So I’ve been home, in my own house, for less than 24 hours.. my guest left about an hour ago, and i feel the panic setting in in my chest.. the quiet becoming so loud that I have to put music on in my headphones to drown it out… nothing with words tho because I can’t concentrate.. i can’t think… some piano ..
now why is it that when I come home, I get that huge wave of emotion and anxiety.. that the walls around me feel like cages… holding me in so I don’t go anywhere again??? I love my home. I love my house.. all the paintings that I forgot I did.. and get to appreciate all over again.. feeling those feelings of accomplishment that I felt in that moment. The photos on the walls of places I forgot that I went to… it’s like coming home to my memory… the things that I’ve done, and accomplished, all in one place. It’s actually really overwhelming to see it all.. it was in this house that I allowed fear to imprison me for over a year… I remember the day I started walking my son three streets down to a friends house, and there was construction workers, so we turned back, went home and tried again another day. I remember how much I would try to amp my courage up on Sunday evenings. It was the one hour I left the house.. the last hour that the grocery store was open, so there would be the least amount of people.. and I’d have my list ready so that I could get in, out and back home as quickly as possible. I was so scared of everything and everyone. I remember the panic attacks that I have had on these little neighborhood side streets while walking.. and not making it thru that initial panic attack. The number of hours I have spent, locked inside the bathrooms in this house. The number of flashbacks I’ve woken from, crouched on the floor naked.. feverishly texting for help, scared to make a noise in case “he” came back. I remember the days I played with my son in his room.. the train tracks that we built .. the pictures we drew.. the letters numbers and languages we studied. I remember the fights his mom and I would have.. The people that moved in and out .. the time when it didn’t feel like my home.. just what I could contribute to all these people, so that they would like me. I remember the cops that I’ve watched climb the front stairs, checking to make sure I hadn’t killed myself.
I remember the good times too.. the transitional phase.. where I started practicing self love and self respect. The positive affirmations I would write on my bathroom mirrors.. or the messages to myself for the times I couldn’t bring myself back.. “It’s 2013, you are safe” .. the pictures I took down, and the ones I started creating to replace them.. shots from my walks along the beach that I forced myself to do, no matter how bad I panicked.. keeping mindful thru the lens of my iphone… it was then that I learned I had an eye for photography. I started venturing out a little more, finding new things to take pictures of .. which has now escalated to Europe lol .. i am a true addict in all that i do .. one is too many and a thousand is never enough.. 🙂 I remember the videos that I shot, singing, and dancing.. and the videos I shot all day long, so that when I had a flashback.. or I dissociated, I could go back and check the cameras.. see what triggered it .. if it wasnt a thought.. see what it looked like.. see how I changed, if I changed.. I think that’s why I like traveling too .. I have to stay one foot inside my protector when I am traveling. There’s nothing familiar about where I go, and my receptors are always alert, keeping me aware of my surroundings. If there is a silver lining to PTSD, it’s the fact that my psyche is programmed to only have a meltdown when there isn’t a threat near. That’s the whole point of PTSD.. when trauma occurs, our minds only allow us to comprehend what we are capable of comprehending.. at our tolerance level it splits off.. dissociation occurs and the sensors shut down, pulling in all of their surveillance and hibernating. Our bodies become a shell, allowing whatever trauma is happening, to go ahead and happen, without infiltrating any more of the mind… when the threat passes.. our sensors begin to thaw out.. we recall bits and pieces of what happened in flashbacks.. because our mind knows that we need to be able to process what happened so that it doesn’t happen again.. we need to process it to get ourselves back to a balanced place .. but while processing it, we feel we are literally there .. experiencing it mentally for the first time.. physically feeling it.. our blood pressure spikes, our pulse beats so hard it hurts my veins.. my emotions come flooding in with uncontrollable crying spells.. I feel like I am being choked.. i can feel the hands around my throat.. I feel the “mark of death” .. that moment when your thought is “i know i am going to die” and the disconnect happens.. That level of fear is crippling, it takes over motor skills, paralyzes my body, or causes a seizure. I refeel the sensations of being anally raped… Sorry.. I debated for a minute on how graphic I was willing to be,
and I decided that to be truly understood, being completely transparent is the only way to do that. I remember reentering the work world! I worked the front counter at McDonalds. I couldn’t handle it. The faces of the men coming in in the morning, dressed in their jeans and workboots .. it triggered me and I’d end up in the cooler trying to ground myself. I switched to the back drive thru, and felt safer with that wall between myself and the customers. I even began having customers that looked for me, and I looked forward to seeing them.
To remember those milestones of each time I pushed my comfort zone a little further out, facing the fears that crippled me.. and repeating the exposure over and over and over until I mastered it, built enough evidence to prove to myself that I don’t have to be afraid. That I can keep myself safe. That I can go out there into the world and live a life … I don’t think anyone will truly know just how overwhelming it is to come back home.. and see all the places that I have now been.. road tripping to new states, tent camping, solo backpacking around the country, and now Europe.. me… the girl that’s afraid to unlock the bathroom door at times. The girl that has been to the mental institution over a dozen times, and felt so insane, and hopeless that there would ever be a day when I didn’t live in that fear.. that I wanted to die. I didn’t want to live.
On Tuesday, while in Barcelona, my safety felt compromised. I got back to the apartment I was staying at as quickly as possible. I stayed locked in my bedroom for the rest of that night, and the following day… trying to ground myself.. trying to convince myself that i was safe .. that i just needed rest .. that Morocco would be a new amazing place to discover and I’d forget all about it. I didn’t sleep that night, or the next.. and by 4am I was such a mental mess that I ran home. I blew my budget, didn’t show up for flights I had booked to Morocco.. from there to Paris.. Paris to Norway… I didn’t show up for the camel ride in the Sahara Desert, or the Moroccan Cooking class I’d signed up for. I booked a flight from Barcelona to Oslo, and a flight from Oslo to New York. I had to come home.. I felt the pressure of all the noise in my head getting louder and louder. From Tuesday to Friday I didn’t really sleep.. maybe 45 mins here and there.. I traveled thru 6 airports.. spending 24 hours in one .. I couldn’t think of anything but complete focus on getting home.. inside these 4 walls, where I could feel safe.. but more important than that .. where I could feel unsafe, but had enough evidence around me to show me that I am safe.. and that I will get thru it, and I will go on more amazing adventures.. take more pictures.. inspire more people to travel.. learn more about life.. and wave my middle fingers to all those in my life that have hurt me.. abused their position and role in my life to satisfy their own personal needs… because not only am I still fucking standing… I’m LIVING… I’m fucking LIVING THE LIFE THAT MOST PEOPLE ONLY DREAM OF!!! No one can take that away from me. Not from then, now, or in the future.. that truth is mine…