Call together the council of selves
I spend a lot of time in the past. It’s an analysis now, not pining or regret. I have a simple goal: I want to stop repeating mistakes. I can’t do that until I figure out why I needed to make those mistakes in the first place. What information or experience did I lack that made the mistake necessary?
I believe we become who we are much earlier than seems possible once we’re grown-ass adults. I started therapy because life got screwy in the present tense. We didn’t talk about my opinions of childhood, but at the time I would have said that who you are as a child is just the building block for who you become. I would have said that, and, if I had the chance to be alone in a room with that person, I would slap the stupid right out of his head.
My therapist and I worked on the most recent events first, then traced my decisions back to significant milestones. This process became familiar, so I could make better time. Outside of the office with the couch I traced those milestones back to their milestones, then still others before, until I came to the “this can’t be right” but mundane realization that I’m essentially the same person I was at age 4.
Adulthood has it’s upsides, but most of the things I work to extract, analyze, and forever archive are additions I made because something outside of me said I needed them. I have a good job now, a partner, a house, pets. My 4-year-old self couldn’t pull any of that off, but he also had to learn to want all of those things.
That kid wasn’t self-conscious. He didn’t want things like the adult I am wants things. The kid processed the world in a clear string of first impressions. Every new experience was either pleasing or displeasing, and he didn’t look up after eating something he hated and ask, “should I like this?”
“You do like this.”
“No, I really don’t like this and would rather not eat it.”
“You don’t want to eat it? That’s so crazy, because, you like it!”
“You’ve always liked it. Everyone likes it! You like it too.”
“Oh, okay. I like it? Let me keep eating until it doesn’t make me sick.”
“How could it make you sick? You’re so silly. You love it.”
I’m still in process with this stuff, but most days, of whatever the hell this phase is, has me leaning towards this belief: Most “adult” things are required but completely unnecessary. Adults think of those two words as synonyms, but not this adult anymore.
I love what I do to make money. I love my partner, my house, my dogs. But something is undeniably missing from me. Me. Essential parts of him anyway. That 4-year-old knew who he was, knew who we are, and we are not fully restored to a single entity.
The 4-year-old is a fried egg and I’m a gut-busting, 10-egg omelette with 10 ingredients I like, 10 I definitely don’t, and an undetermined number I can’t yet identify. He is made up of less, but he is ultimately more because he is complete. He has not yet learned shame. He hasn’t taught himself to want things, not for their intrinsic properties, but because others have them and tell him how essential they are for everyone.
Let’s put a pin in that. I have to clock into work.