It's been some years since I've been diagnosed with high alexithymia, and I remember that dread feeling of hopelessness I had at the beginning. I already felt like navigating emotions and social interactions were a hassle, so having to make extra effort to function better seemed almost impossible, too taxing.
As a very broke, jobless person, I couldn't afford any sort of therapy that wouldn't have been entirely covered by my healthcare. That made me feel even more helpless. Yet, despite poverty and that impairing trait, I was very fortunate to have a smart, kind and supportive partner. He read about alexithymia and autism a lot, and tried to help me navigate my emotions.
Often in the beginning, he'd asked me "what do you feel in your body right now?" or suggest "do you feel a sensation in your face? in your nose, maybe?" and I'd try to focus and find the clues. It was really, really hard at first, but along the months, it slowly became more of a habit.
Together, we also roleplayed a lot, in text form, writing stories in which our character interacted together. At first, I'd been really terrible in catching the hints about my partner's characters' emotions, which made my characters look like sociopaths at times (actually, that's one of the things that had set my partner on the track that something was up with me). From the point we knew I was alexithymic however, we both paid more attention to that, by talking about what was going in on in the story. This helped me a lot to understand better what was also going on in the emotional level, and why my partner's characters were reacting in this or that way.
RP gave us a safe space to explore emotions and social interactions. As it also made me feel a lot of emotions too, I could observe them better, or trigger them again by reading the text once more. I paid more attention to my body's reactions, I put more effort in decoding what blend of emotions could possibly be forming inside of me, and how it got expressed.
It's been a few years now, and I realize that few years is a really short time. A very short time during which I've made a lot of progress. I'm still alexithymic of course, but I cope better with it. My emotions are a bit less of a mystery to me now, and when I'm not sure what other people are feeling, I keep on asking them. I keep on explaining that I'm alexithymic, and what it means, usually saying "it's like being colorblind, but if colors were emotions: you know they exist but you have issues to identify them correctly."
It's been working quite well, and I think the main reason is because I wasn't alone to make efforts.
It takes at least 2 to have a social interaction, and if one is less good, then it's both persons who have to adjust to find a middle ground. We have to make efforts, but it's ok to ask for help. That's why we're a society: so we can help each other and be stronger together.
So even if it looks bleak right now for you, keep on trying. If what you tried hasn't been working at all, try something a bit different, or maybe ask for more help, more feedback and advice. As a space lizard said it:
There is hope for you yet — Garak