The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Baring Scars- My Refusal to Numb Myself

I think sometimes that we have a tendency to forget just how hard it is to keep going. It’s so much easier to cave, and fall back into old habits. They’re so comfortable, and they know us so well. Moving forward, almost always means getting rid of the stuff that will only hold us back, and this is no more evident than in the life of someone who has endured great trauma.

I do not ask for sympathy, nor do I ask for leniency. Instead I ask for you to just try to understand. I may not show it, but inside I am hurting. On the inside, I’m a complete mess, and there are moments that I would do practically anything to stop from feeling. The pain is an enormous ravenous beast, and it feeds on us. It feeds on me. Simply put, it drains the life, the energy, right out of me, and I can’t find a way out of its grip. Not always. What’s worse is I get so tired, that I stop caring about fighting it. I just want it to end, whether that means letting it drown me and then ebb away of its own accord, or it deciding I’m no fun anymore now that I’m not fighting it, and then moving on to someone/something else. Sometimes I wonder if the pain itself isn’t too familiar. Too comfortable. What would I do if I had the time away from it, and could just be. How would that feel? Would I be a different person? …Would I be “normal”?

All introspective questions aside, when the pain gets bad, the soul wants numbing. Just like any physical ache, where you take some pain reliever to ease it, the emotional pain also wants relief. Unfortunately, they don’t really make anything for that. Sure, there are anti-depressants, but since this isn’t a pain that heals fully, it’s the same thing as taking pain killers for a chronic condition. You’re not kidding anyone, including yourself, the pain is still very much there. This opens the doors to some pretty scary places. For me, I rely on pills. No kidding. I’ll admit it, fully and openly. When the emotional pain becomes too much, the only thing I want to do is pop pills. Numb myself. If I’m high on some narcotic, I can’t be bothered to feel whatever ugly memory or thought has decided to show up. Sure, the come down sucks ass, but damn if the world isn’t a brighter place for the brief moment in time that I’m high. I almost feel like I’m okay. Like… like, I belong for just the briefest of moments. I’m not some fucked in the head female who over-analyzes everything, and is a bit too sensitive to slights. No, I’m a woman again. A woman who doesn’t give a fuck what you think or say. I’m on top of the world, and baby, I feel no pain.

Pain. I feel your presence. I cry. I remember. However, like the past few times now, I will not let you push me back into habits that while comfortable, are no good for me. I will not pop pills. I will not numb myself. I will find that same confidence, that same attitude without them. I don’t know how, where, or when, but I will. You beckoned to me tonight, and for a second I thought I would cave… Not tonight though. I won’t do it.

I did not ever want to admit publicly to this struggle I have with pills, but at the same time I don’t feel like this is something I can stay quiet about any longer. I can honestly say the last time I popped pills to cope with emotional pain was last year when I was being kicked out and just shut down. Before then it had been 3 years. I am stronger than the lure of an easy out. I am. So are you if you’re reading this and have the same struggle. We can kick this habit to the curb, and we can find a way to remain confident, even in the face of pain.

A thought that has been circling my mind: perhaps what makes us beautiful is actually our scars. Bare them with pride. They are a constant reminder that we have survived to live another day.

Hearts Held Together With Duct Tape and Superglue

    One of the things you begin to realize as you go through the healing process after an assault, is that there are parts of you that are irreparably broken. It’s not that you don’t want to fix them, it’s that they can’t be fixed. Other things can be fixed, and they get fixed in time… if and when we are ever ready to handle those broken pieces. Regardless of whether or not they can be fixed, we try to superglue and duct tape the pieces back together anyway. This usually causes deformed shapes.  Honestly, most of the time I wonder if on the inside I’m like the hunchback of Notre Dame, just instead of physically being deformed, my emotions and means of processing the things around me are deformed. These internal deformities cause me all kinds of problems, but this even more compounded when a man is in the mix.

 From what I understand, no one likes to be rejected. You can correct me if I’m wrong, and you either are or know someone who greatly enjoys being rejected, but I have never met anyone who does. This sense of rejection, whether falsely or not, is heightened in the walking wounded. Every little action, behavior, and word is analyzed to death. What did he mean by that? By this? Obviously he’s rejecting me. Whether or not I was really rejected, probably remains to be seen. However, that is how *I* see it. Rejected. Every little slight, perceived and actual, beat down on every chink and hole in my poorly held together emotional state of being. It turns out that a heart held together with duct tape and superglue while missing pieces, has no real defense. Like any good captain though, I remain at the helm. I will go down with my ship.

     You may wonder why a person would allow another in anywhere near the chinks in their armor, if they’re not sure if they’re going to be rejected or not. Valid question. In my experience, it is better to open yourself up to the possibility of pain, then to keep everyone out until they have shown they will not reject you. Besides, they’re humans. Humans hurt humans. That person is going to hurt me eventually, might as well see what they do from the get-go, right?

