Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Note To Self

We've all heard about nurturing one's Inner Child.  Lately I have been more concerned with taming the Inner Animal.  I am currently seeing through a perceptive lens that accentuates all the things that humans have in common with animals: instinctive fear, instinctive social bonding, the urge to violence, selfishness.

I am experiencing these things in myself as much as in other people.

You may have seen in my Twitter feed that I crossed paths with a madman last week.  It was Friday morning.  I was on the bus.  At a major intersection, a man who looked not at all right got on.  He was pale in a yellowish way. He had a 3-inch open cut on one hand that wasn't bleeding, but hadn't yet scabbed over.  His hair was crazy-person hair. He was carrying a small paper cup of coffee.

He went to sit down, and spilled some of his coffee into his lap.  He jumped up and roared "F***!" as loud as humanly possible. He wasn't far from me.  I froze. He kept yelling various things. I kept my eyes forward, watching him from my peripheral vision, like a rabbit who's just noticed the approach of a fox.

Within two minutes the madman had decided, of his own free will, to leave the bus. He was intent on going back to the coffee shop to yell "F***!" at the unsuspecting counter staff.  I felt sorry for them. 

My fight/flight reflex had kicked in and didn't begin to wane until I got off at my stop.  On top of the stress of worrying about Ken, my animal brain was overloaded with fear impulses.  I felt skittish all day and had trouble falling asleep that night.

On Monday morning I was listening to my iPod when I arrived at the bus station.  I wasn't thinking about Friday.  But, my animal brain remembered.  I started feeling afraid as soon as I got on the bus.  I had to stop and think before I remembered why.  I told myself: you've been taking this bus for over a year, and you know this guy is not a regular.  Animal brain didn't care.  Animal brain does not like to negotiate.  I felt physically afraid until we'd passed the stop at which the madman had gotten on.

Fortunately my "PTSD" only lasted for one day.  Still, I've been dealing a lot lately with emotions felt as reactions in my body rather than as verbalized thoughts.  Animal brain tries to take over.  I have resorted to talking to myself very purposefully and assertively in order to maintain control.  Sometimes I even talk to myself out loud.  If that's what it takes, then I'll do it.

I am at least partially trained as a psychotherapist.  I use all my best tricks on myself.  Active listening, role play, bait and switch, etc.  Actually I am a great therapist for myself.  Give me 15 minutes or so without any interruptions and I can sort out just about anything, or at least make myself feel significantly better.

That is what is going on in Sparkland.  I am talking to myself in order to be not-crazy.  Paradox? 

What do you think, Spark?

I think life is full of paradoxes, and that's what makes it interesting. 

Well put Spark.  I knew I could count on you.


DarcKnyt said...

Oh, sorry Spark! I didn't realize you were on that bus. I'll try to tone it down next time. Just gimme a heads up, would you? ;)

LL Cool Joe said...

I talk to myself all the time, it's the only time I get a sensible conversation with anyone.

I'm interested to know what a crazy-person's hair is like?

Jenski said...

I talk to my cat. Does that mean I am talking to myself? She seems to listen...sometimes...

Hope your adrenaline levels drop! Being on high alert all the time can't be good.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Animal brain always lurks in the shadows. Sometimes he can be talked down, but other....

wigsf3 said...

Once one a bus, there was this guy who went around the bus, sitting behind people and starting yelling in their ear. I used to see this guy a lot when I was taking the bus everyday after school. Only once did I see him do this crazy thing.

Granny Annie said...

My self-counseling consists of a rather large group of wise, caring and combative selves.

Lynn said...

That's scary, Spark. I had a bad experience on the commuter train a few years ago, when I was going downtown to school. I took the only seat available next to a glowering young man (he grudgingly moved a bag so I could sit.) I heard a clicking noise and looked down. He had a gun out and cocked it to show there were bullets inside. I got off at the approaching stop and found the MARTA police. He suggested I always sit up in the front car with the driver and that's what I did. I had a little trauma from that, too. By the end of two years though, I was driving to school and paying the huge parking money. I was over the public transportation by then. :) Glad you are OK!

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: LOL - Was that you relaxing with an espresso? ;-)

LL Cool Joe: It looked like he hadn't had a haircut in around 6 months. His hair was shaggy, frizzy, and flying everywhere.

Jenski: Happily I was only on an adrenaline high for one day. I'm pretty much back to normal now, just feeling more serious than usual.
Cats are in a grey area.


wigsf: That sounds very unpleasant.

Granny Annie: In NLP theory our self is referred to as a "bus" full of inner selves who are competing for a chance to drive the bus. I find that to be a useful metaphor.

Lynn: Jeez! OK, your story beats mine hands down for scary/creepy. I'm glad nothing came of it. Wow. <:-o

ileana said...

I believe it's healthy to chat with yourself...I do it all the time. As long as you're not roaring f***!!! on city buses it's a good thing. :)

I know what you mean, too, about the body taking over. Funny, how your heart doesn't forget...emotional pain, fear, excitement...all of that. Sometimes it's actually a pleasant thing.

I hope you start feeling more pleasure from your animal brain rather than discomfort. :)

DarcsFalcon said...

We can always count on Spark! :)

I know this "animal sense" you speak of. I've had a spat with PTSD too, after getting held up at gunpoint at the job I had before I met Darc. Scary stuff, and it's hard to break that cycle.

I'm so glad this guy didn't cause any actual harm. Bad enough dealing with the creepiness factor, but if he'd actually hurt someone, that animal sense would be much harder to argue with. Deer bolt for a reason!

Talk all you want Spark, you're pretty sane. :)