Years ago, when I was younger and probably far more naive and hadn't been given the gift of PTSD yet, I didn't know what "dissociation" was, and thus I didn't realize that I was describing it to one in a line of several therapists trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I described it as a control tower in my brain that caught sight of negative situations and emotions and rushed to get rid of them before they could affect me too badly. Before long, I'd remember that something happened, but my feelings on it were sort of...shut off. I could acknowledge a bad thing that had happened, but I couldn't completely connect it to myself.
Of course there were exceptions. Some things are too bad to block out. I've lost several family members since becoming an adult. I've been badly hurt by people I loved. If it was bad enough, it was like someone ran a car into the control tower and no one knew how to fix it so they just ran around not sure what to do for way too long. Very fun.
I seem to recall that at one point my therapist asked me to draw a picture of what my brain looked like. I am not an artist at all, so I drew a pretty shoddy scribbling of a control tower with a bunch of rowdy people on the lawn trying to get inside, probably to burn it down. I remember it being done in pen very very badly.
What she told me was, I needed to take more responsibility for this process. I didn't get it at the time. Now that I'm older and wiser(-ish), I feel rather upset at being told to take more responsibility for my brain's involuntary response to trauma. I wish I'd gotten angry back then.
Years later, at a completely different therapist, I wrote out what had happened regarding that control tower metaphor. And new therapist wrote the word "dissociation" next to it. It was that simple. Just like that, I had a word to describe one of the many things wrong with me. I've been told before that I place too much importance on labels, but it's not the label itself I value; it's the definitive answer, and the knowledge. I like answers and knowledge. I really wish I could take some of this knowledge and go back and change a lot of things. But, no. Can't do that. Instead it just sits here and I don't really know what to do with it besides write tired ramblings and try to write poetry but mostly fail.
Sigh. I think I should go to bed. Dissociating actually really sucks, y'all.