Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Christmas Story

All along I have had this odd sensation, as though I have somehow landed in a parallel universe where things seem primarily the same, yet off just enough to make you suspicious that you're not where you're really supposed to be. That's the best way I can describe it. Everything has been cloaked in a vague sense of the unreal. While I no longer have the overwhelming sensation that this isn't really happening, and that I will wake up at some point soon, I know it's happening, I just can't quite believe it. Given that, when I sat down to reflect on Christmas Day, it was no particular surprise that I went through it almost as though I were having an out of body experience. I wasn't floating above my body watching the scene or any scenario like that, but it was almost as though someone was running me from a remote. I was going through all the motions, but was never quite all in the present. I am fairly certain this sensation was a sub-conscious protective move on my part. Not that we were under attack from Greg's family, but we were likely to be hit by the tidal wave of memories I wrote about yesterday. I wasn't sure how we would hold up in the wake of it, so I can only suppose that my inner mind took over and handled things for me. While it worked by keeping me buffered from the onslaught of the day, it also kept me apart from any real enjoyment the day might have yielded as well. I know I smiled and joked along the way, and those were sincere reactions, but they still seemed to be reactions that were having to be dialed in from somewhere else. And really, it's sort of too bad that it had to be that way because it likely would have been one of the most pleasant holidays I had experienced as an adult. As I suspected, without the presence of The Beast, things were more relaxed. Greg's sister Cathy and her daughter drove down from Ft. Worth to join his mother, brother and my mother as our guests for the day. The Veldman siblings played board games, bringing back a long lost tradition, while my mother sat fairly docilely and watched, only bringing up money issues early in the day.

As an aside, Mother's stamina was amazing, and actually posed the largest problem of the day, in that we didn't anticipate she would want or be able to stay the entire day, so we weren't properly supplied. Putting is as delicately as possible, someone in Mother's condition who is going to be away from home base for any length of time needs what is tantamount to an infant's diaper bag. We failed to bring a change of briefs or clothes, both of which she needed by the end of the day, but she seemed unaware and fairly content. Hopefully, in the larger scheme of things, that's all that matters.

Yet, through everything, I felt like the real me was somewhere offsite and dialing it in. It was most noticeable when I was playing games. Trying to shake that remote feeling and concentrate on the strategy of the game was a feat to say the least. I managed it, even winning the second round of Scrabble, but it was then that I really knew something was afoot.

I wonder if what I experienced is typical for people in my situation. Do survivors of a trauma get through it by using similar self preservation tactics? I don't know, but am interested to research it and find out. While effective on the one hand, it did seem to slow my reaction time down - it took some time to get the instructions down the pipeline after all - so I could see that being an issue. Of course, I wasn't being chased by Nazis or locked in a Gulag, so speed was not of the essence. However, there was still an emotional toll to be paid. And now, in the waning hours of the holiday weekend, I am drained and exhausted. I suppose I need to go back to work just to get some rest. I literally have nodded off three times just writing this. It's funny how the human body and mind work. I'm too tired to delve into that any deeper than that.

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