They could imagine the future 3 million years ago. (H. Sapiens have been around for 200,000 years.) Were they pattern seekers also?
I’ve been really wrestling with some ideas the last few days, and I think I understand why at last.
This is about integration. It’s about one big, last push in that direction before I do something so monumental and distracting, really, that I probably won’t have time for much more of pushing for a while.
And I’ve probably run out of time for this also. In a matter of hours, it is most likely time to get back to the important business of packing up and moving and making sure I have all the right documents.
(No, I’m not stressed…)
So, I’ll tell you first what this is all about.
First, you need to know I have parts. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that, but not everyone has, and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. I am not a leaving-out-kind-of-person. I am an include-everyone-kind-of-person, even the kid who picks his nose and the other kid who is really mean and makes fun of everyone. He’s probably just having a bad childhood, and maybe we can gently teach him not to do that.
So, parts. Not full-blow alters. I don’t have DID. I suppose this could be DDNOs (dissociative disorder not otherwise specified), but who knows? I haven’t been properly diagnosed, and it hasn’t seemed necessary to pursue that.
The parts are all a bit fuzzy now. They used to be very clearly defined and distinct and seemed to have particular roles. That is no longer the case. I am not really sure where one begins and another ends anymore and I’ve stopped addressing anyone by name because I don’t really know who is who. But I do seem to view things from very different perspectives at different times still. Which I presume means they continue to live on.
Let me tell you first of all my personal theory about parts. I do not believe they are fundamentally about denial or avoidance. I think they are about order. I think human beings like order and patterns and predictability. We also prefer unity, so we tend to see things in unifying, holistic ways.
So if I need to behave radically different on different occasions or with different people, that might be confusing. Or, if some people seem to behave in completely opposite ways from other people, that’s confusing too. Or, the same person behaves radically different on different occasions, that will be confusing as well–and I mean extremes here. We can handle someone who yells sometimes and hugs us at others. We can’t handle someone who chases us around with knives sometimes and then later bakes a cake and has a tea party (i.e.–my mother.)
Parts are a way of organizing all of that confusion. It’s a way of creating unified, coherent, consistent views of people and the self out of a chaotic, fragmented mess. We don’t set about doing this on purpose or because it makes us feel better. That is just what we’re born to do, so we do it. Kind of like a dog licking its genitals. That’s just what dogs do. And what we do–some of us better than others–is recognize patterns.
Gratuitous picture of a reconstruction of the head of “Selam,” a year-old Australopithecus Afarensis. Just because that’s fun to think about.
Parts are groups of beliefs, behaviors, feelings preferences, personality traits, and experiences that form a pattern and seem to go together. And because we are imaginative creatures, these groups sometimes have backstories and suitable physical appearances.
But they are there mainly because it does not seem possible for everything in our heads to be true at one time. And the only way to go on functioning is to live with it all only one chunk at a time.
For example, I have a part that is emotionally unexpressive, stoic, believes in an ethic of toughness, courage, and independence. It wears a lot of brown and gray. And likes coffee. It doesn’t exactly have a gender, but seems to identify with some core elements of what we think of as masculinity.
And that is why my earlier post on approval was so important, because this part is not a people-pleaser, and yet it’s clearly oriented towards living up to my father’s rather frightening ideals.
Being stoic was a fairly effective approach with my dad.
It makes me realize, in fact, that I got a lot from him that I couldn’t get from my mother. Attention, for one, and to some extent some positive regard. My dad talked to me. He asked my opinions about things. I could have an intelligent, civil conversation with him. And there were certain things about me that my dad actually seemed to like: I think he liked that I could make things, that I was handy with tools to some extent, and that I thought about things. My dad is nothing really but a con artist, so it’s hard to know if that was what he truly felt, or if it was just an act he did in hopes of getting me to iron his shirts or make him a sandwich. (I did iron his shirts. I usually refused to make sandwiches).
In contrast, my mother was never happy about anything. There was no pleasing her. She hated everything about me, unless she was in the mood to like me and that was an entirely unpredictable occurrence. She especially hated talking to me. I think I made her feel crazy. Avoidance was really the best strategy for handling her–that and not attracting attention.
It’s really wrenching to look back on that, because I didn’t entirely give up, and I remember these painful conversations that very quickly devolved into heated arguments where I was really just trying to get her to think logically enough about something so that we could both occupy the same universe and she could understand what I was trying to say.
But it really is horrifying to consider that your psychopathic, sadistically cruel parent was actually the more likely source for getting some of your developmental needs met.
I can tell you, that isn’t pleasant to consider. Not pleasant at all.
It’s horrible, really.
But none of that was supposed to be the point of this post. The point of it was really that because I have been different parts at different times, different parts actually know different things–about life, about our minds, and about myself. They have made different observations, read different books, and talked to different people.
Part of being a single person is knowing all of that at once.
It feels to me like shuffling cards, interlacing all of these little facts, these little ideas, intermingling them. But then, unlike cards, trying to see if there’s a larger picture, a bigger pattern.
And I’ll tell you what I’ve worked out about it this morning: there’s a lot we just don’t know.