I Can Learn!

coffee-and-writing

I have been dealing with nightmares, flashbacks, and PTSD/PTSI for years now.  My current counselor advised that I write down the usual (date/time/weather/food/drink) but also include such things as what I was watching on television, music I listened to, what I was reading, was I stressed (always), was I anxious (always), how was I feeling, any other information I could remember.

I have faithfully done this for 3 years now and began to notice a trend, the flashbacks can happen at anytime, that much I get.  They have happened while I was drinking coffee in a diner and they have happened sitting in a restaurant having dinner with a beer.  But the most interesting trend…the nightmares seem to happen after I have watched programs on the History Channel regarding warfare or programs like Band of Brothers.

However, the WORST ones occur when I am extremely stressed, anxious, and distressed. Which almost always happens to me when there is someone near me who is insistent on jabbering on and on to me even though I try to ignore them or politely let them know that I am not interested in chatting (being an introvert, I am NOT one who enjoys shallow chit chat).  I don’t understand people who simply feel compelled to talk constantly to people who have given every indication they don’t wish to be engaged in conversation.  Yet they just go on and on, oblivious to the all signals.

I actually told one such chatterbox, as politely as I could, that, while I am flattered she found me worthy of her attention, I wished to be able to sit quietly and enjoy my own personal space.  This person either did not hear me, ignored my statement, or felt she had the right to invade my personal space because she continued on and on.  I finally looked her dead in the eye and said, “May I ask you a question?”  She stopped talking, smiled and said, “Sure.”  At which point I got up and left.  Honestly, by that point I didn’t really care if I had offended her or not.

I understand that I am an introvert and that not everyone is such.  However, I cannot understand why others seem to believe that introverts should become targets of their aggressive personal space invasion and to be tormented by there nonstop chattering.

The Darkness

The Darkness seeps into every cell and synapse of my mind. Like an oily mist slowly engulfing every thought until no longer has a spark of light remaining.

Paralyzed! Unable to move or think or breathe. Only the droplets of sweat are able to move. Eyes cannot unsee the memories of the evil deeds done, which can never be undone. Scars that still seep blood. Screams which cannot be released…stuck in the throat, choking….suffocating.

Every appendage trembles as they straining to escape, yet the electricity of horror refuses to release the mind or body. Eyes open, unable to close, forced to bear witness to the carnage rendered by these unmoving hands.

Is there any relief to end this cycle? Will death end these horrific scenes? What is a quick and painless way to cease to exist?

Sleep is always elusive! During the day, The Darkness is always just within the realm of consciousness waiting for the chance to invade again.

Sitting at my desk, driving to another meeting where I am expected to help others, staring into my coffee, while staring into my computer screen, I still hear the screams spilling from The Darkness into my mind.

Would that my mind would snap and be done with this torment! Would that my heart would cease to beat so the pressure would not suffocate any longer.

Release! Sweet permanent release of death. The cold silence of the end.

Slogging

flashbacks

The darkness was so dense it clung like skin.  My feet felt as if I were slogging through swamp mud.  Just ahead I could barely make out the backs of First Squad as they moved with precision and stealth over the dune heading for the village.  In my mind, I could not keep up.  My legs felt like lead and I could not move any faster.  As I struggled, my own squad moved past me.

When they crested the dune, in the night sky I saw an even darker entity and I heard a deep, evil chuckle.  As soon as First Squad reached the village center, I heard a rifle crack.  I finally managed to reach the top of the dune just as Second Squad reached the outskirts.  Then all Hell rained down!  The village had been emptied and set as a trap!

From over the rise came the mortar shells. They came crashing down into the village destroying everything in a maelstrom of death.  I was forced by this dark entity to watch as my Squad and First Squad were shredded, shattered, and destroyed.  Only two out of 10 managed to escape and they were badly injured.  I tried to shout commands and tried to scream in frustration, but nothing came.  I smelled the death in the air as the faces of those I knew, my brothers, were dying.  The blood was horrifically splashed everywhere, the coppery smell filled my nostrils, yet I still could not make a sound or move.

