Departure in to the hollow

As I discussed the two important blog entries in session today, it became quite clear there was no coincidence. They were written back to back because they shared much in common. I didn’t think a lot about them as I sat and tapped my computer keys. They were just daily entries, though they are much more than that. It is very hard for me to write about the sense of powerlessness that overcomes me completely. With that comes the hopeless, sad emotions as well. In those days spent pouring over the local ads, I was awash in so many powerful feelings and thoughts. They were not called on, just crashed over me. There was not much warning, though I know better to tackle that type of activity and be oblivious. The sheer overwhelming effect spoke volumes to the degree to which I was being triggered. Not on a superficial level. This was a core reaction, as the reactor reached too great a temp. The subsequent hours spent trying to regain control and cool everything off. It took a while and a lot of running to get there. So much was going on in those hours. It was the what if’s and the should haves that rocked my center that day. The inability to stop myself from taking a walk down the path that has been my life thus far. Seeing, in painstaking detail, where it melted down. Often no fault of my own, though I do tend to blame myself for much of it. At each important juncture an obstacle found its way into my life. Some great, some small. A few near catastrophic. All I could see is the path I didn’t take, or did not get to take. It isn’t even some specific perfect vision, no, it is a vague longing for a life lost along the way. The sadness attached to this loss is so deep. When I brush up against it everything else just comes undone. My mind quickly tracks up to the point of- why bother, you can’t do it. you didn’t then, how can you possibly expect to now. you lost your chance. the whole world was there in your hand. the opportunities were endless and vast. but no, you retreated into a world of darkness. you pulled away. you failed. you could have been something, but you were not good enough or smart enough. you collapsed under the weight of all that opportunity and you’ll do it again. That is always where it goes. Combine the negative judgemental self talk and labels with the deep sense of sadness and loss, and suddenly I am in a vicious spiral. There isn’t even time to stop the spin. The reference points lose focus and it is impossible to stop. In that dizzying space of fear, pain and loss I soon become small and inconsequential to myself. I don’t even fight it. Instead I fall to my knees and grasp it. Welcoming it home and drawing it close. As I have done so many times before. In my heart it becomes my cross to bear. The suffocating feeling of guilt and insecurity settle around me. There is no use trying to shed them. And so I wait, hoping that survival instinct kicks in and I find my way to numb it. It has always been there for me. A way to turn it all off, retreat into nothingness. It does not take long. All the maelstrom of powerful emotions recedes like a tide headed back out to sea. Taking with it all of my parts, leaving me hollow and empty. It is a vacant distant place, but it doesn’t hurt. It is nothing. It touches every aspect of my life. There is no tactile sensations, or olfactory distractions. It is devoid of everything. In the absence of all the pain, I find myself accepting of this void. But it never lasts. My mind seeks input, and stimulation. It doesn’t like that place. Slowly, but surely the sensations return. Often not the emotions, but the smells and sights and sounds around me. It is a strange process, somewhat similar to the pins and needles felt in a limb as the blood supply returns. It is at once uncomfortable and needed. Though for me it is a difficult transition back. It is often a bit overwhelming. I find ways to distance myself, so it is a gradual quiet process. I take to the gym or the road to lose myself as it happens. Engaging my body, as my mind struggles to find its center of balance. It doesn’t always work, and I find myself adrift. Between lost in emotion and disengaged into numbness. The grey zone isn’t a comfortable place. It is scattered with disconnected thoughts and tides of emotion. None of it creating any resonance. It still feels too hollow and empty. I find myself looking out on a world I just cannot connect to. People seem little more than cardboard props. Sounds echo in this vast empty place. Thankfully, I do not spend a lot of time there, though at times in my life I have. I would often wish for the dissociation to be complete, not this strange vague in between place. To disappear entirely was far better, at least until I would plummet back into reality. As if entering orbit, the course was rough and bumpy. Wearing irritability and anger in defense of the emtional g forces encountered. There was no easy way back in. The hours and days that followed excruciating, as each emotion came back online. Each as powerful and violent as when the mind departed. Over the years I have become better at navigating and withstanding that transition. I tend to distance myself from the people closest to me. In the quiet of their absence, feeling my way around. I know myself too well, allowing them close only puts them in the line of fire. I will lash out, and injure them. It is too easy to react. It is so uncomfortable and vulnerable to be there. Sadly often times the people don’t even understand why I am reacting. I guess from the outside it only looks like quiet introspection, possibly withdrawn or vacant. It is so much more than that. Though I never make that known. Words are difficult, as are thoughts. They don’t seem to come together easily. It takes so much effort just to breathe in those moments of transition. It is why running is a safe place. There is nobody asking me idiotic questions, or saying the wrong thing. There is no stimuli beyond the air in my lungs and the road under my feet. Over the past few days I have spent much time alone with the air and the road. It has been a long time since I have been this off balance. My practiced skill of transitioning back just didn’t work. I was alone with it. I went with what was safest. In my life, I have learned one thing, to be alone. I used that yet again. When asked if I was ok, rather than reach out and tell them where I was, I pulled back. I don’t trust myself to not lash out. Just as a lifeguard doesn’t trust a drowning swimmer. It is all too easy to for them to turn on their savior in the blind panic to get out of the water. It is no different for me. I know in my panic to get free of the no man’s land of pain mixed with hollow nothingness I will show them something they have not ever seen from me. Instead I pull back and wait. Hoping in the hours or days that I will slide back into my reality.

I am beginning to understand why the rape entry followed so close on the heels of the job one. It has so much of the same elements- the fear, the powerlessness and the pain. Just as I find myself deeply moved by the loss of what could have been had my life stayed on course, I mourn the loss of my young self. The destruction of my innocence and my trust was so brutal and complete. My life changed, no hope to look back and shift the course. Whether it be at the hands of a drunk brother or the biology and chemical make up of my brain. There was no second chance. I saw neither coming, and could not have ever fought them off. It was not weakness, nor failure, it just was. I often wonder what might have been, the job search just kicked that into over drive. As much as I know it is not my fault, I slide back toward doubt. These blog entries belong side by side. They are evidence of this battle. The fast departure into a hollow vacant place was a learned response. It was a life saving attempt to jump ship when the world was too dangerous or painful. There are pieces of that night lost completely. I know where I was in those lost hours, and in the days that followed. I was doing everything I could just to survive. I could not stay in that reality, it was far too horrible. And so this pattern would repeat itself, over and over, right into the present day. In the days that followed those two blog posts. In the running away by pounding out mile after mile. I am not here, even as I write this. There is part of me completely lost. I can sense it, though I cannot seem to bring it back. I know how upsetting this is, just by gauging how very far away I have gone. The pressure and sadness of the job search tipped that safety mechanism. It set in motion a very rapid set of events. In the blink of an eye, I am gone.

I sat in session today, far from that room, and the painful content being discussed. Save for a few moments, I was utterly devoid of emotion. Didn’t matter what I did, or said, or tried, I was gone. I know it was my trying to protect myself. There was a strange physical response, which does not often happen, but it was fleeting. I was attempting to connect to the narrative of my rape. It was just too difficult. I know there will eventually come a time when I connect to it without setting sail. It is extremely hard to extinguish a response that saved me so long ago. My mind conditioned to grab that life raft at the first sign of turbulence. I understand why it does it. I can’t help but feel frustrated and lost. So many years of treatment and I am still battling this. Rather than being my safety it has become my impediment. How do I ever get free of this numb vacant place? A place so hollow it drains the life right out of me.

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