Wild Minds Network

Where wild minds come to rest

For awhile I didn't think about why I daydream so much. It didn't occur to me to wonder because I thought that everyone did it. Then, I slowly began to realize that not everyone, in fact only one other person I know, daydreams in the excess that I do. At that point, I began to wonder why it is the case that I do. I haven't suffered any extensive trauma in my life, per say (I'll get back to this). There has been trauma, as there is in any life, but I've never been abused my parents or damaged to any notable degree. I only recently realized that I daydream because I'm almost incapable of emotional connection to other people--and this scares me a lot.

This realization came a few days ago, actually, and was cemented nicely by a quotation from the "Official Maladaptive Daydreaming Anatomy Report" that says the following: "For others, it wasn’t necessarily a traumatic experience, but rather a lack of control in their environment that made them want to create something that they could control" . This very much speaks to me. The moment that it kind of hit me that I daydream in order to separate myself from emotions/situations that I can't control came when a friend of my family told me a distressing story; her daughter has two children that are being taken away from the family and put in child care due to the mother's neglect (our family friend, the grandmother, is realistically unable to care for the children, as much as it breaks her to admit that). She was telling me that the children's mother has disappeared on a drug binge again. The young son (I think he's about a year old) keeps looking down the hall to his mother's empty bedroom saying, "Mama? Mama?" because he doesn't understand where she is. This broke my heart, but I realized how quickly I thew that feeling into a part of my mind to separate it from reality. I didn't allow myself to fully explore the pain of that because I put it into a safe place that doesn't require entire emotional adhesion. That's when the purpose of my daydreaming (only in part, there are certainly other reasons that I won't explore here) hit me. 

It's kind of weird that I didn't realize this earlier, but I'm only fully exploring it now. My daydreams allow me to repress uncomfortable emotional experiences and project them into safe areas. Any distress, anger, or pain I feel gets muted (not wholly, but significantly) within the concaves of my mind. So does any love, empathy, and general human bonding. I have a really, really difficult time feeling personal connections to people. It affects every aspect of my life. I have a few friends, but I generally feel distant from them (especially the emotional ones). It's rare that I feel I can fully engage with them. When they're going through difficult times, I'm known as the person who will listen. They think I'm a good listener. It's only because I have absolutely no clue how to comfort someone -- partly because I'm a very private person, so I don't understand people who share grief-- but also because I don't allow myself to go that extra step and bond with them in any real degree. This extends to my family. I love my family.... but I can't tell them that. I can't bring myself to reach that point of emotional vulnerability; it literally terrifies me. I can't have a personal conversation, even with my family, for extended periods of time without something in my brain yelling (Run! Get out).  I don't know what to do; I HAVE to overcome this.

I think I know when this started, but it's hard to say. I hope I don't sound awful, but I'm going to say things as honestly as I feel them. When I was entering into my teenaged years, my sister almost died. My sister is extremely disabled; she is unable to walk or talk, and I don't know how conscious she is of things. It's always been known that she wouldn't survive any of her siblings, and probably not even our parents. Still, knowing something and experiencing it are entirely different. I don't remember exactly how old I was, but it was definitely at a transition time of my life ( I believe I was in grade 9, but my school years have always been funky, so it's not definitive for how old I was). She ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital for six weeks. It was really hard on my family, especially my Mom. We got out of it, and about 6-7 years later my sister is in pretty good health, considering her condition. I wonder, though, if this is where the emotional repression started. I certainly daydreamed prior, I remember that, but I had a whole surge of confusing emotions at that time. I was homeschooled, so I felt a pretty big brunt of the effects on my family. I remember visiting the hospital a lot.. but here's the thing.. I always remember feeling guilty--like I was faking being upset. Granted, I'm not as close to her as I am to my other sisters; the situation makes it hard. But I remember feeling .. like I should be upset, more upset than I was, and so acting in ways that I felt appropriate.. I wonder if I just repressed all the emotional trauma that I was experiencing around me so as to deal with it. As that quotation said, "a lack of control in their environment that made them want to create something that they could control". I hate being at the mercy of a situation, emotionally. I think I bend, twist, and contort it to make it more manageable. I'm not sure if that makes sense.. I just have a feeling that for a long time my emotions have felt contrived. I feel like I force myself to feel the way I should, yet always knowing that I am in some way faking.. I'm not sure if this is making sense, and now it's rambling...as I said though, I need to overcome my emotional distance. I want to bond with people.

It should be noted, I don't want to abandon daydreaming all together. I love it. I love my characters. I love the story I've contrived. I just want to be able to emotionally connect with my real life, my real people, and my reality. I've become so removed from that part of my Self and I can't figure out how to realign the pieces. .. . 

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Tags: bonding, confused, daydreaming, emotions, trauma

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Comment by MatthewR on December 2, 2013 at 1:56pm

@ Iris, I have never thought of it like this:

"It was not my goal to stop it, but to be vulnerable."

This changes everything. So many people want to stop daydreaming, but maybe it isn't the daydreaming at all, which is really more like a symptom. If your goal is to be vulnerable - to be genuine, or to be emotionally in the present - then you may have greater success in managing your MDD. I've never thought of it from this angle before. Thank you for this!

Comment by Iris on December 2, 2013 at 9:23am

Hello Antigone, welcome to this site,
I'm glad you wrote this. You described this problem with our emotions so well. We want to protect us - with the result, that we don't have strong feelings in our real lives. Many things you wrote reminded me of myself, seeming to be a good listener and others. I'm not able to write so well, not in English and not even in my language.
Some years ago, I managed to stop daydreaming for about 8 months. It was not my goal to stop it, but to be vulnerable. During this time I had emotions so deep, I never had before. I was facing my fear and was even happy to be sad, BECAUSE I WAS FEELING IT. The positive side-effect was, that I didn't need to daydream any more. I thought I had overcome it, but a big fight with my mother threw me back into my refuge of my dreamland. So far I couldn't stop daydreaming for good.
Unlike you, I really wish to stop it and to concentrate on my life. For your information: I'm 48 years old and live with my husband and I have children.

Comment by Amanda Lewone on December 2, 2013 at 7:56am

Hey. I can relate to the whole faking emotions thing. 

I also have difficulty making connections with people. I think this is big part of why I created my own world. 

@ Matthew, this sums it up well: 

“It’s like an entire side of me is bound up in fantasy”

Comment by Antigone on December 2, 2013 at 12:59am

Yeah, I have people tell me that I'm very hard to read because my face/tone tend to not give anything away; I think it's because I take a long time to process what's going on before allowing myself to interact with it. 

I absolutely get that. If I'm doing housework, I have to make sure no one is in the house because I'll talk to myself and become very emotionally captivated in what's going on. Occasionally when I'm really stressed, I'll daydream in my room and become really wrapped up in it; I hesitate to say "dangerously" so, but that's sort of true. I don't want to make anything melodramatic, but I find that I can become very involved to the point that I sort of lose myself for a few clicks, and really have to focus on something else to pull myself back out. There's a few other things that contribute to when it gets that bad (hormones and the like), but I think it's sometimes just everything that I have bottled up manifesting in a rush. 

Comment by MatthewR on December 1, 2013 at 10:18pm

There are times when i feel i must fake my way through social interactions. I don't feel emotion in the present, and sometimes I think I should be much more responsive than what i am. What you say really resonates with me. I don't know if you are the same way, but I know I can experience intense emotion in my daydreams. I can laugh, cry, get angry - but the important point is that I am in control of it at all times. It's like an entire side of me is bound up in fantasy, and I'm not entirely sure I know how to bring it back.

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