For a long time I suffered with dissociation.
I couldn’t feel, taste or empathise with anyone.
I was walking in my own little world, hiding in a fantasy that I lived in. It’s so easy to do.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but it was triggered when I felt that I wasn’t listened to, that my voice didn’t exist, that I didn’t exist, and so I believed these lies.
I started to live as if I didn’t exist or matter!
What a crazy place to be in. I’ve learned this is what happens when someone, with traits of codependency, doesn’t feel the love and care they give is accepted, or that they can love, or give love and care. It’s almost as if what I gave went into a drain well before it hit the target, and instead of love and acceptance, I was faced with anger, control and being told what I was, i.e.: I didn’t feel validated.
So I became detached until my life became an empty shell.
It took several months of self therapy, I used mindfulness techniques to get out of the numb state. At one point, after I spoke to a family member and felt invalidated and not listened to, I went so numb I couldn’t taste a chilli crisp (these were HOT crisps!) and I couldn’t taste a mint I let dissolve on my tongue!
I knew I was in a bad way, but it was only when I cut out some addictive defaults that I started to recognise this. Instead of masking my pain with addictions (alcohol (6 units of whisky, wine, cider or ale almost every night), pornography and computer games), I faced my self.
I literally stood in front of a mirror, looked my self in the eye (which I hadn’t been able to do for years!) and cried.
“How did you end up this way?” I asked myself.
I couldn’t recognise who I’d become and it devastated me.
I dissociated so much, I lost connection with myself and felt like I was floating along the proverbial river of life, unaware of the fact I was drowning and couldn’t swim.
The way out for me was a graded healing.
- I practiced mindfulness techniques to get back in touch with my core
- I started to talk to myself, and ask “how am I feeling”
- I recognised emotions and named them
- I started calling people out on their behaviour that made me feel invalidated
- I stopped looking to others for my validation
- I looked to God for my validation
I can still get to the dissociative stage even today though, but this happens if I’m doing what I can in efforts to placate a situation with someone, but the placation isn’t working and the situation continues or gets worse.
The dissociation, I think, is a way to protect myself from further emotional damage, but it has the opposite effect.
The only true way I’ve found to protect my self is to have self respect, place around me some boundaries and be aware of my own values, virtues and identity. When something happens and I want to jump in to rescue, I refuse, instead I wait for a plea of help and assess whether or not I can actually help.
At times this feels worse than jumping in, overstepping, feeling worthless and dissociating. In the long run, I believe behaving with boundaries will enforce my healing and bring about a change in me that’s so needed.