To Repeat, or to Not Repeat

Attunement, disruption and reparation. Those are the ingredients of a successful relationship. M and I are pretty attuned, most of the time, but we have our moments. Usually because something the other is doing provokes memories from our trauma-based histories. And once the disruption occurs, the road to reparation happens slowly, moment by moment, until equilibrium is restored.

Maybe that’s the trajectory for my moods too. Step 1 is attunement with my own needs, my sense of myself as a whole, capable person. Step 2 is the depression, which causes me to dissociate from myself and enter a state of disharmony with my own needs and wants. Step 3 is where I attempt, sometimes not so successfully, to regain connection not only with that part of myself that is whole, but also with the environment, which I form a part of.

Really, I am the product of my environment, my history. But I also hold in my hands the ability to shape my environment, my story, moving forward. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes I forget. And when I forget, the moment seems to drive me rather than me driving it. That’s when the pain is at its worst. Why is that? It feels like all my power is seeping out of my body; and I feel totally, completely vulnerable. Not fun.

One way to control people, is to convince them that, not only is the world a dangerous place, but also they are incapable of navigating that world on their own. I feel like that was a message that I received early on in life. I remember one particular instance where my mother told me not to trust strangers, ever. A fairly innocuous message. But in my fear-based world view, it meant that when I ran into my sister’s best friend on my way home from school the next day, I categorized her in the stranger category and refused her offer of a ride home.

Because that was the message in our household. Anyone who wasn’t part of the family was basically under deep suspicion. And the flip side, if an authority figure in the family ordered you to do something, you did it – no questions asked.

I am not a rebel by nature. I want to please those I trust. I want to be a good person. But as I grew into a disaffected teenager I no longer believed that the messages I was receiving from my parents, my teachers were true. But because it wasn’t safe to dissent, I simply withdrew from life.

I killed myself – became a living dead.

The world is full of people who are dead but breathing. And I’m not talking about those unfortunate people who are dependent on a breathing machine. My father, for example, shrank smaller and smaller as he grew older. His personality, the space he occupied in the world, it all shrunk. Until finally he was crawling around (literally) on his knees and later got pushed around in a wheelchair.

I loved my father deeply; admired him deeply. But I don’t feel like he ever truly got the chance to flourish into the best person he could be. Sometimes I worry that I won’t have a chance to flourish either. The years tick by and life doesn’t seem to get any easier. The years feel shorter and shorter every time they pass.

How do I interrupt that dialogue? How do I make the remainder of my life count for something? Even if it hasn’t exactly turned out the way I thought it would….?

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