You live in a black and white world except for four colors: red, green, yellow, and blue. As you look around in your periphery you see patches of green, yellow, and blue if you don’t have trauma. If you do have trauma, you may sometimes see a spot of red that engulfs your vision. When that happens, you collapse backwards.
Every day of your life you wake up a new person. For every past day of your life you have been a different person tainted with the different colors of that day. Each time you wake, you are a grey, blank slate ready for the day. Your past selves wake too and follow you in a line in chronological order. Let’s say you and your past selves get on a yellow bus with mostly blue passengers, but you pass a red building. Suddenly, you collapse backward to the person who saw red in that building on one particular day. Your present day self is gone, and you begin to shake.
This can happen for other memories too – perhaps autumn leaves make you see green, and you acquire green for that day and all your past selves with green autumn leaves collapse backwards and you collectively enjoy the leaves together.
See, I always thought people were always more than just who they are when you meet them or greet them for the day. They are moments upon moments of themselves. This is how I’ve tried explaining PTSD to my husband. I think it’s working.
Before Bear and I married, we honestly didn’t know how bad my PTSD was. I knew I had it to some degree, but it was vanquished because I didn’t talk about it. It was simply buried like a honey-badger about to attack our tiny baby marriage from beneath the surface. Does anyone remember that meme?
I remembered how bad my PTSD was when it first started. I would scream in the shower and twist my shampoo bottles across the water. I’d cry randomly in everyday places. Eventually I developed chronic pain once I did stop talking about it. I turned online to vent my fears. But the biggest thing was, the medical professionals denied my PTSD because I kept it under control by staying single for 6 years until I decided to date again, at my roommate’s suggestion.
Once I did, my career spiraled out of control. I began to see and hear things that did not exist at work coming from my male coworkers. There was no way I could work in an office. By the time I quit my job was the time I started going steady with my husband, who had no idea what was actually going on. Neither did I – I thought I had developed schizophrenia.
The same thing would happen at three more places of employment before I gave up and went to grad school, which was a lovely experience. But once I had a new permanent male figure in my life, the craziness exploded again – this time at my husband.
We’ve discovered that letting each other be open and vulnerable even over subjects the other thinks is stupid is the key to getting through our current situation. I’m no longer hearing monsters in the night. Tonight we slept in the same bed for the first time in two weeks. Not because he asked me to leave the room, but because I was hiding. That must have felt horrible to him.
I accomplished two sessions of EMDR this past week, and I think it’s responsible for getting my mind to chill out enough to communicate with my husband. I recommend it for anyone needing trauma therapy. Yes, you can do it remotely.