never_giving_upMember Since 23 Jun 2010
Offline Last Active May 05 2012 12:31 PM
Whenever I go to write something like this I always become aware of this felt sense of shame that seems to permeate my very being.
It stops me from communicating, stops me from sharing. I guess what underpins the shame is a feeling of worthlessness, of being humiliated, abandoned, used, and essentially turned against myself. What I am talking about here is the fundamental betrayal of my parents. How in their eyes, I was an image of a child, not a real person. Their own crippled ability to empathise with human suffering ensured that I was destined to suffer in silence. In silence I learned how to survive, in the most brutal way possible, to hate myself and idolize my insane parents. The horror I experienced in childhood meant that an unavoidable split had to take place. The reality was too impossible and confusing to comprehend. The emptiness in my father's eyes, his distorted face. I had to take the only choice offered by mother, her seduction of me for a "special" bond. A denial of feeling, a rejection of the body and a worshipping of this false self image that stood in the way of me and my true self.
I am now cut off from my self. My childhood seems vague and distant. I have few memories of my parents and my siblings. It's all wrapped up in so much pain that I find it hard to explore that dark well.
So, I had narcissistic parents. As a result I have ended up sharing some of their traits. My daily experience of myself is a constant switching between feelings of inferiority and grandiose superiority. As I do with myself, I idolize and demonise others. I objectify, demoralise. My muscles are tight, my breathing shallow. I am so estranged from my body that I find it hard to even walk, often losing my balance. It makes me feel like an elderly person in the body of a man in his early twenties. I say "man", but really I feel like a child. So rarely do I look in the mirror and see a man looking back. Instead I see ugliness, weakness. Parts of me are disgusted by myself, they hate the reality of who I am. Instead they push for an image of a strong, competent, grand, beautiful man. It is all malignant self love. By no means true love, because it can not be shared, and is born out of denial of true feeling. It is entirely limited to my own private experience of myself, completely void of true, bodily experience.
I have been somewhat dissociated for most of my life. In many ways, I haven't really been alive. I hope for that day to come when I will wake as one, not at war with myself.
So... How did I get DP?
As I mentioned, I was already prone to dissociation. In fact, my entire self-image was based on the denial of true feeling. What lay beneath it all was a building rage that stemmed from my anger being shamed by my parents. I had no outlet, I was disarmed emotionally. I first started to experience DR symptoms when I experimented with drugs. Of course this is normal and expected, but for me, the sense of unreality stuck, even after I had come off the drugs. This was in my late teens.
I started to do lots of drugs, mostly marijuana, MDMA, LSA (lysergic acid amide), ketamine, alcohol (yes it's a drug!). Eventually I had a drug-induced psychosis. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after walking in front of a van and getting hit by it (thinking I was invincible). I really am lucky to be alive. As you can see, there was a psychological split, I lived in unreality, feeding an over-compensatory god-like image of myself. Of course, all masking a horrifically low level of self-esteem. I hated myself, I wanted to erase myself. The night before the "accident" I went out onto the streets, threw away my wallet, my passport, my phone, renouncing my identity. When a concerned passer by asked what my name was, I simply said, 'I have no name.'
Around this time I had considered myself enlightened. I had fleeting moments of feeling free in myself. I attributed this to the insights I ruminated on when tripping. I remember at one point concluding that almost all human suffering is traceable to some denial of feeling. I walked around telling people that they would never be happy because they were in denial about the fact that their parents never loved them. Of course, this was a projection. For many it's true, but I couldn't speak for everyone, which was my error. You see, real love cannot exist in a narcissistic family because people are not themselves, they are merely images based on a denial of feeling, and of truth. It's a life of lies and emptiness. It's a life of loneliness where nothing is real and you exist merely as a concept. It's the horrifying existence that pervades so much of our current human experience. It's a horror that once you see it, you cannot unsee it.
