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The Fourth Case

This time I'd like to start with a quote from the comments of Train story, where Paulo Martins says: "and when I need to social interact it is to me like an dificult challenge and it take it like an experiment to learn it better, I allways feel like I am inside my brain in a deep distant room/field, watching and interacting to people from a distance, not fully there, and I prefer 80% of time solitude." This sounds so very familiar to me, and I think many of my earlier posts have been touching this theme. But let's just elaborate further, taking a look at different cases of the same theme;

First - Personally, I feel that not all the social interaction is the same; because people are different. So, sometimes it might be the case that when I feel that I'm fully present, managing to express myself directly and honestly, the other(s) feel that the whole situation is alien and that my mind is locked up in a distant place which they can't comprehend. I'd guess this is perfectly natural, and that there is nothing wrong about this. People are different, we come from different background, and we are familiar with different things. Because of my background, and because of the path I've travelled, I feel familiar with some of such structures, shapes and landscapes which are alien and incomprehensible for other people who have seen different things in their lives.

Second - Somewhat opposite is the (much more common) situation, where I have to interact with other people, and I kind of a sense the aforementioned difference hidden under the surface. In most of the situations I allow the others to express themselves the way they feel natural to themselves. And then I feel like reading a story in foreign language I can barely understand - it is energy consuming to do a translation in my mind, and I feel that I'd better not comment anything from my own point of view as there simply is not a common language. In such situations I feel distant, and as soon as my inner energy level starts to wear low, I feel absent from my own body, and sometimes my joints start aching.

I don't know which is the percentage of the above two cases - but I have a feeling that most of my weekly interaction falls into the second category, and the first happens rarely as the typical situation is that I don't even try to fully express myself the way I feel. Well, but still, I think that there is nothing wrong with these - they are just a natural consequence of people living different lives and having different ways of seeing the world. But then there are other cases, too.

Third - Sometimes everything is all right, but I just feel that I'm trapped inside a distant room of my brain, not finding a way to be fully present in the interaction. And because of that, the social interaction might feel somehow shallow to me, and it starts to be energy consuming. And most of the time when this happens, I feel that it is merely because of the reactions I learned as a child. As I learned that it is better to hide my inner self in the presence of others, then this isn't always easy to de-learn. It might be just a subtle little detail of the social situation which sends be back into my childhood memories, and I start to panic - consuming inner energy to contain the panic, trying to be normal but feeling just a growing sense of distance. Or, it might be that the social situation in itself is all fine, but something in my inner process brings up these old reactions of fear, panic and wanting to run away. And this, I think, amounts to a hole in the soul bucket. My life would be easier and more enjoyable if this hole was smaller or fully fixed. I mean, there are a lot of (social) situations I feel that I could and would enjoy more fully, if there wasn't those remains of inner panic making me feel numb and absent.

Fourth - and here it all gets curiouser and curiouser; all of this is not restricted to social situations. I remember that in my teenage years there used to be a strong and sharp distinction in how it felt to be (safely) alone, or in company. When alone, I felt that I can fully experience the world in my own way, diving deeper and deeper into those landscapes which were pretty alien to most of the other people - but as soon as there were other people around, it felt like a veil of ice was cast over my soul, I felt just numb, and everything I could express to others was mere social roles, a protective armour designed to hide my inner self. Then, later on, I shared this inner, colourful world with my little son. But years aftter years failing to find a positive connection with the rest of the world, I finally collapsed deep into a state which I couldn't understand myself. Later on I've started to call that state with the vague name of 'depression'. And, the key element of that state is / was that even when being safely alone, everything felt distant and absent. I mean, this is yet again different from feeling trapped inside ones own brain - in severe depression there simply is not "inside". There was no more a sense of 'being here'. All what was left was this eerie, all-encompassing sense of being alien to everything, myself included. That, I think, is pretty close to the point where one might seek escape in alcoholism or heavy drugs or whatever. And this is a bit like having a hole near the bottom of the bucket - a lot of water leaks out quickly, and the bucket starts to feel almost useless, the soul garden starts to slowly wither away due to lack of watering. And then, since this state is all-encompassing, it also includes all the social interaction. Like, feeling distant, alien, lonely and rejected to non-existence all the time - even when surrounded by loving friends; that is somehow harder than feeling lonely merely because there is no close friends around. And this has been something I always felt that needs to be fixed.

