It took me a month to decide I would actually start this blog. Then it took a week to set it up. Three days to begin writing. An hour to write the first post.
Because my therapist thinks it’s good therapy for my PTSD.
I finally did it. It was a small victory. But it was a victory nonetheless. And I so badly have needed a victory lately. It was a good post.
Somehow I deleted it. Yep, before posting.
This is how my life is. If I’m to have any victories, I have to redefine victory as “making an effort.” Making a start, maybe. Doing something.
My therapist thinks this is a good idea. I think she’s right, or I wouldn’t do it. Because it’s hard.
It’s so hard.
So many things are hard. Because this is what my life is, doing hard things.
You experience things, terrifying, horrific things, things that no one prepared you to experience. Things no one understands. And, if you’re me, you experience those things for years. It becomes your normal, your expected, your routine. You live with it, because that’s what you do. You live, whatever it takes.
And then, some day, you finally escape from it all. You try to build a life, try to find a new version of normal. But it never leaves you.
And the thing nobody talks about with PTSD–or maybe they talk about it, in a way, but always from an outsider’s perspective–it’s not the memories of the trauma that really ruin you. Sure, the trauma sucks. The flashbacks, the panic attacks, the moments when you feel small and helpless and inhuman. Those suck. And, in a way, people understand that.
But that’s not what ruins you.
What ruins you is the person you become while you’re surviving. You change. You accept what’s happening to you. You lose your ability to feel things normally, to react like a normal person. Your entire life becomes defined by resignation, by survival, by making it from this moment to the next moment. You accept that your only hope is to remain invisible, and then you accept that you’re exposed and naked. Eventually, you stop feeling it.
The hard, small thing that you became, the nameless thing that kept you alive, it’s the thing that ruins you. You are that thing now and that thing is totally useless in the normal world. That world you now have to walk around in, where you have to get out of bed and comb your hair, get dressed, and leave the house; where you drive to the grocery store and buy food, bring it home, cook and eat it; where you go to work, keep appointments, talk to people; the world where you can’t hide in a small, dark room and rock yourself and stare at the crack under the door. It’s the world where you have to rely on people, to trust people to help you, to expect goodness and some sense of fairness. It’s the world where you’re supposed to have friends, to smile and have that smile be genuine, to express sympathy and understanding, to make connections. But that nameless thing is you now; it’s the strongest, best part of you. And that part of you doesn’t work in the world you have to live in now.
What ruins you is that, for all you did to leave the old world, you fit in it better than anywhere else. You know how to live with fear, with pain, know how to tolerate the person who hurt you. What you don’t know is how to live in the normal world like a normal person. Eventually you learn to pretend, but it’s still coming from that place of survival. You’re learning the rules of your new world, learning to function in it. But, even as you form relationships and do the normal, day-to-day things that other people do, it’s just more survival. You’re not the person people think you are, the person people want you to be. You’re still just the thing, the nameless thing that does what needs to be done to make it through this moment, and the next moment, and the next.
This blog is supposed to help me to develop an authentic identity, an identity that isn’t the false-but-functioning new survival identity that other people see, and yet isn’t the old, hard thing I have been for so long. Somehow, I’m supposed to adapt to this new world, to not just live in it but to belong to it, to find meaning in it and, someday, to find hope and happiness in it.
Do I think that’s going to happen? Hell, I don’t know. That’s why this is a test.