I have loads of experience feeling abandonment trauma. The terror of being left is fresh and available pretty much anytime. Rejection fits in there nicely with the hypervigilance needed to ensure that I won’t be left. Did she just roll her eyes? Did he turn away because of what I said? Is she not calling me back because she thinks I’m too needy? Did people think what I just said was stupid? Etc, etc. Reading a room, overthinking a phone message, taking people’s facial expressions personally. Like that. Been there, done that, like yesterday. And today.
But let’s discuss engulfment. That’s a different animal yet the other side of abandonment. Engulfment: the fear of being consumed, taken, and taken over. Violation. Annihilation. Losing ones self. Being forced to lose ones self. Being forced to care for another’s needs at the expense of total loss of self. The absolute need to kill one’s self off to survive by attending to another.
I tell you right now, I would rather feel abandoned all day long from now until forever than feel engulfed. Rather choose the stereotypical unavailable partner all day long than feel taken over.
The actual feelings of being engulfed are unbearable and so, I’d rather feel unworthy and unloved any day of the week, including today.
Today, I was talking to a man who talked incessantly about himself and his love life, in detail. He was one of those talkers who goes off on long tangents and when I got lost, I would try to flag him and say something like “how did that relate to Arizona?” until finally, he stopped and said, “can you please stop interrupting me?” About an hour into this, I realized I had to just stand up and walk away since I had already tried numerous times to say “I have to go.” So finally, I stood up and said, “I have to go” while I walked out. I know, I know, an hour was way too long. I’m ashamed to say I was pinned there.
This is interesting that I would use that word.
A childhood experience of literally being pinned down by my Father’s body. Literally pinned to the bed. Pinned, out of breath. Out of time, out of ideas, out of my childhood, out of control, most important, out. Outer space.
When someone treats me as if I am not really there, that’s a trigger.
Takes over. That’s a trigger.
Lack of empathy, that’s a trigger.
Can seem both nice and enraged, that’s a trigger.
Manipulates unconsciously, that’s a trigger.
Smother, that’s a trigger.
So, therefore, in fact, I surround myself (most of the time) with folks who are empathetic, spacious, considerate, sensitive, caring, and usually traumatized. Friends who barely made it out alive, that really works for me.
But life doesn’t allow for the picking and the choosing from total maturity. I don’t pick and choose with perfect aim. I replay my traumas unconsciously just like anyone else. Life is full of narcissistic players and sometimes, I’m pinned.
But tonight, I recognize that I will never be pinned as a child again in that way. With that Father, With that tiny body. With those lack of choices. With that level of slavery.
I will never be pinned to the point where my mind can’t understand because it hasn’t developed yet.
Now, I will make sense of it, even if it takes a few hours, days, weeks, years. I do understand what is going on. I will understand.
I can’t be taken over, that’s where this is leading.
My Father tortured me and forced me to believe I caused it. His body aimed to fully replace mine, on every level, but even then, I did not lose myself.
I thought I did.
It seemed like I did.
I really got lost out there. In outer space.
For a long time.
I don’t seem to have forgotten that beautiful girl under the body of a man who couldn’t see me.
I didn’t leave her alone, in the end.
Cause here she is. My girl.
Feeling all engulfed.
Feeling all terrified that I can’t find my feet, my planted adult feet, on this strong, strong Earth.
If I didn’t lose her back then, I sure as hell can’t lose her now
The one who left the planet and came back to tell.
The one who sacrificed herself to survive.
Engulfment isn’t possible anymore because no one can take me, as hard as they try.
No one can take me ever again.
No one can take over and take me from myself.
I can’t be taken.
I can’t be lost.