Friday, January 27, 2012

In joining it all

     I do not sleep at night anymore.  For many reasons, we now sleep during the day and stay awake through the night.  I had been fighting it for so long, I finally let go and let them do what they want to perhaps understand why.  It feels as if I am holding off a very dark shadow, one that is clearest at night.  I know I am absorbing and releasing, but sometimes it seems like too much.  I have learned repeatedly to value taking time off to bury myself in something else to numb everything until I am ready again.  Though I know many things that happened factually, I never felt the full implications of what they mean.  People sometimes think me cruel, or extremely "tough", because I can face nearly anything with no emotion at all, absolutely dispassionate.  It is as if there is a switch I can turn on and off, well, off, I can't really turn it on.  In the last few years I noticed whenever I saw something bad coming, I would steel myself and turn the switch off, so when the bad something happened I felt nothing.  Now the emotion comes back sometimes in waves, and knowing that something bad happened with your heart is so much worse than knowing with your head.  It is as if those things caused too much grief for me to feel them, and after years of preparation I still don't know if I can handle it.
     I learned for the first time in my adult life what it means to feel real fear.  I have rarely, even as a child, felt actual terror or helplessness in any situation.  Even facing danger or possible death, which I have several times, I only felt startled or a jump of fear, to be quickly replaced with cool assessment and incredible fierceness to take anything head on, or conversely a complete naivete to the danger I was in or what could happen.  With PTSD, my body would react - completely fall over shaking - but I would still be numb or dispassionate in my head, even detached having a calm conversation with myself distracting from whatever frightening or dangerous situation was going on.  That has proved useful in some very dangerous situations where I needed my body to move; the calm inside my head could with some effort forcibly take over my legs and make me steadily walk away, or speed up, prepare to run, or lift my head and take calm assessment and make a plan all the while the other part is a pile of jello incapable of moving or thinking.
     It is not until recently that I have started to remember actual terror- as in believing you are about to die at the hands of another human being whom you are completely helpless to, being fully present and understanding, if not with the head, definitely with the heart - what that means.  I can hardly handle that memory as an adult, knowing consciously that I'm in a different place and time and safe.  I cannot comprehend how a young child could manage that being fully present in that situation.  Because contrary to the general impression that I always thought, toddlers and infants are fully formed human beings with awareness.  They have no experience or language to understand things, but that does not mean they have any less brain or emotion, or auric fields or senses than any adult.  I have been startled to see pictures of friends with their babies looking into the eyes of a perfectly lucid child.  Knowing that they are aware, intelligent, feeling human beings completely helpless and at the mercy of other ignorant human beings is a rather frightening thought.  I'm surprised so many people survive to adulthood.

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