It's the second night of the new year, and it's back: waking up at night around four. I have a thing for waking up at night. Somehow, my mind wakes me and starts processing these thoughts and emotions into stories. This story is the latest one worth sharing.
When I was a young kid, my parents took me to Euro Disney. A vast theme park somewhere near Paris built upon the stories and surroundings of the Walt Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. I was ecstatic. For weeks, maybe months, I fantasized about going there to have great adventures and be submerged in the world of childhood fantasy. Meet my hero's. High five Goofy and Pluto, see Cinderalla, anything goes.
Little did I know.
I don't particularly remember the ride there. Except that we seem to have gotten our plastic card access passes by regular mail way before we went there. Those cards were in my hands the whole way there. Or at least, that's what I wanted. I only got them from my careful mother when we safely passed security and entered the park.
We received a map and started walking into this fantasy world with massive decorated trees, birds, and costume characters everywhere. Cleverly disguised speakers emitted joyful music every step of the way. It didn't matter which person you would look at, those first steps into Euro Disney, everybody wore a great smile on their face. It made me happy, intensely so.
Being the curious child that I am, I really like to understand how things work. Thus, those red velvet-roped and gated spaces are a joy to my exploring mind. The fact that nobody seems to have discovered a new area makes my brain tickle like crackling chewing gum. So here I am at the end of a street of beautifully detailed buildings. Think Wonderland, or Willy Wonka and his Chocolate Factory. Windows all dressed up, lights, accompanying music, the whole shebang.
Having seen the outside of the buildings, I'm curious to see what's inside. Of course! Who wouldn't be? However, of this particular street, the doors of the buildings all seem to be closed. Since I'm at the end of the block, I'll just try to sneak inside through the back door. So, with a few determined steps, I walk around the corner to spot a chain to fend me off. That's not going to stop me; I'm committed. I crouch and quickly sweep from under it. I walk around two blue car-sized trash bins, and encounter...
I'm shocked. There's just all of these wooden scaffolding holding up boards that seem to be the backside of the beautiful houses that I just saw. I can't believe my eyes. It's all yellow foam and gray plaster! Where are the shops and buildings that I was in front of seconds ago? It takes my childhood mind a mere moment to realize I've been duped. I'm starstruck. And not in the right way.
Looking back, it was one of the early Veritaserum-moments in my life: A shocking moment that suddenly exposed the truth, both undeniably and confrontational.
Verita, Latin for truth, and -serum, because it's the well-put methaphorical potion in the Harry Potter series. Once you threw the Veritaserum onto something or somebody, or make people ingest it, disguises vanished, and truths would emerge.
I have several of these early childhood memories. Such as the moment where Melissa, who was a year or two above me in kindergarten, bluntly told me that Santa Claus does not exist. If I mastered the art of drawing, I could sketch the scene - and her smart ass-face - on paper in great detail to this day.
Also, I vividly remember the emotions I went through being that young boy. First came the disbelief with intense heat soaring through my body. Then some stingy hurt near my stomach and roaring rage from my gut. Much later, it was followed by shaking sadness and finally, a calm but lonely emptiness.
Still half asleep, I feel the warmth of the bed comforting my body. I'm resting at ease. My mind drifts again as I'm connecting these memories to an observation around two decades later when I studied psychology.
The fun thing in studying psychology is that you get to learn a great bunch of counter-intuitive facts. From optical illusions to statements that seem to be untrue. Such as the fact that depressed people view the world more realistic than "normal" people. The latter tend to be overly optimistic and misinterpret things for the better. This is a great feat of human nature, our teacher explained, because "normal" people are generally happier.
...than they should be, I mutter to myself. That's the essential piece of the sentence he should have added. I consider the thought that becoming a NotYetDad and the light depression last year has given me a subscription to a daily dose of Veritaserum. So many moments seem to have lost their gloom. I'm continuously looking around the corner of people and situations nowadays.
It feels like someone took my former somewhat foggy and sunny-tinted glasses and gave me a brand new pair with crisp and clear glass. I see things with so much more detail that it confronts me with the reality of life.
The fact that I'm still not a dad, for example. When I look at it properly, it gives me a genuine scare, and it hurts. Especially when friends around me posted pictures on Instagram - now with kids - to celebrate the closing of a century. Or, that I didn't win the lottery last night even though I so felt we deserved it. I feel like a fool for losing money, trying to believe that fairytale once again. Or lastly, that someone only has her or his interest at heart. I might see the best in her or him, and hope that (s)he's in it for the both of us, but the Veritaserum wept away the charades once again: Total selfish douchebag.
I take a look at my phone; it's 5.25. I'm not awake yet, and the bed still feels warm. I turn around to face my wife to have another thought coming in.
In the past, I repeatedly ignored realities that now seem confronting. Such as people taking advantage of me, believing something for the better, or feelings that didn't get proper attention. I didn't always ignore that purposefully. I probably wasn't aware. Why change your foggy and sunny-tinted glasses if life without them feels uncomfortable? Nobody in their right mind will do that voluntarily, right?
The fact that I see more clearly now disallows me to ignore reality. I am more aware and experience more feelings. That can be severely uncomfortable, or for some, even be perceived as unbearable. At least as something to walk away from, or to avoid giving attention. I think I now understand why addictions develop. Or better, what addictions are: masks. A temporary fake pair of foggy sunny-tinted glasses. As a tiny relief before the Veritaserum makes you aware of your true feelings once again.
When I visualize both childhood Veritaserum-moments I just described, they seem to follow the same pattern.
- A personal observation of a situation;
- The interpretation of that situation based on paradigms, to make sense of it all;
- Some unwitting judgment takes place (meaning that I'm not conscious of the judgment);
- Feelings develop; I become aware of my bodily sensations;
- These sensations, combined with my interpretations, trigger thoughts. Or, to be more specific: patterns of draft knowledge.
- If uncomfortable, this should spark physical actions. Whether that's yelling, moving body parts, or other change;
- Situational feedback comes in so that I can adjust interpretation, feelings or actions;
- I might learn something from this situation and change or enrich my paradigms.
The pattern above applies to a situation that occurs in a short period. What if this could apply to a fact or situation that spans a longer time? Could this pattern help me figure out how I developed my depression?
Let's see. In my case, I've ignored the fact that it hurt me that we do not get kids the easy way for over 18 months. I avoided taking of my optimistic foggy and sunny-tinted glasses (step 2) to keep me from forming hurting emotions (step 4) and thoughts (step 5). Thus I stayed inactive (step 6) until I no longer could function properly. Hence, I got sick.
Having a daily skinny-dip in the lake of Veritaserum, I'm curious to see what all this awareness will bring in the future. Seeing things more clearly makes me able to look at the fine details and maybe uncover hidden secrets. In my studies, I learned about bio-mimicry. This field of research examines animals and nature in great detail. For example, with magnifying glasses up to 500 times. A closer look at the Burdock seeds lead to the invention of velcro (in Dutch: "klittenband"), for example. The number of discoveries that researchers made when they were looking through clear crips lenses are countless. I can't wait to see what will happen when more people try crips clear glasses on in real life.