I’ve been thinking about my “who’s driving the bus” life analogy. It’s been on my mind because my bus is missing.
That’s not symbolism, it’s a literal thing. The bus has left the building, or at least my office.
The bus analogy is basically this: our lives are a bus ride. Life is better if we’re driving the bus and in charge of our lives. “We” meaning our true selves, our actualness.
Sometimes, however, other people are driving the bus. I’ve gotten into the habit of thinking about the different aspects of myself as distinct individuals. Some even have names. Like Anxious Annie, who doesn’t like it when I leave the house, or the little girl from the back who doesn’t have a name; she’s all emotional reactions and rage.
My therapist has told me to think about who’s driving when the ride starts to get particularly bumpy.
I started thinking about the analogy in greater depth after the bus disappeared. My two-year-old grandson saw it and decided it was his bus. I don’t blame him; it was kind of awesome. White, die-cast, with doors that opened and pullback action. He saw it on my desk and it was love at first sight. He wanted it and managed to exercise his will. This translates to, “the request was very loud.” At any rate, a new physical bus just for me is on its way thanks to Amazon. My thinking, however, has led to some theory modifications.
Spitting myself into different bits and pieces is helpful from a self-analysis perspective but it leaves me feeling fractured at times. It’s also not completely accurate. Because above everything, always, is me. I’m always at the front of the bus. But my original theory relegates me to an inactive co-pilot all too often. This isn’t entirely on point.
I tried to explain it to a doctor once on my second in-patient stay. How it felt like there was an actual me that wasn’t the neurotic and eating disordered me. She was always there, just not really in charge. That’s where the bus analogy comes in. I’ve realized, however, what the flaw is. I’ve realized why I feel like there’s still a me there when they talk about my disorders as though they’re utterly distinct and separate.
It’s not so much that other people drive the bus and I’m suddenly behind the yellow line. It’s not so much that they’re other “people”. It’s more like they’re clothes.
When I’m just me, or mostly me, I’m “wearing” what suits me. It’s probably black. It’s probably leggings and a t-shirt, not that it’s my de facto uniform or anything. The idea that someone else entirely is driving the bus is flawed. The idea that I put on different outfits that influence my behaviour is a better one. I’m still there, but I’m also different. I’m there, but maybe I have a beret.
Sometimes, I get dressed in my uniform only to have several layers pile on top. The scarf of anxiety and an eating disorder vest, perhaps. Depression Uggs. I hate those days.
I’ve tried for a long time to get rid of the other drivers; it hasn’t gone well. Because of course, they’re me. The outfit analogy works a little better. Trying to rid myself of bits and pieces of me was my mistake and thinking of myself as a multiplicity is why I still feel so fractured. But this isn’t a Marie Kondo thing. I can’t get rid of these clothes even though they emphatically don’t spark joy. They will be in my wardrobe forever. What I have to do is learn how to change the order in which I’m getting dressed and change how often I put them on.
My clothes, not anxiety’s or bulimia’s or any other neuroses’, need to be on top. I need to have the final say as to what I’m going to look like. I will still have the other outfits. They can influence and inform to a degree. But my wardrobe choices need to take centre stage, even when my feelings try and convince me otherwise.
It’s not about being alone on the bus. It’s not about minimizing the wardrobe. It’s about asset management. It’s about fashion choices.