The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Sunshine and Dancing Shadows

One of the most interesting things in the world, is how others perceive you. You have limited control over this perception, and the rest remains with the individual looking at you, and their background, their biases, their history, their personality. I have no idea why some of you read this blog, and no idea whether its doing any good for any of you or not, but that’s not my concern. I have no idea how any of you perceive me. What you see when you look at me, or for those of you who’ve never seen me, how you imagine me to be. I’m not talking just physically either, I mean, what kind of a person do you think I am? Do you see me as a woman? A victim? A disembodied voice? Am I true? Am I a lie? Maybe I’m a reflection of you? What about a shadow? Am I your shadow dancing on the wall? A dark impression of a dark memory in your mind that normally stays hidden but is seen when exposed to the light? Who am I to you?

These are some of the questions that float around in my mind, but are more prevalent today, thanks to the newfound attention this blog has been receiving. I am flattered and honored that my friend at found my blog to be of enough interest to honor me with the New Blogger Award, but what does it mean? Do I now owe her or anyone reading this anything in particular? Am I now obligated to create posts that are infotaining enough to get my point across while dancing like a monkey to keep you coming back for more? Am I allowed to continue on as before, without regard to who may or may not be reading this, or why?

I have no answers.

I cannot pretend to not know that there are people reading this now, just as I cannot pretend to not know that there is a spotlight, no matter how big or small, on me now. I’m not sure how this will affect me in writing this blog, but I am sure that I will be attempting to write still as though no one were reading, and to keep that blunt honesty that I have tried to maintain at all costs. If nothing else, I owe it to myself.

Today I am happy. I have spent time taking pictures of some of the beauty that is found downtown, and of my shadow in different poses. I love the idea of my shadow dancing, mirroring my own life where I am continuously dancing, even if it’s not recognized. Shadows are most always seen as scary and almost evil, or at the very least, as mischievous and tricky as seen in Peter Pan. Why can’t our shadows be our friends? I really think that today my shadow was my friend and my dance partner. There is a tremendous amount of delight and joy that can be found when dancing with your shadow. I’m sure to anyone looking in on me in my backyard, it looked ridiculous- a full-grown woman dancing around, holding odd poses and laughing at her shadow, but for me, it was magical. I did feel like a kid, but it was a great sensation.

How often we forget that it’s okay for us to play! We run around, putting life into a neat, ordered “to do” list, checking things off as we get them done. Graduate high school? Check. Get accepted into a college or university? Check. Get a job? Check. Get married? Check. And so on and so on. For the record, if we were doing a huge checklist for life, I’d be failing miserably at this task. I seem to jump around a lot, and not do things in order, or do some things at all. Luckily, life is not a “to do” list. Life is so much more, and is so much more fun as a result. Life is about living in the moment, and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, even the ones to play. A thought that struck me in the shower a few days ago was, “The best part about living, is living.” I like that. A lot.

After class, a classmate walked with me to my car. Which is clear across campus. He talked with me the entire time, and we jumped around from topic to topic. It was great. I haven’t had a conversation that comfortable and free-flowing with someone I barely knew in a long time. It went so well in fact, that I gave him a ride to his place and we decided to do this again on Wednesday. That’s right, the woman who almost never makes plans, just goes with the flow, has made plans to just hang out and chat with someone for about an hour and a half on Wednesday. What has the world come to? I don’t know, but it sure is beautiful.

Dance shadows, dance!

On Finding the Strength to Carry On/ Valentine’s Day Blows

Yesterday I had what we had hoped would be a closure meeting with my therapist. Everything was going well, I had more confidence and didn’t feel anxious. Then near the end of the appointment she asked me about Valentine’s Day. Everything slowly crumbled under me. At first it was just a general dislike of the holiday, and to be fair, I’ve never been a huge fan of it. I love romance, but hate the holiday. Then it spiraled into a conversation about physical intimacy and any hangups I might have in that department. Oh boy. The crumbling apart sped up.

I confessed that I did have problems with physical intimacy, that I had to move slower in that department then I used to before the assault. I am so messed up still, that sometimes one moment I’m completely okay with being touched and a few minutes later I don’t want you touching me. I don’t even want you looking at me. The guy usually hasn’t said or done anything wrong either, it’s just this immediate turn-off, instantaneous freeze on my part, and I don’t know what’s triggered it or why it’s there, it just is. This is so frustrating for me, because one of the major ways I communicate with someone, especially someone I care about, is through touch.

