“I’ll Follow You Into The Dark…”

West Coast Vacation 599In Personality, the class that makes me want to delve ever deeper into myself, and rip my eyeballs out a the same time, we’re talking about child development. Child development of the personality. Most people don’t think kids have personality. Well, Miss Margaret Mahler thought even infants had a subconscious personality brooding in that tiny, cherubic little head. She outlined stages, which is what we talked about today. And I, of course, left feeling like I was going to cry enough to solve the drought problem in Brazil. One of the last things we covered was “emotional refueling.” Everyone knows what this is, she just gave it a name. It’s when kids that just learned to walk are exploring the world, running all over the place to check things out, fall down, get back up and shriek their way somewhere else. They come back to their caregivers for some love, some recognition that they’re still there, still tethered to existence, to Earth, and the caregiver responds with a pat on the head, a smile, a nod, anything, and off they go again. For some reason, my fritzy, spritzy brain doesn’t like to remember things before Thomas was born. I don’t know if it’s because that was a “trauma” in my life and so it’s repressed or what. Hell, maybe I’m analyzing too deep and none of that stuff is just that important that’s worth remembering. But a lot of people, in fact, almost everyone, I talk to seems to remember little insignificant things about life prior to the age of 5 or 6. I can’t remember most things before the age of 8. I know most people remember things because it’s implanted or built around pictures they’ve seen and accounts they’ve heard from other people but still, I’m pretty foggy on most of the details. There isn’t much of it there. It’s kind of freaky. But Thomas’s life, I can remember with glaring detail. Which is my roundabout point with Mahler’s “emotional refueling.” When we were younger, Thomas and I had this game. He would speed off, shrieking and teetering like any little kid. I would run off behind him, eventually getting in front of him and yell “Stop! In the name of the law!” He thought it was the funniest thing in the universe. He would giggle and shriek uncontrollably, dare to run around me and speed off again, teetering past me. I would huff and roll my shoulders dramatically as I chased after him, only to do it again a few feet down the sidewalk. This was how we walked…everywhere. Our parents could be yards down the sidewalk. If I knew our final destination, this is how I walked with Thomas. I would “steer” him by playing this game with him. Now, with everything that’s going on at home at this current time (oh my God, I think I am going to cry), hearing all of this stuff about development and how a child is affected by the relationships they form, even at this age (Mahler talked about people from 1 month-14 months. Dude.), I’m not thinking about myself, for once in my fucking life. Let me back up and explain the steps that led to this…

I had to run to Jackie’s house unexpectedly on Sunday morning because I was so overwhelmed with news Thomas had told me nonchalantly in the car just a few minutes beforehand. I dropped him at home (he was here for the weekend) and raced over there. He had confessed to me that he had hit himself last weekend after a tense social situation at school. He’s really feeling the pressure that my parents, society, just, everyone puts on him all the time, and when a friend didn’t come through to study with him, he cracked. He started punching himself to the point that he had bruises that were still there this past weekend. My parents knew about this. Last weekend. I was the last to know, and I’m not quite sure he was going to tell me in the first place. But, what really concerns me is that fact that my little brother is self-harming. Jackie pointed out that he would probably get help much faster than I did because he’s paid attention to, and not taken for granted as badly as I am in my house (she has no problem pointing that out, though it usually pains me to do so.) She also pointed out that even though I seemingly raised Thomas, it’s a normal reaction to college and that sort of pressure. He didn’t cut. He didn’t do drugs or binge-drink or try to jump off a bridge. And he doesn’t let out his frustrations any other way so really it was almost, sorta, kinda to be expected. I feel though, like that little boy that used to run and shriek and giggle when I would run in front of him, is gone, and I’ve failed him. I have massively and utterly failed Thomas as a parent, a sister, a mentor, any other word you could possibly use to describe an older sibling. He’s not supposed to become me. I’m not supposed to become my parents. I’m not supposed to respond with cold analysis, and no answers. I’m supposed to be able to have support and unconditional love for him. And I do, oh, I fucking do. That boy is so perfect. But, I can’t change the world. He knows that. I know that. The world knows that. And still, I can’t help. When I was in this same situation, and my parents reacted this way, I turned further inward. I got worse, so, so much. And even though I know what’s going on, I can’t help. I can’t do anything. He’s slipping into that same, tarry, darkness and all I can do is watch and cover my ears as he cries for help.

