Elaina 10/20/2014- Memories, Triggers, and PTSD

pickyourselfupOctober 20th, 2014

Dear Elaina,

What a rough week. You floundered big time. You watched over 20 hours of television this week, something you only do when your PTSD rears its debilitating head. It’s kicking your butt this time and it’s time to end this episode.

You forget how insidious PTSD can be. After a stressful trigger, you think you’re fine. You self-assess and believe you’re going to make it without any fallout, and the next thing you know, a week has gone by, you’ve only showered twice, and you’ve spent too many hours absorbed in made up hurts and betrayals so you don’t have to face your own.

Enough is enough. Let’s face it and get on with life. You had two triggers over the past few weeks. The first, the incident with your son which you can’t/won’t go into because it affects others. Suffice it to say, you protected him when he needed to be protected, but since it had a predatory feel, you flipped out a bit. The second trigger was your high school reunion. While you didn’t go, seeing the pictures brought back a lot of memories, memories that had little to do with high school and everything to do with how far removed you were from life back in those days.

Seeing the camaraderie still visible thirty years later gave you pause. Had you gone, you would have had a great time catching up with the women you were friends with in elementary school, but as far as your high school years, you don’t have many good memories. Freshman year your dad was dying and as the oldest girl, many of the household chores fell on your shoulders. Sophomore year, your only good year, you held a bit of notoriety because you were the sister of that boy who was in the motorcycle accident just weeks before his dad died. You were the sister of that boy whose best friend died flying over the motorcycle handlebars. You were that girl whose brother had to wear a hard hat to school because they cut out the part of his skull that hit the pavement. You were that girl, you know, that guy’s sister, who played keyboards in the swing choir.

Junior year, your last year, sucked. You were that girl who cheated on your friend with her boyfriend. You were that girl who dropped out of swing choir because the music director disliked and ridiculed you. You were that girl who one day had a plethora of friends and the next, you were that girl who had no one to sit with at lunch. As junior year progressed, you were that girl everyone forgot about.

Seeing those pictures brought it all back. In that vulnerable state between awake and asleep, images flipped across your blank canvas. Images of your dad too sick to get out of bed, images of your brother soaked in blood being wheeled into surgery, images of Perry in his coffin, and images of walking the halls during lunch, trying to look busy so no one would know you felt alone and lost.

If the memories and images stopped there, you might have been okay, but the incident with your son impacted you more than the pictures of your reunion. They were icing on your shit cake. The images that played across your mind the strongest were the ones of you, on the eve of your sixth birthday, lying broken and defiled on your camp cot.

The images flash and you slam that steel door hard on your memories and emotions. You view that little girl through a clinician’s eye. Tears run sideways down her face. Her left eye absorbs the flow of tears from her right eye as they make the journey over the bridge of her nose. Snot runs unheeded to the corner of her mouth and you remember the saltiness before you slam the steel door again. In your mind’s eye, you walk around the cot observing her. She’s curled into a fetal position, rocking. There’s blood and fluid on her thigh and you know the air from the fan is stinging her wound.

Pick her up, Elaina. She needs you to pick her up! Open the damn steel door and go to her. You couldn’t protect her when she was little, but you can protect her now. In fact, the ONLY way you can heal and protect her is to pick her up. Stop being a wimp! Suck it up. It already happened. It can’t happen again. She needs you to pick her up and hold her.

That’s it. Hold her in your arms and tell her you love her. Tell her she’s good and it wasn’t her fault. Rock her until she absorbs back into you, Elaina. Rock her and protect her. Keep her safe. Tell the PTSD it can go fuck itself. Smooth back her hair, wipe the snot from her face and tell her she’s perfect.

It’s been a rough week, Elaina, but it’s time to be done. It’s time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and be proud of yourself. You protected your son. You did what needed to be done so he wouldn’t get hurt and you need to show that little girl you’re strong enough. Show her you can keep her safe. Show her you’re stronger than the memories. Most of all, show her how much you love her by letting her feel your strength. Let her hold on to it and fill herself up with it. She wants to heal.

Let her.

Love her.

Love you.


No one should ever suffer alone. If you, or anyone you know needs help, please contact:  https://rainn.org/get-help.


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1 Response to Elaina 10/20/2014- Memories, Triggers, and PTSD

  1. kerry black says:

    I am choked up. I send you hugs.No one should go through life alone.


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