On the turning away

Been pondering my turning away from life lately.

Anyone can see that my depression has made me turn away from the world. Lately I have learned to catch myself in the act of doing it and can feel the very specific emotional reaction that I am calling my own “turning away”.

Have I done the rubber ducks thing yet? It’s like rubber ducks.

Rubber ducks floating in the water like in some kind of carnival game. And when I try to contempklate expanding my little world, those little duckies turn to the wall and silently cry and that means I can’t do it.

Lately, this image in my mind has come with a single word : “No. ”

No, I won’t do it.. I won’t look. Leave me alone. No, no, no. I hear it in a childlike voice. But it’s not said in a tone of defiance or even anger or fear.

It’s closer to a tone of despair. Not the wailing and the gnashing of the teeth kind. The voice of someone who has literrly given up and can do nothing but wait for the bad thing to go away.

And it’s quite clear to me where this voice comes from : the sexual assault I endured when I was but three or four years old.

That’s what made me turn away from the world for good. When it was happening, I did what millions of other sexual assault survivors did and took my mind away. I de-focused my inner vision until everything was a blur and denied reality as hard as I could.

No. this isn’t happening. No, this isn’t real. No, no. no. I’m going to go far, far away by going deep, deep inside myself. I am going to retreat into a little box inside myself, even though I have to make myself very small to do so, and all that empty space I leave behind will be filled with hard cold ice to protect me from the horrors of reality.

And from that point on, I have been in that little box, looking out at the world from deep inside myself, a tiny child trying to operate a large body and deal with the realities of life while deeply insulated from reality.

No wonder I am so awkward.

And here I sit at 44 years of age, 45 in a couple of months, and I am still in that little box. Still keeping the world at bay, still dealing with life through thick layers of protective ice, still fundamentally rejecting reality unless it comes to me in the sort of safe, media-based way I can handle.

And that means I have been mostly dead inside for a very long time. Most of my life, in fact. Nothing can live in such icy conditions. I am profoundly number, and I keep myself that way because I am so afraid of what happens when I come to life and have to deal with the memories of being raped when I was a preschooler.

That is, in effect, the answer to why I can’t do some things even though my vision issues are not an issue at all. [1] The real answer is “because that would involve dealing with more reality than I can safely handle without waking the demon sleeping in my soul and waiting to annihilate me. ”

I feel quite cold inside as I write this. That’s fine. I have come to accept this kind of inner chill is a good thing, a sign that I am pushing someof that god damned ice out of myself and onto the page or my therapist’s ears.

Like a glacier calving, I birth my ice and let the bergs drift south and melt. I have no idea how many of them I have in me. PResumably one hell of a lot. And so I don’t know how long the process is going to take.

But I don’t care. Doing it makes me feel better, in the long run. And I can look to the past and see just how much lighter I am now than I was before. That confirms that this is, indeed, a thing worth doing.

And it’s not like I have anything better to do.

And I know that underneath all that ice and snow and deeply dead dirt, I am still alive. I love, I grow, I gather strength, I improve, and with every day and every blog entry or therapy session, I get closer to healing my damaged soul and being able to havbe that long delayed springtime of the soul, where the waters flow free and the flood comkes and goes and when it is all over, the land will awaken and life will start again.

I can clearly feel how assiduously I have kept reality at an entire Shiva’s worth of arms lengths away and relied on my thick wall of numbness to keep the world at bay.

It’s like when reality comes calling, I slip away and let my ice shield take the hit instead. Which might sound good, but when you realize that this means I never actually deal with any problems, you begin to see what a bad thing it is.

I’d be far better off if I just met my problems head-on and solved them right away. But I am just not the kind of person. Not yet.

There’s still too much “no” in me. A lot of me still wants to hide away from everything. To disappear completely so I don’t have to deal with anything any more. SOmetimes even my tiny life as I am living it now seems like too much to handle and all I want to do is go away and never come back.

Those are thee bad days. The dqays when even getting out of bed to play Skyrim seems like too much work.

But I press on through my half-chilled days, looking for that door… into spring.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. And how much of my eyesight problems are actually psychological, I wonder?

The constant strain

Gonna talk about my weak eyesight again tonight.

