Lost

Lost by Valerie Parente

Lana's Chamber

You are not lost.
I just lost my ability to find you.

– Valerie Parente (2-11-2020)

Investigating the Nostalgia Flood

Investigating the Nostalgia Flood by Valerie Parente

 

Phenomena?

The nostalgia flood.

This is the term I am coining for a recent struggle I have been facing for the past few days. Recently I have been thinking vehemently about the past lately, to a deeply emotive point that my thoughts are beginning to hurt from the very core of my being. I am struggling to come to an emotional understanding as to whether this intense flood of seemingly random and eclectic waves of nostalgia are resurfacing for a specific reason, one which might correlate with my physical circumstances, or if the bittersweet reminiscing is simply a mental product of neurons going haywire in my brain.

 

What Is Going On?

I can’t help but question two key aspects of the nostalgia flood; first, is there an obsessive compulsive component to the reminiscing? If so are these memories purely the OCD playing head games with me, or do these memories hold some sort of objective meaning in the light of a mind that was not plagued with obsessive compulsive disorder? Second, is there something that each of these (seemingly) random memories have in common? If so why now am I revisiting the underlying psychological thesis behind these flashbacks?

Confessional

 

How Does It Feel?

Before I try to make sense of what has been happening to me alongside the guide of the latter questions I would like to note the emotional quality of the mental memorabilia that has been pressing at the forefront of my conscience for a few days now. Every one of these memories are good memories. They are times that I hold near and dear in my heart and consider some of the best moments of my childhood or adolescence. Every time I remember the heartwarming moment my breath is taken away and, as dramatic as it sounds, feel as if I need to cry, initially out of happiness and then the more I think about the memory I feel compelled to cry out of sadness. Never do I get to the point of actually tearing up though. There is just this strange sensation of resounding love that fills up my chest and then a horrible wave of sadness that follows. If I had to categorize it as any psychological state I’d call it grief. Grief not for a life lost, but a time lost. The heavy sadness that festers in my mind, after the joyous flashbacks begin to blur, always feels comparable to mourning. And this odd but powerful experience makes me wonder: why am I mourning? Why do I not stay in that initial happy state when the intrusive OCD mechanism calls up the memory? These are memories of old friends, love interests, family! One particular memory is of a time when I felt very socially accepted, specifically regarding a person I would wind up catching feelings for. Another example of a memory revolves around sleepovers and parties with some long-lost best friends when we would laugh until we cried!  … Oh. Interesting. I am catching something significant as I sort this out in a Word document. “Laugh until we cried”. This phrase unnervingly reflects the exact recent state of mind I have been in as I reminisce. It seems that the very content of these memories, incidents like laughing until I am crying with a best friend (or feeling the ecstasy of social acceptance which would soon melt into fragile infatuation) projects happiness that deteriorates into vulnerability. Of course this could be dismissed as a coincidence, but I personally do not believe the universe works in coincidences. And for that reason I think it is safe to say the metaphorical nature of my nostalgia, much like psychoanalytical dream theory (theories of dreams that accredit dream motifs to the subconscious), actually proves a commonality among my memories. The commonality subsequently causes me to believe that the flood of nostalgia is not random or even eclectic, but that each of these fond moments from the past and people associated with these fond moments are purposely being called up by my brain, an OCD brain that is operating with rhyme and reason.

 

Who Is Involved?

The memories that I have been dwelling on were very prosocial in nature. These were times when I was thriving in my social circle. Now, I think it is fair to acknowledge that in some respect most of us can get sad when thinking back to positive moments because we recognize that they are over. Time moves laterally and irreversibly. This fact is just a discomfort we all have with our temporal confines as we undergo the human experience. Good times will always come to an end. And yes, that is sad if you choose to be sad about it, but I do not feel as though I am making a choice, and for that reason I do not allocate much responsibility to this factual perspective when talking about the nostalgia flood. If anything I am saddened because of the context in which these memories ended. For example, and I hinted at this a little before, but every person that I am reminiscing about is a person that I no longer have a relationship with. In fact if any of these people knew that I was thinking about them recently, let alone getting genuinely upset about the relationship which, to my everlasting dismay, fizzled out, they would probably think I was a complete lunatic (honestly I can’t say I’d disagree). I never quite felt satisfied with how things ended with any of these several people. Each and every relationship, for one reason or another, stands in my mind as a relationship that should have endured. Relationships that are incomplete. Some people I lost communication with a decade ago, some people 5 years ago, some people a few months ago, and each person was somebody that I never truly wanted to lose a friendship with. I always wanted more, more laughs, more memories, more attention, etc. Nevertheless, these are all people that I got close to at one point and wound up losing touch with. I do not think that the selection of people associated with my nostalgia is random. Between the emotional timeline within these individual memories, converting from high-as-a-kite happiness to profound grief, and the correlated social position each person has in my mind, demoting from close companion to complete stranger, I have come to the conclusion that there absolutely is a theme taking place in my psyche.

