Is there a cure for Intellectualizing??? How do you stop???

Okay so I’m in the car right now dictating my post in a random stream-of-thought fashion….

I downloaded a dragon dictation app to my phone.  I’m trying to switch things up a bit & work my way out of “academia mode”.  I’m bored as FUCK of these research paper styled blogs.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely shake my nerd-girl ways.  I’ve always interested the study of human nature and my blog will always reflect this.  However, I feel like I’m falling into a rut.

I have a desire to show and not tell.

  1. The problem with academic writing, (other than the passive third person style), is the fact that you’re being objective and analytical.   It allows you to adopt a  mindset that is conducive to seeing things as they are from a scientific lens.
  2. I’m interested in learning the basics of creative writing.  To hell with rules.  I want to tell a story, express my thoughts, beliefs, or feelings, and describe my own life experiences.

If I’m being honest, my writing style doesn’t just reflect the fact that I’m in Graduate School.  I have a tendency to intellectualize.  This defense mechanism is effective in distancing me from problematic emotions that I’m trying to avoid.  In this post, I’m going to mix things up a bit.  What follows are a few random segments of things I’ve recorded on my Dragon Dictation App….

I had a really crappy shift last night!!!!

“Here’s the thing:  Between work, school and family life, I find I’m in over my head.  The littlest things have been driving me batshit crazy.  I have absolutely no patience whatsoever & am turning into a horrid cunt rag….

I was on a floor that was very understaffed. There were 7-8 patients to a nurse on a med-surg floor. Everyone’s in a bad mood & I hit the ground running.

Unable to get a report, I hit the ground running.  I find myself entering “Git-Er-Done Mode” & run around like a chicken with my head cut off.  I focus on the task before me, complete vitals, clean up the rooms, pick up the linen bags and answer all call lights.   Inevitably, I run into that one person who manages to drive me absolutely insane.  As my patience is tested, I bite my tongue and plaster a fake smile on my face.

As much as this troubles me, I have to be honest I’m at my wits end.  I can do no better….
There are only so many hours a person can spend taking care of others…

For example, there’s this guy on the floor who had a hip replacement that got infected.  He has a weak bladder as a result of his “prostate issues”.

As the only tech on the floor with over 20 patiences, I find myself spending the majority of my time in his room.  While I don’t want to ignore my other patients, I’m told he is a fall risk.  I end up going into his room about every hour or so, so he can stand up to pee.  Additionally, he can’t pee in bed so we must endure the process of getting him in and out of bed takes about 20 minutes.  He is in a lot of pain, and is not steady on his feet.  I hold him up as he uses the urinal to pee.  He only produces about a few tablespoons at a time.  By the end of the night his patience has grown thin and becomes angry that I am not moving fast enough.  I want to cry because he doesn’t realize how many other patients I have to care for.  However, I say nothing and do my job as expected…

I become disgusted with his impatience…
I want to tell him what I think about his inability to show me respect & gratitude.
However, I somehow can’t find the words to say how I feel to someone who isn’t willing to listen.
I ask him if there is anything else he needs on my way out the door in the most polite voice I can muster….

The idea of having to deny my feelings to myself is triggery in ways I can’t quite explain.

The frustration can overwhelm me so I numb myself into a zombie-like emotional stupor to get through the night.

And then there’s the issue of lazy staff & being shit on as a float-pool night shift tech…

As the float-pool tech I’m usually assigned the toughest clients on the toughest floors.  Additionally, since I work the night-shift, I’m often on the floor to myself.   This is maddening, primarily because I’m not able to ask for fair treatment.  You know the whole “nurses eat their young” bullshit.

A convenient example of this bully-behavior occurs when lazy nurse play on their phone while gossiping and their eating dinner at the nurses station.  They can’t be bothered to get off their sorry asses to answer a frickin call light . I’m in no position to voice my opinion as a float pool tech I have nobody in my corner.  If I do, I only do so in the most polite and professional voice possible.  Either way, I have to muscle my way through the evening, and try my best to forget about this infuriating behavior on my way home.

After full work-weekend like this (Friday – Sunday from 7p – 7a) I drive home in a overtired stupor.

I crank the music on loud and slap my cheeks on the way home in an effort to stay awake  By the time I get home, everybody is gone.  Kelly is driving to work and the kids are starting their day at school.   Monday’s like this are my only day off.  I spend most of this time napping and cleaning.  The house is usually a mess:  the trash needs to be taken out and there are piles of dish and laundry to clean.  I grit my teeth and get down to business.  My goal is to finish cleaning the house before 10 so I can fit in 4-5 hours of nap-time.

Once I arrive home with the kids shift two starts   I feed them an early meal, help with homework, and play the role of taxi cab driver.  Once my husband is home, I focus on completing some last minute paperwork for an a.m. meeting with my internship supervisor.  I then work from Tuesday – Thursday 8-3 at a homeless shelter providing individual and group therapy….

and then before I know it Friday has arrived & the cycle continues….

I just visited my psychiatrist & am beginning to realize how traumatizing this invalidation has been….

I can’t help but notice how much of what we become is a byproduct of others’ demands.  I’m  an adaptive reaction to the demands placed upon his by significant others and society in general.   I still grieve over the idea that validation is something I may never receive with regards to some critical traumas in my childhood.

The lingering question which remains is: “Was it real or just in my head?”

