Being in love is all kinds of awesome and I traipse around, laughing and smiling and being silly. I put on five badly–needed kilos. I still sleep alone most of the time, of course, but I wake most mornings feeling refreshed and calm– as if I actually have slept, not just eventually fallen into a warm black unconsciousness due to the physiological necessity of needing to rest.
Life just seems… easier. Momentous tasks revert to simple inconveniences. Things seems accomplish-able, dreams believable. Life suddenly comes into some kind of focus, a fine point in the distance– something to work toward again, rather than just surviving every day. Relishing in myself, as opposed to clawing to maintain my sanity when it feels as though very few people In Real Life actually give a f*ck about me, and, sadder, don’t particularly care about my children either.
I’d forgotten what ’happy’ felt like, the effect it can have. And I mean literally forgotten, without any of my usual melodrama– it takes me by surprise how good this feels, how happiness is impossible to contain to one small area of your life, how it seeps out and colors everything beautiful. I find myself feeling simply… lighter. Smiling more. More playful with my children, less inclined to yell and grumble at them. I find new music everywhere I go and it sticks in my mind, phrases sweet and melodic that contentment causes to come tumbling from my lips.
I walk around singing love songs, and I’m happy if that’s a slightly pathetic cliche… give me blatant, happy normality and I’ll not just take it. I’ll grasp at it desperately with both hands.
And it feels normal. I feel normal. Wonderfully, boringly normal. I walk around feeling as though I’ve reconnected again, this time with an apolycyptic zing. After living in a barren, painful No Man’s Land for two years now; I feel as though I’m suddenly back, with a vengeance, in the land of the living. And it’s intense here– colors and smells and noise and people with their banalities and ideosynchracies. I find myself shying away, not drinking of it too heavily or partaking too fully, lest I gorge myself on the sickly sweetness of it. (I remember, leaving the dull, quiet safety of the maternity ward for the first time after my son’s dark birth and witnessing my surburban world with the same intensity I’m feeling now– colors were suddenly so bright, people so fast and loud. And I recall, years before children when I was a different person, interviewing inmates from the Big Brother house once they were released, and them commenting that they felt they same. It makes me wonder– how loud and fast are we, compared to the pace we are meant to run at…?)
And I thoroughly enjoy it, right down to it’s most basic roots– “See? Do you all see this?!? I have someone who loves me, and I love them. They think I’m awesome. This means I’m not broken anymore. This is a big fat blurred inky stamp that says that I. Am. Normal.”
(And all the hipsters in the back row with their feet up on the seats can intone here all you like about how ‘being normal isn’t that great anyway’. I’ll take that, and I’ll say– bullshit. Normal– ‘of the norm’. Unremarkable. The same as everyone else. If you think ‘normal’ is an undesirable state… you haven’t been where I’ve been.)
And it feels so good…
Until it doesn’t anymore. Until something happens to make me feel stupid, foolish-of course I am not normal. Of course I cannot just flip a switch and make all this go away… and neither can The Most Amazing Man In The Universe, as amazing as he is.
Because despite that happiness- maybe because of it- receding back into the horror of what happened, the awfulness of it that still snags the edges of my mind… delving into the thoughts that make the whole world feel ugly, so that numbness and disconnection becomes my only way to cope… Well. That’s the polar opposite to this ‘happy’ thing I have going on.
It’s existing in that split state again.
The light. The dark.
So I walk around thinking I’m normal… until something reminds me I’m not. Like dissolving into a quaking, shaking mess within an hour of returning from my calm Melbourne bubble because my children will not stop screaming at me. For forty five minutes they take turns yelling at each me, at each other, at nothing at all; until I am on the verge of tears and my whole body is tense, hands shaking, breathe coming in great gasps. “It’s just because they’ve missed you so much”, says my mother, and I think Yes, and now they are going out of their way to punish me, now they are intent on making me pay for the time off I’ve so selfishly taken.
Is that normal? To feel so persecuted, so bereft and agitated? If that’s what’s those burnt out, over–ridden symptoms the PTSD lays cause to– if the legacy of this is that my mind freezes in flight or fight adrenaline every time someone, anyone starts yelling– then shouldn’t it come with a shut off switch, some kind of physiological morphine that dulls the effect of being yelled at when it’s your own children doing it?
Or does it not matter, not really? PTSD is PTSD. And screaming is screaming. Whether it be my children, or any random someone… it still feels like a verbal wall battering against me, an aggressive pulse that squeezes my mind, my nerves. Every single fiber of me goes stiff, closes up, blocks out the resonant phrases until its noise, just noise, and a voice I know well from a few years ago now tells me that it will be over soon. It will be over soon.
Just keep up your own guard of white noise and soon the yelling will stop.
But, again, as if just going around and round in a maze of my own mind, I hit the same point– I should feel differently about it, since its my own kid doing the yelling… shouldn’t I? There should be some kind of Get Out Of Jail Free card, some biological smoke and mirrors to ensure that this doesn’t phase me…. right?
I don’t know… do real normal people have that? I’ve lost my judging point, my yard stick for where acceptable ends and Slightly Crazy begins. Maybe normal people do possess that ability to be mostly un-phased by the constant yelling of their offspring, and I lost when the world became unsafe. When all my parameters of what people are capable of, what they might do in a fit of irrational rage, were suspended and held hostage by the world and the whims of one person.
Maybe it’s a maternal instinct I never had to begin with.
Or maybe all that’s bullshit, and all mothers feel like this a lot of the time. Like they can’t take it, like they want to run away. Like if two small people scream at them again, cracking the silence and making every nerve jump and singe and cry or in shock; then they may just absolutely lose their sh*t.
Or, again… maybe that’s just me.