Finally, the insurgents came down the far dune firing their AKs into the bodies to make sure they were dead.  Finally, as if to show the evil disdain, I was released to move and speak.  I stared at the carnage and could not believe that humans were capable of such horror and carnage.

I was soaked with sweat, every muscle in my body was tense to the point of knotting, and I woke as I was halfway through the Lord’s Prayer.

I hate flashbacks!  The older I get, the worse they get.  There are times when I cannot discern what is memory and what is happening now.

Adventures In Stuff Mart

Stuff Mart

I pulled into Stuff Mart to get my supplies for the month and was absolutely stunned by the complete apathy of people, as the detritus they left behind proclaimed.  When I exited my car, I was greeted with the pungent stench of a rotting dirty diaper sitting right next to a refuse container!  This diaper had not even been folded or wrapped, it was just left with the putrid contents drawing flies from near and far.  This was surrounded by empty water bottles, various food wrappers, straws, cigar and cigarette butts, beer bottles and cans…all less than a single step from the rubbish bin. Then there were the abandoned carts scattered, each containing more rubbish and refuse.

Is this indicative of our society having become so apathetic that we seem to believe “someone else” is responsible for our own laziness?

Upon entering Stuff Mart, the lazy apathy continued to be apparent.  There were pallets of merchandise blocking aisles while employees leaned on them glued to their cellphones.  Then came the Aisle Blockers who come in droves, refuse to walk behind each other, so there can be a two way traffic flow.  They spread out across the aisle and slowly trudge up and down each and every aisle.

Stuff Mart might have “lower prices” on some things, but I would rather pay more and go to a cleaner, less crowded shoppe for my supplies.  I HATE SHOPPING!!!

Just Venting

rant

There are quite a number of things I do not understand.

  1.  Who really cares so much about the details of lives of “celebrities”?  Do these curious folk have no lives of their own so they must engross themselves in every aspect of the lives of the Hollywood crowd?
  2. What is the big deal about who wears what to some event?  How many times have you been approached by someone to inquire who you are wearing?  My answer? “I’m wearing what I found in the shrubs. What’s it to you?”
  3. When did a square of tofu with two string beans and some schmutz drizzled on a plate constitute a $150 “meal”?  Just because you add the word “gourmet” to the item and shrink the size in no way creates an irresistible craving in my brain.  If I do not walk away filled (and with leftovers) it does not deserve the term “meal.”
  4. Who gets to decide what constitutes a “must have” item?  I strongly dislike buzzwords for the simple reason they are immediately overused to the point of nausea!
  5. When did we cease being dwellers on the same planet and become so offended by our fellow planet-dwellers?  So many seem to be bent on shouting, protesting, suing, rioting, and ruckus raising, yet no one seems to want to listen or work together to find mutually equitable solutions.

Rant concluded for now.

Peace

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Weary of the constant disruptions to my life from memories of times past, I took it upon myself to seek solace in the quiet of the evening air near the sea.  I wandered for a bit in the shadows, sat among the tombstones in the church cemetery for a bit wondering what it must be like to be dead.  I traced my fingers along the letters of the many names from bygone years and silently prayed that they had finally found peace.

From there I strolled along the ancient walk with the smell of flowers wafting from the gardens of the mansions of Rainbow Row.  My mind kept trying to go into nightmare mode, but I simply breathed in the floral bouquet and felt the gentle sea breeze caress my face.  I could hear the shuffling of others as they walked and chatted quietly.  A puppy came up to me and wanted me to play, so I picked it up and was greeted with eager licks and snugglings.  A young woman came running up, and thanked me breathlessly for finding her puppy as he had gotten away from her. I told her it was my pleasure because I love dogs and especially the ones who like me too.  She laughed and asked if she could buy me a drink as a reward.  Drink…I remembered what happened when I had “a drink” last night and did not want to repeat that episode.  However, I told her she could buy me a drink if I could buy her dinner.  She agreed and off to Tommy Condons we went, where dogs are allowed on the patio.

