Feeling right at home on the Enterprise.
Feeling right at home on the Enterprise.
I once had a couple’s therapy session that left me sweating through every layer of clothing that I had on. It dealt with the two things that I struggle with the most: emotions and the expressing of them.

See, there’s a reason why that guy I married called me “Foxy Spocksy.” We both believe that I’m part Vulcan.

Vulcans, for my non-Star Trek geek readers, are (from Wikipedia) “an extraterrestrial humanoid species in the Star Trek universe who evolved on the planet Vulcan, and are noted for their attempt to live by reason and logic with no interference from emotion.”

Yup, that’s me — I see emotions as something to be squelched, something to be avoided, nothing but trouble. And logic, ah, logic is my happy place. It’s safe and it’s easy to understand.

I have been known to end friendships because of too many emotional outbursts. And I avoid family members who don’t display enough logical thinking. Though there’s something positive to be said about that: I credit that behavior with the fact that I have ended up surrounding myself with some of the greatest, well-adjusted people on Earth.

In fact, rejecting most of my emotions as useless crazy-making bullshit has generally helped me out in life with almost every relationship, but the one I had with my husband…

Turns out, perhaps unless you’re married to another Vulcan, this whole rejection-of-emotions thing can really make your partner crazy, and often hurt their feelings. It also means that I don’t generally understand my own husband’s emotions.

When you run from your emotions all the time, it lessens your frame of reference for such things as feelings — making empathy hard to come by. It also means that the person who is married to a part-Vulcan often finds themselves needing to state such obvious things as, “when I’m crying, you need to hug me.”

Interestingly enough, I think my Vulcan side is one of the reasons I had ended up with a partner who’s really in tune with his emotions… I must have seen something in that that intrigued me, or at least (I hope) I must have seen the potential for him to teach me what I was missing. Or MAYBE I thought (unconsciously) “Oh, he’ll do all the emotion-ing for the both of us. So I’m set.”

I wonder if this is common with us part-Vulcans — the marrying of more emotional beings. Because, for the most part, he DID do all the emotion-ing. We often tag teamed things like upset friends. Aaron leveled with them on the feelings part, and I came in as the distraction — made them laugh, or think of anything else but their sads. And it worked… but not when it’s JUST the two of us involved.

Learning how to get “in touch with my emotions” has now become one of the things I’m trying to work on in my life. Wish me luck? Because, if that therapy session was any indication, this shit ain’t gonna be easy for me.

Though I did learn something to help me in my efforts. Our therapist told me, after I confessed that feelings give me the wiggins, “feelings can’t hurt you… it’s what you DO with them that can.”

In related news: Foxy Spocksy is totally my roller derby name. Even though I’m never playing Roller Derby — I have a low pain threshold, it just wouldn’t be logical.

So, who has tips on how to not run away from my scary scary feelings?

Comments on Why part-Vulcans make bad partners

  1. Anyone else just find it ironic that Megan had a quick baby acting gig. Acting a thing you must be in touch with your emotions in order to do. Probably a good thing the little baby part Vulcan realized that life wasn’t for her.

  2. It’s not surprising that so many people have difficulty putting emotions into words. I’m pretty sure that emotions are experienced in a different part of the brain and to translate them into the language part of the brain takes connection of neurons that doesn’t just happen automatically. It’s also like pre-verbal trauma or even pre-verbal memories…our bodies and minds have memories and experiences before we have language, and so we feel things but are unable to communicate them as children (think 2-3 year olds and younger). It takes practice for little kids to put words to emotions ‘i’m sad because you broke my toy,’ before that it’s a primitive wail full of feeling, but words aren’t the first thing we know, feelings are.

  3. Reminds me of the quote from Crime and Punishment:

    “…that if you convince a person logically that he has nothing to cry about, he’ll stop crying. That’s clear. Is it your conviction that he won’t?”

    “Life would be too easy if it were so”

    Good luck!

  4. My husband is more logical/less emotional, and we live with a pure Vulcan housemate. (I am super emotional.) Since living all together, we’ve really delved into personality types and figured out that my husband is more skilled at social connection than our housemate because at an early age, his parents helped him logically understand other people’s feelings. Such as: If you do this, someone will feel that, and they will want this, so you can say blah to help them. It’s the scripting you talked about. He took a personality test and it came back “feeling” rather than “thinking” which is total BS–but he does behave as if he feels empathy because he thinks empathy. It’s pretty cool. My housemate has practiced thinking through and using scripts, identifying and responding to social cues, and making a study of facial expressions in her art. She’s doing great. I think finding a fun way to think through and study emotion is really helpful, whether it is art or playing social “games” such as daring yourself to compliment three strangers when you are out. Good luck!

  5. Haha, good news: it can be cured! I’m actually a Vulcan in detox, trying really hard to manage those presky emotions. I first went in therapy because I was very stressed by my studies. ”I’m stressed” or ”I’m tired” where my go to words for everything. We tried hard to identify the correct emotion. Once it was identified, I could try to apply the right remedy to actually deal with it, instead of just patching it up with a hot bath or more procrastination.

