I welcome your comments, suggestions, and your stories. I moderate all comments so nothing will be approved for public viewing if you prefer to remain anonymous, or if you prefer only to communicate with me. You can reach me at email@example.com.
That being said, on this page you will find articles and resources that I think might help you along the way. They might be helpful. They might be provocative. They might be mind-bending. The point is that they help us think differently, see the world or ourselves differently, or edify us so that we find our fire which generates new internal energy to keep growing and moving ahead.
- Neuroscientists and the Dalai Lama Swap Insights on Meditation, Scientific American. This is a fascinating article on the neuroscience behind meditation and mindfulness. You do not need to practice Buddhism to benefit from reading this. I encourage you to read this simply because it lets you step into science behind how your brain functions when you practice focusing…and when you don’t. Why do we suffer from the whims and follies of our reckless “neurowanderings”? Can we do something about it? Well, yes, it seems that we can. Okay, but can we do something about it short of joining a Buddhist monastery? Read on.
- Five Ways to Stop Catastrophizing: When all is lost, try this.
- In Praise of Gratitude
- Nine Mental Habits that Can Make You Feel Bitter
- Seven Ways to Combat Facebook Jealousy
- The Emotional Immune System
- Normal Marital Sadism
- Healing the Shame of Childhood Abuse through Self-Compassion
- 7 Factors Affecting Orgasm in Women
- How to Grow Up
- Sexual Harassment 101: What Everyone Needs to Know (The Guardian)
- Resisting Rulemaking: Challenging the Montana Settlement’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Blueprint (this is published in Notre Dame Law Review and provides an excellent “blueprint” for what schools, colleges, and universities should do under Title IX policies and procedures in the context of harassment/sexual harassment/sexual assault. It is also excellent in terms of educating oneself in the language of Title IX and what one’s rights are as well as what one should expect in terms of what Title IX provides. It is a must read if you attend a school that receives federal funding aka FAFSA funding.)
- The Effects of the Narcissist’s Disappearing Act: Learned Helplessness and Operant Conditioning
- Life as The Scapegoat in Emotionally Unhealthy Families
- Are Fears of Self-Compassion Holding Us Back? (this is a very good article with resources and citations attached)
- What Happy People Do Differently
- The Influence of Shame on Post-Trauma Disorders: Have We Failed to See The Obvious?
- How Important Are Our Memories for Our Identity?
I am so appreciating reading your work. I have recently discovered that there is a name for my mom’s “crazy”- BPD. Of course, she is undiagnosed and will probably remain that way unless by some miracle. My dad died of brain cancer almost 2 years ago, and during that time, she lost her mind almost completely. It was horribly painful. Ive never experienced a despair like that. I was pregnant with my firstborn daughter, my father dying of a terminal disease, and my mom taking all the attention for herself. Although there were few seasons where I would say she was normal, it was rare and the inconsistency left us kids on some very shaky ground. The odd thing is, I was in such a web of manipulation, I didn’t even see it for what it was. IT has been HELL to face this- not to mention, certain family member take her side or minimize because they see the nice version of her.
I began having panic attacks when my daughter was 8 months old. Although I had experienced anxiety throughout my childhood, I had never had a nervous breakdown before. Obviously, had some post partum, undealt with grief and things I was not yet willing to face with my relationship with my mom. I have been working with a wonderful Christian counselor and a naturopath for a year now to get my body, mind and spirit back in shape as I worked through some dark, painful issues. I have seen much improvement, but I can see that there is still much work to do. It wasn’t until about 3 months ago that my husband and I decided we had done all we could to try and reconcile with my mom, but she clearly did not see the damage she had done. She did not respond to any of my boundary setting well and continues to infringe on that, acting like we are best friends- but only able to talk about herself without any consideration as to the pain she has brought to my life.
Do/did you find it hard to accept things about you that were like your mom? My mom is incredibly creative, an amazing seamstress, can be very loving and generous. I don’t want to hate those things about myself-because those are good things! I have forgiven her (I hope! it’s a process for sure!), so I’m not sure why it is hard for me to accept those things. I have been working through this with my counselor, but was wondering if you had more specific advice on this.
It has been a devastating journey- I know God is not done yet, but it is hard to walk through- especially with a young child and new husband! You can email me personally, or just post to this site. Thank you for any advice you may have!
I’m highly aware of my emotions and my husband is Alexithymic. After 16 years together I’m struggling with how to deal with this. I love him and don’t want to give up on him or us. Any advice would be appreciated. I’m thankful I found this page.
Hi Michelle, I’m very conscious of the delicate nature of any advice I give. I don’t know the ins and outs of your situation. That being said, this is what I can say speaking in generalities.
1. Alexithymia is generally a symptom. It’s not a syndrome on its own. So, it’s good to ask what the context for your husband’s alexithymia is? That is the better place to start. Is he anxious? Is he on the autism spectrum? Are there past issues of trauma? The alexithymia is a manifestation of something else. You are interfacing with something else when you interface with alexithymia. What might that be?
2. Hold onto yourself. Make sure to build out your own life and address any symptoms of AfDD. If you read the list of symptoms of Affective Deprivation Disorder and related, then address that. And read Dr. David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage. It is by far one of the best books on personal development within the context of long-term relationships I’ve come across. You can be an individual while being in a less than perfect relationship. And developing your own sense of self and healing any hurts that you’ve sustained along the way is one of the best ways to stay the course if that’s what you want.
These are the first two things I would say.
All the best, MJ
I suspect my husband has alexythymia ..this answers so many questions. I am grateful to have found this blog I feel as though I have been given some hope to hold on to all this time I thought it was me. I was too aware of emotions..an empath and an alexythemic what a combo.
