This is a continuation from "honesty porn from a blog whore". Trigger warning, stop here if you have any triggers at all.
A lot of my arrival to real life answers is often done through a sort of haze of visualizations percolating up from the depths. I have been so emotionally shut down for so long that some of my memories are retold through a very thick intellectual filter in my brain, distancing me enough from my memories that I don't feel anything, or if I do, only anger. I am so self trained to think away from those memories that they have a hard time reaching me. One memory in particular finally made it through with a whoosh a couple of weeks ago, elating because it answered so many questions about where some of my weird eccentricities come from, yet very sad.
Before that memory finally arrived intact and I still had only the indistinct bits and pieces floating around, I saw him again. If you haven't read that previous post, this tiny excerpt is necessary. While I was on break from my psychologist about a year and a half ago and started sliding into my weird labyrinth working toward uncovering a repressed memory, I created a new psychologist in my head. Totally different guy, different office, different me. The me no one ever really sees... And now we continue.
I didn't see him for a few weeks. When my brother asked me about why I quit, he reminded me that we had made a deal. I told him it was impossible to talk in a setting where only one side does the talking. It doesn't make sense for someone I don't even know or trust to be looking at me and expecting me to talk about myself without having an actual conversation with me. If that's all it was, then I may as well just be writing words down. He didn't get after me too much because he understood that's just how I've always been, so he changed the subject and let it drop.
A couple of weeks after that he called up to come eat some pizza. I'm not crazy about pizza places, they're usually loud or cheap or crowded or something, but he knows I can be bribed with food. Sure, meeting for pizza. And while I'm usually early to anything, this time I was pretty late. Pizza was already on the table by the time I arrived. And he was there. Not cool. My brother set me up.
I lurked my way around a few tables and slid into a chair opposite my brother's friend, my psychologist. Eating pizza. Wearing a t-shirt, rumply hair, super normal guy. I was already in shock, so I just sat there staring. My brother lowered his pizza slice and asked, "What the hell happened?" I was a mess...
Act casual, right? I reached for a plate and a slice of pizza, my arm obviously scraped and caked with a little dried blood, maybe a bit singed. I hadn't given a single thought to my appearance until just now. It's weird realizing that everyone else can see you've been through something even when you shut it all down in your mind and don't look at it. I'd obviously been through something, yes. I realized I hurt all over and actually felt pretty nauseated, but I made myself go through the motions anyway, take a bite and chew it before I answered.
"There was a wreck on the way in. I stopped to assist." I took another bite while my brother sat up a little. The psychologist didn't move and kept eating, too. Smooth. Faking each other out again. "What happened to your arm?" he asked, way too casually, but I liked that. No big deal, just a nice little convo over pizza.
I took a deepish breath without being too conspicuous, you know, don't want to choke on pizza, and tossed out, "There was a little girl trapped in one of the vehicles. I got her out."
My brother just sat there holding his pizza, waiting for more. The psychologist kept eating. I kept eating. The psychologist asked me if I was ok.
I was not ok, but I wasn't going to say it. I was definitely not ok. My whole body was hurting so bad, my mind was screaming at me, someone else's blood was on me, and I was pretending to eat pizza in public like everything was ok. Maybe I'll just tell them. Maybe now is a good time to say stuff. I'm not alone in an office with someone looking at me, just alone out in public with everyone looking at me. For some reason, the public part feels more comforting. Confidentiality has its place, but its a very lonely place, and I can't be there.
"I think I'm ok," I said. It wasn't exactly a lie. I'm usually "ok" after I deal with something, and by dealing I mean stuffing it down, and by ok I mean able to keep role playing so people don't think I'm crazy or something. I have to hide everything anyway or people tell me to smile or get after me for looking crabby or acting out. It's ok for other people to be normal, like have a crabfest and dump all their shit out for everyone to step in, but not for me, for some reason. Maybe it's because I eat people when I'm like that. I'm mean. I'm trying not to be mean. All I have to do is just talk, I don't have to hate people while I'm talking to them. It's not their fault.
I knew he wanted me to venture into the not ok part, so I skipped it and just flipped into the story. Just make it a story and tell it, don't freak out, don't have a meltdown in a pizza place, don't turn into a zombie and eat people. Just tell a story.
"Ok, well, maybe not that ok. I had to do stuff, you know. Make a few decisions, like the kind people don't always have to make every day."
"You rescued a little girl," he prompted, focusing me back on the story. I deeply appreciated that he was still eating his pizza and not just looking at me. He was making it easy to talk.
"Yeah, she was trapped in her car seat, and the car was on fire. No one was close enough to see her stuck like that, and I only had a few seconds, so I had to act really fast."