Well, but already when I started writing this blog, things were slightly better. The depression major described in the fourth state was no more constantly all-encompassing. There were also moments of third, second and first case. And yes, sometimes also very brief but magical moments of feeling being fully present and in direct contact with other sensible beings. The experience of such brief moments kept up my belief in recovery. In the darker years there were moments when I thought that maybe I'm broken beyond repair. But the first of those brief but full moments was a full proof that I haven't permanently lost my ability to feel present and connected. And, if that is possible, then I will just keep on crawling, rolling, running, stumbling, falling and rising again, seeking and experimenting until - hopefully - the fourth state becomes more rare, and a sense of full presence becomes more common.

Actually, I think nowadays this is what it mostly is about, in my life. My difficulties with social interaction is just a detail in the overall difficulties of the fourth case. But then, from the psychological point of view, I think a lot of my problems originate from the excess amount of unhealthy social interaction in my childhood. So, therefore, social interaction might have a central role in the recovery process. Not just re-learning to enjoy social interaction, but also getting rid of the once-all-encomppasing-inner-veil-of-paralysis. Although, solitude is good, too. As I have said in some of my earlier posts, sometimes it so happens that when I'm all alone in the safety of my home, some eerie nasty feelings surface from the depths of my mind, and at those moments I seek to temporarily quit my daily activities, I go lay down, closing my eyes diving deeper into the feelings to see what they have to tell. This is my self-improvised form of meditation / shamanistic healing. Kind of a tripping into the unseen world of primitive feelings. Over the years I've developed some familiarity and confidence in navigating that world, what ever horrors it might offer me. Often I find a way to make the inner horrors to calm down. But this has been a surprisingly long process, often I just have to quit and to resume my daily activities, since it feels that my mind has processed all that it can do for the day - which is like 1 unit of pain, and there would still be 2023 units of pain left to be processed, so better just stop to rest for a while...

Then, as said, things never are one-dimensional. At the same time, all of this seems to mean that I've developed more and more sensitivity towards similar emotions in other beings. Typically, I avoid talking that much about my work, as I have promised to always protect the privacy of my customers. But, maybe I can mention in a completely anonymous way that over the years some of my customers have had a background of domestic violence. When I concentrate into my work, I slip into a slight trance state, and pretty soon I might feel echoes of their memories and emotions kind of a flowing through my hands. This is normal to me, as I've seen this happening so many times, and I let those feelings guide my work. And when those customers speak about their experience, they often mention the very deep sense of being in direct emotional communication - as if someone suddenly is able to see their hidden emotions they have had trouble expressing to anyone.

Which, naturally, gets funnily paradoxical, when we come to this sense of being disconnected, distant and absent. Sometimes it is exactly that eerie feeling, which gets directly shared, and then it turns completely upside down. What was the eerie sense of being totally disconnected, turns into a deep sense of being fully present and in direct contact. Although, moments like that don't happen so often, but when they do they carry an invaluable transformative healing power.

Oh well, once again - I'm not writing to tell the world how I feel. But more because I wish this could provide some insight for anyone else pondering same kind of things. As, at least for me, there were years when I felt that it is not possible to communicate this kind of feelings - the others simply don't understand, and most of the literature I happened to read seemed to deal with other kind of things, so it wasn't easy to find words to describe the way I felt. But now, as I'm more recovered, I suspect that themes like this have actually been surprisingly common, and often expressed in art and literature. I mean, not just feeling alien to the other people, but also feeling strangely alien in ones own life. Also, I think sometimes people might fail to recognize how much of their inner sense of alienation actually stems from their own inner process - it is all too easy to think that "oh, if this and that thing in my environment was different, then I could feel more fully present being where I am" - yup, every other day I recognize some related ideas in my own mind. And then I have to remind myself, that it is not merely the environment in itself - it is a lot more about the way I experience my environment. If something changes in the way I experience, then everything changes.

