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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Getting to Know You

A few years ago I spent a great deal of time and energy integrating parts of me that I had severed during times of trauma throughout my life. When I felt that I was finished, my next assignment was to learn who I was now that I was "complete". Who is Samantha when she allows herself to claim the child, adolescent, teen, and young adult parts?

It's strange to me to remember that eight years ago I had no participatory memory of my life before I was married. I knew it existed. I understood that I lived before that. But if others spoke of shared life events, I couldn't conjure the memory from my own mind. I simply accepted that what they said was true. If I spoke of my prior life, I referred to myself in third person. It felt natural to do that. The person who lived that life felt completely disconnected from me. I felt as if I was speaking of an acquaintance or, at most, a former friend.

Now I can't even imagine talking of myself in third person. That would feel odd, even uncomfortable. I believe this is a good indication that the integration work I did was successful.

However, before I could understand who I was as an integrated person, life became unmanageable. Tabitha was suicidal and often in the hospital. I sustained a serious injury which required surgical repair. I had my appendix removed. I got pneumonia, and because I have asthma, the residual effects of that lasted a very long time. I had a serious reaction to the flu shot, which lingered for nearly nine months. It became necessary to place Tabitha in a care center. I lost a lucrative job--in short, for the past four years my life has been far too chaotic to even think about doing the necessary work to acclimate to my newly integrated self.

Tabitha is home now. My health seems to be getting better and better. My life, while still extremely busy, is much more normal when looked at on the Samantha scale.

I've been experiencing rampant panic attacks and constant anxiety for quite awhile now. It affects how I view myself and discourages me from building positive, healthy relationships with people I care about. I feel distant from loved ones and have no desire to bridge that distance.

Friday I spent some time thinking about the upsurge of my PTSD symptoms, along with all the other things that seem to be causing me distress. I can cite several plausible reasons that this is happening right now, but the truth is, I think it's time for me to figure out who I am--to get to know myself.

I need to learn to like the person I am. I need to figure out who that person is now that I'm equipped with all parts of my past. I laid the groundwork while I was doing the integration exercises. I have conversations and emails and experiences that remind me of my value both to me and to others. Some of the people who participated in those exercises have left my life, not under the best of circumstances, but when the words were written or said, they were sincere and I intend to use them, understanding that while they are no longer valid today, that does not decrease the validity of the intent when they were communicated to me.

I had planned to ask for some help from people who are present in my life right now, but people are busy. It's been difficult to talk about this when I have spoken with loved ones, for many reasons. And I've been unable to contact some that I would choose to talk with. Perhaps it's for the best. I want people to live and be involved in their own lives. My life, and this attempt to understand who I am, is probably not really pertinent to anyone else. I had planned a gradual tapering from hearing from the voices of loved ones in the beginning, and being accompanied as I attempted this, to ending with allowing myself to walk alone as I figured out what it means to be me. Perhaps, as I often do, I will simply jump to the end. Solitude is something I often crave--and now I am presented with the opportunity to enjoy it.

I see Therapist only on an as-needed basis now. My last visit with him was in August of last year. I have called him when necessary, or chatted with him online, but I believe this exercise will be completed without him. It feels like an all or nothing assignment--either I do it with people, or I do it on my own.

Darrin, with whom I have discussed this at length, is concerned that I'm choosing to work on this by myself because of my deeply ingrained belief that people are not dependable and also, completely disinterested in me. In his mind, it is a necessity to involve people I love because he believes that not doing so will place me in an emotional state where I once again feel that I don't need anyone. He believes that involving others as I work to understand myself, will cause me to understand that integrating my life with others is important, even essential, to my emotional and mental health.

I understand where Darrin is coming from. I also feel that I don't have unlimited stamina right now. I assured him that I had attempted to contact people. Also, Brozy, if you read this, you should probably know that when you visited a few weeks ago, I gathered much of what I would need from you then, and if I decide to use help from others, that will be utilized. I probably should have asked permission. Forgive me? (but probably you don't need to worry about it, as yours is the only source I've gathered, it's not looking like it will be joined by others, and I need more sample data from different sources if this is going to be helpful)

I think if I do this, much of the localized anxiety will ease. I believe the source of that anxiety is the actual daily living with the knowledge of what each dissociated part of me represents, and now that they're all part of me, I need to look at the big picture and understand what it means. This has become a circular thought process for me, so I think before I begin repeating myself in this blog post, I'll just stop talking.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you're getting a chance to know yourself better and I hope it will help with the PTSD.

    Also, you are more than welcome to use what we talked about. : ) I'm not sure exactly what information you're looking for, but if there's anything else you'd like to discuss, feel free to ask.