I'm not here to talk about the New York Times bestseller, so apologies to anyone who's come looking for an informed discussion on that. Apologies if I'm posting this in the incorrect place, please move or delete the post if it's inappropriate. I had something of a breakthrough in therapy recently and I don't have anyone to share this with (for reasons that may become obvious) so I'm turning to Tildes to vomit these thoughts out into the world somewhere.
Like a lot of us growing older, I've been spending a some time trying to better understand myself and come to peace with the person I am. One of the aspects people around me (and myself) find perplexing is how I'm able to be personable and friendly, even popular in some circles, but given the choice I will stay away from people as much as possible (except for a very select few I can count on one hand). I often joke that if it weren't for my wife and kids I'd probably be feral and live in the woods, bite anyone who tries to get too close. That lady that lived alone in a cave for over a year? Life goals. I thought I was just a mega introvert, but something my therapist and I discussed made me realise that that side of my personality may be (at least partly?) a manifestation of past trauma. So here is my villain origin story.
I've shared before on Tildes that I was very sick with cancer for a good chunk of my infancy. Whenever someone finds out I had cancer (it's left fairly visible marks, so the topic inevitably comes up) I always say it's ok, I don't remember it at all, so really it's my parents who lived through the trauma, not me, ha ha. I no longer believe that is entirely true. The body does keep the score after all. My therapist pointed out that I must have spent many moments alone dealing with the consequences, unable to fully share or understand what I was going through. Moments where I was physically manipulated whichever way, by people and instruments, dealing the nausea, the pain and the fatigue. I was too young to fully articulate my distress, ask for help (beyond crying) or seek solutions to the problems I faced. So for some moments at least I had only myself to rely on. Did the part of me that would normally seek out others die a little then?
My parents used to remark that as a child I never cried out, just tears streaming silently down my face. They speak of how I used to play contentedly alone for hours. How I rarely asked for help when I really needed it. Don't get me wrong, I'm able to form relationships with people, and I'm perfectly capable of functioning in society. I do seek out others for company, connection, validation, love, etc, and vice versa. But I can't shake the feeling that there's something broken in those connections. It feels like something is amiss, even if I've mostly come to terms with being this way. I'm left thinking - did the trauma (at least partly) make me who I am? Where does the trauma end and where do I begin? How many of us are potentially totally different people today because the body remembers when we have completely and utterly forgotten? And if that's the case, is that...ok?