For the longest time I thought there was [maybe] something wrong with me. It wasn’t until I happened to click into a blog article (literally last night at 10PM) about the recent strings of scandal about the South African band called Die Antwoord that some of the words written about how abused victims sometimes don’t even know that they’re being abused allowed me to think about my own mentality on things like trauma.
I always thought it was a little strange that I had no emotional attachment to bad memories (childhood up to high school). For the most part I understood that a regular person would normally get triggered or be angry (or sad, depressed, etc.) at said ‘bad memories’, even as an adult because they were traumatic events in their lives so they can cope and process the events, eventually accepting it and move forward with their lives. Example: I was in a pretty bad car accident when I was 21 where I smashed into a wall on the freeway at 75 mph. I remembered everything. For the next 2-3 years I had intense panic attacks when I whenever I was in a car (even though it was mostly my boyfriend that drove me around). I’d cry uncontrollably, shake and hyperventilate, my chest felt like exploding as if I were about to die (no worries, it doesn’t effect me much now). I knew that it was a way that my mind needed in order to process the events and learn to overcome the fear. There’s always a cause and effect, but with younger memories (anything before 18 years old) I seem to lack the ‘effect’ part.
I know these experiences by society standards certainly would be considered traumatic (i.e. interparental violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse), but I won’t go into details about that list. It just… It feels ridiculous for me to call them traumatic because I feel absolutely nothing towards them. I don’t have flashbacks. I just don’t feel anything about them, one way or the other. It doesn’t or hasn’t effected my life now (and my life is pretty awesome I’d say), I’m happy with myself and loving my life. I just assumed that I’ve always been very good at compartmentalizing my memories so that I don’t let bad things affect me too severely. I make them irrelevant to the current me. My quality of life has always been important to me, so I always wanted to make sure I didn’t let toxic people and events to permanently stain my life. It can’t rain forever.
But, I was never entirely satisfied with the “compartmentalizing’ answer. As I read further into the blog article, I came upon the subject of ‘disassociation’– a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Don’t get my wrong, I’m not trying to self-diagnose, but I will say that it’s probably the closest and most relevant description of how I feel to those bad memories as a kid. I think it’s also probably because I was too young and naive in those situations that I didn’t quite understand that something wrong was happening, I didn’t have the sophistication to categorize it and attach feelings to them. Most of the time it feels like I’m watching myself from the third person’s perspective and it seemed like I was watching a movie rather than being a participant. Almost like… Oh, it didn’t happen to me, it happened to her. Even though ‘her’ was me. It’s quite fascinating, really.
Perhaps maybe this is the reason why I have a difficult time empathizing with many people around me most of the time, as a result people tend to get upset at the things I say to them like I’ve hurt their feelings. For the record, I would never go out of my way to purely insult someone just to insult them. I just tend to be very blunt about the things I say without consideration of how the other person might feel about the truth (because most of the time their feelings are irrelevant to me and I don’t really care). I don’t know, maybe this is the cause and effect? I’m just not sure. I’m no doctor or psychiatrist, but I do enjoy discussion on fascinating subjects. It’s also a sigh of relief that I’m not crazy after all for feeling no feelings (if that made sense LOL). How do you handle trauma? And have you ever dealt with situations (no emotional attachments to memories) like this before?