Words are my Friends
Words are my friends. I can play with them, they are safe and they are there when I need them. I just wished that I sometimes could control them better. And I want to take them on adventures of emotional depth, wonderful stories and valuable truths. But just like with human friends, word friends fail me sometimes. The colourfulness they paint in my mind often translates to gray molasses on the screen or a bland salad of confusion when they flee from my mouth. They build walls instead of bridges, and in place of freely dancing spirits they become restricting prison guards.
A Way with Words
I am a very articulate person. I love to talk, I love to use my vast arsenal of words to describe the world, to discuss matters that I deem are important. And I write creatively. In all of those instances, I am in my element. I am a very passionate speaker, I can be a fiery essayist or a brilliant academic writer. An inspired poet and an intriguing novelist. I have the ability to explain difficult concepts in terms that most people can understand.
I know how to use words to make people listen or continue reading. And I never had the issue that others struggle with: to express emotions in written words. For years, I was the community leader of a huge mental health organisation online. All support was text based. So I mentored thousands upon thousands of volunteers in expressing empathy, and how to reflect another person’s emotions. Not through body language, but only with the help of the written word. I supported thousands upon thousands of people who needed help, people who struggled with serious mental and physical illness, those going through grief or were stuck in an identity crisis. My words never failed me. They were my army of love and support, of boundaries and professionalism.
What people often see in my words is that I am able to reflect their feelings in a way that they feel fully understood. My emotional intelligence shines through in the language that I use. I can express what others fail to translate from their minds onto the screen or into the air that pushes out of their mouths. My words are my friends when I want to support others, when I want to evoke emotions in readers or when I want to make points clear.
It is definitely something that works for me more in the written word than it does in real life dialogue. I become more anxious around others, and I often first stay silent to read a situation. But once I deem someone or a situation as safe, I can happily babble on. I have always been told that I know how to talk, and I sure do. And I can do so in several languages too. Languages are a huge love of mine.
Intent and Communication
So you could say that words are my friends. And they are in so many areas. They have saved me many times, and they often help me convey what I want to tell people so they experience what I intended for them to experience emotionally and intellectually. Some might call that manipulative, but isn’t that what we all do when we write, especially when it comes to fiction? With every text you write, every letter on the screen or paper, has an intention of communication, and with that a need of evoking a reaction. I find that fascinating. There doesn’t need to be touch, or body language, we can communicate from mind to mind, if we are able to translate the ideas in our minds into the beautiful monuments they are supposed to be.
I have experienced writer’s block, and sometimes what I write doesn’t represent what I wanted to have said. I am not perfect, and I find it to be an interesting challenge to rewrite things, to move words around, to make them dance after my fiddle and create the perfection in sequence that I need them to be. But the moment I have to express my own emotions, and share something that is about my own emotional experience, my pool of possible words suddenly changes. I am not as much in control. Walls are built to prevent truthful translation. I don’t have the tools for bridges of connection anymore.
A Prisoner in my own Fortress
That is when words fail me. And it is not necessarily that I wouldn’t know which words to use, although sometimes words can seem like not enough to really express what is going on with me. It is all about intent. What is the intention with talking about your own emotional experience? I assume for most people it is about being heard, about being validated, about receiving empathy and understanding. Do I have those needs too? Of course I do. But the fear of judgment, of being ridiculed or misunderstood is too overwhelming.
I suddenly don’t trust words anymore. I become suspicious of them. And I feel like they are not adequate, or they are fragile beings that could be squashed at any moment. So my intent changes from receiving empathy to needing to protect the true experiences. I go to safe words, to general terms. I use my ability to play with words to deflect, manipulate, to stop the train of thought. My intent is to stop the topic and move it to something where words are my friends again.
It is not like that I don’t want to talk about my truth. But my mind automatically switches into a state where my intent changes, my toolbox is different, and where I am not moving as freely anymore. Language suddenly becomes inadequate, so the idea of truthful emotional expression gets abandoned and replaced by safety measures. It has happened in therapy, it has happened when talking to friends, and it is constantly happening on this blog. As a matter of fact, I think it is happening right now, writing this. I want to express frustration and emotional isolation but what I really do is to intellectualize the whole thing so the focus is not really on my struggles.
I am not sure if this is related to dissociation or my mental illnesses. It is most likely connected to being punished for appearing weak in the past. As always, a lot of my fuckery is caused by my trauma, and this might very well be related to it as well. C-PTSD can express itself in many ways. Some people become more attention seeking and seek emotional outlets everywhere, while others retreat into an innerworld and no one ever gets to know them. I definitely belong in the latter category.
A Truthful Example
All this might seem very elusive to some. Surely if I can relate to other people’s emotionally experiences and can express that with the help of language, I have the words in me. But it is not as simple. Because the words don’t come in. They are imprisoned in a fortress to keep them safe, and I don’t have the tools to build the bridges so they can walk out into the world. Let me give you an example.
“How are you doing?”
“Eh, I am surviving. Thanks for asking! How are you?”
“Oh, what is wrong? I am okay! I had a bit of a stressful morning but now I can finally start the day.”
“Same old, same old. Ah shit, I am sorry to hear that your morning hasn’t been that great. What made it so stressful? Are you sure you are okay?”
“My coffee machine broke! Can you fucking believe it? Me without coffee! So I had to run over to the neighbour’s in my PJs. So awkward!”
“Haha, yeees, you need your coffee! Which neighbour did you go to? I hope not the one with the annoying pug. Remember when that little bastard didn’t let you sleep at all last weekend because it didn’t stop barking when she was visiting her mum? Ugh!
“That fucking dog, I swear!”
That is basically how all my conversations go. I turn them around. And I don’t go into depth. I just refocus on the other person and make sure that I poke their feelings so they have something they can talk about that they feel passionate about. My emotional truth is stuck in the fortress behind safe walls, no tools for bridges needed. Words become like tiny arrows to manipulate the enemy to retreat from territory they don’t belong in. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have the language to express what I am feeling. It is just stuck inside and is not allowed out in the world. “I am surviving” and “Same old, same old” is really a translation from something vastly emotionally terrifying. It could stand for:
“I am so anxious and desperately frightened that it feels like my soul is being raped by an invisible demon that has been living in my mind all my life and will reside there for all eternity. My tears feel like the blood running out of me, the will to live slowly disappearing with every salty flood. And those floods have been plentiful as of late. I don’t understand me anymore, I don’t understand the world anymore. I don’t understand why I need to belong in this world anymore.
It is a constant stabbing of my soul, stabbing with swords made out of my memories, memories that chase me in my dreams, that infiltrate every part of my being. My body doesn’t belong to me anymore, it belongs in the earth, rotten and digested by worms. I don’t want to die, but I am so dead inside. Dead cold so often that I can’t grasp the whys and hows of survival.
And then, when I have a moment of clarity and realize what a worthless human being I am, and how I will never ever be able to escape my mind’s prison, that is when I can feel the raping again, and the stabbing. Tiny swords held by a demon with a million hands. I am frightened by my own mind, helplessly frozen forever. Unable to die, but dead already. Nothing can save me. And it doesn’t matter. Because it is all my fault, it seems like my choice. I invited the demons in the past, and I invited this demon too. I am weak, and I deserve to feel like this and shouldn’t be allowed ro escape. So I continue, continue to exist, because what else is there?”
Words are my friends.