“I try not to think of hard times, I try hard to let the past go. I thank God that I’m a changed man, but some days I’m that same asshole.” (Jelly Roll~ “Same Asshole)
Time Capsule, Noun: A container storing a selection of objects chosen as being typical of the present time, buried for discovery in the future.
…Buried for discovery in the future….
Ain’t that the truth. That is exactly what I have recently been learning, That I myself have been a time capsule; only not for objects, but for memories and for hurts and feelings. I have been a time capsule of my childhood traumas, things buried deeply inside of me, only to be dug up in the year 36, dusted off, examined, filed, processed and let go of.
As I stated in my entry before this one, I have been back in therapy. And I don’t know what the particular reasoning is, but this time around it has really been effective, and I have finally been able and willing to honestly look at my past, and to openly admit to another human being the things that I have been through and have witnessed. But what’s equally, if not more important, is the way that I have been able to connect some dots in my mind, and in my heart as to who I am, and why I am the way I am.
You see, this entry is called time capsule, because I believe if you are anything like me, then that is what we can become at a very early age, as a result of protecting ourselves from harm. Someone once told me that “Not everyone who experiences Trauma goes on to become addicted, but everyone who has addiction, has experienced Trauma.” And I believe that 100%! You see, from the time I was young, as I outlined right before this, I had a really hard life. I had been through, witnessed, and experienced things that no child, hell, no adult ever should. And I suppose, that is when I entered my own “Space Shuttle” as a way to just disconnect, and avoid certain feelings, and experiences. But that set the precedent for the rest of my life, which is in fact the core of addiction. Using drugs is all about escape, and I suppose I was the Harry Houdini of drug addiction, I was a real life escape artist. I didn’t even really know at the time of my first cigarette, or my first beer that that’s what I was even doing. It was just instinct. It was something I guess I had learned at what, nine years old? Seven? Who knows, but enduring what I had at such an early age, robbed me of my innocence and forced me into “The wolves’ den” of survival and self preservation at an age when most kids like playing with toys, and side walk chalk. But I had no survival skills, other than close my eyes, think of something different, disassociate, and wait for it all to be over. But as I got older, I would find new or different things to lose myself into: Baseball, T.V, Acceptance from others, attention from a girl, being a class clown. Anything to keep my surface self visible, while concurrently hiding my internal self. And what also came along with that, which I find interesting is that I would compare other people’s “outsides” to my very own damaged and hurting “insides”. I couldn’t or wouldn’t express or expose the things that were hurting so badly inside of me, and just put on a brave and happy face to try and fit into this fucked up world, and then at the same time judge other “happy and enthusiastic” people up against the very things that I was hiding from myself. I have been quoted a few times, saying, “You just don’t get it, deep down inside I’m just a lost and broken hearted little boy.” And that was my self image and identity for a very long time, up until recently.
What’s also interesting to me, is that while all of this is going on, while I’m growing into adolescence, and adult hood, I’m still disassociating, and detaching; but the things that I have buried down deep are still there. Never fully processed, never fully acknowledged, never exposed. Hidden from myself. Yes, that is possible, believe me it is. The dusty old time capsule, buried deep in the secret places of my mind, like a physical malignant tumor, actually wedged inside my brain. And like any invasive material lodged inside our body, if it isn’t treated, if it isn’t removed, if it isn’t exposed and handled with care; infection looms. And the infections that come along with this particular ailment are Anger, Sadness, Self Pity, Resentment, Damaged Future Relationships, Drug Addiction, Depression, Poor Interpersonal Relationships, Fear, Inabilities to Cope, and all of the Et Ceteras. By shutting down to protect myself, by compartmentalizing everything, by stuffing it down deep inside of me in the time capsule, I might as well have wrapped a bundle of dynamite around it with a 36 year long wick. But how was I to know? I was just a child when all of this shit started forming my young and vulnerable mind. I still had so much awe and wonder, I still rooted for the good guys in the movies, I still played with and used my imagination. I was adapting to and surviving life as best as I could. How in the world could I have known that this was unhealthy? How could I know that this was not normal? I had never done life before, as far as I know, How was I supposed to know that certain things were okay, and others were not? I was literally just kind of drifting along, with very little protection, zero modeling, and zero refuge. I thought all kids were forced to watch two adults engage in oral sex at the age of nine. I thought all kids were forced into a room to beat