I remember it like it was yesterday. I used to believe in magic and fairy tales and think someone would rescue me, like the princess in the tower. Raised on fairy tales I wasn’t living one but I had a unique ability to create what I wanted it to be in my mind. I’m not sure where this gift came from but it was a gift. I could be experiencing any kind of hell and not realize it… I would just slip away, into a better time and place.
I have learned this is disassociation.
I wasn’t there. I spent my whole life feeling as though I was watching from the sidelines. I often wondered if I had a split personality. But I didn’t think so. I knew the difference, I didn’t become someone else or change like that… just very aware that I wasn’t really there. I could meet people, have conversations and be places that I would later have no recollection of.
It was my security blanket. This ability to drift away, fade away, to find, create, be and live something else, something more pleasant. I did’t set out to heal my life. I just wanted to not be so stressed out, not work so much, find solutions, not be so emotionally distraught when things weren’t working out. I wanted better responses and reactions and less overwhelm and more of a life.
Through the layers I became more and more aware of not being here, not really. I was disconnected, disassociated, living in a fog. I never felt alive, I was dead inside, numb. I wanted to live but I couldn’t seem to find the exit, always caught in the fog. When something would happen, I’d react with my off button going into place. I couldn’t see it either, I would be gone before I realized what was happening. But the more inner work I did, the more alive I felt, the less brain fog I felt and the more I noticed it when I was closed off.
I was the don’t give a fuck girl. When I closed, when I shut down, I became someone I wasn’t to protect myself. It doesn’t make sense to the conscious mind but most of what drives us is subconscious and the patterns and reasoning are often embedded, twisted and turned to make sense from a childs perspective. In my case, 5+. I distinctly remember creating the “play world”. As a child it was no big deal, most kids had a fantasy world with them.
But mine didn’t leave. I slipped away to that place often, when I felt uncomfortable – the place I felt was the real me. But on the exterior I became someone who couldn’t be touched – that real me that was hurt easily, that cared too much, that cried easily and got made fun of for it, that was soft and romantic and happy.
I wouldn’t let her out there for the world to destroy. I was tired of being hurt because of who I was. I was tired of being naive and trusting and ending up being made fun of. So I changed. I became someone they couldn’t hurt, they couldn’t destroy, they couldn’t get to. I remember it happening, bit by bit I decided to never be that girl again so I shoved her away, locked her up, and donned the masks and the armour I believed I needed to make it through the word unscathed.
But all I really did was become someone I wasn’t, hanging around with people who I didn’t really like, changing myself to fit. I didn’t give AF about anything, least of all myself. I put myself in situations, relationships, careers, friendships with people where I just became what they needed me to become. That realization was one of the most profound of my life – that I’m not really me, that I had become someone else, some other version that I thought would be hurt less and liked more.
But all that happened was that I lost myself, I hurt myself and betrayed myself. The don’t give a fuck girl was running the show, proving that no one else cared and that she didn’t care either. But the reality was far sadder. I did care. But I pretended I didn’t. And I stuffed it all down inside of me. I accepted shitty behaviour from people. I never asked for what I wanted or needed.
I was the don’t give a fuck girl who was surrounded by people who didn’t give a fuck and treated me like I didn’t give a fuck and I was upset about that. None of it made any sense but it was the truth. I wanted to care, I wanted other people to care but I scared to show that from so many years of pretending. To get the life I really wanted, to stop living outside of my life, to fully embrace life, to open up I had to stop pretending.
I had to unbecome all that wasn’t me. All of the attitudes, the believes, the ways of speaking, thinking, saying, the image I put out there… all of it had to go. It became a cha cha of sorts. I’d step out, drop a little baggage, retreat inside again. The process seemed exhausting and many days I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. Each down day wondering “how I ended up here, again”.
And one day I realized it was the process – of unbecoming and becoming. In order to unbecome all that wasn’t me I had to see it. I couldn’t see it all at once. With each layer and level addressed and dealt with, more would come up to be dealt with and released. I often wondered if there was a bottomless pit of stuff and if it would ever end.
And it did. Sort of. Things are further between. They aren’t as hard as the early days of working through things and not nearly as emotionally intense although they are deeper and more profound. When I first started letting things up, started looking at things and seeing them for what they were instead of making them what I wanted them to be, it was intense, a pulling and pushing, a war of wanting to desperately to hold on and keep pretending and the need to just see it and let go.
The process has become easier and the don’t give a fuck girl doesn’t live here anymore. She visits from time to time but she is no longer in charge. The real me is in charge, the one who cares, the one who loves more freely and easily, the one who can cry and feel, the one who is present in the moment, the conversation and in the here and now.
It’s rare for me to feel disconnected and disassociated, I no longer feel as though I’m watching myself life from the outskirts, but I’m here, in it, experiencing it and living it fully. There’s a certainty, a connection, a deeper knowing that came with the process of unbecoming all that wasn’t me. Once upon a time I needed that, I needed to disassociate, to disconnect, to leave to save me from the hurt I was experiencing.
But I’m safe now and that coping mechanism is no longer needed. Our experiences in life create who we are, we become what we are conditioned to be or what we think we need to be. In order to truly live our lives, to experience life, we must be willing to let the experiences come up, to teach us, to process them and then repattern them so we can let go and become who we really are.
The privilege of a lifetime is getting to be you. There is no reward for living a life less than you deserve, less than you are capable of. There is no reward in playing small or making yourself and everyone else comfortable so we stay in the illusion of safety. There is only now. Most of our “problems” like money, food, weight, addictions can be solved by getting to the root of the problem.
For me, the root of my problem was that I had no idea who I was. I wasn’t living my life, I was living the life of a puppet – someone who was bendable, manipulatable, changeable based on who I was with and what they expected. I was disconnected from me and when I found me, then allowed myself to become me by working through all of the stuff I was then able to reclaim me… and that reclaiming allowed me to truly live, to truly embrace life, to open up to life.
Life isn’t meant to be merely survived – it’s meant to be lived. We’re meant to thrive. Do more than exist. Allow yourself to be broken open so you can truly experience life because I primes you – to feel, to really feel is truly the best thing I’ve ever experienced.