I’ve been up since around four am and it is nine now and my brain finally seems to be working a little. It was doing stuff before, but it wasn’t exactly clear what or whether those things were purposeful or productive.
But I’ve had four thoughts in the last 10 minutes and two of them might even be worth sharing.
One of them is that it is usually our natural inclination to strive for equilibrium. We do it emotionally and we do it cognitively. We make sense of our circumstances in ways that allow us to live with it—at least over time.
If we don’t get something we want, we’re initially disappointed. Then we start to see all the negative points about what we once wanted and all the positive points about what we have now and we say it all worked out for the best. In reality, it may not have worked out for the best, but within our own minds we have made the best out of what happened.
When I look back at the abuse I grew up, sometimes I see my child’s mind trying to make the best of things. My dad hurt me because I was a bad girl and needed punishment. Well, he might have told me this. I may have merely borrowed his thinking, but I was also making the best of things. He was going to abuse me regardless of what I thought or felt about it. I might as well think about it in a way that reduced some of the other painful emotions I might have about it: the betrayal and the injustice and the rage. What I thought at the time sometimes had to do with this propensity to make the best of things. It is the same propensity that is helping me cope now. It is resilience, even if that particular manifestation of it is no longer the one that will help.
My other thought this morning is that sometimes I feel a great deal of pressure to engage in magical thinking. I am not sure if this is just younger parts of me who don’t understand yet that reality exists on its own and cannot be persuaded to be different based on the intensity of your wishes, or whether there was a culture in my family of thinking magically.
But I feel a pressure to think things were other than how they were as if that might fix something. It doesn’t. I can wish certain kinds of very abuse didn’t happen, and they will go on having happened regardless of my wishes. I can wish Natalya weren’t dead and she will persist in being dead. And I can just stop doing that.
For a bonus, I’ll even share a third thought. The third thought I had this morning is that there is really nothing wrong with me. Trauma makes my life a tremendous amount of work and a lot of the time it’s really unpleasant, but there is nothing really wrong with me. My brain and my mind are working exactly as they are supposed to. I lean over kitchen sink washing dishes and my brain searches for similar experiences to compare it to—as it is supposed to do absolutely all the time—and it locates some of them. It presents the most emotionally powerful experience that seems like it might be similar, which is also what it is supposed to do, and I get to remember certain kinds of sexual abuse where my head and neck were in the same position. And I get to have a flashback. Reality has been a problem, but my mind is fine.
The fourth thought I had is that I am doing this right. I wasn’t sure for a while. I felt at a bit of a loss as to how to handle the current internal situation. I faltered. I’m sure again.
Just stay “warm.” Find a way to keep things emotionally at a dull roar, and my mind will take care of everything else.