Good-Bye Cruel World! (continued)
Here is what the earlier examples look like under trauma:
Action: A child is yelled at by a parent for misbehavior.
Reaction: A child looks at the parent without expression and either calmly continues the behavior or walks away.
Action: Children at school taunt a child.
Reaction: The child is non-responsive as though the incident never occurred.
For many years, I lost the ability to be in touch with my feelings. I had them but I could no longer identify what they were at a given moment. I either never identified them at all or had a delayed reaction. In the absence of this, I relied more and more heavily on my intellect. I had to learn to reconnect that part of my brain that holds my emotion and impulse response. It was a slow process for me to relearn simple behavior. I mimicked what I believe was appropriate behavior based on what I saw around me in others. During this time, I made many mistakes. In addition, I had to learn moderation and scale of emotion.
This loss of emotion, or blockage depending on your perspective, created a maelstrom of incidents for me. The lack of reaction during crises or hardship gave others the impression that I was uncaring and cold. I cannot count the number of times that I have been accused of being a cold-hearted bitch. It was very confusing for me. I knew I wasn’t that but had lost the ability to connect and didn’t trust that I could react appropriately within what would be considered societal norms. Conversely, I would overreact. I could go from what would appear to be quiet and serene to raging and screaming within seconds. That not only frightened me but everyone around me.
Gradually, and over many years, I became able to connect what I was feeling with the emotion and a healthy response. I would like to say that eventually, that became a natural process. That is not the case. While I am better connected, I still at times must manually walk through what is happening around me and what I am feeling. Then I can determine a response that is in keeping with the people and surroundings that I am in. While at one time, when people described me as cold, it would either elicit no or very little reaction, or rage; now, I ask people why they have that impression and work toward correcting it by sharing what I believe is an appropriate level of information dependent on the situation. I have found that even just stating to them that while they might believe I am devoid of emotion, I am not, helps. And, to be clear, the person it helps most is me.
So, for anyone listening, I am not a bitch. I left this world because it was too painful for me to remain. Think about this the next time you hear someone raging or screaming. Be grateful that person has not committed suicide to permanently leave this world. I fight to stand my ground. And I am winning, most days.