Originally Posted by bookbug
To me the fact that he worries you will "get mad" if he shares what he is thinking or feeling tells me that he doesn't feel safe sharing with you. Why is that?
I believe I can answer that, for my own part, as Gralson shares the same fear.
It's true that I don't always agree with him. Of course it is, we're different people. It would be boring if we always agreed. But when he expresses himself, I never get "mad" (and I know this because I'm aware of my feelings) but I may get "upset" and Gralson doesn't have a healthy enough understanding emotions, in general, to know the difference. Growing up, his family was very non-emotive. He was permitted "anger" and "pride." All other feelings were considered "wrong." He spent the first 20-25 years of his life with those rules, so they're deeply ingrained.
So when he witnesses any emotional response, he immediately and on a base level associates it with one of these two emotions. Intellectually he knows there's more out there, but he doesn't have an understanding of them, doesn't have words to express them in himself, and even if you give him the word, he doesn't make the connection.
I wear my emotions on my sleeve. So if I'm upset, I express being upset. I don't bury it or hide it. If he tells me something and I'm hurt by it, he'll pick up on that, and he'll perceive it as anger. But as we discuss it, I'll spell it out, share with him what I'm feeling and why, he'll put his trust in me that I'm not manipulating him, and we work it out. But that first initial response is very scary for him.
That's just half of it. The other half is that his family also used a shit ton of guilt and manipulation tactics. So any time he has "feelings" to express, he comes to the table already feeling a ton of guilt and shame just for having needs and wanting to express them. Because any time he expressed those as a child, he was told they were wrong and he was made to feel like shit for being "selfish." So before my reaction is even in the picture, he's already dealing with guilt and shame from how he reacts to his own emotions, and guilt and shame he instinctively expects me to react with.