Nightmares plagued my sleep again, last night. More vivid, which meant that when it woke me abruptly at 4:00, I remembered it better – or worse, as the case may be.
But, I was actually able to fall back to sleep, and slept for another 5 hours. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept that late, but what woke me up wasn’t another nightmare this time.
It was a realization.
I don’t know why I haven’t seen this before, but I believe that this whole week, the re-flaring of the old abuse memories, the anger, the short-temperedness, the depression, the restlesness, and the wanting to – simultaneously – crawl under a rock and hide – and scream at the top of my lungs while I run through the streets breaking things….
Not on the same level as a soldier who’s been through a war, or a survivor of a terrorist attack.
(And why am I qualifying this? Why do I feel the need to validate my thoughts to anyone? Why do I feel guilty about saying that what happened to me is Traumatic, has caused me Stress? Why do I have to say “Oh, my problem’s not as big as someone else’s, it’s just a little bitty problem, so don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine”?)
Even 26 years after the fact, I still feel the anger, the depression, the frustration, the anxiety. Whenever I hear this person’s name, whenever I am forced to hear about him from my family, from his family, it rips me wide open again, and I’m raw and bleeding, without my family to back me up.
(Causing even more anger, more anxiety, more guilt, knowing that if I were to confront my family, the other family, that I would rip another hole in an already shaky relationship.)
And in the last couple days, I’ve been looking at myself in the mirror, wanting to totally change how I look, hack off my hair, change the color.
(I think it’s the flight response, desperate to hide, I’m looking to camouflage myself, so no one knows it’s me. Can’t find me – can’t hurt me. Wanting to almost destroy the old me, because I can’t stand being this person who has these feelings that cause so many problems for me.)
I’ve kept myself to a minimum of personal changes. Yes, I dyed my hair again, but it’s just darker, almost a chocolate color, with just a touch of red in it. And yes, I cut my hair, but just a trim, nothing drastic, nothing immediately obvious to the eye.
And I know that, when I’ve heard that they’ve left, gone home, I’ll begin to put myself back together again. When I know that the confrontation is not going to happen – again – that I’m never going to get that validation, I’ll shove the emotions, the issue, back to the bottom of me again. It’ll go away.
Not resolved, not really gone, just… away.
Like many others with PTSD, you can learn to live around it. But it never really leaves.