There are three basic rules in a dysfunctional family: don't talk, don't tell, don't feel.
I learned the lessons well, and have spent many years trying to unlearn them. I have learned to not always be quiet, and I have worked hard to tell my truth. Expressing my feelings, though, in public?
And it isn't just negative feelings. I mean, that is obvious with the other rules, you can't show anyone that you are less than a happy, normal family. But it also is not safe to show good feelings. If I liked something, loved something, wanted something, dreamed something, hoped something - that was something that could be taken away to hurt me. If I was excited or joyful or proud, that was a place I needed to be brought down, taught my place.
My husband was a mirror for me - he understood and would tell me when I was hiding. I don't have a mirror anymore. I don't know if I am letting people see my joy. I don't know if I am sharing my hope or my pride. I think I probably am not, because I am feeling pretty cut off. I am feeling that people don't know me and I'm not having conversations that go beyond the lightest surface of things.
It doesn't help that I am an introvert. It is really easier to just withdraw. In a group, the conversation will usually move past me before I have a chance to fully form my thoughts, let alone speak them.
So I'm writing this here. I need someone in my life who is willing to sit in silence sometimes. I need someone in my life who is willing to call BS as needed. I need someone in my life to be a mirror, show me when I am hiding and keeping it in. Sometimes I go for days without saying one word that isn't polite social stuff, passing humor. Sometimes I go for longer than that without feeling I have connected meaningfully.
I recognize that I'm not easy. I'm sorry.