     I have been up since 8am on Thursday. PTSD triggers have been pulled, and I can’t sleep. I feel insignificant. Unimportant. Unattractive. I want to vanish. It would be great to pack up my bags and just leave. No telling anyone, just leaving. Unfortunately, I can’t. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t run anymore. I will face this monstrous beast of laughing insecurity and torturous self-loathing head on. I want to bleed. I am feeling less than human again, and bleeding always serves as a release and reminder that I am human. I will not cave. I will not start a fight, nor will I harm myself. I can’t. I always feel so weak afterwards, like I might as well just concede defeat. There has to be a better way to remember I’m human; to get that release. These ugly things that I am reminded of as this latest episode rolls across my life like a tsunami, pick their way through the holes in my defenses even more, creating huge, gaping holes. I feel so beat up and used. I can’t seem to remember what it feels like to not feel like a broken doll. Again, I torture myself wondering, who the fuck could ever love a woman such as I? A woman who will not be able to love the way she wants to every day, as some days the dissociation is so bad, that I can’t feel a damn thing? I remember that I am supposed to feel something, but I don’t- nor can I be bothered to care that I don’t feel anything. 

     Some days, I can’t help but still wonder if it wouldn’t have been kinder and more humane if he had have just gone all the way and beat me to death. I was so physically changed anyway after he raped and beat me, what would a little bit more have done? I don’t know. Maybe if I could ever get to fucking sleep, I could feel differently. 

The Awkward Duckling

I’ve been left to my own thoughts for most of the day pretty much. My back went out early this morning, and I have been left in a lot of pain all day, including now. It’s probably time for me to make an appointment with the doctor and get referred to a chiropractor. None of this is the point of this post though, so let’s move on.

As I said, I have had a lot of time to think today. Most of my thoughts have not been the most pleasant. I refused to let them get me down though, and strove to remain positive. Insecurity is a bitch, and when it decides to make itself feel at home, it can be a pain in the ass to make leave. Like any unwanted guest, it’s oblivious to any and every hint that it’s not wanted. Most of my insecurities (and I’m willing to bet most of everyone’s), stem from perceptions and events in my childhood and adolescence.

I almost hate to write this, because I know some of my family follow this blog and they will disagree with my perceptions, or feel like they need to let me know otherwise. However, I know I’m not the only one to feel this way, and I’ve always believed in being honest. So here goes nothing. Growing up, I always felt I was ugly. I had my first boyfriend in high school, though he didn’t last long. Turns out, I hate clingers. After him, I dated a total of… drum roll please- one other guy. I just never got asked out. Seriously. I assumed this was because I was simply not attractive, however, I know guys I went to high school with who were attracted to me back then. They just never bothered telling me or doing anything about it. While the common sense part of my brain says that I should then not be affected by it, being told after you spent four years believing you were ugly that you were not, doesn’t help much.

That belief that I wasn’t very pretty carried on past high school, and still exists to an extent today. Even when I was in the military and actually had a pretty active love life, I believed that they were with me because I made them laugh and there wasn’t a prettier woman around. I do have a pretty good sense of humor, it’s been my saving grace many a time. After I got out of the military, I had men that I had served with who finally felt like it would be appropriate to tell me I was beautiful. I was shocked. I’m always shocked when a man tells me he thinks I’m beautiful, because I do not see it myself.  So, apparently I am not as ugly as I seem to think I am. Which brings me to my next question.

Why do we wait so long to tell someone they’re beautiful? Or sometimes not tell them at all? One guy told me after he found out I was shocked that he had just assumed I knew. Is that what it is? We assume someone knows how they’re perceived? Oh friends, family, and strangers, listen and listen well: do not assume. None of us are mind readers, and perceptions can be colored in so many different ways. I’ve talked about this with a very few other women I know, and I am not alone. Many of these women who I think are beautiful, have no idea they’re beautiful. No one has ever told them.

In a world where we are told to strive for perfection, but perfection is airbrushed, is it really so surprising that so many women have no idea how beautiful they are? After years and years of men assuming I knew the way they perceived me, but me never knowing, is it really so surprising that I get so insecure when I’m interested in a man? Since they assume I know the way they perceive me, I always assume that means they see me as not attractive. I’m not asking for anyone to decide to come up to me and tell me, “You’re beautiful”. It’s ok. One of these days I’ll figure it out for myself. I think. What I’m asking is for you to stop assuming things about people in general. Don’t assume they know anything you think or feel. Like I already mentioned, NO ONE is a mind reader. You have to let people know how you feel. I think if we all just spoke our minds more, and assumed less, our relationships would be so much stronger and easier.

Just a thought.

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