Warrior Princess

January 21, 2014

The Worse It Is

canstock2022383“The more you see, the worse it is.”–Elana Newman on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I read a couple of articles  about PTSD over the weekend.  I’m always drawn to stories about fellow-travelers, no matter how we came to be on similar paths.  Of the two men featured in the articles  one was a journalist who covered the Middle East wars and one was a Navy seal.  Both ended up dead by the hand of another vet  and the other crashed his car into a tree.  There is debate as to whether that was a successful suicide.

I didn’t think to prepare myself for the emotional fall-out.  It’s either never occurred to me or I forgot that reading about PTSD actually evokes it’s symptoms.  I really must learn to keep track of these things.

I was never in Iraq or Afghanistan; I am not a journalist or a veteran.  However, I saw (and sometimes was forced to participate in) my own private war, waged within the confines of my home as I grew up.  By the time I was three, I’d already seen and heard more traumatic events than most people have to endure in a lifetime.

It’s true.  The more you see, the worse it is.  I’ve learned to “manage” my flashbacks.  When the film starts rolling in my head, I often have to resort to imagining a room inside my head.  The room is made of stone, the door is thick wood and heavily bolted.  I move the images into that dungeon.  When I can.

If you run into me in a hall way, I will be noticeably startled.  Some people find this incredibly amusing.  I try to forgive them.  I worked with one sadist who found it endlessly entertaining to sneak up on me.  Luckily for him, he was never close enough to experience the consequences.  If you catch me unawares and you’re close enough, you will definitely get hurt.  I did find another way to stop him, though.  I will not be re-victimized by any asshole.  I’ve done my time–and more–as a victim.

Living in my head is a lonely existence, being lost in a terrifying house of mirrors, with the requirement that I find a way to live in this world without anyone knowing.

“The symptomatology of PTSD.
In PTSD a traumatic event is not remembered and relegated to one’s past in the same way as other life events. Trauma continues to intrude with visual, auditory, and/or other somatic reality on the lives of its victims. Again and again they relive the life-threatening experiences they suffered, reacting in mind and body as though such events were still occurring. PTSD is a complex psychobiological condition.”
― Babette RothschildThe Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment

That’s right.  The more you see, the worse it is.

January 14, 2014

Tuesday, 8:00 a.m.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — ggirl @ 11:32 am

???????????????????????????????????????“As soon as we notice that certain types of events “like” to cluster together at certain times, we begin to understand the attitude of the Chinese, whose theories of medicine, philosophy, and even building are based on a “science” of meaningful coincidences. The classical Chinese texts did not ask what causes what, but rather what “likes” to occur with what.”  – M.L. Franz

I caught a second or two of Dr. Phil, lecturing a couple of couples about infidelity.  The thing that always interests me the most about “real-life” television cheaters is how often the cheated-on and cheated-with resemble each other.  I wonder if it escapes the attention of the married half that his or her choice of sexual playmate looks remarkably similar to the cuckolded spouse.

There’s also the issue of attractiveness.  So often, I wonder why anyone would risk losing spouse, children and self-respect (assuming there’s some passing familiarity with that concept) to have (probably quick and unappetizing) sex with such homely lovers. (I’m not sure that “lover” isn’t a gross overstatement.)  Generally speaking, they both tend to be more than a little in need of sprucing up.

I don’t know.  If you’ve seen one philandering spouse, you’ve pretty much seen all of them.  I moved on to a Times article on the web about the difference between literary sex scenes written by “old” male writers and “young-ish” male writers.  

The commentary wasn’t all that compelling, really.  Having hit the second paragraph, I began mining for names of writers whose work I haven’t read yet.  It’s so hard to keep up, you know, on the blizzard of young, fresh, important writers published every year.

I spent most of a summer reading David Foster Wallace’s novel he failed to finish before welcoming his wife home with the vision of himself hanging from the end of a noose.  Apparently, everyone is reading DFW or, at the very least, talking about his suicide. (Count me in!)

