I’m on a train this morning. I love the train. I have always thought I would take one of those cross-country train trips one day.
I feel calm on the train. My parts seem happy on the train. I can write well. Some of my best blog posts have been written on trains. This morning, my over-thinking tendencies have led me to contemplate why. And I have realized that being on a train makes me feel separate from the distracted and rushed life of the collective controller. It is as if the stress is happening out there and I am speeding through it. It feels like I am protected from the chaos because it happens “out there”. On the train, those problems don’t exist.
Of course, that isn’t true. American trains aren’t known for their timeliness and their unreliability can cause me all sorts of anxiety. And no matter what I do while on the train, life is still happening and waiting for me to acknowledge it. But it still feels like a mini-vacation. When we have trauma, we are always looking for a way to disconnect. But the controller is always finding a way to stay hyper-vigilant. Let’s face it. That’s exhausting. Somehow on a train, my controller takes a break for a few minutes. They calm down. And I love it.
It feels especially nice these days as my controller and goddess have been battling it out. My controller has been extra fearful lately. They are terrified of their own annihilation. And they are terrified of what will happen to the system if they cease to exist. No matter how much I tell the controller they aren’t going anywhere, this fear won’t quit. To the controller, life exists because of hyper-vigilance. The minute we step down from Defcon 1, we die. The minute we have faith that life will support us, life is over. The minute we consider the possibility that we can’t control everything, we can’t control anything. We become a sitting duck. Life will swallow us whole. The strong survive because they have found the magic formula that keeps all the bad things at bay.
But I know this isn’t true. I am aware that life doesn’t exist because we control it. Ever since my first yoga class, I have wanted to find the flow around me. I have only been able to feel it intermittently, but certainly more in recent years. I know there is a way to flow with this life. And I know my controller is the one who puts up the dam against the flow. I feel it. It happens in my body. The muscles tense, the body gets cold, bloated and numb, and the mind starts to race manically. I am stopped against the flow. It is like sitting on a rock in the middle of a river refusing to dive in to the water because I don’t know where it will lead me. Of course I don’t know where it will lead me. How could I? But my controller is 99% sure it’s heading straight for a waterfall. It is better to be stuck on the rock.
And maybe that’s why the train is such a great change for me. The train flows to its destination without my help. The train passes the rest of the world by. All the world’s problems seem so distant. The traffic, the rush to work, the hospitals, the shopping malls, the school buses full of kids all seem so far away from the flow. I am moving while the rest of the world stands still in their controller-enmeshed world. Is it an illusion? Of course. There are plenty of people outside the train who know how to “go with the flow”. But it feels how it feels. For those moments, I don’t feel like I am in a fight. I am just moving. I am moving without effort. I am moving without pushing and clawing and fighting like my controller does.
It is the same forward movement I feel in recovery. I have actually had visualizations of trains leaving stations at different points in my own journey. Recovery feels like the flow, like movement in a stagnant world. It feels like I am moving toward something the outside world can’t give me. It feels like something I can only find if I am protected and safe from the distractions and obsessions happening externally. So maybe I have answered my own question. I love the train because it is movement forward. I love the train because it flows. I love the train because it takes me somewhere I need to go. And that feels familiar. It feels right. It feels like home.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW