I would like to begin by mentioning my credentials as a fellow dissosiate. I have been dissociating for as long as I can remember. I would play with toys to show my parents, but underneath, I would be pretending to live some other life. At first, I felt enigmatic. I felt like I had the magical power to take myself on a journey wherever I could. I was building this labyrinth-like maze around me. I found a refuge deep within the walls of this intricate labyrinth and lost myself in the complicated maze from the chaos and confusion around me. It became my sanctuary, a place where I could retreat and find solace in the midst of overwhelming emotions or external pressures. The more I dissociated, the more elaborate and intricate my labyrinth grew. Each twist and turn represented a coping mechanism, a defence mechanism that shielded me from the harsh realities I struggled to comprehend.
But as I grow older, I realise that my labyrinth, while once a source of comfort, has become a barrier that isolates me from genuine connections and authentic experiences. It was as if I had built an impenetrable fortress around myself, preventing others from truly seeing me and, in turn, impeding my ability to fully engage with the world around me. I touch my knee, and I feel a jolt within myself. Whose is it? I cannot recognise my face in the pictures. Who is she? Every time I wake up for sleep, I feel like I have been teleported into a completely different world. I feel as if I have forgotten my mother tongue. In the labyrinth of my mind, fragments of melodies linger, wisps of forgotten conversations that evoke a longing for a language I can no longer grasp. It is as if a veil has been cast, obscuring the words that once flowed effortlessly from my lips. The food feels foreign in my mouth. The taste of my mother's comforting meals, once a symphony of love and nourishment, now feels like a distant memory slipping through my fingers. The once-beloved dishes now seem distant, their flavours veiled in a thin shroud of unfamiliarity. I chew chilli peppers after chilli peppers and cry my eyes out, yet I feel no spice.
Now, I try to navigate my way out. It is not easy, as every wall and corridor has memories, emotions, and fears carved deep into them that I have tucked away. But, I think, the real hindrance is confronting the underlying causes of my dissociation—the wounds that led me to seek refuge in the labyrinth. It is hurtful. The core reason is hidden somewhere deep. And it is wrapped with layers and layers of woolgathering. It is painful as I try to navigate and unwrap. It feels like I am scraping off the rusty layers of derealized lives to give birth to my reality. Ever pulled out a dry tampon? Yeah, that's what this feels like. So uncomfortable. So difficult. Skin-wrenching. A completely unused life. But the conundrum is that even if I successfully pull it out, I can never reuse it, right? Think about it. I will spend months and years peeling off all these fake identities to embark upon a realisation pilgrimage—a quest to reconnect with the actualities that formed the foundation of my identity—only to find out I have no countable experiences in my real life as a contrast to my fantasies, where I have lived a wide range of characters, lives, and universes in my own metaverse. With each layer shed, I am forced to reckon with the profound absence of tangible experiences, genuine relationships, and a solid sense of self. The time spent lost in my dissociative metaverse has left me with a fragmented timeline, where the milestones of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood slip through my grasp like sand through clenched fists. While I find out this new fact, I will have lost time as well. With my childhood, teenhood, and half of the twentyhood already eschewed by psycheclipse, I will be left with an infant in an adult body who has lost a chunk of sentience.
I fall back into bed. Tired and wounded. I scrape off the rust and chip away at this oxidised facade, leaving reality in my palms. It looks like a weak, crying baby—red-faced, marked with spots of uncertainty and fragility. And I am a tired mother who is suddenly thrust into this duty to nurture and care for this fragile and broken soul, offering solace and comfort as she navigates the path of self-discovery and healing.