 

“I’m Bad Behavior But I Do It In The Best Way”

Left- Dad (superego) Middle- Me (id) Right- Mom (ego)

Left- Dad (superego)
Middle- Me (id)
Right- Mom (ego)

Not even going to degrade you with apologies about how long it has been. I’m waiting for Behavioral Statistics to start…in another hour and a half. But that’s fine with me. This has become my routine and I like it that way. I’m left alone in this classroom for stretches at a time, and I can do what I please, for the most part. But that’s not what has drawn me back to these digital pages. That isn’t what has brought me back to the gentle clicking of the keys as I bang out what I’m dying to say. Nay, what has brought me back is a bit darker. I’m taking a personality class for my major in the 8 o’clock hour (yes, if you are paying attention, that’s the hour just before this one) and as it is supposed to do, it is getting to me. We’re analyzing Freud but, before you misjudge, Freud was given a very bad reputation by school systems at large. He is not some weird pervert who just likes to talk about sex all day. There was a point to it all that seems to always be glossed over when you cover him in Psych 101, or go through history books. Anyway, today we discussed Dr. Sigmund’s Structural Model of the Mind. For those of you not familiar, that’s the id/ego/superego version of human psychology. Brief rundown: id is the instinctual, pleasure-seeker in all of us that simply wants to do, ego is the rational, logical one that follows the rules and drones on like a good, little human being, and superego is the conscientious, guilt-ridden, devout one that never slips from their moral path. Alright, so as this conversation is going in class, we’re rolling through these, and I’m getting a bit freaked. We get to the superego (the pious one) and my teacher breaks out this continuum. Down at one end is the id, that’s where all the pleasure-seekers are. Think Sherlock, the Benedict Cumberbatch version, he says. At the other end, is the superego, patients who are so locked into what is right and wrong that even ending their own lives becomes an issue of morality instead of what they want to do. My classmates are all scrambling to write this down, as I am, but in the back of my mind, I can see myself, casually riding one of those little red tricycles up and down this continuum like it’s meant just for me. Perfectionism at an extreme, he interrupts my thoughts for a moment and locks eyes with me. Superego is regulated by the ego, reasoning and logic, but if that sort of reality base is skewed, this can effect both the regulation of the id and the superego. A shiver literally went down my spine. And like I was being pulled backwards through open doors, I was running through all of my stays in the hospital, every therapy appointment, every failed psychiatrist appointment. My teacher told us this was what the class was meant to do. It was meant to stimulate our brains (duh, that’s what the whole purpose of college is) and make us take a good, long look in the mirror. But that’s all I ever seem to do. The image staring back at me is forever changing. It’s like instead of a mirror, I’m staring in a pool of water that is being stampeded through by a herd of rhinos. It doesn’t matter what I do to see myself, the image isn’t clear. For a while I was managing my symptoms, things were going okay. But after that last class? I feel like my skull has been cracked open, and someone is staring at me naked, while I cower in a corner of my own brain. Hold on, I don’t feel like I’m being clear in what the problem is. Imagine 2 children standing on either side of a parent. The child on the left is id, the child on the right is superego and the parent in the middle is ego. That is how a normalized model would be. That is what Dr. Freud would call a “healthy” individual. Now, my issue, my reasoning for freaking the fuck out right now is that when my teacher started opening this can o’ worms is that instead of having everything nice and even like that, and taking my id and superego to the park to kick each other in the sand like normal kids, I’m not doing that. My model is more like: id is the child on the left, ego is the child on the right and superego is the parent in the middle. And they are constantly shuffling. When I was friends with Mara, the single parent was the id, and most of the time, her two kids were trailing far behind. I know with things like this, nothing is set in stone, and people are forever changing and adapting. But with superego in charge of two rambunctious kids, well one that is more closely related to a sociopath (id) and one that is probably closer to an actual human being (ego), how am I supposed to function? Superego cannot please everyone, and even that goes against its every principles. Principality cannot run a kingdom, or rule a nation. It cannot govern a state, or much less, a person’s life. I’ve tried it this way and it got me nowhere so why would it work now? I’m confused and I’m scared. And I felt like my professor knew that. Like a shark, he could smell blood in the water. Maybe he’s just that good at what he does. I don’t know. His eyes locked on mine and I felt like he was piercing through me, reading my thoughts. I endured the class, stayed the length of the hour, but regardless, I feel as though my superego has been exposed. Does that mean I should find a phone booth and change, tell the world who I really am? Or should I just run up and ice him because he knows too much? Comic books run on id/superego logic and well, we all know that works out in real life. Because it doesn’t.