A PTSD Stumble ...but, that is ok.

Today I am finding that my nerves feel raw.  Even as I write this, sitting still, inside of me every part of my being is racing - a race in which has no direction, no finish line in sight - anxiety is trying to take over.

It has been a very long time since I've felt this way - hyperventilating but barely breathing at the same time.  And it all started with just one domino falling into another.

While sleeping last night I was jolted awake by a loud banging sound - extremely loud. Then I noticed the dogs were barking - looking back I do not remember which happened first. I laid in bed, frozen in place, trying to absorb it all - wondering what to do. I cannot remember what my thoughts were, other than I was scared.

I am not sure how long it took before I found the courage to get out of bed to investigate, but I did. I followed the sound of my dogs barking and growling, they were in the back part of my house- in a room that I only use to let them out the back door or when I need to get to the garage. At one time that room was our family room. The room my once husband and I spent a lot of time with our children - helping them with homework, watching movies or watching them play their video games. Now I use that room to store some things. It is basically an empty room filled with memories of a life I once knew.

As I passed through the living room, where the front door is, I looked out and saw red lights, tail lights driving slowly down our street. Walking through the kitchen I noticed the time, 3:55 a.m.

My mind was trying to piece the events to this puzzle together, but first I had to calm down my overly excited, on-guard, dogs. Uh-Oh, my German Shepherd/Basset mix was pissed off - his hair standing up and his growl was vicious. Bailey, my happy go lucky Lab, was showing teeth and growling. Both were ready for a fight.

"You're going to wake the neighbors, STOP!" - I am not sure why I said that other than perhaps I was still absorbing everything.

I checked all the doors and then did what any 50-year-old woman does when she wakes up at 4 a.m. - I went to the bathroom - and, that is when it hit me that someone had just tried to break in. I sat there trying to talk myself out of freaking out. "Happenstance, Eva! That car was just a fluke! But, that noise...it was so loud, what was it? It had to be something, the dogs never leave your side when you sleep!  NO! You're not going to freak out! Whatever it was, they're gone and you need sleep!" 

I was still exhausted from the prior workday. It had been deadline day at the paper and our server took a fall the day before- I just put in a 13 hour day two days in a row - the joys of working from home and at an office. That exhaustion took over my fear that was still building, thankfully, and allowed me to fall back to sleep.

Just before falling back to sleep I remember thinking, "Why can't this stuff happen when Steve is here!" - my friend who had just returned back home to Oregon.

About two hours later a weird dream jolted me awake. I dreamt about a snowy day where I was home working. I went to let the dogs out, but first I looked through the window of my back door and noticed a large cardboard box with a light beaming out from it - inside the box I could see a man with a white beard and he was smoking a cigarette - he tilted his head and looked up at me, mouthing "I am moving in."

Creepy - yes.

I woke up shaking and still hearing that loud bang ringing through my memory - "What was that?"

I went about my morning routine, trying to shake it all off. I posted the weather to the paper's Facebook page, checked our emails for anything breaking or newsworthy, and then summoned up the energy to get things out on the curb for our city's Spring Clean-Up. Something I meant to do the day before but there wasn't enough time in a day to complete that task. I guess us media people do our best work when the deadline is barreling down at us, I managed to get most of everything I wanted out there just an hour before the garbage men came by to take it all away.

It was finally time for my first cup of coffee and some "me" time. I scanned my Facebook notifications and read up on the news of the day.  MISTAKE! I read an article on PTSD and survivors of domestic violence, it triggered my already raw nerves. Following that drama was the news that after 40 years the Golden State Killer had been captured.  Of course, I had to read everything about that story - and with those raw nerves already triggered by that PTSD article and the happenings of last night, the domino effect was in full swing.

"Damn! I need to live in a cave somewhere! This is not going to end well for me and I know it! I won't sleep tonight, that's a given. The house will get cleaned, at least that is a positive. Shit! Now all I can think about is my ex and all those attacks. DAMN, DAMN, DAMN! " The memories then flooded back, all of them.  Every room in this house has one for me and during a PTSD attack it is like watching an old silent movie playing back - a movie where you also take on the fear of the characters on the screen in your mind's eye- you can't stop it, you cannot leave the theater until what needs to play out, does.  One movie after another -my life living with domestic violence and then all those sexual assaults to the child I once was, all while building within me was the fear from last night's event.

Thankfully, I am far enough along in my personal healing journey to recognize PTSD for what it is and honor it for it what it is...I lived through and survived a personal Hell.

I guess this is a new test for me, one I need to pass on my own, living alone.

So, yes, this is a PTSD stumble but considering the situation I know it is normal. I know I must work through all of these emotions jumbling together. I know I can do it and I will be stronger for it...after all, I've already lived through and survived many Boogymen.

I did manage to figure out that loud bang. It was my broken garage door - and I do believe that first I heard the dogs barking and then the bang.  That makes sense - whoever it was dropped that garage door when the dogs started barking.  My security guards will get a hamburger tonight. They will be eating their treat in a very brightly lit environment, brighter than daylight with those strong bulbs I purchased this afternoon - and then after I have that extra strong cup of coffee I will go on a cleaning binge. When midnight comes around, I will call Steve. He will be waiting for that call as he already knows what happened and just like the years when I was breaking free from domestic violence and going through the court hearings,  he will talk me through the overnight hours - my scary time. We will discuss antiques, argue about politics, and then talk about nothing at all - and that conversation may go until dawn breaks.  This will happen because that is what us survivors do - we push forward no matter what, even if we go back to some old habits - sometimes there is comfort in those old ways as long as we don't dwell there.

 Tomorrow WILL be another day!


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