What I want to share with you is something that I know about myself that I think is very weird and unique. I think I’m hoping to hear a lot of my readers comment and say, “Me, too!” because my intellect says that it’s weird and unique.
I dream in third person. I often, when I visualize memories, see them in third person. If you have no idea what I’m trying to say, imagine it this way – – you are behind a camera filming something happening on a stage in front of you. While you are filming, you are simultaneously on the stage as a part of whatever is happening there.
According to the definition, this classifies as an out-of-body experience, but I’m not certain it qualifies. According to my research on out-of-body experiences, they can happen in dreams, but also in real time. To my knowledge, I’ve never experienced it in real-time, though maybe when it’s happening then, you only experience one of the other – that is, the person in the subconscious or the person in the conscious.
I can accept that there are times when being in a ‘third person’ state is important and protective. Survival of severe trauma is one such case, when it allows us to remove ourselves from what it happening even though we are present. Psychology refers to this as a ‘dissociative disorder’, but again, because it never happens to me in real time, I’m lax about using that term. And while I understand the need to remove ourselves when confronted by traumatic memories or dreams, I do it each and every time that I experience a memory or have a dream. I’ve tried looking at memories of happy experiences in my mind, and I still see each of them rolling through my memory like a video, but I’m still standing above and outside of the actual occurrence while partaking in it. I seldom have what I’d classify as “bad” dreams, and the last time I remember having a dream that even caused me some angst upon awakening was easily 20 or more years ago, and it was a one-time, not reoccurring, dream. I can still remember quite a bit of the dream, but I feel nothing good or bad when I think about what I remember.
I am a pretty emotional person. I get teary-eyed quickly, and when something exciting happens for someone I care about, my heart quickly fills and swells with that happiness. I don’t shy away from my emotions – to me, they are badges I’m proud to show because they speak the depth of my heart. But I wonder… is my subconscious afraid of emotions? Is that why it removes me in some way from what is happening, so that it doesn’t have to feel, to deal, with the emotions that my conscious being has? And, if so, then WHY?
I have so many good memories, exacerbated in their goodness by photographs of people near and dear to my heart. I have a photo of my mom doing her “happy cat” face (you had to be there to understand!) and when I look at it, the memory in that moment makes me smile. But even as I look at that photo, which I took, when I think about the when and where of taking that photo, I immediately revert to seeing myself taking it from that ‘other place’. I have no memory of what I saw when I looked through the lens, what I was thinking or feeling at the time.
I only ever confronted a memory ‘in real time’ as happening then and not seeing myself watching it, but acutely aware of what was happening and what I could see in my field of vision from that place. It took a lot of therapeutic work to get me into that memory so that it felt real, and as it was a traumatic event, I remember gasping loudly and quickly opening my eyes, tears running down my cheeks, and repeating the word “No” over and over again. Therapeutically, I had to go into that event and somehow alter it from what it was to what I wish it had been, and I understand now that my inability to say “No” was what was holding me back from healing the hurt it had caused. I don’t even want to have that experience of being a part of that again in my life, but I understand and appreciate the necessity of going back there.
What confuses me, though, is that I can find memories of things that happened before that time, and I still see them in third person as well! Was I ever equipped to experience memories when I was just present in them?
I’m confused! And maybe we all do what I do, which will at least help me feel like I’m not missing out on something everyone else gets to experience. The memories I have are stacked in the favor of “good ones” over “bad ones”, and I think I’m willing to risk feeling the bad ones in exchange for feeling the good.
Because of the year-old pandemic, I get to see my beloved brother even less than I usually do with our 2-hours’ apart geography. And because he gives the best hugs and makes me feel safe and protected when he hugs me, I am very present in those moments and feeling all of the emotions of it strongly. And I can picture easily the memory of the hug the last time I saw him, but guess what? Yep, I see it in this weird third-person way and have no real sense of the emotions of it happening. I mean, I know intellectually what those feelings were, but I don’t feel them!
And that sucks!!!!!