I am having a harder time recovering from the interview than I expected. I supposed it ought to be expected, but I end up underestimating things sometimes.
I have been kind of in a fog. I haven’t known what to do about this. I have just waited for it to pass. There are probably ways I could help myself through it better, but I don’t know what they are. My mind has been too foggy and drifty to be able to construct a plan of any kind.
It occurred to me now, writing this, it’s dissociation. That drifty, meandering feeling in the brain is dissociation, and I would imagine it is associated with the freeze response.
That’s a place to start anyway.
The weird thing about this is that it’s possible to keep moving forward like this, but it is dreamlike. I do the thing, while thoughts drift in and out of my head without any clarity. I kind of miss myself in these states.
One of the bits that drifted through had to do with cars. I was in the grocery store, and I saw a rack of hotmails 10 for $10. This did something to me.
There are these moments when I know something very powerful and intense is happening. I suppose I start to shift into a hypnotic state. It wasn’t about all of the Hotwheels. It was the retro ones, naturally, There were two models I could find. They were both purple. Now, purple has a meaning for me. I have been thinking about this, since I realized colors and parts related to particular emotional states.
I mean, that’s obvious, but what I realized was that they have to do with emotional states I have throughout the day, as part of normal life. It isn’t limited to abuse, or to interests and tastes I had that felt particularly unacceptable. My inner world as a whole felt unacceptable, so the stuff that comes out in parts is much more ordinary than I realized.
Anyway, so during a lot of the studying I was doing, I gravitated towards purple. I don’t know what this lines up with. There is a part I strongly associate with purple. His name is Piotr and I don’t really know much about him except that he likes purple and being neat and handwriting seems to be of some interest.
They were two dollars, so I bought them. I bought the two cars. I mean, why not? I brought them home, and when it got time for bed, I felt like bringing them out again. Again, why not?
It’s just me. I’m not hurting anyone if I sleep with my toy cars. So I did.
As I was trying to fall asleep, these things drifted through my mind. Things that seemed important. It seemed to me the purple cars resonated, because there had been purple cars and they had been part of something that was significant for me.
I did actually have a purple car at my grandmother’s house. I do think I am remembering that accurately, but I don’t think it was that car which creates the resonance. I don’t have a sense of resonance about remembering her house.
I wondered where I might have played with a purple car. I always used to play with cars at my best friend Mark’s house. He had an enormous sandbox and lots of cars, and we played with them a lot. But I don’t think it was that either.
I started thinking about a circular upholstered bench. These are evidently called banquettes, and I think they were fairly popular in the 70s in department stores and waiting rooms. I began to think about a doctor. I seemed to really like this doctor. I liked the doctor and I liked the bench and I liked my cars, and I felt safe. There was a feeling like I am good and I am safe. I have a suspicion that purple has to do with feeling “good,” and the thing about being good is that it does feel safe. I am being good, so there is no reason to hurt me. I know what’s expected of me and the expectations are behaviours I can deliver, and for a child, I think those are really good, safe feelings.
I don’t know who this doctor was, but I seemed to really like this doctor. There is a feeling inside of wanting to race to meet someone. The quiet playing in the waiting room and then the joyful reunion, and the pride in myself in being a person someone is happy to meet.
And then I also had a sense of being “bad,” like I was telling a story of something I had. I was bad. I got hurt, and I was sad. I felt all the feelings, the shame and sadness of being bad. It wasn’t an easy moment to relive, but it also felt as though the bad was not occurring at that moment, but was being retold.
Well, I fell asleep after that. But it was an interesting moment. I have started to think these weird fragments that float up and seem to carry intense emotions often are real memories. So much of what I seem to remember just appears unbelievable. Totally far-fetched, and yet things come back over and over again, and with such deep emotional resonance, that I think a lot of them really did.
So maybe there was a doctor I liked and trusted, that I saw regularly for some period in my childhood–who isn’t the one I remember seeing with my mom, and maybe I did tell the doctor about traumatic events.
One of my core ideas about this process is to begin to understand myself as a sense-making being. Someone who feels and thinks and attempts to find patterns and establish causality. Numbing substantially and being in parts make many kinds of behaviour seem nonsensical: they derive from processes within me that, because of the numbing, I can’t feel and seem to have nothing to do with me. So it’s easy to see events I am an active participant in as having nothing to do with me.
But I go on trying to make sense of this: how is it I am doing them, when I cannot locate within me any reasonable cause. Because that is what human beings do: attempt to make sense of life, establish patterns, imagine themselves almost as a pattern playing out in the universe both similar and different from the pattern created by other people.
In other words, it helps a lot not to look at the ways I have tried to understand things as being bad or wrong, but as the best way I could understand things given the information I had.
When I think of this child self telling the good doctor I was “bad” and then I was hurt, I recognize it as an attempt by myself to be able to articulate a narrative. I don’t need to turn to that child self and say that the child is telling the story wrong, but to just listen and try to understand what that story was and to try to get inside it. Yes, I know what that bad feeling is. I know the feeling of fear and shame that “bad” is trying to convey. I can understand the story my child self is telling me. I felt fear and shame. I felt my parents’ rage. And I felt terror and pain, and all of this culminated in a physical wound that needed medical attention.
I get it.
It helps so much just to understand some of what my mind is trying to tell. It eliminates that fear of even being within myself and of being inside my own mind. Things aren’t so terrifying when I can understand.