bottom of my cold dead heart, have better things to spend my time on.