My wife said something the other day that stuck in my mind.
She mentioned something about seeing a curtain come down on my face and seeing the "no emotion" face. I think that may be a key for me to unlock one of my emotional "closets." I wrote about this very thing in my journal back in 1994.
After my first wife had a bad car wreck where she could have been killed, I showed up very businesslike to pick her up and bring her home. But her boyfriend (whom she later married - that's another story for another time) showered her with affection, hugging her passionately and cried, "You could have been killed!" Even when I wrote about it in my journal, I remarked that I had absolutely no emotion about it. It seemed like whatever emotion I was supposed to feel was stuck somewhere deep inside me, and I had no access to it, even if I really wanted to know what I was supposed to feel. I stuck a text box in the printed version of my journal with a question mark asking "What goes here?"
That event surely helped precipitate our divorce, which was overdue anyway, now that I have the perspective of time to look back on it.
I'm intrigued by the realization that my emotions go into a black hole when I feel emotionally overloaded.
I surely developed this technique as a coping mechanism to survive the family of my upbringing where I was not allowed to express negative emotions. It allowed me to escape certain punishment then, but it also lets my true emotional state escape even my own scrutiny. It's most likely a part of a codependence complex. I utilize it when things are just too bad to be real - like when my 2nd wife was sick with leukemia, or maybe when I'm stuck in traffic and everyone around me is fuming and cussing - I can just float away on my imaginary cloud of bliss and lalalalala.... Of course this is a useful thing to be able to do if you want to avoid high blood pressure and lessen the stress of urban living, etc. And it may come in handy in situations where it would be dangerous to express one's true emotional state (e.g., confrontations with dangerous men).