Thursday, September 5, 2013

Experiencing and reflecting on the world

During one of my latest therapy sessions, my therapist was describing how we sense the world around us with our five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. That every one of them has a multitude of sub-senses that we experience and can reflect on. For example if I dip my hand into water: is it cold or warm? Is it still or flowing between my fingers? How does it feel? Do I like that feeling? If I see a work of art: is it black & white or colorful? Is it large or small? Is its surface shiny or not? How does it make me feel? Do I like that feeling? If I hear a sound: is it high-pitched or low? Is it a noise, a musical sound or a voice? If a voice, is it male or female? Is it hoarse or smooth? How does it make me feel? Do I like that feeling?

This was the point where I was already sobbing. I have realized that I never had the chance of experiencing the world on my own and forming my opinions and reflections on it. I was so extremely angry and disappointed and sad, that I was denied the wonderful opportunity of getting to know my relationship with the world when I was so little. It never occurred to me that I could explore things and form my opinion about them. I never thought that I felt anything when dipping my hand into water or touching a stone. I never knew I could decide whether I liked that feeling or not.

Anger is good. It shows me when something is not right for me. I have to take credit for being able to feel anger when I should feel anger.

When I met something that was new to me, NM already had an opinion about it and she made sure that I never even knew that I could have mine. She was always excited to show things to me, to teach me things (so I appeared smart and she could project her self onto me and appear smart as well) . So I had tons of experience, but never really my own. She loved to hike, so we went hiking, touched trees and flowers, sat on high ledges and looked down into the depths, collected stones and leaves. This sounds adventurous and wonderful right? It was. I loved hiking, because she said I loved hiking. I always climbed rock walls and never understood why it was weird. I was always told that I loved that. Turns out, I have fear of heights. When I much later told her, I was mocked: 'but you loved to climb rock walls'!

NM was always ready to let me know how I felt about anything. When I touched something it was always commented on 'it feels so awfully cold right'? 'It feels so rough doesn't it'? 'It feels so good to touch that right'? When I accompanied her to wherever she wanted to go (we always were going somewhere), it was always 'so fun' or 'so exciting' or 'oh, c'mon Scatha, you LOVE this or that, sure you want to come, it will be awesome you see'! So I was told that I loved to get up early and do stuff all day. Turns out that yes, I like going out sometimes, but most of the time I feel better to just read a good book at home for example. And I am definitely a night owl.

It is tearing me apart because I simply don't know now whether we really had cool times together when I was a kid, or whether I was just made to believe that we did. I remember constantly being told that I had the best mom in the world at that most children only got expensive toys but parents never played with them or went to places with them, and that my parents were so much better. And I was envied by other children because NM did everything with me. But they had friends. They had time. They knew about things out there in the world like cartoons and toys and swearwords and cool clothes. I knew nothing about these, since I had no life outside NM. I was kept under a bell jar, and she hovered over me.

I have never approached the world keeping in mind that I could decide how I feel about it. I have absolutely no idea how to do that at all. Sometimes I just knew that I didn't agree with NM (about clothes, or food, or movies, but that was already in my teens). With fundamental stuff like surfaces, weather conditions, or the like, I have no clue. I know what I was told about how I feel about things. But how do you know whether you really like it or not?

Aaaargh. I'm SO frustrated!

So I guess while trying to be a teenager the first time, I should also start being a 1-year-old, chewing on stuff and touching stuff and smelling stuff and listening to stuff and gazing at stuff? Gosh, people at my age have weddings and kids and puppies.


  1. Try not to compare yourself to others your age, just be who you are and finally do what YOU want.

  2. I think Runaway Bride is a good example on a very surface level. Once I decided I needed to figure out what I liked, I experimented, a lot. I once bought 16 different chocolate bars to decide which one I really liked best, comparing different brands of milk and dark chocolate. Enjoy the adventure.

  3. I went through a crisis like this ("Do I like this or do I think I'm supposed to like this?") a few years ago. It felt miserable, like I didn't know if I was where I was in life for decisions I never would hand made had I known myself better.

    As far as I can tell in retrospect, lots of decisions would've been different, but I also made some I wouldn't change for anything. And regardless, today I can stop and consider for myself.

    Hang in there.

  4. I was blessed to be in the art department at a university and everyone was out trying things, discussing what we thought and felt, just generally getting acquainted with the world. I decided it was fun and now enjoy all sorts of things. I found out I do like peaches when they are not over ripe. I don't like big crowds. I like one weekend of running around then another one just being quiet and doing 'nothing.' Self exploration is a lot of fun once you give yourself permission to do it without feeling bogged down by past experiences. My suggestion, start from here and go forward. (Currently a 55 year old teenager.) :)

  5. Your NM was so overwhelmingly Engulfing; it was her primo tactic of Control. But as a child? How would you know this, how could you begin to comprehend it was all about HER needs, wants, whims etc.? You were never given an opportunity to develop a sense of self, of unique identity separate and apart from her. You had no space to grow.
    You are now claiming that which was always denied you. You are coming home to the you that has always been there. No matter what she took from you, she was never able to take Scatha's soul.
    IMO, scary as it is initially, it's something to celebrate!

  6. What you're describing sounds like the way you'd treat a 1-year-old. "Feel how soft" when showing a toddler how to pet a kitten. I agree with TW: your NM was engulfing, but she was also sophisticated and probably read a lot of child-rearing books, only the information she used to take care of you was warped by her warped mind. "Expose a child to different experiences"--but only as the NM sees them. "Take the child places so she can see the world"--but only place NM likes and never let the child know about other options. You get the idea.

    And telling a child that other children are envious because of things you had or time NM spent with you? OMFG. Translation? "You should be damned grateful to have me as a mother. Other children wish they could be mine too because I'm so incredible that the stars align with the sun just to cast the most favorable light on my unique and glorious countenance."

    I had a secret life away from my NM, but overall, I still had to learn to experience things in life through my own eyes, not as how she saw things (and not with fear that she'd find out and punish me because I learned a word she hadn't heard of or saw a movie she didn't tell me about beforehand).


Comments are welcome!