I told her that I was not one for small talk, being extremely introverted, and she responded that we have two things in common: A love of dogs, and being introverts.  I made the lame joke that we also have dining in common.  She smiled politely and rolled her eyes as she “punched” my arm.  We dined on roast beef sandwiches, she ate my pickle, she bought us Jameson rocks and we sat there having a deep conversation about being at peace.  I admitted that I struggled with finding peace, to which she replied: “Peace is not something you find. It’s not a destination either.  Peace is a journey.  Peace is nothing that no matter what happened or happens, we are okay with our life.”

I’ll admit that was a lot for my brain to process, and I pondered it for a long time.  Then we had to walk the puppy as he was getting restless.  While we walked, I thought long and hard about my life.  There are parts I don’t like about it.  There are events I wish never happened.  There are times I wish I could take back.  Then her words hit me, and I realized that nothing in my past can be changed.  Nothing in my past can physically hurt me.  As long as I can accept that the past events happened and remain IN THE PAST, then I can begin to move forward in peace.  I also realized that this was going to be a journey because the phantoms of my past will not leave me in peace willingly. But at least for this evening I was at peace.

Step one…  One day at a time….one moment at a time….accept what you cannot control or change and learn to accept it as part of the fabric of my life.

At the end of our evening, I asked if I might be allowed to walk her to her door.  She agreed with a smile.  Upon arriving, She unlocked the door, I kissed her hand and thanked her for an extraordinary evening.  She told me that she enjoyed our time together and kissed me on the cheek, I blushed being unaccustomed to such kindness.

When I arrived home I reflected on the evening and decided that I needed to make some changes.  First, the face in the mirror needs to learn to be more thoughtful and positive.  Hiding in the dark is no way to live, unless one is a troll.  Second, I need to learn to get out more.  I enjoyed her company and felt most comfortable.  I like that.  Third…well, I can’t think of a third right now, so I’ll stop here.

Not My First Mistake…

Kracken

Having wearied of the constant nightmares and memory flashes during the day, I sought solace with an old friend of many years.  I used to drown my dreams in rum, and finally decided that they don’t die so easily, so pursued counseling and medication.  That proved to be quite the waste of time in my mind. So I am at a loss as to what to do.

Counseling….my first counselor told me that I need to face my nightmares head on and, in so doing, they would have no more control over me.  Well, that was as effective as trying to break a boulder by pissing on it.  Then medications were added to the mix.  I was already exhausted from lack of restful sleep, so adding the medications made me even more tired and when I did sleep, the meds didn’t allow me to wake up very easily which was SUCH a joy having to relive every event over and over in vivid clarity with the smells and sounds magnified.

The next counselor was a bit better.  Encouraged me to write down my memories, which I did, and then write down whatever my mind showed me and whatever I felt.  This counselor said by keeping records we should be able to discern a pattern or, at least, some of the triggers.  While that SOUNDS like a good plan, it also means I have to, not only keep records, endure these flashbacks and nightmares until something can be figured out, not to mention having to pay this counselor more and more until they decide I have provided enough data.  I need some relief!

For lack of a better option, I returned to my original “medicinal” concoction.  When I returned to consciousness this morning, I realized what a mistake that was.  But it wasn’t my first mistake, and most likely will not be my last.  I discovered three empty Kracken Rum bottles, my house looked like a bunker had been thrown together, my pantry was destroyed, I was soaked with sweat, and weak enough I could barely crawl into the shower.  I did look in the mirror and the face that looked back appeared skeletal.

I am tired.  I am tired of going through this over and over.  I am tired of being tired.  I am tired of the nightmares and flashbacks.  I am tired of reliving it over and over.  I am tired of being broken.  I am tired of not being normal.  I am just exhausted!