There was no one start to the general catastrophe that befell me. It was a series of things that happened over the course of nearly a year. The stories of the various disasters will hopefully make it onto this computer screen at some point, but suffice to say that when I got back to Providence in August 2013, I was a broken person. At that point, it had become clear that I was, in all likelihood, suffering from CPTSD. For two years, a different sense of self has emerged as I have met various challenges with a wholly new set of insights from the healing process.
One undesirable side effect from my recovery is that as I began to heal, my sense of community began to dissolve. Of course, there were things that could not be avoided and had nothing to do with this new state of being in which I found myself. There were departures and break-ups (from both friends and lovers), as well as movings-away, and driftings-apart.
So here I am, the sanest and loneliest I have ever been. As an adult, that is. Because one memory I have recovered in a very visceral way has been the emotional recollection of a childhood loneliness so fierce that it is frightening to even remember.
Such memories have clarified for me that it is no coincidence that some of the very things that made me an ace at building community were also among the many defense mechanisms that I had developed in the face of the trauma I experienced as a child. I can almost (but not quite) remember vowing to myself that when I grew up I would never again feel so alone. The dilemma I now face is that as I heal, my defense mechanisms have become slowly deactivated. So too has my aptitude for human interaction. I can’t say for sure, but I think my appetite for sociality has also soured.
So again, I am the sanest and loneliest I have ever been, with very little in the way of knowing how to relate like a “normal” person might relate to others. It is almost as if I do not recognize myself. What happened to my convivial and festive knack for connecting with people–almost any people almost all the time? Indeed, where is my desire to connect with other people?
The last few months have been particularly hard. In June my roommate moved out; I was unprepared for what that might mean for me. I had no idea that I would feel so extraordinarily and utterly alone.
I ran into an acquaintance the other day and we were talking about this very thing. She said that after her last break-up, she was excrutiatingly lonely, but what helped her was realizing that she was very self-sufficient. This is not my problem. I know I am self-sufficient and resourceful. I know I am capable and resilient.
Tonight I was trying to explain how I feel–so different, in terms of sociality, than I once felt . . . at an almost ontological level. I have had this vague notion, intuition really, that it has something to do with this healing process I am in. Because while I have felt great despair over the last few months, I have also felt some sense of liberation. But I have not been able to name this or explain it fully.
Tonight, the attractive Canadian woman asked after my parents and I responded that I don’t feel like I have parents anymore. And then an idea emerged. And I am going to think on it for a while. It is this: I have never been alone. Because even as a child, in the darkest moments late at night when I imagined myself as a small lonely Jewish girl being sent to the death camps in a cattle car (a crystal clear memory of my morbid childhood bed-time fantasies), I was never alone. My mother was in my psyche. And she has been in my psyche ever since. It is not her fault, in a way. She has borderline personality disorder. I just happened to be the recipient of a major boundary-fail.
Until very recently, there was no me. At least not at my deepest, earliest and most entrenched neuronal wiring. There was only ever “we.”
And then, I began to understand what had happened to me as a child. And then, among the many things I had to do to heal was this: pry my mother from my psyche. I had already done a great deal of this work at the conscious level–in talk therapy. But I think working in the EMDR mode has brought about a whole different way to get my mother out of my head. And I think I may be succeeding. And I am freeing myself from a helpless and desperate loneliness. And I have landed in a place all by myself, lonely in a way that is simultaneously familiar and disorienting. It is not the most comfortable feeling and I am not sure what to do about it. Maybe there is nothing to be done. Maybe it is just a matter of learning to experience life as a “me.” I do not know for sure, but right now, I am not worried. I am, after all, extremely resourceful.