I woke up crying this morning.

Not a part. Me. Crying.

I want Nata.

I do. I really, really do. I am not two years old. I don’t even feel two years old. But I want her like a two year old wants.

That’s how I woke up.

I have a few different jobs. One of them is to control the long-engrained impulse to de-realize things so that I don’t have to feel so much pain.

I have come, recently, to the startling conclusion that I don’t do this because I am afraid of pain. I do it because if I felt it at its full, natural intensity, I would start thinking about nothing but ropes and the beam in the livingroom that would work perfectly as a gallows.

Your mind does that to you. You feel pain—you feel anything too intensely—and it starts trying to get you to pull it down a notch for you.

In graduate school, when I was learning how to be a teacher, I had one class from a touchy-feely-post-communist type who did a lot of stuff like bring in four rehabilitated pedophiles to talk to us. Which was, let me tell you, enlightening.

One speaker she brought in was a social worker who does therapy with girls in youth authority. She said, “Everyone is just trying to regulate.” There’s a certain baseline we feel comfortable with, and much of the time all we’re trying to do is get back there. People who act out have a lot of regulating to do—a lot of internal and external stresses—and usually crappy choices for how to do it.

Assault someone? Just trying to regulate.

Cutting? Just trying to regulate.

When the pain inside gets out of hand, I start trying to regulate. First impulse: shut it down. Make it not real. Change the mental subject. Say it’s impossible. Try to think it out of existence. Do something else. Or just feel nothing. Focus on life tasks exclusively. Become a machine.

I’m really good. That whole one-thing-at-a-time, just focus on the moment? A master.

When Charlie pops out, we work on not doing that. We make roti and I remind him to stop focusing. Think a little less about the roti, more about how you feel inside, let your mind wander a little. Try to have a random thought or two.

The roti have suffered, but he is learning how to have a fuller existence. Hopefully, I am too.

Second impulse: self-destruct.

I need a third impulse. We’re working on that still.

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