She recommended that I just take a time out when these moments hit. She suspects that when those moments hit me, that I’m probably subconsciously picking up on cues that these touches are leading to sex, and that I may feel it’s going too fast, or that I’m being objectified because whoever I’m with might be thinking more of himself than of me in those moments. So these cues are causing me to shut down. I need to try just taking a time out and just being with my partner, and if he’s not okay with that, lose him. I’m pretty good at losing guys, it’s getting a guy who’s willing to move slow so as to not scare me, and take the time to make sure I’m comfortable with him that’s hard. I’m single right now, and I’ve been single for a few years now. Apparently, the thought of opening myself up to a vulnerable state is still very hard for me to do. I’d like to though.

I don’t know when I’ll find someone, or even if I will. I’m not sure if my hang-ups are too much for someone to handle and deal with. My therapist seems to think I will. I don’t know if she’s also psychic or what, but she’s confident that I’m going to meet someone and he’ll be worth it all because he’ll be patient and loving. I certainly hope so. I can’t do casual sex anymore. I’ve done it before, but I’m at a point in my life where if I’m not with someone I trust and love, I just can’t do it. It’s terrifying enough just thinking about being with someone who I love and care about, I can’t even begin to imagine being with someone who didn’t love me, and who I didn’t love. I don’t think I could trust them, and that may be sad, but it’s true.

She wouldn’t let me leave on time. She knew we had uncovered a sleeping ghost, so kept me for an additional thirty minutes. I have no idea if she had an appointment scheduled for after me, but if she did, I’m so sorry I made you wait half an hour, but I was not ready to leave that office and face the world. As I was leaving her office, I was unsure, and as I told a friend via text message, I was so insecure. It felt like everything was in shades of grey. I walked back to my car and thought to myself, “Why can’t I get over this? Why am I stuck on this hang-up? Will I ever get over it, or am I doomed to be like this for the rest of my life? If I ever find someone and that’s the case, I really hope he has a lot of patience. That poor man. He’d be better off running.”

I had to miss my ballet class because of the appointment going over, which was even more frustrating for me. I went home after meeting my mom and a friend for lunch and just passed out. I was so exhausted, it was like I’d run a marathon. Woke up and went to see Wicked. It was amazing! I had a great time with my mom experiencing the show! I left smiling and in a great mood. I thought that maybe that was all I had needed and now I could go back to being upbeat and positive. It was not to be. Instead, I had the night from hell.

I spent my night tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep, but scared to at the same time, because every time I did fall asleep, I’d have nightmares and wake up crying or moaning. I kept dreaming that I was in this strange building and this man raped me. I remember thinking every time “Not again… I can’t do this again, can’t go through this again.” But it happened again. And again and again and again. Afterwards, I’d try to call the police and these other people kept telling me I was a horrible person, and a liar, and that nothing had happened. They’d make lewd gestures at me and laugh these horrible laughs. I hurt so bad, emotionally and physically. No one cared about me, it was like reliving the original rape all over again, just with different people and different circumstances. I woke up more exhausted than I went to sleep as. I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position, hiding in my closet, and not step foot out. The world was a cruel, terrible place again and I wanted no part of it. I was literally sick to my stomach and could not eat. I forced myself to eat a little bit anyway, because I was not going to miss class. It was not happening.

I got myself ready and cried all morning getting ready and on my drive to school, but I was determined to go. Even if it meant hundreds of people seeing me cry, because I was not letting these awful dreams and feelings keep me home. IK can’t have any more power over my life, no more dictating where I go and when I go. Those are MY decisions. I may not be very strong, and I may not be able to look people in the eye or walk with my head up high on days like today, but I will be damned if I don’t go just because I am afraid. This is my life, and I will go where I want to go and when I want to, because it’s my decision.

My ballet teacher is amazing. Seriously. I broke down in her office and she handed me a tissue and said this was absolutely the right decision. When going through hell, dance works as a fantastic means to take your mind off of everything, and this could be the only hour and a half I get today to not think about what’s bothering me. She kept on me extra hard, to ensure I had no spare seconds to dwell even slightly on it. Bless that woman. She was completely right, and I even managed to smile in class. I worked very hard and found I felt better. My next class was difficult, because thoughts did come back, and I did cry again. Thankfully, I had another dance class afterwards, and without being told a damn thing, it was like my contemporary dance teacher knew. She pushed me hard to really focus on every little movement I made and again, I had no room to think about anything besides what I was doing in that very moment.

Now I’m exhausted, ready to crash, but I feel so much better than I did earlier. I don’t know where the strength to push forward came from, but I’m thankful it was there. I’m also thankful for all the people who care enough about me to send me encouraging messages and texts throughout today, or when they saw me, to stop and give me a hug and let me cry on their shoulder for a bit. You all are amazing, and I know you know who you are. You helped me get through today, honestly.

If I can get through days like today, I can do anything. To quote Mariah Carey’s “Through the Rain”:

I can make it through the rain
I can stand up once again on my own
And I know that I’m strong enough to mend

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