After driving home from my grandmother’s farm, I lie on my bed and stare catatonically at the ceiling fan. My body wants to do something, but my mind is stuck, frozen, unable to make my body function.
I think about death. The more I think about death the closer I feel like I am approaching death. My stomach hurts. I cannot stop going to the bathroom. All I can think is cancer runs in my family. What if I have bladder cancer? What if I am dying? After seeing grandma confused and frail in the nursing home, death is directly in my face. I am so scared about how I will leave this world. Panic creeps into my chest. My heart feels like it could explode. My shoulders feel so heavy as if they were supporting a pile of bricks. Panic. Panic. Panic. I need to work. I need to focus. I need to move on with my life. But all I can do is sit and stare at the ceiling as though the answers are scribbled across it. The ceiling is a blank canvas and has no answers. My mind too is a blank canvas containing few answers.
Call someone. Call someone. I call my husband. It doesn’t help. I agitate him and am not very nice, accusing him of not understanding, thinking I am crazy, and being mad at me. It was exhausting for him I am sure.
I feel exposed doing it but I call Aunt A., leave a frantic voicemail. I feel so damn alone and overwhelmed. She calls me back and talks me through it, tells me I’m not crazy, that I had retriggered the PTSD. I can’t believe I have full-blown PTSD. In the past several years, I wrote off the idea that my abuse caused so many problems. The way I was raised, made me tough I reasoned. Yes, it did for a while and then that toughness began to crumble like the foundation on an ancient house, each piece splitting and cracking and then splitting and cracking some more. I can no longer handle stuff the way I once could. Over the years, I could slip on a mask, shut off my feelings, and go into a numb trance, and tolerate people further taking advantage of me.
Now I freeze like I did as a child. Freeze and shake and sweat and tremble and cry. So much toughness has morphed into so much weakness. I am not dead though so I must still have some of that toughness inside me, fighting for life. I trust Auntie when she tells me that I will come out on the other side much stronger.