What I Don’t Know I Don’t Know

I was talking to my therapist about the ways in which my brain forgets things to protect me.

Specifically, we were talking about the fact that I can’t remember the exact date that I moved out of the house I shared with my ex-wife. It’s something I could work out if I had to, if I sat down and really thought about it, but instead I identify it as if it’s a physical location I’m giving directions to to a stranger; I describe it in proximity to other landmarks that are more easily identified.

In telling her this, she asked if there was a reason I don’t pin it to a specific date, and I made the comment that my brain was stopping me from obsessing about the details; that, if I did automatically think of the date, I’d be unable to stop counting down to the anniversary, or thinking about it nonstop on the day itself.

It was one of those things you say in the moment that may or may not be true, may be a joke, but feels real, if that makes sense…? In the days since, though, I keep returning to that idea — that my brain knows the dumb, unhelpful stuff that it does, and sometimes steps in to prevent those things from happening.

Despite the fact that I even have a therapist — someone I now consider pretty essential to keeping me running, if I’m honest — I don’t really think too much about how my brain actually works, or the things that my subconscious (or, occasionally, conscious mind) does to get me through life. The notion that , on some level, my head is aware of how screwy and obsessive it can be on certain subjects, and has built a way around it, feels at once surreal and literally awesome to me.

It makes me very aware, briefly, of how little I truly know what’s happening inside me to keep me going, mentally and emotionally just as much as physically — the last of which has been a longtime mystery and marvel to me, this thing of continual aren’t bodies incredible? — which, in turn, makes me feel at once very small in the grand scheme of things, and also immense and amazing.

Thank you, brain. Thanks for all your work, I guess.

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