 

Why Now?

When a theme is taking place in the psyche of somebody with obsessive compulsive disorder, there is always a question of whether or not that theme is relevant to the current circumstances of that person. When it comes to the nostalgia flood and its eerie resemblance to OCD intrusive thinking, what is the theme?

The theme overarching my nostalgia revolve around losing something before I was ready to lose it. There was a sense of incompletion. The memories embody lost relationships and elicit a mourning-esque response. Why now would I be reaching back into my long-term memory and pulling out these snippets of emotional density? Why is my brain reminding me of heavy emotions? Why does my brain want me to feel the high of happiness and the low of loss that follows?

Honestly answering this question after dissecting the qualities of the nostalgia flood is not difficult. The only feat left is to describe how my life has been going in the current day. Without going into too much personal detail, I can modestly say that I am at a paradox in my life. I have never felt more rich with life experience or more proud to be me, but at the same time I have never felt more lost with where I am going or more longing to engage with a (certain) person who shares a similar mindset as me. I do not know how to satiate my mind socially in the way that it wants to be satiated because the person that I would like to spend time with is a person I am having a hard time communicating with due to the trials and tribulations that adulthood presents. This social predicament has been key in my confusion with which direction I should take next. After investigating the nostalgia flood in the past few paragraphs it should come as no surprise that my memories of wonderful yet lost relationships can accurately represent this inner mentality of feeling positive about myself but lost in the social department.

– Valerie Parente (4-25-2018)

Looking At The World Upside Down

Looking At The World Upside Down by Valerie Parente

Acrobat

At first I thought my reality had flipped
accredited to an objective view
but this melancholy feels too personal
It must be the sickness in my mood.

I have been feeling so low these days
Barely hanging onto my sanity
I know I am moving backwards
But I cannot feel the ground beneath me.

I have difficulty finding my direction
Hesitant to trust my inner compass
And truthfully, I see no point in trying
Since the day my heart aimed and missed.

The world is no different than before
It is my perspective that has changed
I made a choice to distort my vision
When my priorities rearranged.

Looking at the world upside down
I can only see in morbid shades of red
But I guess that is supposed to happen
When the blood rushes to your head.

– Valerie Parente (4-23-2018)

Sage of Tarkus

Sage of Tarkus by Valerie Parente

The heartaches of war that plagued the land of Segaduses left many civilians absent of faith. Lost. Looking for a reason to live again.

Determined to receive some sort of direction from a beacon of wisdom, a damsel from Segaduses traveled thirty miles by knight and steed to arrive at a cabin deep in the woods of Tarkus, home of the most acclaimed sage in all of the land. She had been on a journey for the past three years, searching for an answer to all of her sorrow. This girl with the mint green eyes convinced herself that the cure to her faithless haze could be found by falling in love. Her journey, for the past three years, was none other than a quest for a beloved hero whom could fill her life with purpose and interpersonal connection.

The gown worn by the damsel of Segaduses billowed like a blossoming tulip as she seated herself across the sage.

“I’ve been expecting you, dear,” the pale old woman stirred her chalice, making a burgundy whirlpool of the most fragrant truth serum. As the aroma wafted into stuffy cottage the damsel’s nostrils were filled and the knowledge she had denied deep in the core of her brain was activated.

With a confident nod the sage pointed to the knight on the stallion, outside of the cabin, whom had brought the Segaduses maiden so far along her journey.

“He is the one,” the strong-minded sage determined. “The man on the stallion is the man you will wed.”

For a fleeting second the damsel’s brow furrowed, then quickly vanished. Suddenly with a panic the enlightened yet shocked girl hastily shook her head, as if to rattle away the wisdom of the perceptive woman before her. “Oh no, no… he can’t be. I’ve known him for three years… he’s, he’s always been there in the background. If he were the one I would have known.”

“Dear,” the sage’s raspy voice lowered to a tender lull, “Knowledge does not require your conscious consent. Sometimes our subconscious knows at first sight, but our mind does not realize that what we felt was knowledge until years have passed.”

It took the frazzled girl a moment to respond. Her mint green eyes shivered as she struggled to make sense of the sage’s wisdom. How could it be? How could she have wanted something so badly but have never realized it was right before her eyes?

Adamant that the sage of Tarkus must have made a mistake, the damsel allowed her stubborn mind to wonder aloud, “But how can he be my hero if he does not have my most coveted traits?”

“Well what are you looking for in a hero, my dear?” the sage asked.

“A hero who has the same interests as I do.”

“So he is a reflection?”

“A hero who loves me unconditionally.”

“So he is a father?”

“A hero who knows how I feel before I say it.”

“So he is omniscient?”

Having given up, the damsel sunk deeper into her seat.

“Dear, what your heartbreak longs for is not a partner. What you are describing is not an equal. You are describing a God.”

