I feel dissociated. It’s a feeling of not being in my body, being just beside it somehow.
Today I went to church in the morning, which was OK. Very difficult to know what to do when I feel so blank. I spent the time in church trying to feel. At tea a nice woman chats with me. When she mentions she used to teach at a local university I get really anxious and need to leave.
I go to the grocery store. After that I don’t manage to do much. I’ve lined up vegetables on my kitchen counter – I was going to make lentil soup, but I can’t get myself to actually do that. Laundry remains undone, carpets unvacuumed. Mostly I lie down. I start and stop my novels, one mystery, one more literary. I don’t care about anything.
The day is lovely and cool – yet I don’t go out for a walk. It’s easier to just lie down.
Yesterday I went to visit my parents. They are old now, and they don’t understand why I so rarely go to see them. They live in the same city as I do – it’s not difficult to do. The visit is likely the reason I’m dissociated today.
My parents are very polite. My father asks me in detail about my job, so explain a bit what I do. My mother cooks a very fancy type of fish, and it is very tasty. Black cod. This is not a kind of cod really, she explains, it’s a completely different fish. She spreads on a paste, and lets it steam very gently for only a few minutes, so it is moist and flavoursome. I should be noting how she does it – my fish is usually overcooked.
I’m carefully observing what happens – I want to know what goes wrong.
I guess usually they wouldn’t pay so much attention to me, but as my siblings are not there, they are attentive. At dinner, they talk about plays they’ve been to see. My mother says a bit about a book she read. It’s a little boring – they don’t really say much about these cultural things they love so much.
But, I’ve been paying attention to what Ron tells me, so I ask a few questions, and it’s interesting. My mother says she really liked a play, so I ask her what she liked about it. She is taken aback to be asked anything, thinks, and then comments on how the chorus sang a little like a rap song – one person after the other, and very rhythmic.
My family tends not to discuss their own concerns. Growing up, I didn’t know that people could talk about their feelings, or about other people and how they behaved. I didn’t know these things could be discussed, that you could try different courses of action, that you could actually discuss your life. Only my father did that, when he talked to my mother about his day at work.
I’ve never told them about my struggles with PTSD and depression. I’ve never raised the fact of my father’s pretending I was invisible for so many years, or the abuse that happened when I was a tiny child.
There is such a wall of denial of any kind of problem, it seems impossible. In fact I tend to feel I must be making this stuff up, when I’m with them.
So I don’t tell them much about my life. They wonder I think why I don’t do that well, why I don’t have a partner, take vacations, buy furniture. But they don’t say anything.
So we have this polite evening. I realize afterwards I did bring up death a few times, completely unconsciously. I really was worried about dying last week. I mention I was watching the DVD of Upstairs Downstairs, which we all watched as a family in the seventies. The part where Hazel, the daughter-in-law, my favorite character, dies of the Spanish flu. She is so shy and serious, so lovely, and how the men don’t react to her death at all. They don’t care that she died.
Then I also explain the plot of a book I’m reading, in which the main character discovers he has only a month to live, and sets out on a journey based on the letters of the alphabet. So they mention a public figure who also knew she was dying but didn’t feel sick.
Interesting I end up talking about a topic that preoccupied me, without doing it on purpose. Maybe they are doing that also, but I can’t tell what the concerns are. At least I’m paying attention – maybe I’ll figure it out sometime.
I stay for dessert, which my mother has also made – cooked pears with strawberries, the pears carefully peeled. Year after year, my mother cooks these careful, thoughtful meals. I can’t get it together to cook lentil soup.
I leave quickly after that. So – I’m not sure this should make me feel dissociated. Nothing bad happened to me.
Well, now I’ve written this out, maybe I can scramble some eggs and make spinach. And go for my walk. Is that too much to ask? Surely I can do this much.