While these insights were valuable, when I brought them to my parents, I was rejected. They made out I was insane. This essentially led to my psychosis getting much worse. Yes they were right, I was pretty crazy, but so were they. They put all their craziness on me though, denying any responsibility for my mental state. The tragedy is that after the accident, I associated these insights with insanity and rejected them. To my misfortune I went back into conformity. I accepted a sort of mystic, nihilistic, moral relativism. I stayed in my family home for the next 2 years. I continued doing drugs in my room. I started to believe that the drugs had almost magical properties. I went through a number of crazy beliefs. All of which were based on denying reality, and of denying my pain that lay beneath it all. As you can imagine, life was pretty lonely, and at the age of 21 I had still never had a proper relationship with a woman. Of course, with someone so obsessed with their image, this truth was unbelievably painful for me to accept and I always strived to put out an image of myself as sexually desirable and successful. The reality is, I had no sexual potency because I was alienated from my body and also enmeshed with my mother in a twisted relationship. I was her confidant, her shoulder to cry on when complaining about my father. Growing up, I became her little husband, thus sealing this image of specialness I had about myself.
At 21, one of the major events that led to my DP symptoms becoming a lot worse was a time when I was verbally abused. Basically, this guy made fun of the way I spoke, insinuating that I sounded stupid and childish. I instantly accept his view of me and sought to correct myself. I was relentlessly harsh on myself. My focus became entirely on what people thought, and not what I felt. Of course, just a continuation of how things were already, only now more intense. I became obsessed with the way I spoke. Even thinking in my own head became painful. There was this constant chastisement. At times I would slap myself in the face for not getting words right. The perfectionism and the resulting stress was slowly killing me. I felt like I had nowhere to run. All my interactions became empty, there was nothing. I began to stop being able to pay attention to what people were saying. There was no pleasure there, no incentive to listen. All human contact became painful. I lost my spark, my creativity, my drive to be happy. I felt hopeless, helpless, lost. Drugs and alcohol were my only relief, albeit an emptier relief than before.
About a year and a half after this I formulated a plan to confront my fears. I decided to go to a music festival on my own. Part of this plan had unconscious motives in it though. I had been lying to myself because a part of me only wanted to go to the festival to lose myself in drugs. In fact, that was the primary drive.
Since my speech problem, my social anxiety had been increasing more and more by the day. The level of self-hate was bubbling over. I was obsessed with self-help books and audio programmes. None of them described the root of my suffering though. All of it was just psychological defence piled upon psychological defence. All blocks to pain, to truth, to reality.
The festival then was a disaster waiting to happen. My anxiety, coupled with the drugs, the self-hate, self-denial, paranoia etc, meant that I had essentially put myself into a nightmarish situation that resonated with the horror of my childhood. I became increasingly aware of the emptiness inside of me. I concluded that this was caused by me not being able to be myself. I thought, 'if I can't make myself feel happy then I'm dead, empty, worthless.' I thought that I had no value to other people in this state. In many ways it was true, but I believed that I was a lost cause and that this was just the way I was from now on. I couldn't take it any more. The pain was so incredibly intense that I had no other choice but to dissociate. I was so deeply ashamed of myself that I could only see hate in the eyes of other people. My sense of reality became polarised. I was tasting insanity. The uncertainty of what was real only increased my dissociation.
I had a nightmarish trip for 4 days. The whole time I felt this constant feeling of self-hatred and social humiliation. I felt ostracised socially. I felt utterly worthless and was disgusted with myself. I was so split, so broken.
I can't believe I went back to work a couple of days later. I was so in denial. I didn't want to accept what had happened, what I had become.
For the first time in my life I truly felt dread and doom. I thought I had brain damage. I couldn't think straight. I thought I had died. There was this void inside me, this emptiness in my chest where I used to feel. It was all gone. I felt as if my "soul" had gone.
Of course I blamed myself. The feeling of guilt only increased that felt sense of shame, the disgust with myself. It had always been this crippling core belief about who I was. I long for freedom from it. Despite all this, I haven't given up hope. I continue, and somewhere deep inside me, there is a flicker of a flame that burns on, longing for love, and to share in its bliss.
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