Wait, what? Haven't I told so many times that I like my place and that I love my surroundings and that this is the kind of a life I've been dreaming about? Yes, nothing wrong with that. But it is some more subtle themes - like, sometimes when I turn up the volume and throw a dance party alone in my house, I feel rather happy. And then the other day I feel slightly lonely and feel that my life would be more merry if my friends would visit me more regularly so that we could enjoy these dance parties together. Then I remember all the times and all the ways I often might feel partly paralyzed and half-absent even in the company of my dear friends. And I understand that just the physical presence of my friends won't make me feel being less alone, if this sense of isolation is already built into the way I experience the world. So, I have to keep on working with my inner stuff. Although, sometimes it greatly helps to dance with the others - is is like antidote to my memories of violence and non-communication. So, it is a lot about balancing both my inner process and actual sharing with others. And yes I'm so happy to know all these great people to dance with =)

(After a moment of consideration, I decided to tag this post with 'homesteading' also. Although the reference is very brief. But still, I'd guess that for some people this is actually a theme to consider. If you have any kind of emotional trouble with your current surroundings, don't be surprised if things get worse when you finally find a place of your dreams. That's because when the surroundings are OK, you see your inner stuff more clearly. And also, when things are safe, only then you can start to process your old un-processed stuff. I have seen this happen with other people too, some of them giving up and being disapointed as their dream was not the way they dreamed it to be. If this happens, or if you are worried about this beforehand, my only word of encouragement is: go through it. In our modern world we don't get adventures fighting monsters in the depths of multi-level dungeons. But the inner journey is the close equivalent of that, and also I guess a lot of heroic stories are actually metaphors of winning the battle against your inner demons. Life is an adventure, and adventures they have troublesome and painful aspects, too. But what would the treasure be worth, if you don't have to struggle for it?)

Hehe, and since I have a tendency to return writing about the same old themes, here is also a picture of the situation I've been posting so many times before. Me slowly drinking my morning coffee, and drafting ideas for this blog post.

solitary morning coffee
solitary morning coffee
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This following section that you wrote is especially cool from my view: "In our modern world we don't get adventures fighting monsters in the depths of multi-level dungeons. But the inner journey is the close equivalent of that, and also I guess a lot of heroic stories are actually metaphors of winning the battle against your inner demons. Life is an adventure, and adventures they have troublesome and painful aspects, too. But what would the treasure be worth, if you don't have to struggle for it?)" As Mankind, we have conquered so many frontiers - but the mind... Now there is a difficult frontier to map.

I agree with Brian, that paragraph was a perfect way to end this post :) I understand very well all you have written, even if through different experiences, "battles" and degrees, I can relate to all those feelings. Social interaction was always one of my inner battles, have some kind of “social anxiety” (don’t know other way to call it) and need to be with myself to recharge batteries, and this makes one suffer in a strange way: suffer both from the “cure” and the “disease” (it is a portuguese expression translated roughly), in this case, sometimes I suffer both from being with people and at the same time from being alone. So I understand very well this feeling. No idea when this inner battle started (remember that in very very young was not like this), but know that familiar/emotional problems made it worst at some points, and/or in the other hand feeling loved made it better in other times (but when one can’t thrust people, being loved becomes harder). I always saw life like a big “intergalactic school for the soul” were you grow by practice, by try and error, so I always tried to deal with each inner battle with patience, like a growth process. Sometimes I may lose sight of this and forget the big picture, but that is why it is nice to read your blog, it helps remember the big picture :) Your view on life is very positive and inspiring, it is indeed not about having everything solved and perfect from the start, but about solving and making it all perfect till the end – every good book that I like has a plot thanks to this problem solving battle, otherwise would be a boring book. Keep up writing your life-adventure book full of great experiences :)

PS: Trough comments I feel that writing about inner stuff is a little therapeutically, one day I need to stop being lazy and finish my homepage (that I have been working on for 10 years more or less but never finish lol) and add a blog part to explore this; reading your blog has made me feel more into finishing it, someday maybe.

A coffee in the morning is the best thing. ;)


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