It’s just that even that can’t quite throw enough light over the other parts of myself to stem that gnawing darkness that eats at me, this time of year.
There’s something bizarre about having your internal self sitting on two such completely different levels. There’s this twisted guilt (always a twisted guilt, from the first moment the world fell apart) about having found this amazing, breath–taking person who tells you you’re beautiful and thinks you are divine… and finding yourself distracted from how decidedly blissful they make you feel, with the memory of how very ugly someone else left you imagining you were.
I do just fine, almost hallucinating with happiness to the point where I don’t even notice the 6th of January this year. My mind play games with me, and it seems I somehow miss entire days. The day I thought was the 9th is suddenly the 10th and I wonder how much of the PTSD I’ve conquered after all– isn’t rampant avoidance the most damaging, usually the most pertinent symptom of the disorder?
Whatever. I refuse to beat myself up for this one– I’m choosing to marvel at the inherently brilliant coping mechanisms of the human subconscious instead.
But I’m irritable, cranky, on edge. I jump a loud noises. I push pictures I don’t want to look at out of my mind, far away as they can go, rather than steeping and marinating myself in the horror and pain of them.
I don’t know if that’s healthier than confronting things, or not. But however much I tell myself that I am fine, that things are okay… my subconscious betrays me. Trauma symptoms bite and lick at me, leave a tense, highly–strung ball of insecurity that wants desperately to sob it all away while someone tells me it’s okay, I love you, I’ll take care of you.
Only the disgusting irony of the situation means I’m far too afraid to tell anyone how much it really hurts right now, how ugly and insignificant and alone and terrified for myself I really am. Because there’s been so few people who can hear that, see the truth of it… and stay.
And, as I’ve said, bubbles break so easily… sometimes you can’t even pick what it was, that made them pop. I don’t want it to be the ugliness, the disturbing reality of what happened to me, that makes this one explode, morph from circled rainbow into a soapy puddle of something that was.
I float through the tenth, the eleventh, the twelfth and thirteenth; existing only on the surface of my own mind, afraid to skim too deep. I zone out, find myself staring into space literally for hours at a time. As run into nights run into days again and I’m grateful, thankful… a few more days and all this will be over and I can run away to Melbourne again, back to a state of bubble and bliss and repair my fractured soul some more. I can lay in the arms of someone who’s beginning to love me, and find some peace in the fact that I have survive another year… and this one was so, so much better than last year.
I clean my house. Drop myself into a dozen emails to be answered, a hundred blog posts to be written. Have my butt kicked over and over again at PlayStation games by my five year old. Dance to stupid music with my daughter. And ignore my mind as it throws at me, over and over, a kaleidoscope of pictures I don’t want to see.
I see myself, from the outside. For the first time, perhaps, since all this began.
I see a woman, broken, sitting at a friends outdoor table, knees pulled up, hair hanging over her face and rocking back and forth, moaning… unable to stop sobbing, unable to stop the catatonic back and forth swaying. Then I see her jump up as if she’s been bitten and pace, left to right, feet a light thumping rhythm, breathing short and sharp and whispering “No. No, no, no, no, no…”
I see someone tiny, no bigger than your average teenager, and she looks no older than her mid–twenties. She’s looks even smaller, childlike, wearing a long, white hospital gown of cheap crumpled plastic, the type to be used once and discarded, along with any germs it may have come in contact with. Her eyes are red and swollen and she clings her hands together as she introduces the pastor of her local church to her husband. In that moment, she feels ridiculous, a farce– her husband cannot hear her, his brain is cold. But she doesn’t know what else to do, how else to approach this. And everything else about her feels so pathetic right now, that emotion is barely a scratch on the surface of what was once her self esteem.
I want to cry for her. I’ve spent two years now crying, grieving for him, for my kids, for what we had…
Now, I cry for me. For a woman who had everything she knew about love and trust and happiness taken away from her in the cruelest way possible. For a shell of a person who spent over a year walking around half–alive, who sometimes wonders if she is only half alive… if she’s a ghost, in its true sense. If she died that day, the same time he did. (”Why do you think,” asks Charlie the Shrink, “that cases like yours are so uncommon? Because most if the time we don’t see this. Most of the time, what the police are called to is a murder–suicide. Not someone who witnessed a suicide.” And I’ve heard that, time and time again over the last two years. But it only just sinks in now, only becomes part of the reality of the situation now that I’ve let it all go enough to be pissed off, to be angry. Forgiven my husband enough to be able to hate him.)
I chew my fingernails to the quick over the last few days, as I’m inclined to do when I’m anxious, when things are eating at my insides without my express permission and acknowledgement. I’m alone in my car, singing along with happy music, when I bite off a glitter, shellacked strip of keratin and spit it out my open window. (Dirty habit. I know. Whatever.)
And that’s enough… the tiniest action to set in motion a breaking of dam walls, a flood of held back trauma. Some kind of primal distress whirls into a frenzy from my feet upwards, obliterating my face in it’s humiliating, nauseating fog. I pull the car over and become that shell again, rocking, crying, clinched in a massive panic attack, my. Mind repeating over and over ‘He spat on me, he spat on me, he spat on me…’ until it feels like a horrific, disjointed anti–matra.
He spat on me. He spat on me and he hit me and I was his wife. And all that brings another shutter click of an image. A woman of just over five feet tall (again with the tiny, but it kicks at me, my height compared to his, my feather weight in opposite to his bulk) holding a baby. Screaming, begging, for the love of your daughter, please stop.
I think I’m seeing, for the first time, the absolute awfulness in that, in what he did to me. It’s come with accepting, for myself that I did nothing to cause this… I couldn’t possibly have. It doesn’t add up– I’m not what the sum of his actions would have myself believe.
And if I’m not to blame myself any longer… then I can blame him. I can be pissed off and angry and disgusted, the way I probably would have been to begin with, had he had survived. But the outcome changed everything– all best were off. He was my husband, and I’d taken an oath. I sat by him when he needed me. I practiced forgiveness where I needed to.
And now I can be… furious. I can scream in anger that this wasn’t fair, how the fuck could you do that, you fucking spat at me, your daughter was there, you bastard. And I can be angry at him, instead of the ethereal universe around me.
It feels good, to be angry. It feels alive and justified and vindicated and real.
And if I can be angry, because this wasn’t my fault; if I can get through the torture of early January with only the smallest of misgivings, the most minor of psychological hiccups… maybe I can find some essence of myself, some essence of feeling alive every day, all over again.
I’m an optimist. I’m counting on it.