Hang in there. You are NOT alone. As you can see…
In reply to Yvonne (above), I too, am married to a man with alexithymia and I happen to be highly empathic. After 9 years of marriage, I’m only now finally beginning to understand what has been going on, in my husband’s and my interactions. It helps to be able to define it. Anyway, I long for natural connection with a partner (I have this with friends, but of course it’s not the same). I don’t know whether I’ll stay or leave; I have a stepson who means the world to me (and I mean a lot to him, partly due to having stayed and not leaving him). My stepson (20 yrs old) and I would miss out on a lot together if I leave my husband, even if I frequently visit/talk with my stepson, etc.
One of the most challenging aspects of living with my husband is that he lets me treat him any which way. So, if I’m irritable, for example, he avoids mentioning it and is seemingly unaware and unaffected. If I’m excited about something, he’ll sort of listen, but he has no interest in whatever might interest me. For instance, I’m a psychotherapist, and my husband cannot tolerate conversations that are psychologically oriented. I’m so lonely for a companion, a partner, who would give me feedback, help me be my best self (and would want the same from me), who would set boundaries, who would have an emotional response to me. I guess I’m feeling sorry for myself, right now.
Thank you for blog. I am 37yrs. into my marriage to a man with symptoms of depression, PTSD(since childhood), past substance abuse-alcohol(still a “dry drunk”) and the list goes on. I am highly sensitive, insightful and a fixer. Alexithymia is new to me. My son sent me this blog and other info on this subject. The validating peace – knowing there is a name for my husband’s lack of empathy, limited emotions, angry dismissive behaviors- is a “phew” for me. After all of these years, our relationship has only worsened. I am in isolated, self protecting mode. He is in isolated Alexithemic mode. It is not a good place to be. He refuses therapy. Thankfully, I have wonderful children and friends but long for a loving, sensitive to me, partner. I am at the crossroad of do I stay or do I go? Often I just shut down completely- he is emotionally abusive. For a period of time I became a bit like him- snapping back, not caring how my words might hurt him. So unlike me and destructive to myself that this added to my depression. Thus , I isolate. I have lost myself. The adventurous, creative, social ,registered nurse is being chipped away. So it feels.
I long for a unsolicited hug, to be understood by my partner and loved for who I am. He does superficial relating very well. Often I think”Wow. If only he could talk with me like that”. I see a glimmer of hope on occasion, when he talks civilly to me. So I fall for it and stay here only to be let down again after 1 or 2 weeks. Now I know that in this present state, he might not be capable of emotions and empathy.
I won’t ramble on anymore. Your blog has helped me . I do feel validated that others are experiencing this. I’m not alone in this. You have also provided a wealth of helpful information. Thank you so very much!
I am so very sorry that you find yourself in this place. As I read your comment, I felt a familiar pang of understanding and profound compassion. I relate to what you have written. I have felt very similar emotions and struggled similarly. I do not say anything with insouciance or whimsically. I say the following with great care: your life can be different than it is currently. My ex and I ended our marriage in 2015. I am now in a relationship with what I can only characterize as the polar opposite to my ex-husband–in every way. I didn’t even know that men like him existed, but they do. I didn’t know that leaving that marriage would change me as it has. You are still the beautiful, creative, adventurous, nurturing woman. She’s still in there.
I’m in Traditional Chinese Medical school. The TCM view of our bodies and emotions is very different than the Western view–which brings other good things to the table. It has helped me gain a more holistic understanding of what was happening to me and others when I look at a person in the context o living in unhealthy relationships.
Bad relationships devour our “Qi”. It is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) concept–Qi (‘chee’). It refers to the functionality of the body (not the Taoist principle in this case). In TCM, our liver system distributes our body’s Qi which, in simple terms, is responsible for our energy, our functionality, and ability to think and engage in higher functions. The liver is also affected by trauma and stress and stores our blood. AND..all our emotions are affected by how our liver is doing. When we are in highly stressful circumstances, the liver cannot move the body’s Qi and it stagnates. This can cause depression, anger, and mental and physical fatigue. I was so very tired and mentally foggy when I was in my marriage. I couldn’t see that there were other options for me. I blamed myself for not knowing more or better or for staying when I shouldn’t have…Consequently, I felt stuck and confused. Like I couldn’t leave or hope for more. For some people, that manifests as lashing out. For others, it manifests as sinking into the situation more–depression. This is what the liver system is doing according to TCM principles–the Qi is stagnating due to stress and trauma causing the Liver Yang to become overly exuberant (lashing out) as well as the overall Qi to fail to move properly (depression) which affects the Gallbladder–the seat of the body’s decision making causing confusion and indecisiveness. In this state, it is common for migraines to develop and menstrual problems to increase. This is one view of what is happening in a person under stressful circumstances–like living in a bad marriage.
Unhealthy relationships affect the whole You. We know this, but we don’t quite…really know this. It reaches into every system and expresses particularly. It’s easier to blame ourselves, and say, “Well, I just should have known.” We should not have known because we go into marriage trusting our partners. We don’t anticipate that they will become the ones to hurt us. I encourage you wholeheartedly to build out a life for yourself that represents everything that you could possibly want. It might feel weird or, maybe, like a hopeless endeavor in the beginning. But, those first steps will take you out of where you are and into where you want to be. Having done it, I can say that you are worth every effort you make. As are your kids. I wish you every good and wonderful thing in life. Please keep in touch. I would love to know how you are doing…I’m glad to know my blog helped you in some way. That means a lot to me. Shalom…MJ