Time Machine, Party of One

I have to take a break from reposting the older things to write something new. All the nostalgia of rereading the old stuff gets to me, it’s very raw. I’m still having a hard time not editing my past self. I don’t know how to sort out my annoyance with the rant posts and I can’t just act like they don’t exist because they contain some sentiments of value.

Remember, the shadows are just as important as the light.” Jane Eyre.  

Small note: I will talk a lot about NFs when I write here. NF means Intuitive Feeler in Mbti speak and will reference 4 types: ENFJ, ENFP, INFJ and INFP.

Nostalgia, the memories and feelings attached to the past and things from that time, have the capacity to be more real to NFs than even the events of the present. I can get lost in these things for hours at a time. I have also witnessed this strong pull in my mother, who brings me some new token or trinket every single time she comes to see me. She’s an ENFJ.

Last time she brought me a box of papers from my childhood. Most of it was just homework assignments that didn’t ring a bell although the consistent pattern of low grades was illuminating. Thank you undiagnosed childhood adhd. That alone was a little depressing. About 10% of it was deeply personal things that really affected me. I ended up pulling out all the items and rehashing all the memories they brought back. Tiny time machines meant for only one passenger.

My father had written post cards from California where he went for cancer treatments. I have no memories of these post cards prior to getting this box. Just to clarify, that cancer wasn’t invasive and he is still alive as of this writing. There was also a picture of a cat I had colored and thought was so incredible at the time. Like, on a par with Van Gogh and Davinci. No kidding. I have had dreams about this cat picture for so long I was beginning to think I’d imagined it. I was probably 5 or 6 when I colored it.

The hardest hit came from a letter I had written to my mother while she was in prison. I was 10 and had written it on the back of a disposable paper place mat of a restaurant. She was in for around 6 to 8 months. My father refused to keep me so I lived with my aunt, uncle and cousins. While I love them and deeply appreciate them watching after me, it was one of the hardest years of my life. The culture shock drew me into myself more than any other time. It was like holding my breath, trying not to move for 6 months straight. In hindsight, I see that living with my father wouldn’t have improved upon this feeling of displacement. I still would have been without my mother.

I have a theory that NFs, INFPs in particular, love exploring melancholy from their past. Love may not be the right word for it, revel seems more appropriate. We revel in intensity of emotion from the past. Ironically, at the time when the actual moments are passing, I remember showing little to no emotion. The emotion comes later on as a flood. It’s possible that  I have developed a coping mechanism for hard times. I call it the “power through”. Head down, get through it, things will get better.

Maybe that’s why we enjoy reveling in intense emotions from the past so much. At the time, we were emotionally paralyzed and simply reacted in the most efficient way we could just to get past it. We had to cover as much ground to get past the tribulation as quickly as possible. Only later, in the relative safety of hindsight, can we feel the depth and breadth of the anguish that threatened to overtake us at the time. Maybe that’s how we make peace with the bad things that have happened.


noun: tribulation; plural noun: tribulations
  1. a cause of great trouble or suffering.
    “the tribulations of being a megastar”
    synonyms: suffering, distress, trouble, misery, wretchedness, unhappiness, sadness, heartache, woe, grief, sorrow, pain, anguish, agony;

    “his time of tribulation was just beginning”

So, I guess the epiphany I’m grasping at, is that all the times we’re accused of being emotionless in a time that would seem to require a lot of displays of emotion to prove depth of feeling, we choose instead to put a pin in it and come back to it later. We don’t do this because we are incapable of feeling. We do it because the feelings are too strong and we can’t deal with them simply because other people need us to manifest an emotional display to prove our humanity.

Crying in the silence of my own company feels much more genuine to me than putting on a show and having a break down in front of a bunch of other people. We don’t have to prove our humanity to anyone. They should know we’re not androids, we look so true to life. Maybe the real fault is in the expectation of a display and the need to focus on the actions of others from a view of comparison and contrast. Maybe they focus on others to keep from focusing inward and dealing with their own discomfort. I don’t really know, I’m just thinking out loud. Land of a thousand maybes.

This isn’t a judgement for those that can experience the emotions in the moments they are happening. This isn’t me telling you that your emotions are less genuine just because you can feel them in real time. It’s just me grasping at an explanation for my icy exterior. I have to freeze the emotions and come back later to let them thaw. I think INFJs might experience this phenomenon as well. My INFJ sister seems to have the same problems I do with people accusing her of being a robot in a time of crisis.

Android out. Beep boop beep.

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