Did you watch Ally McBeal, back in the day? Revealing my age, or generation, I suppose, that I was old enough to watch it and understand most of it, at a time when some of you were toddlers – or, * gasp * , not yet born!
Pardon me while I spiral into misspent youth and peering into the grave thoughts…
Anywho, if you watched Ally McBeal, you know, like a retro thing on Nextflix, such as myself (let me live this right now), do you remember the episode where Ally visits an old professor whom she really admired?
Ally’s professor was dying of cancer in a hospital. The professor wanted to be maintained in a drugged state of sleep throughout her end-stage cancer, until she died.
Of course, Ally could not understand why her awesome vibrant professor would just “give up” on life. The professor explains to Ally that her entire real life was full of regret, lost opportunities, dreams unfulfilled etc. But, when she was asleep, she had dreamed up this entire fantasy life where she was married, had children and grandchildren, and was leading a life full of balances of good times and hard times, surrounded by love and support.
The professor wanted to be allowed to die without the deep pain of regrets, with knowing she was surrounded by love, inside of her fantasy life.
That episode of Ally McBeal has haunted me for my entire adulthood.
I remember immediately feeling that I was going to end up like that professor.
I still suspect that is where I am headed.
I don’t want to be the professor. I just don’t know how to not be the professor. I cannot imagine how to be where or what I want to be or do.
I keep hoping that I’m going to swim out of it and leave the professor behind. It does seem that my choices in life continue to push me more towards being the professor, though.
This is what trauma does.
Trauma tricks you into replaying every previous trauma, and combing all of those emotions into the current trauma. It also tricks you into believing that every challenge is a potential trauma, sign of a trauma to come, or deserved for some reason.
Trauma’s trickiness is so good, that you long to be the professor, just for a moment, to experience that sense of extreme comfort and rightness with your world.
Knowing this leads me to completely see why people turn to certain, potentially destructive, coping behaviors, during trauma.
My coping behaviors tend to be hard-core disassociation and extreme stress suppression (which equal physical health issues, in my case).
I’m so good at those skills that I have completely ruined my gut, affected my memory, carry unhealthy weight, and attempted to be married and parent with an un-empathetic, abusive, mentally ill person. I’m not attempting to be derogatory towards Mr exH, he is who he is. He has always been who he is. I completely own that I made up the bulk of who he was to me.
I suppose, in some respects, I have already been the professor.
That didn’t work for me.
It is hard to figure out how to move through trauma, other than wanting to be the professor, when it feels like you are a failure if you are not living as the professor’s fantasy life.
It is hard to know that trauma happens to real people,
and one of those people is you.
You can’t hard work trauma away, you can’t dream it away, you can’t medicate it away, you can’t wish it away.
The best I can hope for, I believe,
is that my trauma ends up being a piece of me,
instead of a definition.
Maybe that can be the difference between me and the professor.
Love, Ms. Herisme