We have the expression “to see red” associated with anger. For some people, this is literally true. Synaesthesia is a gift of seeing that affects a very small portion of the population and is characterised by experiencing one sense or type of thought with another. A flavour can be perceived as a colour, a name as a colour, a sound of music as a colour or a shape, etc. These are just examples. In my case, the trigger is emotion.
Therapy has been a part of my life since I was very young. As a child, this was as an unwilling or at least unwitting participant…it was something imposed on me. Along with that imposition came a diagnosis of ADHD, and an early life of medication on the powerful drug Ritalin.
For many years, my analysis of this time as an adult led to the conclusion that Ritalin was more a function of lazy and dysfunctional parenting than a real need on my part to be controlled by a drug. I am not sure that I would disagree with that analysis, even though now, many decades post diagnosis of ADD, I have finally accepted that the diagnosis was legitimate.
My diagnosis with ADHD as a child was just one of many flashpoints between my parents in what was a totally dysfunctional relationship, in marriage and in divorce. There was no functional co-parenting…I could not help but take sides, as any child will do when faced with such a dynamic.
As a young adult and now as a mature adult, I have come to recognise how empowering therapy can be. I am amazed, however, about how many people don’t actually open up to their therapists, how they are “embarrassed” or do not want to share with them for whatever reason. But I also understand it, because I was the same way the first time I jumped into therapy voluntarily, going for what became twice weekly deep Jungian psychoanalysis for 2 years.
Of course, there is a stigma associated with seeing a therapist in many parts of the world, but I prefer to take the view of the enlightened Argentines—which has the highest density per capita of psychotherapists in the world (more than 1 per 100 population), and where there is something the matter with you if you are not in analysis.
One of the most positive things about my time with my recent ex-therapist was the introduction to the concept of telehealth. I used to think that one could only be “on the couch” if sessions were in person. I have since learned that it is very comfortable and comforting to be able to do sessions on line…and that also opens up the “market” for talent, which I find very liberating. Finding my next therapist is an important search for me, as the right therapist can become a very important person in your life.
I recently had the chance to speak with one of an Aunt about her sister, my mother, and our relationship. She told me of the difficulties my mother had in raising me, in my total inability to sit still, how everything about me was “racing”. I don’t bounce off the walls anymore, at least not literally, but my mind still races. As my wife likes to say, “you’re like a Weimaraner, you need to be run every day or you’ll break things in the house.” Apart from really enjoying being likened to a dog, she is too right—my insatiable need for exercise is highly curative in this regard. It is the antidote to stress, both self-imposed and externally delivered.
I didn’t get a chance to, or perhaps didn’t afford myself the chance to reply to my Aunt about what was going on with my dynamic with my mother…in a way it was not the time and the place, and since I get so much time to blab about myself here, I can continue to live as an enigma amongst my nearest and dearest…My own diagnosis of my relationship with my mother is that it was characterised by her insatiable desire to control me and my total and utter resistance to being controlled. That one aspect of our relationship was perhaps its most profound, at least for me.
Last night, in a teary confession, I told my wife that I was seeing two therapists. Not quite true, but true enough. She was amused and loved “how I do everything to excess,” which is one of the traits she most enjoys about me, that I am a ball of energy. I also got to display another characteristic of ADD, which is emotional overload.
One of the most beautiful and enjoyable aspects of my life is my emotional landscape. It can also be the most painful, but the pain is, or at least always has been, liveable, and afterwards, becomes enriching. I have written that to feel pain in love is to be able to love deeper. One of my tennis teachers is a slave. She has a piercing that I always wanted but could never get away with—through the tongue. She wears a collar 24/7. She has the word “slave” tattooed across the back of her neck. She also gets a wicked smile on her face whenever I slip and call her Mistress because I am daydreaming or not watching what I say carefully enough.
The other day, she and I spoke at length about her love life, how messed up it was, and how tired she was of loving people only to have it blow up in her face. I am blessed in that so may people I know and interact with feel the comfort in me to confide in me. I don’t think of myself as the best listener, because my racing mind often leads me to open my mouth, but I have noticed that I get confided in a lot. And it is always the painful stuff. Sexual abuse, love and life, racism and experiences thereof, moral dilemmas. Without fully understanding it, I think it might be because I don’t judge. It is easy to talk to people who don’t judge.
As I have matured, I have settled into my emotional landscape and found a level of self-acceptance that seems to have accelerated or deepened me being seen as a “safe place” for people to talk to. Me listening doesn’t mean me taking on their problems…but for everyone, a problem shared is a problem diminished, and so, in that way, I am glad to help.
