Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I’ve googled the words. I’ve read articles and looked at Pinterest pins to see how other sexual assault survivors with PTSD were managing. I found a bit of solace when I realized my nervousness, panic attacks, fear, startle response, aversion to loud noises and long periods of social engagement were par for the course. It does not, however, help any of these symptoms subside. 

The last three days my next door neighbors have been tearing their place apart. At least that’s what it sounds like. Banging and knocking from morning to night as they remodeled or cleaned or whatever it is they are doing. And with each loud and unexpected clang I bit my jaw until it was sore. Scars on my arms and legs from nervous scratching. A growling stomach from hunger I’m too anxious to attend to. Decision after decision to have to make when all I want is the noise to stop and to feel safe. But nothing helps. 

I sleep right in front of my fan bundled up in blankets and surrounded by pillows to swaddle myself. It works until I wake up sweating and shaking. In need of medication to ease the panic I always try to wait it out a bit. My medicine is non habit forming yet I’m aware of drug dependencies. I stretch the time until I can’t take it anymore and I succumb to my daily dosage of semi peace. 

To deal with the banging, to keep from jumping out of my skin and to get out of my bed, I get high. It calms me. Perhaps not the best solution. But it’s all I can do to just make it through the moments. I’ve cried so much I could drown in my tears had they not evaporated first. Skin hot. Right. My muscles always ache. Feeling as though I’ve run a marathon. Constantly tired as my body expends copious amounts of energy preparing for and fumbling through the one socially engaging activity I give myself a day just to feel normal. Only to come home exhausted and bundle myself in the heavy weight of the only comfort I can offer myself. 

I’m sad. I’m becoming more bitter. I’m lonely. And a loneliness that can’t simply be solved with company. It’s a loneliness that just feels like I’ve lost my way home because home isn’t there anymore. Have you ever just wanted to feel good but no matter what you try nothing helps? So you setting for feeling nothing. I’d rather be numb than kayaking through my bedroom River of sadness as I draw blood from my jaw each time a clang or bang shakes my wall.

Trying so badly to stay present but that’s where it hurts the worst. I just wish and pray pray and wish for comfort. Please God? 

The great balloon release

There was an episode of Desperate Housewives after Gabrielle had a miscarriage where her husband gives her a balloon. When she is ready to release the pain of losing the child, she releases the balloon. It is a metaphor for the beginning of her healing. Though I’ve never explicitly mentioned it, I had a miscarriage a few years ago. I did not know I was pregnant until things were going wrong. When my doctor confirmed my worst nightmare I dropped to the floor breath knocked out of me and emoting from a place deep within me from which I had never cried before. Healing from the loss of significant relationships and this residual causality was doubly difficult for me and so I chose silence. I hated my body for choosing this time to prove its ineffectiveness. I wondered about the implications for future pregnancies. I wondered what I would have done. How as much as the loss hurt, the consequences of a successful pregnancy would have been equally as lasting and life changing. I was filled to the brim with unanswerable questions which turned to saltwater and poured across my cheeks at night. To make matters worse, I was alone. Years later the next time I would be intimate with someone I would be taken back to the traumatic loss. I did a tailspin into what-ifs. Would it happen again? Was I safe enough? Desperate for a different outcome never to feel that hurt again sex felt off limits, dangerous, and far too vulnerable. Unable to subject anyone else to this me and unable to accommodate any more room in my wounded womb, I swore it off. Similarly, I would hold on to my tiny balloon strings one for each lover who wasn’t threatening one for the little butterfly who flew away and one for the me before all the hurt. Since then times come when it sits very heavy on my heart. The secret. The silence. The relationship. The telling. The tears. They come and arising from that same place, and I let them. Tonight I had a conversation with the one who knew me both before and after. In preparation for it I told myself “do not attach yourself to an outcome, hold true to what you need and do not let go.” And I did. Faced with the opportunity to bend, reshape myself into that girl. The girl who needed so desperately to be loved. To be validated. To be told she was beautiful despite and because… To be held and when the time came to be actively pursued. But I couldn’t. I was no longer her and I no longer wanted to be her. Her innocence held no appeal for me, my scars held my story. The girl before the butterfly would never ever be me again, and I could finally let her go.

IMG_7265.JPGOnly, when I opened my hand I let it all go. Who I was. Who they were. The little one who changed my life so much. And the balloons floated effortlessly into the horizon. Like Gabrielle, it is not an ending. It is a beginning. The commencement of my total freedom. No longer clinging to pieces of who I used to be, what I thought I was, or previous possibilities I now have two open hands. And it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. The one of such pain and loss, a story I haven’t shared with so many important people in my life. Yet, it was the story that arrived as I sat. It is perhaps the most complex and difficult thing to grieve the loss of what could have been. To grieve possibility. That’s what my balloons were. This butterfly that could have been a baby. This man who could have been the one. This me who could have been happy with that life. But I am a different person now. And my possibilities are different. They are unimaginable. They are yet to arrive and complete surprises. They are pending…yet they are palpable. And I with two hands to hold it all.

Scribbles in reason

I was reading one of my best friend’s blogs, she’s such an amazing writer, and she had a new blog design. When we speak (she lives in VA) we talk about this world that many people are only proximally familiar with. They may read blogs or even write one…sometimes…on occasions…when the mood strikes. But we two are self and community proclaimed Bloggers.

As I was reading her latest entry I got to thinking about why she started, and then why I started. And how through the healing power of words and a supportive community we were both able to navigate through extremely troubled waters.

Along the way I have hurt people. I have mentioned friends, family members, boyfriends and they took offense to my words. I am talking too much and on the internet no less. I apologize for the hurt, but never the words. I speak my truth. I never intend to hurt or harm and truthfully if I write about someone in my life, it is in reference to them, and everyone knows I write. Isn’t that just an occupational hazard?

The thing is…Aeschylus was right, “words are the physician of a mind diseased.” So I am sorry for anyone I have hurt, but I am not sorry for healing. For getting better, stronger, more confident, more certain. For not thinking negatively every hour of everyday. The only thing that kept me here were the words. I will never be sorry for them, I am forever indebted to them.

I suppose that I continued because it centers me. Its the only place that is mine and though I invite people in, at dawn and dusk its only me. Its my altar and my sanctuary.

I want to write professionally, but I do not know if it will stem from this place, from Sincerely, Jess.  I mean it took me nearly four years to even share consistently on facebook. But I realize as much as this place is mine, its not for me. It is for all of us.

So in closing, a thank you. For reading. For commenting (I love them).  For linking and sharing with friends. For having me guest post. For walking with me on my journeys. For encouraging me. I am forever indebted to you as well.

And that is why I write.