Disassociation was (is) ‘normal’ to me. So much so that I never actually knew what association felt like.
I would walk around, with friends or family, and I would just float there, hovering over whatever experience I was having.
I couldn’t stand to live simultaneously in this world and in my body.
This manifested itself as, not being present — ever, not hearing my friends when they talk, and ultimately, not caring about what they had to say (especially when it pertained to the little details in their lives). I couldn’t — these things were taking up too much mental energy. It was energy that had already been spent on dissociating from my body.
This led to suffering. A lot of it. I thought to myself, “why couldn’t I stand in my body, while everyone else seemed to do so, so effortlessly?”
It’s different for everyone — the reasons people dissociate vary. I realize it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing.
The reason I did though, is because when I would get fully present in my body, things started to shift inside of me. I actually started to feel my self coming to the surface. My physical sensations, my personality, my actual thoughts and feelings. It was uncomfortable, and new and strange. But really, it was just different.
I knew I couldn’t keep living in this dissociated state. It wasn’t sustainable and it was harming my body, more than anything I put or didn’t put into it. The only other choice I had was to feel and be and breathe in my body. So I did this, I practiced yoga and tai chi, meditation and breathing exercises, and believe or not, I didn’t die (even though sometimes I thought I might). I did all the things that felt too hard and too liberating at the same time, and I survived.
For the next year, I chose again and again to surrender to the moment — to feel my feelings, my physical sensations, and to be present in the moment. Sometimes I would think to myself, “Did I actually just discover peace?” “Is this what people experience all the time?” “Is this what I’ve been missing out on this whole time?” And then, another, draining thought would come into my mind. “Nope. Maybe next time”. Bummer. I was more present in my body and in my mind than ever before, but I still couldn’t stay present for very long.
I was okay with this fleeting moments of bliss and peace because, at least I knew I was moving in the right direction.
The more I practiced being in my body, the more the present moment started to feel like an old friend. It started to feel nice, comfortable, even intriguing.
I realized that my previous hesitations of wanting to be in my body were far more exaggerated in my mind. I had so much fear leading up to these moments of complete presence, that it became far worse than the actual experience.
I also realized that dissociation is not the way out of feeling. It never was. I didn’t get a free pass on life just because I wasn’t there for it. I realized that dissociation was actually just a much, much harder way into feeling. It’s actually just a longer, more complicated, stressful path into life. And the choice is ours to make.