52) Motherfuckin’ Dissociation

I’m going to swear a bit here.  Well, a lot.  So, heads up.  

Why?  Why be so crass?

Well — You know when you stub your toe?  Or forget something and have to go back to your house for the third time that morning?  Or you realize you emailed the dirty-joke to your boss, instead of your friend? Or your most-feared politician wins the election?  Or you’re trying to start your snowmobile, and the dog just won’t stop barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking?  Or some dickhead cuts you off on the highway?  You know how, in those moments, you just wanna say something like FUCK!!!  Fuck me!!  Motherfucker!!  Fucking fuck!!  Or, something like that?

Well, that’s how my brain works anyway.

So, if you feel like criticizing this post for the excessive swearing, you can! Woo hoo!  I mean, as far as I’m concerned, you can do whatever you want, short of directly harming others.  Honestly, I don’t give a fuck.  If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Go do something better for you! 

Or, if you want to put it in perspective, go get a hammer, give it to someone who doesn’t like you, and tell them to smash every single one of your toes.  When they do, yell “Fluffy bunnies!  Peace!  Unicorns!  I love marshmallows!”  And see how satisfying that feels.  

Child abuse is worse.  Sexual abuse is worse too.  Period.  So if saying “motherfucker” a few times helps you say SOMETHING, rather than NOTHING, then go ahead.  Speak your motherfucking truth! 

When I grew up, swearing was awesome. I mean, adults weren’t too cool with it (although, the fucking hypocrites, they did it all the time).  But yeah, kids?  Swearing?  No fucking way!  That’s terrible!

But as a kid?  Swearing was THE SHIT.  It meant you were bad-ass.  It meant that you weren’t scared of that soap bar going in your mouth.  You were tough.  You knew how to say words like Fuck.  Ni!!  Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing!!

I had a “swearing gang” in grade 1.  Seriously.  I ain’t shitting you. I didn’t live in a place that had real gangs, so by no means am I making light of what that experience must be like. For us, trying to be bad-ass meant that me and another grade 1 kid had a little gang under us, about 4 little kindergarteners.  And when the recess bell rang, we would express our displeasure at having our freedom curtailed, by running around yelling “Fuck!  Shit!  Bitch!  Cock!”  Or something like that.  I don’t think we knew the REEEALLY juicy swear words at that point.  So, we’ll keep those ones out of this post.  Cuz, fuck, you, know, I don’t want to make this offensive or anything.   



So let’s talk about dissociation.

What the hell IS dissociation?  It sounds all mysterious and “craaaazy”, doesn’t it?  I imagine a lot of people, when they hear “dissociation,” think one of three things

  1. People in the middle of a traumatic experience, like a car crash or torture or getting sexually assaulted, or some crazy fucking shit like that, and they “leave” their bodies and look down on themselves from somewhere 10’ above.  Like they’re a fucking ghost or something.  And yes, that totally happens. It’s well documented. And that’s dissociation, sometimes. 
  2. People with multiple personalities.  Like Tyler Durden.  (Ooops, spoiler alert.  Although seriously, if you never watched Fight Club, then man, what the fuck have been doing all this time?).  You know, people who blank out of their “normal” mind and go into some other “personality” and totally lose themselves?   Or maybe they’re all “Three Faces of Eve” and it’s hard to even say for sure what their “normal” personality is.  ….And yeah, sure, sometimes that’s dissociation too.  Although to be honest, personally speaking, I have a harder time wrapping my head around that.  Not that I don’t believe it.  I just don’t have personal experience with that kind of thing.   But, I’ve read about a lot of cases. So, okay!   
  3. People who are bullshitting.  People who are like “Dude, I’m sorry I didn’t pay my bills, wash my underwear, return your text, leave my apartment for the past 2 months, or whatever the fuck I didn’t do that you’re pissed at me about, but I was dissociating.”  You might think of Breaking Bad, and the dude (another spoiler alert), walking into that store all naked and shit, pretending to be in a fugue state.  Where am I?  What the fuck?  Wow maaaan, I’m dissociating!

