It’s ironic that I have a Master’s degree in Psychology but had no real idea what the buzzwords actually meant. Words like emotional abuse, projection, dissociation, and denial, all so relevant to the therapeutic process, were only concepts; ideas I could define but not really relate to. It’s a good thing I decided not to use my degree. Imagine the number of people I might have hurt because of my own unexamined self. Or I suppose, lack of a self.
What happens when I take it all away?
I’ve let go of the emotional abuse. I recognize it (mostly) and walk away from it. I’ve dismissed those people from my life. In doing so, I have a big gaping hole of loneliness. I have friends and family, but without those who tapped into my comfort zone, I feel alone. I’m on edge, wondering when I’ll feel at ease again, thinking perhaps I never will.
I now understand which of my character traits were projections from others,and I find that most of who I think I am is nothing but a projection of others. I am what others have told me I am. Who am I now that those people are no longer creating me? Who’s voices should I believe? I know I can’t beleive my abusers, but I’m not sure I can beleive others, so how do I create myself?
I am slowly starting to understand how often I disassociate. I don’t have numerous personalities, but I put on a show, all the time, rather than let my authentic self come out. Which makes perfect sense, since I have no idea who my real, authentic self is.
Denial. I’ve spent 40 years in a state of denial regarding the true impact of my teenage years on who I am, how I present myself, what I hide, what I accept as truth, what I accept as how I should be treated. I’m headed back into EMDR to start working on these years and the issues they created; the issues that created those years. I have no idea how to actually do this though. I can tell the stories of those years, years on the streets, in institutions, in terrible living situations. I can describe in great detail what happened during almost every moment of those 4 years. What I can’t do is feel it. I can put on my mask of denial, I can disassociate myself from the actual events of those years and I can project how I should be feeling, maybe even convincing a therapist of my authenticity. When I leave the session though, I know that it’s lie. I know that all I’ve done is tell story, which isn’t enough. I have to live the story to get through the story. It’s the conundrum of feeling feelings you don’t know how to feel. I have no idea how to relive these stories, but that’s what I must do to get past them.
For now, I’m like a comic book. I’m a caricature, pretending to be real but not able to make it off the page.