Ahhh, 1979. Many of you weren’t alive then. I was. I was living in Germany wild and free on my bicycle, sneaking onto the ferry, eating spaghetti ice and liquor filled chocolates (as one does in childhood).
I knew everything. EVERYTHING. Being all pre-pre-teeny. And I marveled at it all. I was the kind of kid who unwaveringly knew that magic was spiritual and real. I could feel it in my very essence and could see it everywhere. I could tune anything out in an instant in order to experience some magical sense.
Fast forward, fuh reahls, to today.
All of the wrongs swirling around me, in my brain, on my skin, in my house, with my family, in my town, in my country, in the world etc are completely overwhelming. I have had a few tantrums. Most of mine are internal because they cannot be tolerated in my current personal circumstances, or in writing (not posted bc feeeeeeelings), or on almost daily brief #$%^@&#*$&^%^% phone convos with my endlessly patient life-long soul sister.
My life-long practice of flipping the switch and tuning out has a name: disassociation. It’s so very difficult for me to embrace tuning in for any period of time to purposeful sheer sharp painful unpleasantness. This is why I cannot tolerate the Zoo. Also, it recently occurred to me that this is why I excel at creative diplomatic problem solving. I am compelled to make the difficult things disappear, be worked through, resolved. I am quick, concise and no nonsense about resolution. Even if the resolution only happens internally for myself, it happens very quickly. I do not linger in distress. Not by will, but by instinctual life-long self-preservation practice which is now ingrained habit.
It’s like my “meet-er/great-er” disease that is joked about in various circles I have inhabited throughout my life. When someone is approaching, or I drive past someone walking on the road etc, I can’t stop myself, I greet them. I make eye contact. I say, “hello!.” I wave. People receive this as me being super friendly. I am not. I am, by practice, anticipating and resolving any potential friction we may experience as two humans, by offering a greeting as a peaceful cleansing wash over our potential interactions. Again, this is not pre-meditated or meant as a manipulation, it is an ingrained habit I have cultivated over my life as a means for survival. It’s a tangible example of my switch flipping mechanism at work.
The other day in therapy (SURPRISE! I’m in therapy), my therapist was attempting to get me to connect with my own skin as I am currently waiting on results from my latest melanoma biopsy. She attempts to bring me back to and connect with my physical self. My brain is supremely resistant. (insert life story here) It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? She says things like, “when you place your hand onto your arm, does that feel pleasant or unpleasant?” I feel like an idiot because I do not know. I can clearly feel that I am touching my arm (I do not have a neurological disorder), and that my hand is warm, my arm is cool. I do feel things when I am pointedly asked to think about them. It would not occur to me to wonder how my hand feels on my arm, to even be aware that I have placed my hand onto my arm, or that my hand was warm and my arm was cool, if I wasn’t asked about it.
However, what has me disturbed is that niggling notion that I am supposed to know if my hand on my arm feels pleasant or unpleasant.
I do not know.
Not in an obtuse or try-to-guess-what-I-am-feeling way. I truly do not know. Then my hand and arm feel like nothing because I am trying to figure out what is pleasant or unpleasant, and worried that I cannot tell the difference that seems like it should be easy to describe. Then – WHOOSH – I am gone off into thinking about trees and how do they feel? My son, how does he feel? How is his arm? Does he still have the tick scar? How strong my son looks when he does chin-ups with his gangly boy arms. etc. I bet the universe has arms it is desperately trying to hug us with to quiet all of our earthly crazy fear-based interactions. Why can’t I feel anything yet? Is my hand even warm? Gah! I can’t feel it!
Melanoma. It’s on the skin that I am in.
I hope that therapy is not a pass/fail thing.
Which brings us back to Joe:
Tonight’s the night when I go to all the parties down my street
I wash my hair and kid myself I look all smooth
Look over there! (Where?!?)…
Love, Ms Herisme xoxo
Hopefully not on the verge of a nervous breakdown
Hopefully still on my NewPath