The culture shock is hard, but I also don’t understand what I am going through.
I went to a meeting of a political party today and voted for party representatives who will consider the party’s future direction. I have never done this before. I liked it.
But I also felt very scared. I came home, made lunch, took a nap, woke up again and began to realize I felt scared. I felt scared and like world was very hostile. No one liked me, and I needed to hide the things important to me from other people.
And I thought, “What did that?”
Well, the meeting probably. So I thought about that, how I felt. It was a crowded room, so there was that. Most people were white—this always surprises me. I don’t know why. Or maybe I am just used to looking around at brown faces. But I did feel that way in other situations, before I ever lived in Country X. I always have the feeling that a group of white people must be white because they kicked out all the brown people, and I am next. It’s just a feeling and there is not really any logic to it. The situations I would be in when I might have this sense aren’t bigoted.
I am also in the suburbs these days. Suburbanites have a certain look to them, regardless of race, and I associate this with whiteness, even though it is about class and not race. I grew up in the suburbs.
So there is that.
Anyway, I thought about how I felt more, and about this feeling of needing to wear a mask so I wouldn’t be discovered.
This is a childhood issue. I just had no explanation for it pre-Country X. I didn’t have enough memories of my traumatic past to come up with any explanation.
Now, it’s a little more possible.
The other thing is I now understand that my childhood impressions are going to be patchy. I don’t have coherent narratives that have been suppressed. What I have are bits of memories that have not been organized into narratives. I have smells and voices and camera-like images, emotions and physical sensations, thoughts and beliefs which have not been associated into coherent understandings of anything. I am not going to reach into myself and find a memory made of whole cloth. There is a lot of “What is this?” in there and it’s not because I don’t want to know. It’s because every time I thought of it, trauma reactions set in, my amygdala came online and my prefrontal cortex went offline and I couldn’t know. I have spent years doing a lot of deep breathing so that this doesn’t happen and I can remember things without my thinking mind shutting down.
This means I am more prepared for the way memories do surface. I think it used to scare me. Or I expected it to be easier to force them into narratives quickly. Something. Anyway, I don’t really expect for the things that do float up to make logical sense.
It seems to me, on the one hand, these are the feelings of a child who has spent a lot of time around people afraid of deportation, but who has this patchy mind, like I have, and does not know she cannot be deported. That would be the secret being kept—this feeling of being illegal—which would be attached to a life no one talks about or knows about, and it would feel to this child, “Well, they don’t know I don’t have papers.” Instead of, “They don’t know I grew up with people who were undocumented, and those people were all scared of being deported, so I felt scared too.”
That’s one piece of the puzzle. Time to make dinner now.