If you want to know more about this cycle within Complex-PTSD take a gander at this post.
I like to think I am relatively ‘easy going’. I’ve had folks tell me that I was a pleasure to work with. Huzzah. And I like to think that not many things send me into a point of anger. Of course, that could just be the CPTSD and the fact that I have virtually no emotions talking. But, hey. It’s chill. I’m good.
But then I meet folks who want to redefine my story of my life. They sit there and explain to me how my representation of my experience is ‘wrong’. Yeah. I ran into one of those recently. Oh… I really wanted to ‘rage post’, but my interior editor stopped me. Thank goodness for that titanium trap in my mind that usually keeps me from uttering something that might later be – ahem… unfortunate.
So, instead, I sat down and wrote this 100-word essay. I hope you enjoy.
And, just as a tip. When someone is divulging their truth to you, do not attempt to invalidate their experience in any way. It makes us grumpy.
That day, this day, lives in my mind.
The past echoes forward and troubles the present.
This echo is the long wave from a seismic event that cuts through my life.
There was before. And then, suddenly, irrevocably there was after.
Still, years later, I can form a vision in my mind. Each picture is a single frame of disaster and heartbreak that is engraved into my memory.
And here, on the other side of that divide, I can see the vast and terrible cost.
Even the cerulean blue sky of a crystal clear September day is no longer innocent.
You do not know my story.
Do not dare to soften my reality
to fit your comfortable limited view.
If I make you wince, good.
Is my honesty too much?
I spent years stuffing myself
Into silence for the comfort of others.
You will not use my truth as a tool
To advance your fiction.
I do not accept your rewriting of my experience.
I have come too far
To allow a fantasy
Composed by a stranger
To limit me.
I am my own.
You do not define me.
My truth is not yours to alter.
An image resides in my head.
I have never been able to shake it.
It is indelible.
A woman, her face obscured by her hair,
kneels at the edge of a hole.
Her arms scooped out tons of debris
which piles around her like ramparts.
Her defenses grow
with every attempt she makes
to deepen the hole.
The earth that does not join
the isolating wall falls back into the hole.
It is a task that can never be completed.
Nor can it be denied.
She is looking for something solid.
Trying to find herself and bedrock to stand upon.
As a child
silence was my haven.
I learned to be quiet,
talk quiet, walk quiet.
I knew every board beneath the carpet.
Those that would betray me
and those that would not.
I crept in the mornings past
my brother’s bedroom door.
Evening time I huddled close to the television.
Silent images flickered over the screen.
The idiot box and I were muted.
Silence meant safe.
When voices climbed violence gathered.
Shards of the silence were wielded like knives.
The spoken word was a weapon.
Shouted threats followed crashing doors.
The pounding of angry fists
echoed my pounding heart.
How do I explain the limits
that a child places on themselves
when faced with a certainty of
I tried to survive by becoming small.
I didn’t share the backseat with my brother.
I cringed in the corner between the seat and the door.
I curled into a knot.
Tighter, smaller so I presented less of a target to him.
Smaller still, curling in on myself
not allowing a hair, a thought
or an expression
to ripple the air around me.
Drawing in still tighter
I collapsed until nothing escaped,
becoming a single point
without boundary, mass or being.
With two words you have unmade me.
All my armor is stripped away,
my defenses lay at my feet.
You see me.
I would, I could… if I had any agency of my own.
But I am helpless.
As raw as the wounded child I am
at first I cannot breathe.
The past suffocates and
I struggle to draw in air.
Then my shattered senses make out your embrace.
You hold me as the storm rages.
You are the oak to my ivy, the shore to my wild oceans.
My haven. My husband.
“You’re safe. You’re safe.”
As a child my task
Was to conform myself to my confinement.
Before I could walk walls were in my way.
Unable to define myself I wandered aimlessly,
Only defined by the banks around me.
Parents placed their levees,
Each one diverting me to another goal.
Dividing me from myself.
I grew voiceless.
I grew small.
I surrendered pieces of myself,
Cutting them away.
Am I small enough?
Am I quiet enough?
In those days in that house
All was orderly, predictable, controlled.
No one sensed the coming storm.
Not me. Not them.
Until the rising flood swept everything aside.
Just is a word used to minimize and limit.
It saps verbs of their agency.
Just is short for “if I may” or “will you allow”.
If it’s ok with you, I just feel.
If you allow me, I just need.
If you agree, I just think.
Just is an apology before the action ever takes place.
I’m sorry I want.
I’m sorry I feel.
I’m sorry I think.
It implies “I can be smaller. I can be less.”
This word permeates me.
It is threaded through every fiber, down to my genes.
Thus I speak myself from the world.