I am in a state this morning. I am frequently in a state in the mornings. I do realize this seems to have something to do with the fact of the morning, and have made no progress beyond that. It has neither become easier nor do I have any idea how to make it easier. As far as I can think, it’s been like this for years. I suspect all of my life. I suspect it has something to do with waking up as an infant and what happened then, but having an idea of the cause does not change it. So that’s frustrating.
I keep a couple of ideas in mind. It’s to our advantage to over-identify danger, as the consequences for not recognizing error are great. When we experience danger, it is important for us to be able to think and act quickly, and so the short-cuts our mind makes in thinking (cognitive biases) increase and intensify.
So I wake up and my mind recognizes this as a potentially dangerous experience, because waking up and crying (as babies do) was a dangerous experience, and everything after that is likely to be filtered heavily in various ways so that I am not seeing a clear or balanced picture of reality. I am seeing elements of reality that exist though. It’s not that I am just making things up.
I try to keep all of this in mind and to connect thoughts to experiences. As I am writing or maybe before I begin to write, I feel that no one cares about what I think and that the contents of my mind are worthless. Well, when we write, that’s always a risk, isn’t it? Exposing ourselves involves risk. I try to connect that.
I think what happens in the mind of someone with unresolved trauma, who over-identifies danger and heavily filters information for efficiency of thought–so someone who does this chronically and in situations where other people around them cannot understand the potential source of danger–is that life becomes something experienced in disconnected pieces, like a kaleidescope full of broken colours, but perhaps minus the beauty. All manner of things, including the self, seem very different at different times.
In other words, what I said before about my thought: instead of the potential for getting no response being attached to the experience of writing and the emotional risks involved or to the particulars of what I might say, it becomes attached to me. I imagine growing up that way, with my mother’s traumatized and undeveloped nervous system inclined to identify me as a source of danger, someone who used very high numbered C (manipulative and coercive) strategies for survival, and dramatized her distress in order to force some kind of response or attention.
It starts to shock me, this sense of insight into my childhood. She tried to make me feel really, really bad in order to get me to respond to her distress, only I was a child and had no idea why she was in distress. All I had was my own ability to try to communicate my distress to her. I have in my head a picture of two people–one a child–enacting their distress. It’s not a nice picture.
Meanwhile, I start to identify a feeling that’s connected with waking up: shame. We seem to live in a culture of shamelessness, where conscience is not really allowed. So I know I will say that and some readers may respond by criticizing that emotion. It’s up to you whether you want to allow yourself to have all of your feelings, but I’ll just say at this point that I do not use judgment or lack of empathy in order to try to control my emotions. I just notice them. I am trying to integrate, not use more dismissive strategies in order to cope. I use so many dismissive strategies that I don’t even recognize my emotions as a part of me.
So I just notice that in waking up, I feel ashamed. I am not defective for feeling ashamed. Something happened when I woke up, and shame is information about that. I am just not entirely sure yet what that was.