When I got the cancer diagnosis, with the shock of it I sort of separated from my body. It is protective, to not be too “in” your body when terrible things are happening to it.
It is called dissociation, and it is very very common with trauma; but it is a psychological tool that people employ in all sorts of difficult situations, even to alleviate boredom or stress. It happens so quickly and unconsciously that I’m almost never aware that I’ve stepped away until afterwards.
So while I was in the mammogram office I was about 3 feet away from myself, watching the doctor stick the biopsy needles into my breast. I heard her voice as if I were underwater. And, of course, that was just the FIRST of numerous invasions and tortures, so I’ve become very excellent at dissociating. In fact, I now have a difficult time being truly present in my body, particularly if anything emotional is happening. I’d say most of the time I’m about 4″ away from myself.
The trouble is, being outside of myself also means that I don’t fully experience joy, or love, or intimacy. This 4″ -away- life is not what I stayed here for, not why I went through cancer treatment and worked so hard to create my second life for. With the help of an experienced professional, this is my work right now – to get back to myself.