So I was born with a ‘disability’. It was a very scary one and got me into trouble. I was always being screamed at or told off for telling people things they did not want to hear. You see, I had this trait that was irrepressible: I felt what everyone around me was feeling. And it wasn’t nice most of the time. It was downright creepy.
By the time I went to school, I had developed what is now called ‘social phobia’. I was taken to kindergarten kicking and screaming as I tried to climb out of the car window (not on the first day but after I had found out what it was like). My dad had it too. He used to lock himself in his room and hide away especially when my mum was on the rampage about him not wanting to go to parties. Parties were my mum’s main outlet for her irrepressible love of dance and making people laugh. But in those days, a woman could not go to a party without her husband.
So it was a kind of self-perpetuating hell, a turbulent soup of fearful angry emotions that we grew up in. With my dad pointing his teaspoon at us across the breakfast table every morning and declaring “your mother is insane”. Insanity became a euphemism for expressing emotions.
What we did not realise was that the insanity arose from NOT expressing them: what my mother was expressing was anger and rage because she was denying her real emotion that she did not dare to admit to: the terrible grief she felt. I now know that anger and rage are always a capping emotions for something deeper – thanks for letting me know this sooner ‘universe’, would have been quite useful to know as a kid!
So what I experienced a lot of in my childhood was confusion. And repression of my gift of empathy. Other children were ‘impossible’ to relate to because I just became them when they talked to me. I was no-one, I just disappeared and all I could feel was them, if you get what I mean? It was pure panic and anguish to be at school. Most of the feelings that the other children had were frightening to me.
Then there were the family times when discussions would occur and I would be the catalyst for everyone’s denied emotions – usually anger and frustration because no one listened to anyone else and everyone was scared to say what they felt – and I would burst it all out like vomit. Then the ‘you’re insane’ bit would start.
I never really got the intellect thing either. My brain was totally flooded out by emotion and its corollaries most of the time. So all my observations were feeling- based and that was seen as pretty wierd too. My memories are of the smells and sounds and colours in our garden which were magnificent as we lived in the tropics. And my best times at school were spent looking out the window and dreaming all through class when I went into a completely different world. That was also frowned upon.
I found it difficult to lie and I hated most adults as I could tell that they were liars. Always pontificating about one thing or another, pretending to be someone they were not and it was all a big front as far as I was concerned: fake. I told many people this ‘fact’ despite the grooming and warnings that I would get from my mother before we went to events that required people to lie – like tea at Auntie Mollie’s. And I always got crucified for it afterwards. So the crucifixion of anyone who told the truth about what they really felt soon became clear to me: both wonderful and awful feelings were suppressed.
That was me from the age of about 7 to 12. But I felt full of shame. I was a bad girl for being so angry! Right? And I will tell the rest in images which I think will say it better! From the age of about 12 to 25 I was like this:
To be continued….