Recognition of Self
Today, as I sat at my desk, I had a sensation that became overwhelming to me. It was extremely overwhelming, actually, as I sat there and I began to shrink. In mere seconds I was an inch tall, and there were so many giants in the room, all talking and laughing loudly – it was terrifying; I felt like I was being chased away and the panic began to set in. My heart began beating rapidly and I turned red and heated up, and I just wanted everything to go away. Where could I go? Where could I hide? Surely this was a dream, and I could stay under the covers!
This is a rather common feeling for me, actually. I’m not 100% sure what triggers it, except large amounts of people. And to be fair, this feeling, as common as it used to be, has become drastically less – but when it hits, it hits just as hard as it used to.
Again, I don’t know what exactly triggered this feeling, but – well, let’s see if we can track it down. Do you mind?
I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, my fan blowing in my face – a necessity for me at work, one that I used to use to dissipate the scent of vodka on my breath – and I was reviewing some very old programming code. This is old code; stuff I wrote nearly ten years ago. I have to rewrite it in preparation for an upgraded sever in the coming future.
I have three coworkers that work very near me, easily within soft-conversation range. At this point, I was still doing just fine. Three people walked in to talk to our server administrator. They began talking, and things were still okay. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. A fourth guy walked in and spoke to another coworker just behind where I was sitting. As he walked by, I smiled and nodded my head, but he was obviously on a mission, as he didn’t see me and walked right on by. Still, I’m doing good at this point.
I returned to working on my program, and within minutes, the feeling of shrinking began. I got very hot and felt like I was burning up, and then came the heart beating. Before I knew it, I was on the edge of my chair, trying desperately to figure out how to get down from the stage so I could run and hide.
It happened that quickly.
I couldn’t leave the office. I had no reason to, and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, and that’s about when the panic started to set in. What was I going to do about this? I had to stop! I had to face this demon head on and STOP!
Yes, that was it. Acknowledge it. I know this! I know this from meditation! Acknowledge the demon, let it look me in the eye – it has to recognize me now.
How? Writing. I didn’t care about how crappy the writing was, or how it sounded, I just had to write out how I was feeling and get it out of my system – so I wrote to my counselor. During the writing, I was able to discuss with this evil hellion what I knew it was doing. And who did he think he was, anyway?! He had no right to invade my space, it was mine, and only mine! It was bad enough that I had to deal with Left Side and Right Side normally, who, incidentally, hadn’t said a damn word; they simply huddled in the corner of my mind, holding each other, unsure of what to do.
As I wrote to my counselor, I demanded that the demon back down. No longer was this beast an overbearing bully of my fears! I would not stand for it any longer! As I stood up, it began shrinking, becoming a small, feeble creature as I grew taller, towering over it. And when all its outer shell had melted away, and I looked closely at him, a realization shuttered deeply within me in shock.
This was just a little boy, terrified of looking a fool, frightened of being the center of embarrassment, and then left for the loneliness to devour. What better defense than to run away or hide? Or maybe, the question was more of how to run and hide; to which the answer was "become frightened, shrink, and run for cover." In becoming terrifying, the monster could scare me away to a place where there was no one, save the hollowness of the icy, stale singleness. At least it was not the center of attention.
In this cold, dark room, where this little demon hid, huddled in the black corner, I approached him as he trembled. “It’s okay.” I said to him. I reached out and wrapped my arm around him, “It’s okay, you’re safe here. You’re not going to get hurt, you’re not going to die.” I reassured him. And then, he looked at me, and I realized who I was; frightened, terrified of being laughed at, made fun of, and left alone to deal with the aftermath of the self-created catastrophe.
This was an old, old feeling inside of me. One I had buried deep inside of me as I ran to the farthest, darkest corner, without even knowing it. And when I have reached situations where I would get teased or made fun of, this little demon-boy came running to my aid, frightened and angry, saliva dripping from my horrifying, sharpened fangs. I had no idea that I was this horrified, angry child who’s only way to protect me was to scare me away from the danger that I perceived to lay ahead.
I finished writing my letter to my counselor, thanked her for listening, and then hit send. At the time, I had no idea what had just happened, the processing was still working in my mind; and in fact, it wasn’t until just now - hours later, as I write this - that I realized what was going on. My counselor returned my email with this response:
"You did a wonderful thing by talking (writing) yourself through the hard time. Those times of feeling insignificant can happen to all of us. You gave yourself such a gift by recognizing it, writing about it and self-talk."
If I haven't said it before, I love my counselor. I wouldn't have been able to reach this point without her; her gentle nudge to keep up with AA, her determined gestures to work the Coffee Shop Steps with a sponsor, and her recognition of all the work that The Process has helped me walk through.
This is the exact reason I write. When I blog on my daily events, regardless as to how insignificant they may be, it helps me process these things, just as it did tonight. For that, I am grateful.
Thank you for “listening,”