When I was growing up, my emotions were not validated. If I cried, I was told that it was babyish, that I looked much prettier when I smiled, and that crying was a sign of mental illness or hysteria. I learnt to bottle up my emotions, not to share them, and not to expect to be heard. I internalised this message and grew up believing that I was somehow bad and unworthy. If my father raged at me, or gaslit me, and I cried, my emotions were not validated. I remember going to my room, sobbing loudly, and there was no one to come into me, hold me, and comfort me. I grew up confused because there were times when things were happy at home, and my parents were loving, kind and humorous and I came to associate these times with stability and security. If I was ill, I was cossetted and I learnt that being ill got me attention. I have told my story many times here on the board and will not go into too much detail here, not because it is painful, but because I have learnt to confront the demons of the past, question the injustice of it all, revisit the pain, the rawness and finally come to understand the impact it had on my personality.
Because I buried all these memories and deep traumas, I could not understand where the pain I felt within came from. Because I learned that laughter and jovility had become associated with the only times when I felt close to my parents, I learned to wear laughter like a sticking plaster, yet somehow remaining aware of the inner pain that was there because my emotions were never validated. At times of stress, even minor stress, I would once again become reminded of the deep inner hurt I felt, and at these times I would let it out. The hurt was powerful, deep and intense, and I would show people glimpses of it to people during what I used to refer to as my "episodes". This would make others feel uncomfortable, and they would assume I was over reacting or being dramatic. I was desperate for someone, anyone, to at least acknowledge my pain and make me feel validated, so I would exagerate the circumstances in order to explain the level of pain I was expressing. Of course this did not work, and so I would put the lid on these emotions again, and return to the emotion I felt most comfortable with, gaiety. Other people would notice this and assume the intense emotion I had been expressing two hours earlier was fake and shallow.
Through therapy I was able to recognise this pattern, and to realise that the seemingly fake and shallow emotions were the expression of a deep and buried hurt - which expressed itself occassionally when the lid came off at times of minor stress.
Therapy has taught me to be congruent about my emotions, to feel them, understand them, and to validate myself. As a result I am much more able to handle stress, and to name and feel the emotions associated with this. The unhealed HPD has not learnt to do this. She has learnt to bury her pain, letting the lid off it in short intense bursts. Because her emotions were never validated, they seem to disappear as quickly as they came. She does seek attention, any type of attention, because she never had the right healthy type of attention that she needed as a child.
She is not born without empathy like a psychopath. She has the capacity for empathy, but because she is so focused upon her inner turmoil, even if she does not consciously know this, she is unable to see things from another's perspective as all of her resources lie within fighting her own internal battles.
I hope that this will help people gain some perspective as to how the histrionic really feels.