A couple of things I wrote about in “Lost in Time” belong here, too. Forgetting where I put my favorite suitcase resulted in it’s being heaven knows where, just plain gone. I guess time and space go hand in hand.
I want to organize this post around not being in my body. I used to think that meant that I feel my consciousness living just behind my right shoulder and that all my dreams and memories are from that point of view. I quizzed some non-abused people and they remember things from the point of view of right behind their eyes, so the scene look the way it did when they saw it. Weird!
My therapist explained no, that’s interesting, but not being in your body means you aren’t aware of where your body is in space, in relation to other things. That explained why I fell so often and why I bumped into walls and furniture. Walking into a wall was embarrassing, but tables left nice big bruises.
It also explained why I could recognize landmarks, but not be able to put them in sequence or judge the distance between them. Driving to the supermarket for the millionth time, I never knew whether the pink house came before or after the white church. I knew I had to turn right, but where? Everybody was amazed at how easily I got lost and how often that seven minute drive turned into a good half hour.
About ten years ago I learned how to stop walking into things. I spoke out loud to myself and said things like, “We are getting close to the table.” “Watch where you put your feet — there is a cat around here someplace.” It helped a lot. Now that I use a walker, I’m even safer in the apartment because it’s the walker that hits things, not my body.
Only now am I learning to orient myself in larger spaces. When I go to make that right turn, I look at the houses across the street, describe them to myself, and tell myself it’s time to make the right turn. For some reason, I have to say it out loud. The sound of my voice breaks the trance I am in and focuses my attention on the outside world.
I think I have figured out how this came to be. When I was a kid, I often knew that I was safe, for the moment, where I was, but I never knew what awaited me in the next room or at the end of a car ride. In order to protect myself from anticipated harm, I put myself in a trance before I needed to. I learned to turn my attention inward rather than to my surroundings. I did it so often that it’s my normal state. (By the way, this fear of what might be around the corner explains my agoraphobia, too.)
This is normal every-day stuff. I know that others get lost in much larger spaces, even other dimensions. But I don’t time-travel or go to the astral plane, or if I do, I don’t recognize or remember it. I imagine that offers a whole new realm to get lost in. And flashbacks are a special way of returning to prior time and past surroundings. If you have one foot in the present and know that you are having a flashback, you are really in two places at once. That’s amazing when you think about it!