I never used to believe in trauma. I thought the human mind to be a wholly elastic thing, a hard drive with limitless space and capacity that was capable of accepting and integrating information without kinks and burrs, without any reason for distress.
It’s the way I’ve been bought up. My family is stoic by nature, tough by nurture, and emotions are entirely separate from one’s body– feelings a simple flight of fancy that could be overcome by a strong mind and pulling one’s socks so far up they fucking suffocate you.
It’s been a learning curve, discovering how very wrong that is, and how deeply ingrained it is. It’s where a whole lot of that guilt comes from… Do not wallow. Get the hell on with it. Emotional weakness is not desirable, helpful or attractive.
It’s the reason I kick my own arse so hard when I can’t help but grieve and mourn and cry.
But– double edged sword, as most things are– it’s the reason I’m still standing.
But I know now, what I didn’t before… Emotions are as powerful as viruses and bacteria, for effecting the body and the way it runs.
Trauma, it can be like… not quite like cancer, I don’t think, because it just doesn’t eat that quickly, and it’s not that ferocious. It’s more like chronic fatigue syndrome.. it’s a condition that people are skeptical of, that slowly ebbs at your body, at your strength and resources, and leaves you exhausted and in pain.
But no one can see it, and everyone thinks you should be better by now. If you have CFS, a late night or a hard day or a glass of wine can leave you flat on your back for a fortnight.
With trauma, it’s the same… Only it might be an afternoon of punctuated sirens, a medical story you hear where someone’s face turned purple, an ad for CPR on the TV… Any one of those things might be the trigger for your body beginning to weep lactic acid into your muscles, for the world to turn grey, for your sense of self to to be disassembled all over again.
If you need living proof that trauma exists, then I’m it. It’s worse now, around the anniversary of his death, than it has been in a while… I am tired but wired, jumpy but exhausted. People sneaking up on me unintentionally cops them an earful. I find myself in the middle of ugly flashbacks that are heat and bright sunshine and the silence of a suburban afternoon, a baby in my arms and my husbands shirt beneath my hands, the dead weight of him and his face, later that night, in a bed in the ICU swollen and discolored.
That unending frying loop of a circuit in my brain… The way my whole body aches as if I’m coming down with an infection or the flu… Don’t tell me that’s not related. Don’t tell me that this is a product of my mind, or that nothing could possibly be that bad. It happened in the space of three seconds, but it’s burned on my brain like the bright light from a camera flash, the physical reactions exist deep within my muscle memory.
This will follow me forever.