I have these interesting thoughts until I sit down to write. Then I futz around, not doing much and the thoughts disappear. Some of this is that I am in the airport. I have been killing time for the first nine hours of many. I left Country X in the late morning, and it is now the middle of the night. It’s the first stop of 2, and I have completed the first of three flights. I think it was a seven hour flight. The next one is five maybe. Then there is the long one—11 hours. I have found it’s better that way actually, broken up with long stops. It helps with adjusting to the idea of going to the other side of the world as well as the condition of my body. The long, direct flight which is possible now (not from Country X, but neighbouring countries) I have found to be torturous.
One thought is that on these long journeys, I dissociate really heavily. There is at times an overwhelming, crushing sleepiness that overcomes me and I wake up confused. That has something to do with it. As children, I think we learn to regulate our degree of stimulation with the help of mothers or siblings who play with us and interact with us. When no one comes, you just check out, and these long gaps when I have nothing to do, I think I do that. Probably everyone does to some extent, but mine is this hardwired response. There is no stimulation. It’s all dreary and lonely. Sleep or just get spacy. A normal person might reach more for interaction of some kind, even an internal interaction, and I suspect I just slow down and then finally stop altogether.
Then also I was thinking about couples—there was a couple in the Capital City who have been teaching for the last three years and are leaving now, just like me—and I watched their behaviour. I would think of it as enmeshed behaviour, but my new thought about it is that all of us work together to keep our level of arousal and affect within a certain tolerable range. We don’t, for the most part, do this alone. The quality that gives it that enmeshed, walking on eggshells quality has to do with trying to stay within a very narrow range. And I think people do that when they have trouble with regulation. They can’t get back to baseline very easily, so they try not to move very far from it. I was like that, and that was why the staff room with all of its emotional expression was so hard for me. At the end of the year, I found it a lot easier. Immensely so.
The advice for couples like that is always to become more independent and to spend more time apart, pursuing their own interests, and that’s kind of what I was told when in a relationship one might see as being enmeshed. But I don’t think that does anything, or addresses the problem. The problem is inside, and it’s still there no matter how independent and alone you are. That is what I have found about myself, anyway. Actually, it’s easier to stay in that very narrow range when I am alone. I am more challenged around other people, and I have to work harder to stay grounded and coping.
The other thing is that I have been holding sadness in for a long time, and it needs to be processed, but I kind of can’t right now. I look back on the last 24 hours, and I know there are all of these emotions that I am blunting so that I am not overwhelmed. But I can’t do it right now.