“I am Phoenix, child of Light.”

That’s what I used to repeat over and over to myself when I was young and suicidal. I said it when I needed, desperately, to remember that I was stronger than my circumstances.

Tonight, those words came to my mind as I was trying to process what was going on with me. Tonight, I was triggered by the unwanted touch of another. Someone tried to hug me and then put their hands on my shoulders, from behind, and squeezed gently. I spoke to this person a bit later. They apologized and said they would try to remember that not everyone likes to be touched. We parted amicably and then I headed off to the Chicago Mayoral Forum, to get my civic engagement on.

But I was unsettled. I could still feel this person’s hands on me. I felt gross and unclean. I kept telling myself that it was fine. A misunderstanding. It won’t happen again. Why couldn’t I shake this unsettled feeling?

I made my way to the auditorium, but I felt very on edge. I thought it was because I unsure of my directions. I was in an unfamiliar place, I didn’t know where I was going. I was also cutting it close. When I arrived at the space, I saw all the people and I became more unsettled. During the event, I was mostly okay as I focused on what the candidates were saying. When it ended, I had only one thought: escape.

I bolted. Some people I knew were in the audience. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t look around. I couldn’t breathe. Once out of the auditorium, I got turned around in the labyrinthian hallways. I felt so vulnerable and upset.

When I made it outside, I didn’t feel too much better. As I sped-walked to the bus stop, I tried to make sense of what I was feeling. I felt guilty, ashamed and my mind my reeling. It took me a while, but I realized that I was having an anxiety-induced panic attack.

I tried to convince myself it was just because of the huge crowd. I hate crowds. I get claustrophobic. It was hot. I felt sick. I hadn’t eaten much today. I was dehydrated. I tried to remember the last time I had a panic attack. I couldn’t remember, but I knew it was before I stopped seeing my therapist a few years ago. Then I went down a different spiral.

Ever since I exited therapy, I had been doing so well. Once upon a time, the mere thought of going to a big event like the mayoral forum, would have made me sick. I spent years hiding from the world. I had to force myself to be social even with close friends. Going out drained me and triggered my anxiety. However, in the last year, I found myself feeling stronger, braver, excited about the prospect of going out and disappointed when plans were canceled.

But tonight I wanted to hide. I panicked. I felt weak and scared. I felt all my progress slipping away. I didn’t feel like myself. I was anxious all the way home and didn’t feel any more relaxed even within the safety of my four walls.

I keep thinking about why this happened. I don’t want this. This isn’t me anymore. I’m strong. I’m brave. I’m full of joy. I’m happy.

And that horrible, insecure little voice telling me that it’s all a lie. That I’m still broken. I’m not okay. How will I find love if I can’t be touched?!

I don’t want to hide myself away anymore. I love the joyful, open, loving me. I love going out with my friends and being nourished by their presence. I don’t want to go backwards. And I’m not sure how.

I sit here, drinking wine, blogging, trying to process and I have no answers. All I know is that I can’t go back. I won’t. I had a huge reality check tonight. That even when things are going well, I can’t escape my past. Even when I’m feeling good, my demons are lurking right beneath the surface. And the knowledge that I may never be fully healed.

About fenifuego

Just trying to make sense of myself and the world.
This entry was posted in healing, life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to PTSD

  1. edwinkimmd says:

    Reblogged this on Are. You. Mental? and commented:
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. scrabblinact says:

    I don’t think what you’ve described here is going backwards. You have some tremendous insight and we are all always moving forward. Triggers happen. It’s a new place to learn from. We can be full of joy and have a part that is scared and anxious. Hang in there. Thank you for writing this tonight.

  3. fenifuego says:

    Thank you for your comment! I agree that we can live in joy and experience fear. Trying to arrive at a place that is more the former than the latter. May we always move toward the Light!

  4. I understand completely. To the outside world, I might look like everything is normal, perhaps even fearless. People have commented on how well I am doing and how much I have over came. It is not the truth. I have stressors, lots of stressors, that make the cortisol flow freely through my body. My heart flutters in an abnormal manner, my chest gets tight, and the world tilts. I have even had out of body experiences. I cannot enjoy life. I have to be in a secure place and I travel through life in my own compartment. I lock the door to keep danger out, but it keeps the people I want to care about out of my life. You are not alone.

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