Physical Manifestation of an Emotional Paralysis

Dream Journal

The dream:
I was at work (my current work, not the new job) in the reception chair. Everything was normal…but then I grew catatonic while the people around me continued with their regular activities. As I sat in the chair, my body grew stiff, my body leaning backward: back straight, limbs outstretched, mouth gaping. My eyes were open, but I was not able to see. My hearing, however, was perfect. People around me casually commented on my vegetative state, but didn’t act concerned. I woke up from the dream at one point, but then sank back into sleep and the dream continued.

My thoughts on the dream:
It was strange to be surrounded by people, yet separate. Although I was keenly aware of my surroundings despite my lack of sight, I was also terribly alone. Still, I was not anxious or panicked by my inability to move, but rather fascinated by the experience. It felt like an intellectual experiment, albeit involuntary. I wondered somewhat disappointedly at my coworkers’ lack of concern….but I wasn’t very concerned about it either. I was more curious about how I would get my work done than anything else.

Themes/Analysis:
Feelings of helplessness and paralyzation.
Lack of emotional connection to people around me — Academic interest in and over-analyzation of experiences rather than emotional interaction.
Feelings of not being valued except by what I contribute.
Finally, I think this stems from the fact that I am worried that although my last day on the job is Monday, no one will actually miss me.

My Illogical Feelings and My Excessive Use of Ellipses

Brokenness, Musings, Work

So much has happened in the past few months. So many times I have thought that I should write about this or that. Visiting my mom… Spending time with my sister and brother… Interviewing at the nonprofit and the disappointment of not being awarded the job… Interviewing at the real estate firm and the joy of being offered (and accepting) the position… The strange dream that seemed so profound, but oh so confusing at the same time… My birthday and the perplexing cocktail of disappointment and happiness that surround all my recent birthdays…

So many things I could have written about, but the moments all seemed to slip by. My life is slipping by.

And now here I am, finally writing, and I don’t know where to start. All I know is that I feel sad. Lonely. …and I don’t know why. I have been shown so much love recently, so my feelings are not justified. And yet, it IS how I feel. I want to analyze my feelings away, but I can’t because there’s no logic behind it all. It just is this way… I just feel this way… I just am this way… Without explanation. And why am I finally writing now when I should have written all those other times when I actually had something to say?

(Aside: I like to analyze my feelings when I’m low because, I think, I’m more comfortable in my cerebral mode than in my feelings. I may have already blogged about this. It’s been so long, and I just don’t remember.)

So there you go. I’m sad. For no apparent reason. (Yes, I know. “Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are.”)

Identity Crisis

Brokenness

I finally went to see a counselor yesterday…for just me, not for my marriage.  I’ve been wanting to for, oh, several years.  Now that the first appointment is over, I find myself wondering why it was so hard to just GO.  I told myself that I couldn’t afford it.  Probably true, but at this point I’d rather go into debt than not see someone.  I need it that much.  I told myself that I didn’t know how to find the right person.  Also true, but what’s so inherently terrible about finding a couple of wrong therapists in the pursuit of finding the right one?

All excuses.  I’m not sure whether my reticence was a result of laziness or fear.  I know that therapy (no matter what kind) is hard work, and maybe I just felt that I simply couldn’t add one more emotionally draining task to my load.  Hogwash, of course.  If my life is really so overwhelming that adding one more thing seems impossible, then that’s all the more reason to go to counseling.

So, I met my new counselor for the first time yesterday, and I am astounded by how helpful it was.  I know that I have a long and painful road ahead of me, but already I have learned something about myself that explains a lot.  (I know that the left-brain/right-brain theory is very over-generalized and not really truly accurate, but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s just accept the concept to a certain degree, because it has brought such a clarity to what I perceive to be my essential problem.)  I am not whole.  I have become segmented.

As a child, I used to pick up my pencil with my left hand (which is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain), but my teachers trained me to be right handed.  I have always felt that I was right-brained, as well, because I am naturally a creative and intuitive sort of person.  I’m very in touch with my emotions.  Art was always my favorite subject in school, and not just because it was easier than, say, math.  I also sang a lot throughout my childhood and high school. Yep, right-brained.

The problem?  The professional world is more suited to left-brained folks.  I am very adaptable.  In school, where logic and intellect are prized over creativity, I learned to focus on using the left side of my brain.  And since completing my education, in my professional career, I have essentially trained myself to be exclusively left-brained while at work.  …So much so that I effectively become someone entirely different when I’m in the office…  It’s still really me, but it’s a different side of me that is completely disconnected to the other parts of me.  Case in point, someone at work will ask me on a Friday what my plans are for the weekend and my mind goes a complete blank.  It’s like I put on competency like a garment for the 9 hours that I am in the office, and I cannot switch out of that mode even for a moment to remember what fun I might have planned.  I literally have to whip out my phone and look at my calendar to see what the heck I have going on.  Same thing looking back, too.  “What did you do this last weekend?”  Complete blank.

I’m not a ditzy person.  On the contrary, while at work I am highly competent.  Very efficient.  It’s not rocket science or anything, but take a look at my blog posts and see my analytical tendency.  I don’t wish to seem arrogant, and I certainly don’t think I’m anything close to a genius, but I honestly think I have above-average intellect (and all the tests I’ve taken support that assumption).  That analytical way of thinking that I’m describing, though, is not my normal.  It’s my learned way of thinking.

So, I come home after work and I am exhausted after spending all day functioning in a mode that is not my natural tendency, and I crash both mentally and emotionally.  Then my depression joins the party and become completely useless.

Aside: My poor husband.  He catches a brief glimpse of me in my work mode and he almost doesn’t recognize me.  Then by the time I come home, I’ve transitioned out of my left-brained mode, and I’m just a lump of organic matter, not even able to make a decision about what I want for dinner.

And here’s the point of the whole post: No wonder I feel so broken and disjointed.  No wonder I can’t even take a simple personality test because I can’t decide which “me” I’m evaluating.  No wonder I feel panic when I try to define my identity.

So…  My homework from my counselor is to sketch.  Or paint.  And throughout the day at work, I’m to ask myself how I feel.  Weirdest homework ever, hey?

I am excited that I finally have something concrete that I can point to and say, “yes, this is what my problem is…or part of it anyway.”  Granted, I am a different person than I was when I was a child.  Perhaps I have migrated for good over into the left side of my brain…but maybe if I spend some time immersed in those activities from my childhood that I used to love, maybe I’ll feel a little more connected to myself.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me, but …well, it doesn’t really matter.  It is enough that I understand.  And I am so thankful – so relieved – for the clarity and freedom I feel.