Charlie the wonder shrink seems to come through with the goods every time, and this time is no exception.
After missing three scheduled appointments due to sick children with screaming temperatures and aching ears, I fall into the big white chair in Charlie’s office with a valid sense of relief. I talk for the next twenty minutes, unravelling for him what my life has become over the last six months or so.
I cry occasionally, silently, and I wipe the tears away quickly while I’m looking over into a corner of the small office, unable to look at people directly when I cry for the fear that I will see pity on their eyes; and that will break whatever strength I have remaining.
I tell the truth, that I sometimes sleep with random people purely for the thrill of it; and I can’t look him in the eyes then either.
I confess that I am afraid of myself, afraid of what I will become… whatever I seem to be manifesting into.
And I walk away feeling somewhat normal in spite of my self; somewhat reassured that I have not yet reached the limits of human endurance, of our natural capability to cope… people’s minds survive much worse than this.
It’s still the smoke alarm, explains Charlie, the same one the PSTD made faulty. It’s been shrieking at everything for a long time now. Perhaps it is something with limits, and they have been reached– the batteries drained. Desensitized, so to speak.
And, in turn, from one extremity to the other; the malfunctioning smoke alarm that is my brain no longer goes off at the mere suggestion of smoke.
It takes a whole fucking bonfire.
Small amounts of stimulation– the kind ‘regular’ people live on, thrive on, day to day; they are no longer enough to penetrate my psyche. My emotional self is a body part with the blood flow restricted– poke me with a pin, I’ll feel nothing at all except perhaps the slightest pressure, the slightest knowledge of something on my skin.
Hack at me with a machete… I’m guaranteed to feel that.
That’s why it takes so much to feel alive… why I’m walking around seeking something, something real, even in my sleep.
There’s more, of course– if only it were that simple– but I’m exhausted just writing that out, never mind thinking too hard about it.
I need a vacation from my head, just for a moment… sometime to release the pressure before I have to jump back into my own mind again.
There is nothing like being very, very sick and in charge of two small children to make you feel more terrifyingly vulnerable and perfectly mortal than you ever imagined possible.
Charlie the shrink tells me that, in it’s essence, the safety net that protects most people from the world has, for me, been stretched so far and hangs so loosely around reality that it’s not surprising I am hyper aware of potential consequences, potentials risks and possible flow on effects.
People can’t die like that, in front of you, right there.
That would never happen to me.
Yes, it would.
With those truths in place in my psyche; leave me fevered and sick, unable to move from my bed with my tiny daughter burning up beside me, and when my subconscious whispers…
“She could die..”
There is no resounding voice to say “Don’t be silly.”
It’s the inherent fragility of myself, worn down and exhausted and sicker, now, three times in the last year, than I have been in my life; that beats at the back of mine and taunts me in fevered dreams. It’s the aloneness of it, the fact that the only person I can call right now for real, psychical help is my mother, and she should be with my gran, and can’t afford to catch a virus for that very reason…
What would happen to us, without her? I have morbid visions of waking near dusk from a fever–induced coma and finding my daughter still and dehydrated beside me.
It’s not as dramatic as that, of course. But we sleep for nearly forty eight hours straight, waking only once so my mum can drive us to the local doctors, falling asleep in the waiting room with my daughter on my lap.
I hate this. I hate that the responsibility always falls on my mum, not that she ever complains, but I am continually overflowing with gratitude for her– she does so much, picks up so much of the slack that I unintentionally leave laying around, for others to trip and fall on.
I hate this constant, grinding illness my body seems to be working itself through– a grief sickness, a mourning illness, the toll that trauma has taken…
The loneliness is sharper, when I’m sick– all I want is to be wrapped up, to not be the one in charge. I spent a night at a man’s place not long ago, and the essence of it’s comfort was this– if someone came into that building, in the ink of night, with a darkness or threat in their intent; I wouldn’t be the one who would have to get up swinging, grit my teeth against the shaking fear and face that threat.
Laying there, in that dark… someone else would have done it for me.
It’s not a lot, it’s nothing at all. But the weight of responsibility is so much heavier when I can’t stand up without feeling faint, when moving my muscles hurts enough to make me cry.
* Kids and I are on the up and up… slowly. My Gran is still well and truly hanging in there– reports tell me my uncle snuck her in Macca’s for lunch on Friday, which was exceptionally well received.