— And you know, this is a tough one to respond to.  Because, CAN you fake dissociation?  Of course you can!!  You can fake practically anything.  Just ask a woman if she’s ever faked an orgasm and the dude thought he was a great lover.  Ask an actor.  Ask the guy, or girl, who’s taking their marriage vows while also having an affair.  Ask the Priest who preaches the word of “God” but then abuses children, nevertheless convincing everyone that he is Good and Holy.  Ask ANY police officer, or lawyer, or judge, or student caught cheating, or person signing up to Ashley Madison — ask them if they believe that someone can lie to your face and seem totally sincere.

But “faker” should NEVER be the first conclusion you jump to.  You can fake having been raped too.  But, unless it’s REALLY clear the person is lying, you gotta believe them.  Cuz a lot of people get raped, and if we develop the general tendency to not believe the terrible things people say they have experienced, we re-victimize a lot of people who have already been deeply harmed.  And we let a lot of perpetrators off the hook.  So please, even if you don’t personally ‘get it’, don’t write off dissociation as a bunch of bullshit.  We live in a world of the traumatized and ‘mentally ill,’ and dissociation is at the CORE of that.  So, no.  Start with believing people.  See where that takes you first.

So here’s where I tell you my take on dissociation. If you care.  And I’m gonna bet that you do.  Because you just sat through a whole lot of fucks and other vulgarity (which I really appreciate by the way).  So you must care about this shit.  Or, logically speaking, you don’t give a rat’s ass how you spend your time.  

I don’t really know what dissociation is.  Sorry.  There’s a fucking let-down eh?

But I DO know what dissociation is!  (Woohoo!  Saved!)  At least for me.  And man, have I ever experienced some weird dissociation.  It all started….oh wow…. I can’t tell you that.  Not on a blog!  I might not even know you!  It’s a little too personal.  Let me give you the Quick and Dirty version instead.

When I was a kid, some really fucked up shit happened.  There were different stages.  Three in particular.  Stage 1 was sexual-physical fucked up shit.  Thank god it ‘only’ went on for a handful of months.  But still.  That’s fucked up.  Stage 2 was emotional fucked up shit.  It went on for way longer, quite a few years.  Stage 3 was the fucked up consequences, for maybe ….oh……I don’t know…..decades?  And counting?

So that’s my story.  In a nutshell.  

I dealt with all this fucked up shit in all sorts of fucked up ways.  

First, I believed wholeheartedly in God, and ran around trying to save people’s souls.  Now, no offence to you if you think that’s cool.  But personally, for me, that’s fucked up.

Then there was drinking and partying and ….you know….all that.  If you had asked me, say on any given day in high school, how I was doing, I would likely have told you that I was having the time of my life.  Except for, you know, all those times when nobody was around and there weren’t any parties happening, and I was busy cutting on myself or standing on the edge of the train bridge in the middle of the night looking down and wondering whether Nature would notice if I jumped and killed myself, or writing suicide fantasies and handing them in as “creative writing assignments.”  Or driving 160 down the highway on my motorcycle, like it was a video game, not actually ‘realizing’ that there were real human beings in those cars who gave a shit about their lives and maybe I shouldn’t be screaming past them like some psychotic asshole….

In high school, I brought beer, or rum, in my schoolbag, and drank it at lunch.  Not uncommonly.  Or skipped a class, or two, or a day, to do the same.  I usually didn’t skip actual tests or exams, but on more than one occasion was so intoxicated writing them that I would lay my head on the desk and wonder why I was so stupid to have done that.  If I was too drunk to face the parents, I wouldn’t go home.  You can always sleep in the woods.  Or on a bench.  Or in a bathroom.  Or in a parked car that left the doors unlocked.  (Ahhh, the halcyon days before car alarms….sigh….).  

