I stopped in at a convenience store this morning after dropping my son off at school. I’ve been trying to be more mindful and deliberate with my thoughts and emotions, but, interestingly, I always disassociate when I’m around other people. Even though I was determined to be conscious and aware as I got out of my car, the next thing I was conscious of was getting back in. Though determined, I had slipped away into unconsciousness none the less.
This is something which I’ve done all of my life. To be honest, it was never safe to be conscious and aware, so I seem to have developed this way of dealing with it. It’s odd, I can function, I can have full conversations with people and actively interact with them, but I’m largely just reactive with those interactions. The only time I’m actually conscious and aware is when I’m alone. Even when walking in the woods, I’ll zone out if a jogger comes along.
Because of my experiences, it’s not safe to be conscious around other people, so my mind goes into a sort of auto pilot and I interact with others in patterned responses to the triggers which their words and behaviors signal to me. The problem with this is that in being disassociated, none of my anxieties or fears are ever healed or resolved. Actually, in living this way, I’ve actually made my emotional reactions, anxieties and fears stronger with the passing years. To heal. To dissipate my emotional pain, I need to be conscious, I need to be aware and actively interact with others.
Driving home this morning, I experienced a release of attachments. I’ve been troubled recently by the fact that I really don’t care about anything anymore. Nothing motivates or inspires me. But there is a difference between hopeless resignation and being free of attachments. From what I understand, Buddhist and Taoist teachings say that the reason for emotional pain and discontentment is the attachments we have to aversions (things we don’t want) and desires (pleasure or things we do want). In being able to free oneself from attachments to those aversions and desires (for pleasure), one is able to be at peace, living a contented life. Wanting to be free of aversions does make sense, but the need to be free of pursuing pleasures or feeling good sounded odd to me. But in watching my reactions and thinking about it, I’ve come to believe that those attachments to pleasures, or the pursuit of them, can be just as pain invoking as those things we don’t want to experience, think or feel.
As I write, I do have a tenuous hold on this freedom from attachments. I still zone out, but, with practice, I can gradually not experience the fear and anxieties while interacting or being around other people. This is something I’m determined to pursue, because if I don’t, if I continue to disassociate, then I’m condemned to reinforce and replay the traumas of my past. I’ll never be free of the emotional pain and will never experience a more safe, peaceful life: If I’m never conscious when having a good experience with others, I’ll never get used to it or learn what normal healthy interactions and relationships are. In my thoughts and thinking, I have a good idea of what normal is. But it’s the emotions, which have their own logic and “thinking” processes which need to be addressed and sort of re-calibrated to what it feels like to be around normal people in a safe interaction.
So it’s not that I don’t want to care anymore, I want to learn how to be free of any attachments to life and things which have plagued me for the whole of my life.
This will take some time. Likely the rest of my life. It’s a frightening and painful process, but I’m determined to see it through.
Be Well, My Friends