First of all, forgive me, world in which I live. I am sick, yet I have forced myself out of bed to come into work when I really, truly, beyond any of the faintest shadows of doubt should not be here. Am i still contagious? Who knows, but none of the few dozen colleagues at work were concerned with this when they came and shared their germs with the rest of the building, infecting a few more dozen of us with varying degrees of the cold / flu. So I can take it home and introduce my family to round four of the germfest that has been bouncing haplessly from person to person, hitting my father twice and throwing him in the hospital with pneumonia.
It was not a picnic watching my father gasp for air like he was trying to breathe through several inches of thick goop. Actually, it reminded me of a fish out of water, gasping desperately for air. Watching it was torturous. Unlike the fish, there is no easy solution. It isn’t like there is a miraculous fishbowl I can toss him into to fix it. He has COPD. There is no fixing this. We will slowly watch him suffocate with each bout of pneumonia he gets.
But this post isn’t about illness. It’s about me, and my wonderfully disruptive PTSD. Of course, my triggers are Kevin related. However, I haven’t had a really up close and personal encounter with him. I would like to say that I would stand my ground and face him (while calling to report the violation), but I won’t actually know that until I am in the moment. What would happen? I more likely predict that I would scream like two year old and run like a spaz. Being in his presence is like facing imminent death. It always was.
My reaction to things that Kevin did to me repeatedly, things that he knew drove me mad, is still alive and kicking. However, he isn’t there anymore to do these things to me. When someone I don’t know that well or don’t consider myself all that close to does something that immediately connects in my head to him, I do not react. Why? Could be because I truly do not care. If I am not close to them, they have no power or ability to cause me any kind of harm, emotional or otherwise. I have found that I have a great number of people, even within my family, that this is the case with. The rift is still there.
However, with those I am in close quarters to, with those with whom I am very close, something that they do innocently, without connection to me, and certainly without intention, trips my circuits and sets me off uncontrollably in the worst possible way. Unlike the PTSD story of the year I read on Aussa’s blog, I don’t have reactions that manifest physically. Meaning, when it’s happening, no one outside my head can see it. I am sure if they do catch me acting nutty and neurotic, they just assume that I forgot to take some pills that day.
However, the scary thing about me after being in such an oppressed state for so long where I was not so much as allowed to react lest I be brutally punished, is that I have been able to affect an outwardly calm appearance, most times even being able to smile, laugh, and joke around, so that no one will know. No one will see. No one would ever dare suspect that this calm, composed woman before them who looks so together in all reality feels like her world is exploding from the inside out. They cannot see the desperation, the frustration, or the fear as she inwardly struggles to keep her mind from turning to jelly. Remember the movie Airplane! where the pilot is in cockpit and they turn the camera on him and he is a pulsing sack of goop? That is what my head feels like when a trigger hits, but no one sees. No one can feel, and I feel like no one can understand.
It’s odd lately, many of us have been posting about PTSD in connection with the abuse that we endured. Most of the posts I have read, the authors have PTSD reactions that manifest in the form of physical action coupled with the emotional desperation, and the more urgent the emotion, the more serious the act. Sometimes, I find myself wishing I reacted this way. Why should the fear I feel be pent-up in my head, sucking away my sanity like the core of a black hole? People are more apt to look at someone having a physical manifestation of PTSD and be more understanding that there is trauma behind it. Whereas they look at me and think I am crazy.
The “C” word. He used to call me that when he was playing the mind games, trying to make me believe, for instance, that I moved into his fist instead of it being his hitting me that caused the black eye. I moved into it. I made him do it. I made him mad. It’s my fault. I need to learn how to behave. If he told someone what happened, they would never believe me. I hate the “C” word.
Right now, for instance, I am sitting in my cube at work, knowing full well that I should be in bed. I have been here since 8 AM. and I feel like it’s been a twelve-hour marathon. Why did I come? Because I could not take one more second of being trapped in that house, in that room, in that bed staring at the ceiling feeling like the walls were closing in on me. A prisoner. Just like old times. Against my will in one room for days on end. The thought of it makes my skin crawl. I had to get out. It felt like him. I had to get out, or I felt like I would just die.
I am thankful for my parents helping me when I needed it. So I didn’t have to go to a shelter an hour away. Alone. With strangers. When I first left, that would have been a very bad thing. I spent enough time alone like that. Who has time for… more of that? But now, the impatience of those around reeks of him. There is impatience, but then there is impatience on steroids. Impatience like his that I have no desire to be around. There is one who is a hygiene issue like he had, too. All the things that set me off with him just simmering in a nice big pot, with me sitting in the stew. I am in a pressure cooker. And this weekend, after being trapped in that house from Friday night until this morning when I made my timely escape, the space inside my head is utter chaos.
Fortunately for those around me, I look like the always pleasant version of me that I usually am, without fail, sincerely. I look like I am at peace. Tired from being sick, but at peace none-the-less. Fortunately for some closer to me, I have cut the cord to the crazy so it isn’t oozing from every pore of my being, but now I am just as trapped as I was stuck in that room, so it’s booming around my head brewing up something that I don’t like to feel.
I hate when this steals my peace. I hate that no one can see what I am going through. I hate that no one gets or understands how this all gets started and most seem to be even further incapable of being merciful in their toleration and support… forget going one step further to extend mercy and forgiveness and compassion. I just float, violently alone, like a buoy in a hurricane.