- I felt like I had to say that first. If you read no further, remember the words and let them echo around in your heart. I will try to do the same.
Something happened the other day that jarred me out of an addled daze. Something that punched me in the gut with such force that I was left breathless, senseless…at a loss for how to respond with any intelligence or decorum.
I was talking to someone I love, someone who is family. Someone I have known for my entire life and until that moment trusted without question. Right then, that someone uttered a scant handful of words that let me know without out question that he did not know me. That he had an entirely different idea of who I was. And that the chasm between what he perceives and who I am was a vast and terrible thing.
And I was horrified because in that moment I realized with painfully sharp clarity that he would never see me. That he could never see me. There’s a fundamental difference in him that means he can’t acknowledge something fundamentally different in me. And if he can’t even acknowledge it, how can he ever even begin to really understand me.
I can’t even be the person I want to be around him. How sad is that? How doomed is that relationship? And I find myself distancing from him because it’s the only way we can have a good relationship. But as Captain Jack Sparrow once said there’s only two things that matter, what a man can do and what a man can’t do.
In this case he couldn’t accept that I had PTSD. It’s not just PTSD, it’s the whole concept of emotional trauma or mental illness that baffles him. It makes me sick to think of how he rationalizes my illness. He didn’t want to hear about the treatment I’m undergoing or looking into and basically said the science was all bullshit and I can just get over it on my own.
I just felt so deflated. Because let me tell you what I know in my heart right now, what has me tearing up in the corner while he watches a movie nearby with the others and none of them the wiser about my tumultuous feelings; I know that I can not get over it on my own. I simply don’t have a choice. That’s what PTSD does, it makes you relive the past sometimes.
It makes you feel that weakness, or that fear, or that intense feeling of alertness when you were in survival mode and doing everything in your power to keep from being prey. It makes you feel like you’re in a horror movie, even when your logical sense tells you everything is okay now and that you just have to wait it out. I will get over this ‘relapse’ in time, but it is a real injury, one that flares up from time to time and when that happens I need to do whatever the hell I have to in order to heal.
Some people will always need help. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping. I heard that on Game of Thrones and I just about started crying. I need help sometimes. Sometimes I panic. Sometimes the thick ass walls I’ve built just don’t exist because my body is in the past and the sorrow and cruelty and ugliness of everything makes tears just run down my face. That’s the worst of all for me because I was raised to not show unpleasant emotion. Losing control is the worst part for me. It’s the most embarrassing and the part where people have been the cruelest. But I’m not always like that and even if I was I don’t think it would make me less of a person. I don’t think that it should mean that what I have to say is any less important or human or normal. Him not even being able to acknowledge that I have PTSD made me feel like I wasn’t even worth helping.
I won’t sensationalize my childhood. I have PTSD for a reason, I’ve had it since I was 11 and I didn’t get out of the shitty situation I was in until I was 19. Here is the most important bit of information you should know about me. I’ve achieved balance already. I’ve made peace with my past and who I am and I strive to live a life that pleases me. I have PTSD, but I’m not just some damaged girl. I triggered last year and have been in a relapse since, but nothing has changed other than the fact that I’m currently experiencing the symptoms of the trauma I’ve suffered.
I’m not ashamed of anything about me. It’s harder to say that when my eyes are swollen from crying and my face is apple red because I had an out of control meltdown after watching the news or reading reddit too often, but I don’t think that I’m seriously fucked up or anything. I’m technically ‘non-functioning’ and my therapist thinks I should get a service dog to help with the panic attacks and flashbacks, but with the exception of the PTSD hiccups, I’m a pretty normal for the “eccentric writer” category. 🙂
I’m not crazy. I just remember what it was like to be hit across the face for having the gall to be girl and angry. I remember what it was like to be dragged to the basement and told no one would hear me scream and that the metal belt would be used. I remember what it was like to lay there wanting to die. And I remember what it was like to have so many nightmares that one lost track of time and the horrible dreams became just as real as what I actually experienced. I remember what it was like to question whether or not my mother’s friends might rape me because the medication I was forced on knocked me unconscious for hours and hours a day.
I was no older than 15 when any of that happened. I don’t think about these things anymore. There are new things to think about, but in the middle of a relapse…I don’t have a choice in remembering. I don’t have a choice in what my body relives. It doesn’t play back like a movie. Your instincts just tell you that you’re in danger, you have to protect yourself, and certain things just aren’t safe.
It’s a new normal, one in which you can’t trust your instincts and in which you must always be on guard to keep from getting swept away. And I’m only human, I can’t always be on guard. I fuck up. I get emotional. I get scared and frustrated and upset.
It’s just a part of being me. And I am at peace with who I am. If someone else isn’t…that’s too bad.