A friend suggested in a comment that I read this.
You ought to read it too. You may find you are also in Holland.
I woke up today very Annoushka-y. She cried a lot. She thought about dying, but less intensely. We have a list for her now: a to-do list of things that comfort her. It is not very long—I am just getting to know her. But she did it. She did about 5 things together. So that took the edge off things and the rope stayed safely in the cabinet.
Afterwards, she had some interesting and helpful thoughts. That was good.
This is life now. There are crises. I survive them. During them and after them, there are some interesting things to put together that help me to understand who I am and what happened to me. They are helping me be one person.
There is also a lot of time spent just in a kind of WTF state. I have mentioned this. I don’t think I mentioned it also involves a lot of walking into rooms to see I have left something on. The water is running, the gas is on, the rice is still warming at dinner time when I ought to have turned it off after lunch.
I don’t think I am more absent. I just can’t keep all the freaking balls in the air. Even little ones. Even though I am doing almost nothing all day except eating and sleeping and washing up.
This isn’t going to go on forever.
It may not even go on for much longer. I have no idea. But I do get the sense that things are progressing in my head almost miraculously quickly, and probably more quickly than they would for anyone else.
But even if they aren’t, there is still very clearly an endpoint for me now, when there wasn’t before. It may be something like this for a week or two weeks or a month or a year. Or two years. But it is not going to be like this for the next decade.
At some point, I will be all knitted together, one personality navigating a mostly amnesia-free life.
So I feel a little like I am on a train, and while my whole life has been consumed by the journey for the last seven years or so—increasingly so, because for a long time, I tried to fight it—at some point I can actually see, I will arrive somewhere.
And it has become increasingly clear I am not going to arrive in Italy. I really did think we were going there, but I am not. I am going to Holland.
It is a strange thing.
Although I cannot entirely predict what Holland might be like, I am starting to get some ideas about it. Mainly, I am starting to get the idea that it is nothing like Italy.
As a survivor of something, I think there is an intense pressure from both inside and outside to be the person you might have been if the horror you lived through had never happened. I am coming to realize that is neither possible nor desirable. I am the person I am because of what happened.
I can be this person or I can fake being someone I am not.
I would rather be this person.
I don’t mean I have flashbacks and phobias and little pockets when I don’t know what just happened. Those are going to get better. They might go away altogether. Those things are highly inconvenient and I don’t like them. They make life hard. They have to go. At least some.
I am not even happy about being in parts. That is also inconvenient. My thoughts take longer because of it. It’s like the rest of the world has superhighways in their head and I have a whole bunch of country byways. A pain. It is not just a matter of having mixed feelings about things, but seeing the world according to eight different sets of priorities and assumptions.
No, thank you.
But that is clearly going to go away also.
I am not really even sure what I do mean. It’s just that I what I want out of life is different than what I thought it would be and really also probably different than what someone else might assume I would need to be content and happy and fulfilled.
That’s vague too.
To give an example, I thought as a child I wanted to achieve things. In a general sense, that seemed like what I might want to do. In a more specific sense, I really very passionately wanted to write in a professional, get-paid-for-it kind of way. I realize I no longer give a fuck. Not just about that particular achievement, but any achievement. It’s not that I think I can’t achieve things, but that I can’t bring myself to care. For a long time, trauma removed my ability to do the things I dreamed of. As the dust has started to settle, I realize it has removed my interest in it.
It’s not an impairment. I have just realized it doesn’t matter. It might matter to you, and all the better for you. Those little strokes you get when you accomplish something are indeed nice.
But to me it just seems like too much effort for too little reward. I would rather have tea with a friend than send off a book query. That isn’t to say that if my friends are tied up and I have an afternoon free with no one to have tea with I wouldn’t still send off a query if I had one to send. Just that I am not going to get bunged up about it.
Whatever I do in the future is not going to be motivated by a desire to achieve anything. I don’t know why this has happened or what it has to do with the trauma precisely, except that it placed a kind of laser light on life for me. It made me realize that, for the most part, when you die, no one gives two hoots whether you ever published that book you wrote or whether it stayed in a drawer. But they do remember if you cared about them. They remember if you were kind.
As an example, Natalya never accomplished anything. She had, I am guessing, a third-grade education. She did not even manage to get out of being trafficked alive.
But I will never forget that when the Russian mob got careless and nearly froze me to death, she had the courage to act like I at least had the right to live.
Thank God, most of us never need to be that heroic. We do not need to look a sociopathic, murderous thug in the eyes and tell him in a way he will understand very clearly that that had better not happen again.
But it still makes me think relationships are more important than anything else we do. If you’ve got time and energy left over, by all means run a marathon or publish a book. If your relationships are not panning out, then definitely you should cheer yourself up by getting something done instead. I’m not opposed to it.
It’s just not where it’s at though. Not for me. I thought it would be, and it just isn’t.
I am in Holland.
There are many, many other things that are going to be different about Holland. That is just one of them.