Given that investment of time and energy, how could I ever hope to keep up?

I have a notebook I carry around with me containing page after page of writers I must get around to and topics I have to pursue.  It’s also filled with names of doctors, appointment times and other effluvia, but that’s another post altogether.

I love the synchronicity of Phil and novelists.  It just goes to show that at eight o’clock on any given morning, there’s some kind of cosmic flow to my life.  Sex with Phil, sex with Phillip Roth.  It’s almost too delicious to be true.

 

 

January 13, 2014

The Truth May Not Set Others Free

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“Adversity is the first path to truth.” – Lord Byron

“My father committed suicide.”

“I have breast cancer.”

“I was a victim of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse.”

“I have a mental illness.  I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” (see above)

When I was a young woman, I kept the secrets of my real life to myself.  Exactly like every other young person, I deeply longed to find acceptance by fitting in.  I studied long and hard to determine just what it would take for me to blend into the crowd.  I became a consummate chameleon.

I now tell the truth.when it’s appropriate.  The truth about my life’s difficulties isn’t something I share immediately, unless the topic arises in conversation.  If people wish to hear  a statement of fact, I provide them with as much truth as I believe they can handle.  Not everyone is capable of hearing everything. Some people have refused to shake my hand after I’ve told them about my breast cancer.

Some people change the subject quickly when the topics of abuse, mental illness and suicide come up.  Some people believe they know how I feel.  Others would like to hear the gory details about my life because they find it titillating. All of these responses have become predictable.

I don’t like to experience unpleasant reactions, but I believe that every time I tell the truth about these things, I chip away at stigma and intolerance.  I’m willing to face the consequences. I’m not trying to get a pat on the back nor is this a call for more people to take the leap of truth.  I just hope that I’m doing a tiny bit to create a future in which all that is profoundly difficult in life can be voiced without fear.  I hope that I’m standing in solidarity with all of the people who have, and continue to, suffer in silence.

May the truth liberate us all someday.

January 10, 2014

Death as a Touchstone

Filed under: Breast Cancer, Faith and Spirituality — Tags: , , — ggirl @ 5:57 pm

Image“A soon as we notice that certain types of events “like” to cluster together at certain times, we begin to understand the attitude of the Chinese, whose theories of medicine, philosophy, and even building are based on a “science” of meaningful coincidences. The classical Chinese texts did not ask what causes what, but rather what “likes” to occur with what.” M.L. Franz

I’m not certain that death is actually a touchstone for me.  I only know that it has continually reasserted itself in my life for weeks.  It finds me in books I read, songs I happen to hear, articles I happen across. I don’t take this as a premonition, nor do I experience it as an invitation.  I’m not quite certain of the meaning of this recent pattern.  Indeed, I try not to analyze or ferret out some meaning intellectually.  I’m waiting for my inner voice or intuition or pure connection to the universe to reveal itself to me.

I know that death  is our constant companion and that the date and time when it will touch our shoulder is a mystery.   I know that no one plans to be in a deadly automobile accident on the way to work, and yet every day it happens to someone or many someones. On occasion, I point out to  people that everyone in the World Trade Center fully expected to go home on September 11. Though generally people think my reminder is morbid.

On the contrary, it’s an invitation to live fully–or as fully as one can.  It’s a reminder to make sure that the people you love know that they are loved.  Every day.  I’m not always grounded in each moment as it passes and sometimes  I forget to say I love you every time I leave someone I love.  Cancer and suicide have been great teachers for me and for that I am grateful.

There’s a Buddhist saying that everyone you meet is a Buddha sent to teach you something.  I believe that to be true of patterns which assert themselves in one’s life, too.  What is this Buddha trying to teach me?

January 8, 2014

Remembering My Father

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — ggirl @ 11:26 am

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“More people in the United States now commit suicide than die in car accidents—about one every 14 minutes or so.” = Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine.

That’s right.  I’m not over it yet.

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