Having given up, the Segaduses girl fell deeper into her subconscious, realizing the knowledge her depressed mind had repressed for so long.

"Damsel" by Valerie Parente

– Valerie Parente (11-23-2017)

Young Sapling

Young Sapling by Valerie Parente

You, Young Sapling, dig your roots deeper into the ground,
becoming more rigid and stubborn with every anxiety beneath your surface.

The conflict is that you did not want to grow up,
but time forced you to, as it does to all nature around to you.

But the difference between you and the others was that they embraced their growing pains
and instead you strengthened the roots that were already there.

Mother Nature wanted things from you that you were not ready to give
and rather than wait to be ready, you dug deeper into the dirt and resisted force.

You told yourself the extremist belief that you would never be ready.
You told yourself that this refusal to budge was part of your persiting identity.

And now more time has gone by and you still have to grow up, but you are lost.
So you hyper-focus your motivation on making proud the seed that first planted you.

You shut out the forest because to acknowledge the others
feels like abandoning those precious roots, and your pride will not allow this.

You numbed yourself from the changes in the weather pressure,
making it so hard to see the signs that you are now finally ready to grow up.

And how beautiful is it, Young Sapling, that Mother Nature placed another tree so close to you,
another sapling who dealt with the same trauma of not wanting to grow up,
another sapling that wants to be able to stretch out its branches to reach yours
and grow alongside you.

We Can Grow Together

“We Can Grow Together” by Valerie Parente

– Valerie Parente (11-18-2017)

Glitter In The Air

“Glittler In The Air” by Valerie Parente

"Run Away" by Valerie Parente

“Run Away” by Valerie Parente

I told a star that I wanted to dedicate a fraction of myself to its bright soul. I preserved my time long before I ever laid eyes on that star. I spent twenty three years cultivating emotions, memories, and wisdom, and waited until it felt right to share these qualities. Then in the rain of my own eyes I was denied. And I guess what I feel now… is lost. I am lost in an immaculate dark forest under the most beautiful canopy of stars. Here I am trying to run away from a sadness surrounded by the sparkling night and I cannot figure out if the glitter in the air is a sign to turn back around, or a guiding light towards new territory.

Valerie Parente (11-6-2017)

Better Lost Than Found

Writer’s block has forced me to address a narcissistic quandary I have been able to avoid under the influence of inspiration.

Do you deliver halfhearted writing piece after writing piece just for the temporary gratification of seeing your name in print, only to find that none of those writing pieces hold any true value to the world? Or do you take your hands off the keyboard, sicken yourself with self-doubt, face unedited introspection, and feel indescribably lost?

identity crisis

When I realized that the scarier reality was giving no value to this world versus being lost from my own mental limelight it became clear that this heartache, confusion, and serious self-doubting induced by writer’s block offered me the perfect opportunity to reach a new milestone.

My greatest breakthrough against narcissism came from the humbling realization that I would rather lose touch with myself than ultimately find out I have nothing to offer the world.

I would not have come to such a comforting revelation without the discomfort of writer’s block.

– Valerie Parente (7-22-16)

Quest

“You don’t want to get better.”
I was extremely offended.
“You don’t want to get better.”
I was extremely offended again.
“You don’t want to get better.”
…and again. It is difficult to get over an emotion when your glitching mind replays conversations… sentences… phrases… words… sounds… again, and again.
“You don’t want to get better.”
The sting of the comment was starting to subdue into a vapid memory, naturally losing its caustic power with every mental replay.
With a clearer mind I tried to understand why I was so offended by the comment.
“You don’t want to get better.”
That can’t be true. I know I want to get better. I know OCD is not my friend. But to entertain the idea that living with OCD is living carefree would be foolishly wrong. There is no serum to permanently reverse this mental illness in its totality, but even if there was, the idea of simply ousting obsessive compulsive disorder is not a matter of “getting better” to me. But why do I view “getting better” with such a cringe-worthy connotation?
It’s not that I want OCD… it’s that… I would feel lost without OCD.
At those critical ages when a kid becomes an adult, when virtues are established, and when identity is found, the development of my personality coincided with the development of my mental illness in a symbiotic relationship.
Obsessive, compulsive, and disordered have fused themselves with the evolution of my personality, so it makes perfect sense that I would feel lost without the anxiety disorder that has pervaded my growth into adulthood.
I do want to feel better. I do not want OCD to rule my life. But I understand that to embark on a life without this mental disorder (if I were somehow endowed with OCD’s cure) would be to face a whole new challenge in itself, a challenge of feeling totally lost and having to find myself. I would need to be ready to take on that challenge. But you know what? I don’t think I get to consciously choose when I’ll be ready for that challenge. And I know this to be true because I already unintentionally started to face that challenge of self-discovery. Because to realize there is a challenge that needs to be addressed is to already begin to address that challenge. I might be lost, but I will find my way.

"Rose Quest"

“Rose Quest” by Valerie Parente

– Valerie Parente (7-9-16)