I was in my room reading, when I heard my dad’s voice coming from downstairs. He sounded angry. I froze. Fear washing over me. Heart pounding in my chest. Senses on high alert.
Still, I waited. A flashback. Then another one. Panic hitting me in full force. The worse thing about these flashbacks is being in the past all over again. Reliving it. It feels so real. And then there’s the confusion when coming out of it. It feels like I’m not sure exactly where I am sometimes. What’s the present, what’s the past? What’s real, what’s not? Sometimes that confusion lasts a few seconds, other times minutes.
I don’t know how long this all lasted. It seems like an alternative version of time exists in these moments.
But some time later, I heard them all laughing downstairs, and I realized that his ‘loud’ voice had just been part of some story or joke he had been telling.
No, he wasn’t mad.
My mind was still all over the place, but a little more rational.
However, my body was slow in getting the message that there was no threat.
Almost 2 hours later, and I was still feeling the effects on my body. I felt tense and on high alert… As if waiting for something to happen. Or like something IS happening.
“Why did I have such an intense reaction to something so silly?” I asked myself.
I could never admit to myself that some things I had experienced were traumatic. I hated the word ‘trauma’. Which, as my therapist commented one day… There are a lot of words I don’t like or don’t want to say out loud. I have no idea why that is. But now I say, screw it. By continuing to run from it and avoid accepting that I have indeed experienced trauma in my life, I’ll continue to deny myself proper healing.
I have felt the effects of it my entire life. So giving it a name isn’t going to make it any more real. It’s already real.
I tried to do a body awareness mindfulness meditation a little while after this, thinking it will help me relax both my mind and my body. But that backfired. It brought flashbacks of a different kind. So I won’t be doing that one again. I don’t want to ‘experience’ my body.
I spent most of last week crying, and this week I had no tears left. But after this little ‘incident’ tonight, it came back. Along with physical pain (which I think is just a stress response). I felt anxious, depressed, terrified and like I just wanted to hide in my closet.
I used to do that a lot. Hide away. When I was a child, I would curl up under my bed. Under tables. Anywhere. When I couldn’t use my spaces, I resorted to wrapping my blanket or duvet tightly around my body and cover my head as well. Most nights I slept like that. My favourite place though was in a closet. I felt the safest there. It was a dark and small space, which seemed comforting. Which is strange, considering I’ve always been afraid of the dark. But the confined space made the darkness feel like a friend.
I even used to look for ‘safe spaces’ when I was in high school. I would lie under my bed, either reading with a flashlight, or daydreaming. I would do that for hours at a time. Once I had finished school, there were moments where I still wanted those spaces, but being an adult, I felt stupid about that desire. For the past 2 months now, I’ve had this same desire to just empty out my closet and sit there in the dark when I’m feeling anxious, fearful or overwhelmed. But there’s no space for that. And it’s just not appropriate anymore, I guess. Hell, it’s embarrassing admitting this here. But it is what it is.
I constantly feel trapped. Caged in. A lot of times I feel like I’m being cornered. That as long as I’m alive, I’m not safe. So I guess this desire to hide away is my way of trying to cope with these feelings.
The mind is powerful. It tries to protect us, even though it’s not always very good at it. Writing this post, I don’t feel real. The world around me doesn’t feel real. I’m floating somewhere between this world and a vast ‘nothingness’. I’m aware that it’s a defense mechanism.
Maybe tomorrow everything will feel real again. But I don’t know if I want it to feel real.