At the start of my journey, I developed a very deep correspondence relationship with a lifestyle Domme who I think is a real thought leader in D/s. I was shocked to note how young she was while simultaneously having tremendous depth and knowledge of her own, her subs own, and my own emotional landscape. She is one a small number of people who were born Dominant in the way that those of us who are /s yearn to find. I believe that this characteristic gives one an enormous head start in self-actualisation. Or at least has the potential to. In my case it did not. It did not because I was in emotional hiding. I had to be, because to let my emotions out, to allow myself to feel, would have challenged my ability to survive.
It was this Domme who gave me permission, not explicitly, to accept my childhood diagnosis of ADD. You see, I had spent my entire life thinking that I was not ADD, that all the doctors were wrong, that my mother was guilty of drugging me to make me more controllable. And I can still relate to how Ritalin dulled me. But it was in deep conversation with this Domme, about emotions, about what was pulling me into D/s, about why I have submissive feelings, about all aspects of my life, so many of which have been displayed on this blog, when she said, “you sound like you have ADD.” When I noted that I had been diagnosed as a child, she shared the many symptoms and I saw myself in them completely. This was a huge step for me.
ADD is no excuse for anything. But hearing her out, and subsequently learning more about ADD from further reading [for example of Gabor Maté], I have found that it explains so much about my life, past and present, that it is hugely helpful to me in terms of managing myself. As Dr. Maté notes, ADD is marked by a predisposition to emotional sensitivity. As this particular Domme noted, that is why so many people with ADD hide their emotions, because to let them out is to lose control. I get this on a visceral level.
I was always told I was a cold fish. If they only knew. I am a ball of emotions. I just kept them hidden, because to show them was really to risk losing control. They are like a fire hose, and just as hard to hold. Little by little I am learning through controlled release, to manage them and hold them better. And D/s is a really, really important part of that process, and one that is seeing me grow by leaps and bounds.
I cry easily, and usually the tears that come easily are the ones associated with love. There is no shame in love, and I am able to let go of those emotions with relative ease, and feel great for expressing them. People at work and in life are bemused and sometimes quite moved by this. There is no shame in feeling with intensity. Though they don’t say so, and I certainly don’t ask, I believe that my friends cherish this part of me as do I, and it is part of why they trust me and confide in me. Why else? Because I live by a strong moral code, I keep my word, and I absolutely don’t judge. I also suck at arguing. I am way too good at putting myself in someone else’s shoes that halfway into any argument I take my opponent’s side.
Coming Full Circle
Everything I am living and going through is interconnected. My obsession with wellness is about self-respect. My obsession with exercise is about self-respect and a need to calm my mind and body enough to be able to function well during the day. Both of these obsessions are about having the right frame of mind to be able to, and the emotional capacity to process being hyper-connected to the emotional and spiritual landscape that shimmers all around me. I am not boasting, but just saying that the world looks very different to me than it does to most people. Do you know what synaesthesia is? This means literally to “perceive together. “ It is used to describe a phenomen where one sense is perceived as another. For instance, you hear a sound or music, but see a colour. I have a friend who is an incredible chef and she is a synaesthete. When she thinks of a new recipe, she sees it as colours, shapes and textures before she knows the ingredients or textures. I experience this in two ways. I can feel touch when someone else is being touched (this is called mirror touching). Synaesthesia is a sixth sense, not a disease or mental illness, and it is a real condition.
The second way I experience is synaesthesia is through emotion. When I experience emotion, I feel God. This is not about what God is, or religion, or holiness, or anything like that. It is about spirituality, and a fundamental belief that God lives in all things. That we are all connected. To experience emotion is to feel the threads which connect us all being tugged. The expression “heartstrings” is no accident. When something really “pulls on your heartstrings” it means to pull on your deepest emotions or affections. Strings, by definition, must be connected to be pulled upon. I believe that said heartstrings are the things that connect us to one another. I believe that to experience emotion is to feel connected to someone or something, or some people, and to feel them quite literally. More specifically, I believe that it is to experience the divine in you reacting to the divine in them. So, yes, when I say that I experience emotion as a synaesthete, it means that I am crying because I see the divine in you, and to see the divine in anything is to be overwhelmed with feeling.
We might call this synaesthesia. We might also attribute its existence to ADD. We might also conclude that D/s is a really effective and powerful way for me to feel this and to learn how to “operate the controls”. But all of these things are just putting words and feelings in boxes. The truth is, however, that I feel you when you talk to me and are with me on an emotional and spiritual level, and your openness to me begets mine to you, and the communion of our souls. I see your aura. If you will hold my hand, I will hold yours. And for the spiritual healers of this world, yes, I see you clearly, and for that, I will carry you, for that is why I am here.