    Bad news: It actually had to get very bad for me before I got to get better. Two years after a first (and at the time successful) attempt to deal with my emotions, I found myself in a really tight spot, under a lot of pressure and my mental health quickly fell apart: I developed a panick attack disorder, which it basically when the part of your brain that controls emotional response disconnects from the part of your brain responsible for judgement. Result: you freak out for (what seems to be) no reason. That shit is pretty scary, let me tell you! At the peak of it, a full out panick attack was my primary response to everything (being hungry, annoyed, tired, hot, cold, bored, out of my house, alone, drunk, full of food under rain, stressed, and on and on). Brains break down very easily, and even faster when you have a personality trait (i.e that Vulcan stuff we’re talking about) that pave the way to anxiety disorders. It’s a real pain to get it to function properly again. But two years after I finally got my brain to work not so bad again. It takes a lot of training, a good support system and a long term commitment to get better!

    My personnal lesson from all of this: Harmful behaviour will be harder to deal with once you’ve reach rock bottom. Not impossible, just harder. Because I’ve been to therapy before being sick, I believe it was much easier for me to deal with my disorder. So yeah, trying to reach out of your Vulcan bubble is (I believe) a good thing to try form time to time. Just in case shit hits the fan, you’ll know there’s a different path out there and it’s not as terrible as it seems. πŸ™‚

  6. I sent this to my partner and he joked he thought I wrote it. Once I recognise a thing I can work on it generally, but I do need to be told. Except I haaate being told what to do, so that can be difficult. All good when I’m seeking out something though
    I found out about three years ago (at age 25) that I’m on the spectrum and it’s a whole new world I didn’t know I didn’t know about O_o

    The main thing I learned from reading this is that I don’t have many different words for different feelings. And lots of them are pretty much just the ‘pissed off’ category. No advice really sorry but this is definitely something I need to think about.

    A big part of my identity – and my job – is problem solving. So I find it kind of useful to embrace that on this journey when I find out I don’t know something, to go at it like solving one of my work issues. I tell myself it’s DOING SCIENCE

  7. when i first skimmed this i was like ‘omg Foxy Spocksy’ is a PERFECT roller derby name! haha i loved reading the end line πŸ˜‰ it’s my new found obsession, and honestly doesn’t hurt that bad. the fun + sisterhood you gain is totally logical on why you’d join πŸ˜‰

  8. Megan, I sincerely hope that you are open to providing updates about how this works out for the two of you. I sent this to my husband and he was shocked to see that we aren’t the only people in the world with this faulty dynamic. As a fellow part-Vulcan, the idea of addressing these issues makes me want to flee and I look forward to seeing further thoughts and/or progress if you are feeling up to it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Just wanted to say, this article and the comments have been very enlightening for me. As a very emotionally aware person (fellow Betazoid!), it’s been very… intriguing and beneficial to learn that not everyone possesses the same emotional intelligence, and really struggle with even trying to identify feelings. (This is something I’ve known from my personality psych studies like MBTI, but reading about people’s experiences brings that information into a new light.) It brings past conflicts into perspective, both on my end and others. I am definitely guilty of having difficulty saying what I need outright, but I will work on it. Thanks, Vulcans!

  10. I’m in a very similar situation. From my therapy, I’ve learned that many parents (especially white American middle class ones) will do things like make their kids go to their rooms for getting angry or upset, which suggests that you can’t be a part of things if you’re having an overpowering emotion, rather than teaching them how to navigate them. For me, the strategy has been to realize that every single thing that anyone does in life is embarrassing in some way, and that having a crisis where I sit there and cry and feel awful doesn’t lower my social status or annoy the people around me. Giving myself permission to ride out the emotion — to surf it like a wave — has been instrumental in having more emotions in the moment rather than bottling and exploding.

    • TOOOOOTALLY this. As a child, the moment I had an emotional outburst I was sent to my room. I even do it to myself now! I get overwhelmed with an emotion, and I retreat to my bedroom where I can be myself and try to push it away. Then that guy I married all “wtf, where did you go? Why are you ditching me in the middle of this?” Doh!

  11. Emotions run deep within our race. In many ways more deeply than within humans…

    I’m in the same boat, having been accused of being emotionless on multiple occasions. Those emotions are there, but I find it hard to just sprinkle them into my daily life. If I do let some emotions out, I’m scared that the whole dam will break. When that happens I lose control of myself. And I hate the feeling of not being in control of my thoughts or actions.

    I used to throw Nintendo controllers through windows, beat the shit out of anybody that picked on my brother, cry about not getting the McDonalds ninja turtle I wanted… Anyway, my emotions got me in to a lot of trouble. So I was conditioned into squelching them.

    If you find that magical solution of letting emotions back in without them consuming you entirely, let me know! I think the answer is weed. πŸ˜‰

    • Dude, are you ME!? No wonder we’re friends.

      I completely used to “Hulk smash!” shit as a child. Then when I woke up from my anger fit, I realized, oh crap, I just broke something I really liked. No one got “punished” by my righteous anger, but myself. Fuck. So I started going the other way of KILL THE FEELS. Which isn’t so great either.

      And it’s extra-super-coincidental that you should say this ” If I do let some emotions out, I’m scared that the whole dam will break. “ Since that’s basically the exact same thing I told my therapist last week.

      Which brings me to the best thing EVER for my fear of feels: therapy.

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