the fuck out of each other. I thought all kids went to six schools in six years, and were dumped off from relative to relative while their dads chased their moms all over the country, not to return for months, or even years. I thought all of this shit was “normal” in my twenties, hell, even into my thirties. I was just a kid, I “knew” right from wrong, but I didn’t quite grasp Normal from abnormal. After all, “Normal” is just the sum total of what we are exposed to most, right? I had no “Control” to compare it to. This is what I knew. I knew it didn’t FEEL okay, and my internal Moral Compass told me that this was not okay, but I had no where to go with it- I had no refuge. I had no safe place. Everything and everyone around me was a complete fucking shit show. I don’t think I ever actually felt any kind of inner peace until I got fucked up for the first time. Every experience and every person I had ever encountered before that first numbing from substances was accompanied by this “Long Black Shadow”. Everything was tainted and blurry. Getting fucked up, I suppose, was a way to just numb it all away. And what’s interesting to me about that last thought, is that I remember the first time I got fucked up, I remember my first Cigarette buzz. I didn’t take it thinking, “Oh this will make all of my pain and traumas go away.” It was an “after the fact” realization. During the onset of the Cigarette buzz, and during my first drunk, I had noticed that I had no internal pain, I had no horrible memories. I could no longer feel the pressing of the tumor on my mind. It had temporarily numbed it. But, as I know now, it was like putting a band aid on a broken leg. But how was I supposed to know? I had been flying solo and flying blind for 16 years, hell, for 36 years. Learning and trying to unlearn as I went. Survival Mode since the 1980’s.
But one of things that I have learned recently, as we unearthed the dirty old capsule from it’s deep and dark hiding place inside my mind, is that everything I experienced, everything I witnessed, everything that was modeled to me went into this thing; to the point to where it was busting at the seams, and spilling into my present and active mind. Everything that I thought was “normal”, everything that I thought we all went through, all of it, became “who I am” and molded me into the adult human that I am today. Trauma Repetition. I come from harm, I come from trauma, I come from broken and damaged fucked up relationships, I come from loneliness, I come from uncertainty, and though I suppose it was an instinctual defense mechanism- shutting down and stuffing it all away, it never actually went away. It was silently and insidiously dictating everything I did, and everyone I went around.
I had such an incredible fear of abandonment, and as a result, when people would bully me, or try to exit my life, when a woman would cheat on me, when I felt like a relationship might end- I would run TO that person, instead of realizing that I actually deserved better. I did my best to do and be the opposite of everything I went through, but instead became an exact replica. I suppose that stuffing things down, and hiding from them, actually kept them even more so present and active in my mind and spirit. Allowing them to fester, grow, and adapt to my present circumstances, events, and relationships. Like the Tail was Wagging the dog, or like a Ventriliquist dummy. And I suppose that is why in my addiction and downward spiral, it was like watching myself do things, in third person. Because it was in fact, not my present and current self running the show, it was all of my past survival mechanisms kicking the can down the street in an effort to continue the numbing that I started at around elementary school. interesting.
Initially, the Time Capsule was inside of me, as I was in the Space Shuttle, but eventually, I entered the Time capsule myself. It consumed me. They say that when we get clean, we are the age at which we started using- Arrested Development. As the Prefrontal Cortex is not fully developed, and that makes a lot of embarrassing sense to me. Which I suppose makes me about 22 years old for all intents and purposes, right now. And it is our present and current relationships that bare the brunt of that. Unless we do something about it. And as I have re engaged into therapy, I have slowly been connecting the dots of my entire life. Things happened TO ME, not BECAUSE OF ME. And that provides me a great deal of refuge. So long as I am recognizing that harmful patterns from my past will and do crop up from time to time, and I can take the pause to change that thought to something positive and beneficial, I can avoid staying in that rut of perpetual shitty thinking and behaviors. It is on us to fully examine our whole life- from the “helicopter view” like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, not just one float at a time, but with some help take an objective and outside look, at how we became who. Connect our dots, open the time capsule, examine the moments and events, process them, and then toss them into the sea.
We are not responsible for our addiction, we are not responsible for what happened to us, we are not responsible for our traumas, but we are responsible for processing them, addressing them, healing from them, and making the necessary changes to avoid the perpetual lineage of passing them down over and over.
We can not change what we refuse to confront.