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Leaving Camazotz—The Past Key to a Conscious Now

Sometimes when I think about writing a post, I hear myself say, oh not again—a piece about the past. This thought stops me and another month goes by without publishing. Recently though, an insight on this subject hit me: Understanding the past is powerful because it charges life today.

I have always felt the undertow pull toward the past, probably because of the surgery I underwent at one-month-old to save my life. A whole set of trepidations arose from that time of which I had no conscious (explicit) memory, but I did have memories of a different sort: emotional, tactile, visual, olfactory (smell), breath, muscle—implicit types of memory. I was present and conscious in this early preverbal time and, therefore, still experience feelings and sensations that tag this time.

Having just finished reading A Wrinkle in Time, I can’t stop thinking about the fact that before beginning to explore the effect of the infant surgery on my adult life, I’d been living on the planet Camazotz—a place where a naked brain is in charge and people, in order to live on this world, give up their will, their decision-making, their choices. This power is called IT. IT has charge of everyone’s lives, and as a result, individuality has disappeared. Each person sacrifices his or her selfhood. The inhabitants are zombies, each replicating the actions of others.

IT, in my case, was the powerful belief that my own body could attack and kill me at any time: a feeling that life was out to get me. Anxiety ruled my life, my thoughts and actions subservient. One of my most terrifying recurring nightmares in my thirties was that of a line of creatures, half jackrabbit (upper) and half man, dressed in men’s business suits, walking robotically to the insane asylum, I being one of them. My agency was paralyzed. Writing—going inside to learn about myself—has helped me take control of my life. Understanding the impact of those preverbal years—the past—has made the difference between living a life of my own choosing or a life in abeyance to IT.

When we do weird things that we do not understand, we can consult this early time for advice. When we know what happened to us early on, we are able to have compassion for ourselves. We can also regularly check in with our baby-self, and when we do, we get the most wonderful of answers: We make sense. We are our past, and because of this knowing, we can make decisions, not from an unconscious place, but from the powerful platform of a conscious now. Aware of our past, we choose our future.

2 Responses to Leaving Camazotz—The Past Key to a Conscious Now

  1. Thank you for this post, Wendy!
    What you write about here is what I have also experienced, and your last paragraph sums it up well: “When we know what happened to us early on, we are able to have compassion for ourselves.”
    Many, I would hope most people, grew up without unusual and disturbing events they could not consciously remember and process happening to them. But the trauma of your and my most early life has left clear and for many years mysterious and troubling effects… on us and also our parents.
    Discovering and undestanding more and more of this has helped us to manage our anxieties and grow in self-understanding.
    If delving into the past helps people heal and find greater peace, who can complain about that?

    • Dear Fred, Sorry it’s taken a bit to reply. I’m not getting notifications of comments and will fix soon. Thanks for commenting. You put it so well. The “mysterious and troubling effects” become more understandable and understanding brings more peace. We make sense to ourselves. This alone is revelatory and joy-inducing.

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