I didn’t feel happy to move yesterday.
I began to think that moving is tinged with deep sadness for me. It relates to some unresolved loss. Maybe foster care, maybe someone important moved away, or I moved away from them. I thought this is colouring the experience. It’s hard to say what I would feel without that colouring of deep loss.
I haven’t looked at my actual losses before. I use so many dismissive strategies, so I have wanted to move forward and when I have examined the past it has for some reason been entirely unhelpful. I began to think how bleak and hopeless I felt after these losses I suffered as a child, how crushed I was by the transitions of foster care and how alone I felt.
I think it’s helpful to do this: to have this picture of myself as a small child at some particular (imagined, but still specific) point in time and then the feeling I had at the time inside me.
“That was me. I felt that. This is what it was like for me.”
There is this idea that if you do that, you will somehow remain stuck with that forever, that you have to somehow see it differently or update it in some way, and the sooner you can do this, the better you will feel.
And I don’t think so. I think some part of your brain has to stay on and connected while you do this, some part of you that sees you as you, and that if you do that things happen without conscious effort. But keeping this part of your brain on can actually be quite hard. With practice, it gets easier.
I am sometimes struck by how bad it was for me when I do these little walks down memory lane. It is as though I didn’t fully understand that myself as a child was a feeling, sentient being. Well, other people did not seem to find me so, so it’s not a great wonder I didn’t become aware of myself as myself.
Later, I was washing dishes and I had this sudden thought that someone with a preoccupied style would have all of these emotions, but be confused about sequence and cause and effect. Almost all trauma therapy is aimed at this, I think–at re-assessing cause and effect. It’s a different mode of thinking, very emotion based, but without a clear sense of conditions or causes. Feelings are facts.
But I don’t spend most of my time in that mode. When it blindsides me, I feel like I am not myself anymore. It’s ego dystonic. It feels weird.
I use more dismissive strategies–so ways to distance myself psychologically from sources of danger, so that I don’t enter into that very emotion-based way of reasoning. I have causality, but very few sensory memories.
That’s why I can’t relate to so much of what of what is written about trauma. I have evidently worked very hard at learning how not to have sensory flashbacks. Instead of being hit by them, I psychologically distance myself from the trigger or from myself. Only in the last few years have I begun to have these washes of emotion that accompany reminders of trauma, but they don’t come with sensory memories. I do remember things, but it’s difficult. I have so successfully silenced that experience of myself, as a felt being.