Lately, I’ve been processing a lot. The act of processing generally feels like an involuntary action, seemingly out of my control. The emotions are tangled and bundled, and hard to decipher. When I am processing, I do not feel comfortable in any part of my body or mind. It’s all I can do to function and do daily tasks. I might be in bed for the full of the day or might continually write in an attempt to pour some of the discomfort out. Distractions do not work; neither does the company of another, movies, books, or any type of action that might typically pull someone out of their thoughts. I can be having an entire conversation with someone or writing an article about a random topic, and the thoughts involved in processing are still rattling in my brain.
When I visualize processing, I see a lump of muck. This lump is a representation of what I have seen, heard, or read: something, usually a statement or words, or parts of a conversation that are heavy and stuck in the mud in front of me. The feeling of discomfort and confusion comes after I have been altered emotionally by news or information of some sort. It could be one word a friend spoke. Whatever emotive response was triggered inside of me, the response stirs and stirs my mind. All I can do is sit back and become audience to my brain as it sifts, filters, dissects, chops, and dismembers this body of information. Then the body becomes whole again and the process is repeated. The process is very complex and uncomfortable.
Most forms of processing happen so quickly that I don’t recognize what is taking place. Other forms of processing takes a few minutes or part of the hour. Some processing can take a day. An extreme processing can take the better part of a week.
In example, when my son’s teacher called to tell me he was having behavioral issues, after we hung up, I processed the conversation. I reheard the conversation in my mind several times. That was enough. I didn’t feel like I needed to stay in that space and repeat the conversation in my thoughts over and over.
Sometimes I need to press repeat in my mind, and cannot help but, rewind and review, and rewind and review information repeatedly. If a conversation is written in print or on the computer screen, I will go back and reread the sentences in detail, a half-dozen times or more. I will analyze certain words and theorize what was said, the plausible intention, what could have been implied, and what might have been said differently. I do this for both myself and the speaker/writer. I will feel the energy behind the words.
If the words are not written, I will replay the conversation in a similar format, visualizing the words. If the conversation is in person, I will recreate the scene in my mind, and relive the experience over and over. If I am alone and perhaps on the computer when I have communicated, then I will revisit where I was sitting, what I was doing, and visualize the room and everything about the environment at the time. It feels as if I am there again.
This takes place over and over and over, like I am stuck in a rerun of a moment. Processing that takes less of my time happens so fast that the steps and moments breeze by without notice. In the scenerio I mentioned about the teacher phoning to give me information about my son, I would likely repeat the facts in my head, visualize where I was when the person called, logically talk to myself about why I am upset, talk myself down from being upset, try to center myself, and then repeat the process. I would hear an entire verbal conversation in my mind with myself. We would talk each other down. Self and I. Then I would likely write it out or verbally process by calling or writing a friend.
Sometimes the only way to relieve the angst, even if minor, is to phone someone I know immediately and talk. A type of panic sets in, as if I cannot breathe until the thoughts are shared with someone else. This happens in all cases of emotional distress. My thoughts speed up and I feel under attack in all areas of my body and mind. This can also happen when I am excited about good news.
Life doesn’t feel real until I have expressed the interior of my mind with someone else. Or perhaps, I don’t feel real until I get out of my head.
I get trapped sometimes in my reruns of thoughts and reliving a scene, and the key seems to be making a connection with someone else. This connection may involve repeated actions on my part. The same question over and over: Do you love me? The same worry over and over: Do you think I am a good mother? Or it may simply be me recreating the scenario and explaining to someone aloud or in writing to release what is inside. If there are written words involved, I might share what happened by showing a person the text. All these actions of connecting are an attempt to take out the clutter and pain that is occurring nonstop inside my head.
Another way to visualize my processing is like a huge lit up grid, and I am a small person standing in the middle. I guess this could be visualized like the way synapses fire and travel or like a large blue print used in quantum physics. There are millions of avenues and routes set before me on this grid and my thoughts travel different paths, reverse, recreate and travel new paths again. My thoughts go back and forth, inside out, up and down, and all about. Like a hokey pokey dance of the mind—only it’s not my right foot doing the dance, it’s the whole of me.
I cannot concentrate on anything else at depth until the processing is done. I will have a far away look, and appear depressed, withdrawn and deeply preoccupied to the extent where an observer will ask: What’s wrong?
What’s wrong is something has been said, seen or heard that has triggered an array of uncontrollable thoughts and emotions, and that discomfort will remain until I let the whole of me go through the process of analyzing, dissecting, and piecing back together what has happened. This usually means I get less sleep, and wake up with an urgency to repair or fix the unsettled feelings. This usually means researching of some type, whether through conversations with others about the experience, reviewing my own prior writings, looking up facts and statistics online, or rereading and rereading the conversation that triggered the “episode.” OCD behaviors often set in, such as continually checking the comment section of my blog.
I cannot say it is an easy process. But at the same time it is highly remarkable to be part of the experience; especially when the process is over and the relief comes. Sometimes there is no answer to be found, and I grow exhausted of the thinking and rethinking, and let it go. Sometimes, oftentimes, I find solutions and new ways of viewing the situation or learn valuable information. Sometimes I am able to help other with similar problems as I’ve lived my own problems so acutely.
All in all it is an experience that still baffles and entirely exhausts me, as it runs away with my time, energy, and thoughts. Yet in the end I feel filtered through in all areas: my mind, heart, and spirit. It is as if I was part of an elaborate, soul-level filter system that located the muck and junk, scooped it out, and left me cleansed and purified. It hurts like the worst kind of hurt. But it’s part of who I am and how I function in this complex world.
On a side note, my father called me earlier today. We hadn’t spoken since July. He had not seen the letter or my blog it was just random coincidence, some might say. Others would say differently. I was crying still, when he called. This was the first time in my life I cried over my father, and he happened to call. I am ever so thankful. It hurt something terrible, but I spoke my piece and was heard. I’ve done all I can do, and can release now. Thank you and bless you so very much. ~ Sam