It is certainly my hope as I sit down to write this post that the wide array of thoughts going through my mind this morning will naturally arrange themselves into some kind of meaningful order through this writing process. Down here in the Arizona high desert the temperature is going up to 74° today and I want to be outside rather than in here at this keyboard. So, on with this story, whatever it turns out to be!
On the topmost surface I am thinking about severe infant-abuse survivors’ frequent aftermath experience of dissociation especially as this experience involves what is often referred to as ‘depersonalization’ and ‘derealization. It is not with hopes of intimidating, overwhelming or scaring readers who have these experiences that I suggest a quick read of a blog’s pages on the subject I discovered online at HealthBoard‘s website. I want to talk about what might well be a very positive side to these dissociation experiences.
Before I do I want to mention another trail of thoughts I have this morning that I know are somehow related to what I wish to say here in this post. Those of you who follow this blog know that I am finally at age 60 taking piano lessons (learning to read, write and play music – in that order at the same time). I am participating in a form of music therapy with myself, which happens to now involve my piano teacher as my art therapist – an entirely new experience for him.
Dissociation is a constant experience as I work with this music. I know it is deeply tied inside my body-brain to the abuse I suffered from birth that included maniacal screaming verbal abuse from my mother so early that I had no way to grow my brain and hearing/listening abilities without incorporating dissociation into how I process information related to SOUND.
My physical ears can obviously hear what I play, but I guess the best way I can say this is that I am very aware that my soul-self is NOT LISTENING and therefore is not hearing what I play.
The best way I know of so far to explain this experience is to relate it driving a distance in a car, and suddenly realizing one has crossed quite a distance without being PRESENT – a frequent but still somewhat scary experience.
At those times it is obvious one’s mind is occupied ‘elsewhere’. As I work with the music most of some important part of me is occupied elsewhere. It is a big goal of mine to find a way to bring all of myself into the present moment so I can experience the music as a WHOLE THING.
OK, now for the past three nights I have had long dreams in which music is presented to me in manuscript form. Sometimes the music appears and I can hear it, play it, sing it. At other times, as in my dream last night, I am writing the music but I cannot hear the music ‘into the future’. I only hear the music as it appears on note at a time and I write it down.
Well, I also have one of my rare colds. Although not severe, it does wake me up in the middle of the night with coughing. I tried hard last night to ignore the coughing so that I could remain in the dream working with the music. I knew if I woke all the way up to go get some cough syrup I would lose the dream. Eventually this is what happened.
Now, this morning I sat outside in the sunshine and read some words of spiritual inspiration. Today’s reading included a mention that every single soul has its own ‘particular aspiration.” What is my soul’s ‘particular aspiration’? Do I know? Can I find out? How?
Here comes my thoughts about what might be a positive side to dissociation-depersonalization-derealization……
As I take a much needed break from my book writing about the first 10 ½ years of my childhood’s severe abuse I am thinking a lot about what my SOUL knew from the time I was born in spite of and during the terrible abuse I suffered.
I always include what I read in the book, Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore, when I think about the impact my abusive childhood had on me on the level that truly matters most. Moore writes about how the period of our earliest years is the time during which our SOUL and our material SELF really get to bond with one another, with the world, and with the process of being alive in a physical body in this material world.
They grow together ‘down into the world’ as Moore puts it. Or, in cases like mine – do NOT have the opportunity to follow any of these patterns normally.
As I look at myself from my earliest experiences I now understand that there really were two separate ‘mes’. One watched and knew the truth about everything and did NOT become emotionally involved. The other me suffered terribly, as I had to during horrible, horrible abuse.
In ordinary cases most people DO get to join their soul to their earthly self in ‘natural ways’. The risk as this happens, however, is that in our sick lost errant material world most people can completely lose track of their soul-self.
So those of us who suffered severe early abuse (and did not end up with a physiologically-based mental illness such as my mother did with Borderline Personality Disorder which blocks the expression of the soul and nearly all ability to recognize the truth) probably have a distinct advantage in that our soul-self probably DOES make itself known – and DOES SO DURING THOSE INSTANCES WE ARE EXPERIENCING DISSOCIATION-DEPERSONALIZATION-DEREALIZATION.
Many, many times during any given day I experience these aspects of dissociation. It is most obvious to me now as I work with the music. My so-called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) includes a hyper startle response to nearly all sounds, and the ‘calming down’ of this startle response is NOT happening in my response to the wave-length note sounds of the keyboard (except evidently in my dreams).
Yet what is happening when I stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and suddenly see the hand that holds the wet sponge is separate from me – and seemingly very far away and in a different world than the me is that looks at the hand holding the sponge?
What is happening as I reach down to pet my furry dog and instantly both the hand touching the warm fur and the dog itself are suddenly in a different world than is the me that intended to pet the dog and is in fact DOING that petting?
Can I learn now to pay very close attention like I have never paid before to what is actually happening during these probably hundreds of times a day I experience this dissociation so that I can learn to see/feel/know if my SOUL is ‘a one part’ and my physical ego-self yet another part present in these experiences?
Can ‘we’ learn to dialog across these vast distances? Can we communicate ‘across the veil’ that divides us seemingly in time and space?
I don’t know yet, but I aim to find out. I might well possess a valuable and unique opportunity to get to know both wings of my self as I live in this body in this material world — my earthly and my soul self! Maybe not being able to ‘grow down’ into my body in this world due to extreme infant-child abuse gave me this gift that ‘ordinary’ people are not likely to have. Perhaps……