Even as a child, I could not bear the weight of my own emotions. I bore the brunt of everything with maximum intensity. It was both a gift and a curse. My attachments were obsessive. My pain, unbearable. But my soul went deep.
I’d be angry then sad then joyful then angry and sad again, sometimes in the course of an hour. I had no control, and nobody ever taught me how just be.
Over time, I developed my own coping skills. Not all of them proved successful in the long term.
For example, I discovered that if I hurt myself physically, I could temporarily relocate the pain outside my head to a place where I could attend to it. To me, that felt like control.
My feelings clanged against the bars of my internal prison. When I immersed myself in loud noise, when I filled my head with sound (sometimes it was my own screaming), it drowned the sound of my own noisy emotions.
By the time I became an adult, there were treatments. While they helped dull the clatter, they offered their own problems. My choice was: anguish and fear (which were feelings at least), or numbness.
Initially, the numbness was welcome. Imagine being pulled from a crazy, loud, verbally abusive family and dropped solo on a deserted island. Oh, to have peace and quiet in my own head for the first time! But it became quickly clear that this was a bargain with the devil. I missed my own mind, as damaged as it was. I felt isolated, even from myself. All my life, because of how I was, I’d interacted with the world in a certain way, and from that experience I’d learned all my lessons. And then I wasn’t that person anymore and none of my lessons applied. I had no idea how to be in the world, how to exist inside my own body.
And so I ran away from the treatments and the doctors and good-intentioned family members who wanted the best for me, but also for themselves. As myself, I disrupted all their lives. As not myself, I had no life.
I suffered, not because of the voices or the feelings, but because I didn’t know how to co-exist with them. I never learned to make peace with them. It took enormous energy, which I didn’t often have, not to let them dictate my mood. I would command them to stop, and sometimes, for a while, they would. Eventually however, I lost the strength and will to fight them.
I could have continued the treatments and lived what would have seemed, from the outside, a normal life but I believed that was the cowardly way. These were my demons to tame, and if I lost the fight, at least I stood up to them.
In the end, the demons did me in, but I fought nobly and remained in possession of my soul to the end.
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