Two weeks ago, while innocently going about life I was witness to a traumatic event that rocked me to my core.
Two weeks later and I’m still afraid to leave my house. I’ve been working with my psychologist on the hyper vigilance that I feel, even in my own home. My meds have been adjusted once again so I can sleep, although my night is haunted with reliving the event over and over, only this time I’m not safe. My mind is filling in all the what if’s that never happened. While I was only witness to the event, and I am safe telling myself the same feels hollow. When my doctors or psychologist remind me I am safe I break down. I want to believe them, but my instincts override their honesty.
This used to be my normal almost a decade ago, when I was diagnosed with PTSD after finally getting out of a domestically abusive relationship. That took years to overcome, and as has been explained to me, because of my illness I am more susceptible to experience stronger reactions to trauma.
So the fear now is two fold, one that I am not safe which isn’t reality but sure as hell feels like it, and that one night of being in the wrong place at the wrong time will take me years to overcome.
Add to that the shame and guilt I feel for not bouncing back, then the self criticism for knowing that’s not how trauma works and I’m making progress every therapy session I have. For anyone who has lived with mental illness I’m sure you can relate and fill in the rest of the negative spiral.
Trauma is a funny thing, it never arrives when it’s convenient and the more you try to forget it the more it stirs up old wounds. The body sensations that feel familiar again, bringing up old memories that hadn’t surfaced in years. Things you thought you had worked through but now are opened anew.
I don’t know when I’ll feel safe again, I don’t know when my childhood teddy bear will go back in the box it’s been in for 20 years. When I’ll be able to tell people about the experience without feeling my heart race and my head pounding. Without scanning the exits and trying to come up with the best excuse to go home, curl up with my dog and my teddy bear and just cry til I fall asleep.
But what I do know for sure is this, trauma thrives in the dark. Hiding from it only makes it more powerful, and working through it at the pace that feels safe and honest with people who are trained to help you will make it easier. Good days and bad, or a mix of both are sure to happen. Have courage, from previous experience I know that in time this will not be my reality. Have patience, the wound is still fresh and will take time to heal. Be kind to yourself, don’t lose who you are, a beautiful human being, because of something that is not your fault.
I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was not my fault, I am safe and one day I’ll actually believe that.