I didn’t really understand drinking.  I mean, I thought I did.  “Drinking” = “partying.”  Which in turn, equals spending as much money as you have to get totally, black-out wrecked.  I had a sweet, green canvas school bag that could hold an entire two-four, or a 12-pack, 26-er, and 2-Litre bottle of coke.  And off I’d go to whatever was happening that night.  And, the purpose of it all?  Simple!  The purpose of drinking is to see how much alcohol you can consume, and how much stupid shit you can do that you’ll laugh about later at school, before you black out in some random place.  

….Me, I had complete blackouts everywhere.  The English teacher’s kitchen.  Tim Horton’s bathroom (Thanks Kelley, for getting me out of there before the police showed up.).  Some bar in Oshawa I can’t remember’s bathroom.  A field.  Spin Out.  The beach.  Probably every friend’s car, and house.  A picnic table.  The mall.  The mall parking lot.  The back of my Thunderbird.  The front seat of my Thunderbird.  My senior citizen neighbour’s house.  Somebody’s shed.  A plane.  A toilet stall.  The parking lot of the Comfort Inn.  A snowmobile trail. A telephone booth. Some guy’s car in a parking lot that I thought was my friend Mark’s garage.  The hood of a car.  The trunk of a car.  A trailer. A tent.  The side of Whites Falls Road.  The side of Highway 60, near Whitney somewhere.  A cemetery.   The back of a convenience store.  A forklift.  A deck.  The bottom of a ditch with my motorbike on top of me.  Jail.  Um…..I’m sure there’s some more if I think about it for a bit.  

So yeah, I did some stuff like that.  A bit.  You know.  Doesn’t everybody? 

AND THEN — you know what happened?  I got my shit together, sort of!!  Amazing eh?  Seriously.  Yay me.  I went to grad school, got a Ph.D., got a sweet job, got married, had some kids that I fell absolutely in love with.  And thought I was the luckiest fucking dude in the world.  

But, here’s the thing about Dissociation.

If you have trauma, and you don’t deal with it, you are like a powder keg, just waiting for some bad shit to come along and fuck you up.  And then, even if you’ve been healthy for a while, even years, dissociation can rear its ugly head and totally, totally fuck with you.  And when it fucks with you, it fucks with all the other people in your life too.  It’s totally shitty.  And worth avoiding like the plague, if you can figure out how to do that.  

So that’s what I want to talk about here.  Not the really fucked up shit that happens to people when they’re in severe, acute crisis.  Maybe we’ll talk about that some other time.  But here, I want to talk about the more subtly fucked things that happen to you when you’re “functional” and living a normal life, and then BOOM, fucked up shit happens and your previously-traumatized biology kicks your ass and you spiral out of control before you even realize it.  

There are two reasons why I want to tell you about this:

  1. Because it’s avoidable.  If you can see it happening, you can take steps to prevent it.
  2. Because it’s avoidable.  If other people see it happening in you, they can take steps to prevent it.  

If we, as a society, get better at recognizing the signs of trauma-based dissociation — both the “severe” kinds and the more “subtle” kinds, AND if we get more skilled at intervening in our own or other people’s lives, we can prevent A LOT of fucked up shit that otherwise is going to happen, and left unchecked, will wreck lives, wreck careers, wreck relationships, wreck health, wreck finances and flush a lot of years down the toilet that could have been spent having, you know, a WAY better life.  


That’s what I’m going to talk about in the next post — What dissociation can feel like.  How it can grab ahold of a person and spiral them into “the dark”.  And how other people tend to react to it in ways that just make it worse. 

I believe that inside every one us is a bad-ass motherfucker, just waiting to bust out and live our passion, and let our freak flag fly, and be awesome, and the world is your oyster, and all that awesome shit.  But, so many people today — literally millions and millions and millions — are preventing themselves from doing so.  Or more accurately, the fucked-up shit in their biology — their mind and body — AND the intolerance, judgement, misunderstanding and apathy that is endemic in the institutions that govern our lives, are preventing people from being all that they could be.  

Instead, people suffer in the dark.  And THAT should offend us. Should piss us off.  Should break our hearts.  And should compel us to speak out.


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