Isn’t it a funny thing? I have cPTSD. For those of you out there who don’t know what that is, it stands for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What does that mean?
It means that, like anyone who acquires PTSD after an event, their anxiety focuses on that particular incident. That’s where your trauma lies.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a result of multiple events, multiple angles, from which ‘trauma’ was introduced over a set of time.
At least that’s how I think it works, but don’t trust me too much. I’m stoned.
It’ll be twenty years since I left the military, pretty soon which, oddly enough, didn’t hurt me one bit. Not one IOTA. Sure, it was stressful during basic and irksome during most days, and sometimes really nerve-wracking during a deployment, but all in all. I loved it because I loved my platoon. Donovan, Winton, Griess, MOrgan etc….and I learned how to break loose and have fun.
No, my life before the military was pretty fucking awful. I was made fun of because of my voice or the way that I talked. I was bullied in school. I was heavy. I had bad acne. and was an easy target for people. (Angle 1)
I grew up in Southwest Detroit and stayed there for twenty years. In that arena I saw, shootouts (one my grandmother WALKED THROUGH and wasn’t hit – I got to see that), firebombing, gang fights ( I can still flash most of their signs), gang intimidation for wearing the wrong colors, because you walked alone because the day ended in fucking -y.
We’d lost teachers to gun violence, we’d hear about friends getting jumped, drugs were FUCKING EVERYWHERE (my cousin died of a heroin overdose on the eve of my 18th birthday. That’s fun, right?). There were all kinds of crazy shit happening – all the time – outside my door.
Inside my door, well, some people got religion and I mean not one of those benign ones where they ‘ommm’ and hold hands singing praise and worship songs (not that I blame them, you’ve heard one, you’ve heard em all) and bake sales.
I’m talking hardcore, Bible study, three nights a week, except for Revivals where it was 1893 times a week. I’m talking dogma from the backwoods of nowhere, preached by sweat, heavy, angry, little king wanna be’s talking about submitting children and women over to the man. BReaking the will of a willful child (breaking the child’s body mind and spirit is what it should be called), rape culture, ignorance culture (these people are …hoooly shiiiit…dum..I mean, just shit), racist, just a mess on top of Jesus’ love, right?
And when it came to that breaking the will shit, they tried. Hard. But it’s funny, kids will don’t break. Their mind’s do.
Anyway, add that bullshit in with a healthy dose of whatever everyone else goes through, shake it up, add some self-image issues, sexuality questioning issues, and religious issues for obvious reasons) shake well, and serve over ice and you get – me. OH! and I’m gay so throw an umbrella in that mess, honey. Cause holy shit.
For years following all that- I did stuff to myself because at Riley and everywhere else I slept my way through, it wasn’t Detroit. I wasn’t in my situation anymore and there was this huge chasm of blankness and darkness and void that I HAD TO FILL to feel normal. I couldn’t ‘do’ happy and i couldn’t ‘do’ love because I was neither happy for myself nor in love with myself (to a healthy degree).
So, I was cavalier with my person. There was a lot of booze, there was a lot of drama, there were a lot of names I wouldn’t know if they walked up and tried to shake my hand. And it was all just ground into me, all buried by that sandaled foot at the beach, and they dug and dug and dug their way in until. literally, the trauma began to reshape my person. My brain. My DNA. My psyche. My future.
For ten years after that, I battled myself. Good times. Bad times. Sometimes Pretzels and Beer (Thank you Sondheim (told you I was gay)). Fleeing from place to place, running, drinking, fucking…running. I was the king of it. Too stressed out? Ditch class. Too frazzled. Ditch school. Too forgotten about – forget yourself.
But then I met an amazing man. One. And ten years later, he’s taught me things, brought me things, fought with me through a lot of things, loved me, forgave me, and loved me again – I was able to BEGIN to recover. Which means, I had the space in which to fall the fuck apart. I mean, come un the fuck done – all over the place. Finally, crash.
When THAT hits, it’s like a brick wall and your favorite car just kissed. MWAH! Time for some sad singin’ and flowerbringing cause you’re toast.
Done. And all your before then, hopes and dreams and goals in life are shattered along that wall.
But then you get the option to start over. Again. But this time, the foundation is finally, FINALLY! becomes solid enough to stand on with confidence and not trepidation. There’s a new reality, born. One of curiosity, and wonder, and fear – there’s fear too because I am asking myself life questions children ask themselves. Who is God? What is love? Where is home? when they look into the night sky.
I wanted to be a lawyer. I thought I’d be good at it. I got A’s in Dr. Davis’ classes (the B’s and C’s conspired against me) so I didn’t get it as a final grade but dammit. I have the email she sent me over my paper turned in IN MY STUFF! Fucking Oscar AWard – she’s tough, man. But I loved it! Constitutional Law is SEXY. So is History, I rocked that shit hard, too.
What was I saying?
Yup. Shit changes when who and what you were is no longer a viable mode of transportation. This analogy is very – in the physical sense with visualizations of crashing cars, but transpose it on spiritual because you know that’s what I mean. I think)
But this time I get to pick the color, and the style, and the interior of the car myself This new car (again with the fucking cars, if you doubt I’m an American I’m sure that’s died by now) from the ground up. And I’ve been extremely successful with the help of my husband and that foundation I had been given space enough to create.
But I said ALLL that to say this, oh yeah, fuck I lost it again.
That’s right. Sometimes, even now, when things are SOOO Much better – there are bad moments. Anxiety. Depression. Anger in those spaces at times, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to take your Ativan. Sometimes you need that cigarette. Sometimes, like me, pot.
But it’s funny. Do not DO NOT minimize people’s pasts. Here I am, eight books, two houses, student loan debt, and credit card debt better (worse? fuck me, those interest rates) still having moments….some better than others, some worse they catch us by surprise.
But you’re still here. I’m still here. Strong-willed. Strong bodied. Strong loved. Holy because I found God THERE. in me.
…and these fucking Cheetos are amazing!
Isn’t that a funny thing?