This is difficult for me to explain. Up until quite recently, I never even tried to explain, but in the past couple weeks I’ve found myself with enough words and wherewithal to explain to a couple people (much to my own surprise, as this is quite a struggle), and I realized that the rest of my friends and family would probably really appreciate a better understanding of what goes on in my head. As it is, this post has taken me 3 days to write.
Most people notice that I’m very introverted, despite the fact that I can be very social when I choose to be. Or perhaps I should say when I’m capable of choosing to be. I’m that girl who spends more time on the dance floor than at the bar; I’m the girl that will respond to an entire conversation in nothing but facial expressions and giggling; I’m the girl who wanders off, disappearing to have solo adventures, or just simply vanishing for a few hours/days. And most people accept that is me, that’s how I am. I usually justify my eccentricity with crazy stories of what I’ve been up to, or finished art that I have produced in my alone time, and people just assume that I am a strongly independent and creative type, who maybe experiences some social anxiety, and that’s that.
But there’s more to it than just that.
I’ve never confirmed this, mostly because I don’t trust psych doctors enough to let them get close to me, but I strongly suspect that I have been experiencing episodes of depersonalization disorder (or something like it) for nearly my entire life.
I have always been a people watcher, an observer, even a wall flower – that’s normal. What isn’t normal is that sometimes I forget that I exist. I am a transparent eyeball observing the world but not actually part of it. And when confronted with a reminder that I do exist, I am at a total loss of how to interact with reality. Sometimes reality doesn’t even make sense to me. It’s like living in a bad trip, a semi-permanent k-hole experience, able to see and hear and think, but not even remotely able to figure out how to interact with or even properly acknowledge the reality around me. Like I’m on the other side of a foggy wall, or a great chasm that separates me from reality. It’s really hard to put into words.
And even when I am cognizant of myself as a human being who exists, I don’t always know how to express myself in ways that are understandable. When someone asks me how I’m feeling, telling them that I am filled with glitter in 17 shades of pink and grey doesn’t really translate into something they’re going to understand. And making obscure analogies is what I’m capable of on good days; other times I’ll simply freeze up and have no idea how to express myself. It all makes sense in my head, abstract colors, snippets of music, flashes of different images, memories, associations, but heaven help me if I’m forced to actually verbalize my interior landscape in something that another person can understand.
I’ve gotten a lot of compliments that I am very well written (thank you), and while on the surface I attribute it to being raised in a very literary household, one of the primary reasons I put so much effort to writing is because it allows me to maintain a handle on reality, to express the myriad of emotions I experience, to connect that which I observe back to those around me, to share even just a taste of the phantasmagoria that is my inner landscape. Speak to me, in person, in real-time, and my ability to represent my perspective will often falter. Give me a couple hours to compose a blog post and I can give you more insight than I probably even realized I could express. Allow me the space and time, free from the pressure of immediate interaction, to truly dig into my lexicon and my observer’s insight will reward me with the ability to very deeply empathize and relate. Through my writing, I practice self-expression that people can understand, and I try to carry those skills of self-expression over into my face to face interactions; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
And when it doesn’t work, when I am at loss of how to express, how to interact, how to even just be a human, it’s easier to retreat, fade away into the background, to ignore other’s attempts to connect until I can regain a sense of reality and self. Our modern age of technology makes this so, so very easy. When I don’t know how to acknowledge reality, I simply don’t. I ignore your texts and messages, I stay away from social media, I say “oh, I was in a bad reception area” – which isn’t totally a lie, but the reception I’m referring to has nothing to do with my phone. And in social situations, I find ways to seclude myself in a crowd; I lose myself in dancing, I respond to conversation only in smiles and giggles, sometimes I even lock myself in a bathroom and stare at the stranger in the mirror until I recognize her again. The persona most of you know me as, this enigmatic fairy who thinks it’s hilarious to defy expectations, she’s a character I invented so that I could remember how to interact with reality. She’s still me of course, ever piece of art we create is a self-portrait, but there are moments when I need to be socially “normal” and can’t figure it out, so I fall back on “what does Luna the Fairy do?”.
It’s not always a bad thing, feeling dissociated from reality, there is a lot of peace to be found in forgetting you exist and simply floating through. But sometimes it’s lonely, or leads to misunderstandings. How do you explain feeling disconnected when you can’t establish a connection? This post in itself is not only the product of 3 days of writing, it’s the product of more than 20 years of trying to understand and find the words. And I’m still not convinced I’ve managed to do it well. But I love my friends and family, and I felt like I had to try. It’s what the fairy in me would do.