Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the wordless one

Since we don't live near our families, we travel.  I love to travel.  I can't imagine a trip that I wouldn't enjoy.  But I hate to fly.  Mainly because it's a huge migraine trigger.  Get on a plane, get off with a migraine. I could tell stories here, because travel migraines often involve losing one's lunch.  But I'll spare you.  And then there's the whole dislocation thing, too-- I'm out of my usual place.  and worry about missing flights or lost luggage or misplacing a kid.  Just little things, you know.

So I get stressed before we travel.  And I'm a little OCD, as we've discussed before, so I'm a stickler for everything being packed Just. So. I mean: JUST. SO.  If you're feeling pity for my poor beleaguered spouse right now, you're right.  He has learned to just go to bed and let me do my thing.  It is taking me a really long time to get to the point here.

So once when I was probably in my early 30s, I was lying awake before we had an early flight in the morning and I could not go to sleep.  It kept getting later and later, 2:30, 3:00, and I was just lying there wide awake.  I tried all my insomnia tricks-- muscle relaxation, getting up for a bit and going back to bed, clearing my mind, meditation-- but nothing was working.  And I finally realized that what it felt like was that there was some other part of me, some part of me that had control of my physical body but that I had no conscious control of.  That part of me was terrified.  Terrified I would oversleep and miss the flight, terrified of flying, terrified of getting a migraine, terrified of being out of her comfort zone.  She was lying there, completely panicked, and there just wasn't much I could do about it.

I've come to know her a little better over the years.  I call her the wordless one.  She's almost like an animal, a small-ish beast.  I can't control her.  I can't make her do something she doesn't want to do.  She shows up most often when she/I am scared.  I'm afraid of heights, so that's one pretty reliable way of bringing her out.  My conscious brain isn't afraid of heights:  I can look up at the roof of the house and I'm quite sure it's not going to bother me.  but then I get up the ladder and look down and suddenly there she is--the wordless one.  She doesn't know how to say what she's feeling, but she is terrified, dizzy, vertiginous.

She comes out when I try to diet.  She absolutely refuses to diet.  I can manage OK if I work on healthy eating, or if I remind myself not to eat if I'm not hungry, but if I try to go on an actual, literal diet?  She is not having it.  I will suddenly find myself in front of the cabinet cramming food in my mouth, twice the amount of food I would normally eat without a diet.  There is no conscious thought behind it, no plan, it's like a compulsion.  The wordless one, my own internal beast.

I've also discovered recently that she comes into play when I'm trying to write.  She does not like the papers I've been working on for the last two weeks.  She doesn't want to participate.  I'm not sure what her role is when I'm writing, but it must be something important, because without her, I'm getting nowhere. 

The only thing that seems to help is acknowledging her presence.  I sit with her.  She doesn't speak.  I let her know she is important to me.  I'm not sure why, or how this works.  I just know if she's not happy, I'm not happy.  She wanted me to write this post.  I told you it was crazy. But I'm doing it, because I need her. 


  1. Not crazy at all. Many of us have a "wordless one", I certainly do, I just haven't ever had a name for her.

  2. I don't think it's crazy. I think it's very valuable insight into yourself. And you're honoring it.

  3. What a brilliant and inspired post! Wow, nailed it!

  4. OK, you guys got me on this one. ???? I promised the wordless one I'd leave it here for 24 hours, and all day I've been thinking, that is the dumbest post I've ever written, I'm deleting it right at 11:30. but here are no less than three comments. so I guess it stays.

    and while I'm here, could I just ask that you pray really really hard for my Jane Austen paper tomorrow. The other one is flying along, practically writing itself, but the JA paper is a trial.

  5. What happened to our other comments?!

  6. I like that you're being kind to her. :-) She's part of your, after all. And you want to be kind to yourself.