I’ve mentioned before that I think thqat for my whole life, I have had poor vision – worse even than my earing of glasses would suggest. Even with the glasses on, I have trouble seeing things sometimes. And anything that requires fine vision is impossible.

Beyond a certain level of deep focus, everything is double.

I was reminded of this issue when I mentioned a depressing little incident to my therapist. Last Thursday morning, I was getting ready to go to therapy and as usual made sure I had the Holy Trinity – wallet, watch, and keys.

Evrything was fine until I stood up and my wallet fell on my foot. The wallet that, until I stood up,. had been in my right front pocket.

Hoping that it was just that I had not had the wallet fully ibn my pocket, I checked said ocket and found that no,.I was not so lucky, the bottom had really fallen out of that pocket. Completely gone. Like it had been made of tissue paper.

When I mentioned this to my therapist as one of the small frustrations that had put me in a foul mood, my therapist said “time for the needle and thread!”.

I told him that there was no way I was going to do that, and by way of explanation, I told him how my experience with sewing class had been both tragic and comic because when the rest of the students were learning to sew and progressing in the class, I spent most of each class just trying to thread my needle.

And that[s what it was like for the whole semester. I only passed that course because the teacher took pity on me. I had done virtually none of the work. Everyone else had made their cute little stuffed animal and I had made nothing but a lot of divots on my fingers from trying to grip the needle hard enough to make it submit to being threaded.

Of course now, in hindsight, it’s obvious that the problem was that my eyesight was not up to the job. For me, there was never only one eye on my needle. There was always two, and neither of them were the right one.

But the thought “the problem is my eyes” would not have occurred to me at the time. Instead, this failure was simply added to the large, dynamic, challenging file known as “reasons why I suck and am pathetic” and made me feel helpless and lame.

The real problem, my eyesight, would not have occurred to me because that would mean I was not at fault and that’s just not how life worked, in my experience.

Even worse, even if I had managed to have that thought, I would have immediately rejected it because that would mean I would need new glasses or even something more, and that would mean asking my parents for something, and that was absolutely not going to happen.

Even now, I can feel the fear associated with the idea of asking for something. It’s like ice cold water in my veins. It terrifies me even to contemplate it.

And I am 44 years old now. 45 in a couple of months.

Some things never change, I suppose.

And it’s been like this all my life. My glasses have never even come close to giving me actual normal vision. I have always been struggling to see things. I think I learned at an early age to force my eyes to focus.

And that most of the “clumsiness” that has plagued me and made me feel worthless and incompetent and utterly helpless to deal with life has actually been the direct result of my visual impairment.

Anyone with my vision issues would be just as “clumsy” because you can’t possibly have good hand eye coordination if the eyes don’t work.

Take other things I have never been able to do. Like have good penmanship. Or draw. Or yes, thread a needle. Or wash the dishes and actually get them clean. Or do damn near anything that people consider “working with your hands”.

My hands can work a keyboard and a mouse and that’s about it.

And to think, I have hated myself my whole life right until this point for something over which I had no control, and all because I couldn’t conceive of it being some kind of external, solvable problem that was not my fault at all.

I truly wonder if I qualify for the mildest form of being visually impaired. It certainly makes normal everyday tasks my difficult, sometimes even making them impossible.

At least now I know why I am so prone to eye strain. my eyes work way harder than a visually normal person’s just to give me the poor eyesight I have now.

And here’s the kicker – the reason my vision is poorer than usual right now is that last time I went to get my eyes checked, I gave the people at Ironwood Optical the wrong phone number (I think), and I never called them to fix it because I am too shy to talk to a stranger and admit I made a very basic error that most people would never make.

No wonder I live in a constant state of cringing shame. I have been blaming myself for not being able to do things all my life. And most of that was due to poor vision.

I’m not sure how to process this information. I am afraid that I will forget it because it doesn’t fit into the bulk of my feelings about myself and thus my brain will rule in favour of the existing order rather than go to the effort of changing everything.

But I will try very hard not to forget it. And that means telling others about it too. Because I need people to cut me some slack on stuff.

It’s not my fault that I can’t do basic things.

It’s because of my messed up eyes.

And there is no guarantee that there is any way to fix them.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.