It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or where I am. I could be reading quietly or sitting at a table eating amongst friends and, in an instant, I’m transported. The book, the table, the commotion around me withdraws and instead, I am inserted into a vivid, living moment from my past. And usually, it’s a painful one. This is PTSD.
Truly, in the span of a single breath, I have flown backwards through space and time to any one of many scenes that rotate on replay in the ether of my mind. When I arrive, it’s so real that I don’t know that I’ve been anywhere else – there’s no future to speak of, just this moment, right now, and my body makes the shift.
My heartbeat quickens, pounding in my ears. My muscles tighten and my eyes narrow as I am face to face with him, her, it, the experience, again. And I feel the emotion, the same emotion that I felt the very first time, when I lived it.
It flows freely – anger, embarrassment, confusion, hurt or shock. It’s a wave that carries me along through the scene. I speak words in my mind that never make it out of my mouth. I’m trapped.
The pain is my boat, and I can’t get out. I can’t get off. In this repeated scene, I do new things, sometimes no thing, or the same thing. The one thing I never do is leave.
I can’t break away because in this moment, I don’t remember that this isn’t real. In this moment, right now, what I see, what I feel, and this scene is all there is. And it hurts.
When this haunting memory is finished with me, it departs just as quickly as it came. My racing heart is the only trace of its having passed through. My mind clears. I’m back, but I remember where I just came from.
I take deep breaths, in and out, letting the fresh O2 soften the rigidity in my body and slow the pace of my heart. Sometimes, I cry. Maybe just a few tears, sometimes more. It hurts to be dragged back through pain with no rhyme or reason. And it’s hard to explain.
How do you explain what feels like your own mind trying to take you out? How do you make that make sense? How do you make it plain without sounding too intense? This is what it is. And it’s just a regular day. If I told someone my daydreams hurt, they’d run away, afraid they’ll catch what has already caught me. So, I tell no-one. Instead, I pray.
My words speak of contradictions. Devotion and confusion. Praise and questioning. Struggle and surrender. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” flows from my heart, though I promise it’s not what I believe. But it is how I feel. And it comes with hot tears and anguish.
To this Lord that I love and whom I believe loves me my thoughts shout, “I thought you would deliver me … at least by now!” But out of my mouth comes, “Lord God help me,” in a whisper.
I seek God, believing that God IS; believing that I will be rewarded for my pursuit.
I put it all down in my journal, covering the lines and the margins. My words are addressed to all of Heaven and the hand that made it all. I let it all out and allow my tears to stain the pages.
When I am done, I feel a little better; a little lighter. But, tired too. I have no answers, yet somehow, I know that I have been heard. With that knowing comes a little peace and it is enough for now.