I Am Nothing, Today and Most Days

We’ve been talking to our therapist lately about how we probably need to put dredging up trauma memories on the back burner and focus instead on practical, present living. Obviously, trauma memories are still going to come up, and we will still address them as they do. But for us and, I believe, for a lot of systems who grew up like we did, the consequences of forgetting outweighed the heaviness of the emotions attached to trauma memories. We want to remember. We are AFRAID of not remembering fast enough. Because our system is still stuck in trauma mode, thinking we are going to split yet again, and that we need to process and integrate constantly so that we don’t lose the ability to function. 

What I mean by this is rather extreme. We have, for example, several alters who can’t do anything but either laugh hysterically or ramble nonsensically out of stress and fear. So when I say “lose the ability to function”, I am talking as literally as I can imagine.

Living in the present is a concept that I do not understand. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. In fact, I feel like I cannot ever express the depths to which this concept bewilders me. Body? What body? Things happened today? Oh yeah…I guess they did. I was so busy bracing myself for attack at each new event that I didn’t notice. 

The last shift we worked, Moira was talking to me about how she used to feel like a wisp of static, and now she feels like a half-transparent paper cutout, with some colors printed on. “Like the printer was almost out of ink”, she specified. 

This, to her, was a shocking improvement. And to me, it is something that I can envision, but still not understand. I am still only static. I feel like I HAVE to keep being static. 

If I solidify, if I gain a sense of self, I can’t effortlessly become whatever an abuser wants. This terrifies me. 

So many of the main fronters in our system want to live. They want to pull our good memories out of oblivion and use them to build a new world within which to exist. To cook the early childhood food we remember, to decorate the house the way that feels authentic, to walk outside in nature every morning and ground ourselves with beautiful things before we head off to work in a world where self-expression is commercialized. 

I don’t want to do any of these things. They terrify me. What is the point of building a safe world when that safety may or may not be protected in a bubble by pure chance and dumb luck? 

It reminds me of an article we read recently, about an older Ukrainian lady. (I tried to find it again to link it, but I couldn’t.) She spent her entire life working to create a house that reflected her inner sense of beauty. And then it was all destroyed in an instant, senselessly, by Putin’s bombs.

She said that, even after the war, she doesn’t want to return home. Her life was destroyed and she feels there’s no point. 

I feel that. I feel that so deeply that it hurts.

I guess, then, that this could be qualified as “chronic, trauma-fueled depression”. But it’s so very chronic that all philosophical and personal outlets have been explored and exhausted. We have done every single thing that we possibly could have done to survive, to believe in the good in the world.

I do believe in it, still. As I front at work, I have never – not once – seen a child acting out unless their parents exacerbated it. Humans really do have the capacity to love and be genuine; society is the problem. Community feels unsafe for so many people right now, in the United States at least. But there are safe people out there. I know several safe people myself. My therapist. My spouse. The friends I have started to make.

The world isn’t completely in shambles. But where do I begin? What feels safe enough for me to experiment with letting it become real to me, in my eyes? What feels safe enough to run the risk of destroying?

I decided to draw the cover image for this blog post. As I’m writing this, I don’t know how it will turn out. But I want to smell paper and graphite again. I want to feel ink slipping across the page again. I want to speak without words so I can turn off this neverending translation into the approximation of a “real person”. And I think I want it badly enough that I can let it be real.

Well, I’m back several hours later and…that kind of worked? I fronted without having soup brain for a good three seconds. I’ll take it. 

Unfortunately, my anxiety won’t give up that easily. I was going to cook supper tonight, but I can’t. I absolutely can’t. I’m going to have to go out and buy a pizza. Again. Going out is going to drain energy, but not as bad as cooking. Cooking feels terrifying, probably because we haven’t caught up on dishes.

I guess it makes sense to practice solidly fronting while creating art, rather than while doing tasks/chores.

Which reminds me – fuck – that we need to do laundry tonight. Our gatekeepers’ co-con makes us very overconfident on how “not that bad” our amnesia is.

But yes. Okay. I can start “being alive” with things that help me feel calm. Or at least…honest? Do those coincide so much that I can’t differentiate, or are they the same?

I might ask Simon to front for the pizza run. I can see him nearby innerworld. I just hope to god I’m still fronting when we get back. It’s hard to find time to practice otherwise. I can’t really handle strangers being in my bubble, so retail absolutely fucks me over when it comes to PTSD. 

https://youtu.be/xHffjNbWmig?si=ONdJ-Bb1btCd0JoI

-Charles

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