I know: that sounds like a stupid question.  However, as I reflect on my childhood experiences, what pains me is that I can’t point at a single person who ever looked at me and saw me hurting. I was struggling and in a lot of pain, yet never heard anyone say:

“I see your sad, let me give you a hug, it’ll be okay.”
“What happened was bad, I’m sorry to hear about it”.
To this day, nobody in my family is willing to acknowledge the hurt I endured.  At school, classmates blamed me and teachers pretended not to notice.  “It” fucked me up further by using this baggage against me.   Consequently, the process of healing has been very lonely since nobody can fully understand and support me in my own trauma recovery.  I am left with a loss of something profound that has left me grieving.  And since there’s no remedy for the loss, I must accept it fully as a reality of my life.  Despite my mind’s inner protestations.

I’ve struggle to play catch-up for lost time but find that doing so isn’t fully realistic.

There are critical years in which I failed to progress developmentally as others did.  There are these letters that I dug up in the hallway closet to my sister.  I’m a freshman in college and complaining about the other residents on the dorm floor I resided on.   They were filled with an insecurity, hatred and frustration that pertained to something I didn’t want to see you didn’t want to acknowledge about the state of affairs in my life.

I was an ostracized kid who had no friends from the age of 11 on.

I was a bullied child who experienced chronic rejection.  

This left me with many critical years of lost socialization opportunities.  

Fitting would prove to be difficult if not impossible.

The painful reality: I was different.

College proved to be a continuation of events in high school.  The state of affairs I tried so desperately to run away from in high school were repeated in college.  I really was different & hated to admit it.  Fitting in wasn’t really in the cards for me.  My life experiences were so divergent from theirs since we were just on very different pages.  There’s nothing I could have done to catch up and I was stupid to think this was possible.  I didn’t want to see this since it was tied up with so much unresolved hurt.

 I guess this is why I continue to struggle in making friendships….

I have created two opportunities to forge a friendship.  On Wednesday I’m getting together with a fellow intern at Panera.  On Thursday, several ladies from work are getting together.  I’m uncertain how things will progress & frankly nervous about going, but will give it a swing.

If for no other reason than to address my insecurities head-on…

Tuesday, March 28, 2017….

Its 7:45 at night about two weeks after I originally posted this.  The hamster wheel of responsibilities has continued unabated.  I still work Friday – Sunday 7p – 7a.  I still spend Tuesday – Thursday 8a – 3p at my internship site.  I often bring home stacks of paper work from my internship and if I’m lucky I get a few hours of family time.  Monday is my only day off and I use it to nap since I’m exhausted…

…Anyway, during my therapy session last week, a crazy, serendipitous, ironic, and strange coincidence occurred!!!

This therapy session happened last Friday morning & its just now that I find myself processing the things we had discussed that day.  After I provided a few updates & reflected the impact of recent events, he brought up the issue of intellectualization.  He “called me out” in his calm, still, nonjudgmental manner. informing me that I tend to do it often.

I recall discussing how various trauma triggers throughout my week brought up painful memories.  I shared how I felt like a well within me that inner well of frustration, I was running on empty.  As he sat there in his calm and empathetic manner, I felt compelled to do the same.  A feel hurt lingered underneath causing tears to well within my eyes and a lump form in my throat.  I sat there dumbfounded for what seemed like an eternity.  Where the heck had this come from? Honestly, I didn’t know this well of emotions was there.  How was it, that I was able to not feel my feelings and conceal them so effectively from my own awareness?  How numbed was I to the reality within me?   However, rather than sit with this question in stillness, I fell back to that standby coping mechanism: “intellectualization”.  In an effort to move forward towards understanding, I said to myself:

“For heaven’s sake get a hold of yourself!!!”

I admitted to him honestly, my shock & befuddlement.  I asked him, “what is it you’re tapping into and how did you know it was there?”  He replied that it is a common reaction to prolonged trauma.  My mind floated naturally to the overly researched and clinical examination of my own past (read this blog).   I described the ready-made explanation for the how and why of my life.  He smiled back at me as I talked without interruption and I knew I was doing it again…

“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.” (van der Kolk, 2015, p.97)” 

So this experience was an answer to my prayers from the man upstairs…

You see, I’m just months away from completing my education.  I will be done shortly & it couldn’t come soon enough.  School will be a thing of my past & I won’t have to spend all my spare time studying, reading, or writing papers.  So what can I do with my spare time?  I will be using my degree to start a new career & plan to look for a new job.  However, the question of “what now” still arises.

I want to continue moving forward.  This education has been a useful vehicle to propel me forward in this respect.  I need to focus on the next phase of my journey.  I realize now it should include the psychological and spiritual healing I’ve put off for so long.

For the longest time, I’ve planned to continue my education and pursue a Phd. There’s part of me that likes the idea of “Going All The Way” in order to prove myself.   However, this ego-based drive is probably not healthy (if I’m being honest).  Like Dorothy and the ruby slippers, I don’t need to go any further than within myself to realize my value.  Seeing validation from others in this way, can only perpetuate the same flavor of bullshit that has infected just about every area of my life.   This academic pursuit will only enable me to keep perpetuating the erroneous myth that intellectual understanding can equate to healing.

The intellectualizing really has to stop.  I need to do move forward into uncharted territory.  The path before me is filled with a strange mixture of fear, excitement, & happiness.

So this inner creative person, is lurking within who is repressed, annoyed and frustrated.  She wants to express herself freely, through whatever means that tickles her fancy.  I simply hope to express myself freely and see where things lead.  I wish to use these ideas floating inside my brain and transform them into something tangible that can exist in the world “out there”….

However, there is one critical caveat.

The motivating factor underlying this path should be to continue my spiritual journey of personal healing and growth.  I need to develop a relationship with the man upstairs.  I need to find avenues that can allow me to reconnect my “numbed out” mind with my body… I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens…


Van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.

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