Planning for the future is hard for survivors. In many cases, we spent a childhood seriously questioning our ability to live to the next day, year or decade. The end always seemed to be right around the corner. In reality, it might not have been, but it felt like it. We may have even wished it was.
I am no different in this regard, although I was unaware of it for quite some time. While I have a part that doesn’t see a future, I also have a planner perfectionist part who always overrode anything else. She was in charge for all the big future-oriented events. She saved the money. She bought and decorated the houses. She planned the vacations. She made sure everything was in perfect order all the time. She pushed through the exhaustion, the flashbacks, the emotional swings and any hints of the truth. She was a direct replica of my mother in that she internalized all the survival mechanisms that were employed by my parents. The most important mechanism was the mask of perfection.
It wasn’t until I started to override her (which caused quite an internal war) that I began to notice the other parts. And one such part was holding all the futility, all the resistance to the future. For a while, I wished I could push that part back where she came from. Based on my willful default personality type, I wanted nothing to do with futility. But I knew that pushing this aspect of self back in to the shadows would do nothing but make it more prominent in my life. Of course, while working through the pain, it is certainly prominent, but I know it will be temporary.
And with this work, comes blind spots. I believe they are mainly caused by my keenly-honed dissociation. But often I do not see the full effect of my parts until they are starting to integrate. This past weekend, I came to a realization that I have spent the summer in full “no future” mode. While living in a non-sustainable way was already smacking me in my face, there were other impacts.
I moved this summer while in full futility mode. It wasn’t because I wanted to move, but circumstances were forcing the move. I wasn’t so sure about the new house despite my kids being in favor of it. But once I got through the move and opened the most important boxes, the unpacking seemed to take forever. I was practically living in a warehouse and I used the excuse that I was too busy to get through it. The old willful me would have completed the unpacking within 48 hours of the move. That is just how I operated. I needed perfection and I was willing to push for it no matter the exhaustion.
Even though I eventually got through the boxes (sort of), I never hung a single picture on the walls. They remained bare for two and a half months until this weekend when I woke up with a jolt. It occurred to me that I wasn’t planning on staying here because I wasn’t planning on having a future. The futility of hanging pictures on my walls when I had no future had stopped me in my tracks. The perfectionist had been overridden and I was just now becoming aware of it.
While embodying futility is my worst nightmare, waking up from it is almost worse. It is as though I have been away in an unconscious state for ages. And I guess I have. And while I attempt to gain some level of love for this life on the other side of this experience, I can feel the push and pull of the old and the new. I can feel the futility fighting for its rightful place in the pecking order of my influential perspectives. But I can’t help but say no. It doesn’t belong here anymore. While there is evidence for its existence, that evidence is old and marred with a child-like interpretation of a past reality.
So I must find a new interpretation of my past, an adult interpretation which discerns the reality of the people who were influencing my perspective as a child, teenager and young adult. I must interpret my past based on what I know now. I live in a different world now. That is largely because I have made it so. And I can continue down the path of making my life what I want.
I can live in a comfortable house. I can make enough money doing what I love. I can be patient and loving to my kids. I can have a loving family. I can have inner peace.
And nobody can tell me that is not possible.
I know better now.