Thursday, 16 August 2012

No passion, no love, no emotion at all?

I'm not an emotional person. I live my life in a middle-of-the-road way, with only occasional dips into real sadness and tears. And I never seem to be more than ordinarily pleased and happy, wild joy eluding me.

For all I know there are zillions of people just like myself. But I've met plenty who do hit those big high and lows. They seem to get something very profound from enjoying (or suffering) whatever experience has pushed them over the edge into the extreme emotional territory that I've never visited. They have told me so. I'm not saying they have always emerged triumphant and undamaged. But they appear able to claim a higher level of living than I have ever achieved. They have gained some kudos, so to speak, where emotional matters are concerned. And, lamely, I have none - despite my own traumatic events, that in adult life have included divorce and family deaths. Apparently I still haven't suffered enough, or been ecstatic enough, to have any standing in this area.

I've often wondered what it must be like for them, to feel so much, and so deeply, and thereby become experts in emotion.

I have wondered what I could be missing, and whether there is a safe method of enlarging one's emotional response a bit at either end of the scale. For seeking sensation is usually a dangerous game. I think there are obvious advantages in keeping cool and controlled where provocations are concerned. But is it quite so good to stay so calm and collected when a more impulsive and carefree nature would yield to impulse, take all the danger and excitement offered, and abandon themselves to it without another thought, giving in to the overpowering emotional surge of the moment but experiencing something absolutely unforgettable? A moment of catharsis, perhaps. Confronting, losing, and finding. Seared by fire.

I've never been able to 'let go'. In fact I've tried desperately hard to avoid situations where giving in to an inpulse might be required. So I've never, even in metaphor, jumped out of the plane not caring about a parachute.

I don't feel inferior to those with a wide emotional capacity. On the whole I'm glad that I don't get easily swept away by just any sudden stimulus.

But why shouldn't I? What's it all about? I am at least curious to know why I'm so circumspect and unadventurous. Is it timidity? Some hang-up that needs sorting out? Or merely the way I'm made?

I've pondered the question of emotional response for a very long time. For decades. I never understood how some people could get so worked up by their beliefs, by patriotism, by injustice, by anger, by fear, or by love, that they would do desperate things. I simply accepted that it was so. I never saw why I wasn't inclined to become a martyr, or a fierce defender of civil liberties, or a berserk fighting soldier. Partly because self-analysis was not my forte. I went no further than saying that because I felt different, I must therefore have quite another kind of emotional life, quite distinct from the emotional lives of those who loved or fought or hated with passion. This was too easy. I was ducking the issue. I should have probed deeper. But then, what has rational enquiry got to do with unconscious impulse? Passionate lovers and passionate killers don't go in for self-analysis either.

When my hormone treatment commenced in 2009, I looked forward to changes in my emotional response. I expected to become unpredictably weepy, for instance; or inclined to grand gestures of delight. Nothing of the sort. I'm pretty certain that the oestragen has paved the way for some modifications, but I have not become a drama queen. In a mild sort of way, I feel 'freed up', more able to express how I really feel, less inhibited, less passive, but that's not saying very much. I think that my slight emotional progress has much more to do with at last knowing what I am, and with all the self-confidence that gives. I feel empowered by being me: the mask is off. I don't think it's much down to a changed body chemistry, or to new connections forming in my brain.

It has been flung at me that a 'real woman' has an outlook and emotional response that I absolutely fail to show. Certainly, most of the women I know are more easily upset than I am. And they seem to have a capacity for putting others first that I signally lack. And commonly they find pleasure in things that would bore me. I can't pretend an interest in certain 'typically female pursuits'. Perhaps, if I'd been exposed to them young enough, and for long enough, I'd have grown to like them. Like I do like ironing and washing up, and keeping things tidy, and cooking. Who can say?

Perhaps most of the 'typical' emotional responses women have are learned. And I could have learned them too, had I the opportunity. But do you learn passion? How? Are you born with it? If so, you must either have it, or you don't. In my case, clearly not. That probably means I'm stuck with my middle-of-the-road emotional life forever!


  1. You asked the question and I'll give you the answer as I see it Lucy. You are born with an emotional trait, it isn't something you learn. Some people are very emotional and sensitive by nature and others not quite so. There are others who usually do not show much emotion but at certain times find themselves breaking down in tears, whether they be tears of joy or tears of sadness. You only have to have seen Chris Hoy showing his emotional side at the presentation of his gold medals at the Olympics, normally he isn't given to public displays of his 'softer side' like that. I have seen the hardest of people suddenly breaking down in church when they come to Jesus and the relief on their faces as they pour out their hearts in release. Strong men of dubious character, immoral, hardened criminals too! You may say that you haven't experienced such strong emotion and you did but I think that even the hardest of hearts are capable of showing emotion. It all depends on the circumstances. Perhaps the right circumstances have simply not presented themselves yet Lucy. By the way, not all women are over emotional and neither are all men devoid of showing emotions, it's all a matter of degree and sensitivity of the individual. Remember, even a stubborn heart has its limits.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. Have you been observing the mass hysteria of olympics and wondering why you had not been overcome enough to wander the streets draped in the union flag?

    You are not alone in not getting carried away. I have observed the illogical human behaviour around me perplexed by the joy a ball being kicked can bring to a hundred thousand and simultaneously misery to another equally large group. have these people not evolved as far as us?

    I feel my HRT is like drinking a glass of Champagne rather than a whole bottle, a little emotional release but nothing which is going to have me run off and do something reckless...

    It would be nice to experience a great passion but then our analytical selves would hate it ruling our lives...

  3. Not all women are stereotypically gentle, vulnerable and weepy - Some are 'as hard as nails' !
    You are somewhere on the in-between spectrum - Which is healthy !


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