“Use your words” PART I

This is a phrase I have heard parents say to children. Presumably to encourage them, in times of frustration or anger, to release it/express themselves non-physically, non-violently. To engage the intellect.  Engage the faculties of language.  The ‘higher’ faculties of the mind, as opposed to the lower, brutish, chaotic energy of bodily urges.  It’s a way of pushing children to the next level of development.  It’s both simple and very hard to do, in my opinion, at any stage in life.

It wasn’t an approach utilized by those who raised me, so maybe that’s why I sometimes/often feel quite challenged when I have to process intense emotions.  If it’s a really intense emotion, an overall shutdown takes place, head to toe, inside and out.  I will lie down and cover myself with something, usually a blanket.  Other intense emotions make me shake and tremble, stop breathing, put my head in my hands, etc.  One gets the idea.  I once heard or read this phrase: Trauma impairs cognition.  It was I think in a newspaper article about veterans returning home, and the challenges they face returning to civilian life.  That sentence stuck with me for a pretty long time.  Enough for me to mull it over and come to actually disagree with it.  While I think it is extremely insightful & illuminating, I have come to the conclusion that it’s an understatement.  More accurate in my opinion: Stress impairs cognition; trauma obliterates it.

Relationship-wise it is very difficult for me to articulate the nature of what I am experiencing in such a moment, a moment of impaired cognition, a moment when a given negative emotion, such as anger, hits me with subsuming, instant, senseless power.  Like an inner tsunami.  Not “like” — it is an inner tsunami.  Need a new word for it so that I don’t have to rely on metaphor….

So I can see why, perhaps, a person might feel compelled– and beyond simply feeling compelled, but then actually make a decision to act on the compulsion– to refer to me as “crazy” due to how I present in a moment of unarticulated feeling.  Which is what the person who was most recently in the position of being my immediate supervisor did, on more than one occasion.

Being referred to, in public, in the workplace no less, in front of my colleagues and my students, as “crazy”, was upsetting.  Quite…upsetting.  I did not process it.  I froze.  I didn’t have a comeback at all.  These days, no longer being there, no longer having to see him day in and day out, not having to deal with his games, his greed, his sexism, his verbal cruelties, threats and brags, his solipsistic and profound pompousness– I am processing it.

And that’s why I’m awake at this hour writing.  Writing to myself.  Use your words, kistee.  Okay?  Use your words.  

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