"So you unbuckled the car seat and saved her from a fire, that's wonderful!" my brother said, smiling at me. He didn't understand. I slyly rolled my eyes toward the psychologist. He was still with me in my convo world, not leaping to conclusions or assuming anything, but he was looking at me to go on. So I took another deep breath.
"Not exactly. She really was trapped. The car was crunched up so badly that even with the door torn off, I couldn't just get her out of the car seat. She had to be twisted a certain way and then pulled out."
"So you figured it out and pulled her out, that's great!" My brother was still smiling at me. A lot of people are like that, unimaginative. They can't even imagine the grisly horrors. Well, I may as well just put it out there. I looked back at him this time as I talked.
"There was no way to get her out without hurting her very badly." His smiled stopped but he kept looking at me. "So you hurt her, but you saved her life", he said. Poor man. I closed my eyes. Do I bring him into this world? Do I share with him what it's like on my side of this convo?
"I only had a few seconds, remember. The car was on fire." This was getting hard to say out loud. I almost felt choked up. I wasn't choked up at all when I did it. The psychologist noticed I stopped to get a little breath and stopped eating, like being respectful of me having some difficulty and preparing to take that big swan dive into Truth.
"She was already crying, I knew she was already hurt and scared, but there wasn't any time. I didn't want her to feel how bad it was going to hurt. The only way to get her out twisting her like that was to break her. So I passed her out, then I worked her out, then ran away with her from the car before it all burned up."
"But she's all right." My brother was definitely not smiling now. My psychologist was looking at me like he might know the real truth and expected me to complete my bold trek into confessing it.
"Yes, she's alive. Transport took to her hospital." My brother finally put his pizza down and shook his head. "Good thing you were there, then," he said quietly. And I could have dropped it all right there and let that be that. But the psychologist knew we weren't there yet.
"What do you mean, you passed her out?"
Utter silence at our table. No one moving. Here it was, the spotlight. Ok, may as well just say it.
"I put my hand over her face to make her stop breathing so she would be unconscious when I broke her body to pull her out." My brother's face drained. "But you revived her," he said. "She's ok. You saved her life."
I looked slowly up at him looking at me. I felt so sorry for him, but I said it anyway. "Yes, but I murdered her first. Please don't tell anyone, I really don't want to go to jail for murdering and maiming a child."
My brother was aghast, naturally, but still struggling to keep perspective on his side of the convo, the safe point of view. "I'm not ok," I said. And I started crying right there at the table.
Every day people around the world make decisions that may not be 'safe' to tell other people. The results are good, but the path to the results are very questionable, even when that path is the only way to get the good results.
I did not know when I allowed this free floating dialogue to run through the background in my mind how close it was to truth for me, and when all the bits finally coalesced and I remembered later that I was the little girl, I lost it.
My real psychologist and I are now starting to discuss how dissociation rescues us during trauma, and the amazing ways brains survive.
The visuals on this thought process all come from very real parts of my life, condensed into allegory. My brain is perceiving that I am finally in a safe place to process through some disturbing experiences, and it's pretty neat being cognizant of this process. Painful, yes, but still cool, and feeling relief over and over as this stuff fits together while it's processing is a powerful motivator to keep going.
I called this post "his point of view", meaning the fake psychologist. All these characters are really me in my own head, playing parts. My brother is obviously that protective part of me that shuts it all out, but sees that we (I think 'we' a lot, I've noticed) need help, so he brought in his friend, the psychologist. The psychologist is that part of me that actually knows everything and won't tell me, the keeper of the keys, if you will. I am caught in between, consciously and sometimes painfully aware that I'm navigating life wearing blinders I put on myself a very long time ago, and I realize that the only way to understand the answers to all the questions I keep asking is to find a way to take these blinders off. It's a very slow process. I've been seeing my real psychologist since 2007, I think.
For instance, I know now why I am so fond of walls. I looooove walls. I almost always migrate to a wall area in a new place because I feel safer by a wall. I always want the interseg table by the wall at my chiropractor. I sat by windows and walls when I could in college until I became comfortable enough with a teacher to sit on front row. I often have to touch walls on bad days, feel their textures, see their construction. I've been in chairs in waiting areas that held me enthralled because of the architectural lines from that point of view, not wanting to move and just stare. I have even thought about going back to these places to take pictures to put together into a coffee table book about visual decor in architecture as a sort of intellectual art porn. I have to steer away from home magazines in doctors' offices for that very reason.
I remember now where it all started. It was a very bad day for me, and I reached out to touch a wall...
I can't share it yet, but I might one day, and when I do, it will be from his point of view.