I have PTSD from trauma long ago, and sometimes my symptoms make my life more complicated than I wish it was. Like a teenager who keeps making the same mistake over and over, but can’t see it coming each time, my triggers sneak up on me in ways I should expect, yet don’t seem to be able to catch ahead of time.

This weekend was one of those times, and it really flattened me. I feel like a toad who has been run over by a dump truck on a rural Florida highway. Flattened and crisping in the blasting tropical sun, there is all-too-soon nothing left but a paper thin facsimile of who I was not long ago.

Yesterday I went with my wife to a meeting of supporters for people with childhood trauma (which fits us both actually). I wasn’t worried about it at all, because I’ve been through the same meeting before. I knew what to expect, and so it seemed it would go better than the past time I went. At first, it did seem to go well. The meeting was a bit on the small side, and I knew the two people leading it. I was familiar with the place and the topic. No looming surprises. There were even seriously good snacks (cinnamon buns from a local donut shop of which I am a fan). All seemed well.

Then about half way in, there was something I always struggle to hear. It sometimes comes up in these kinds of meetings. I don’t agree with it It’s upsetting, so it stuck in my mind and wouldn’t go away. It churned and built on itself. Chipping away at my presence of mind like a patient stonecutter at the base of the mountain. By the time we left I was in an argumentative and snippy mood, which is not like me. By the time we had finished with our planned post-meeting lunch, I was feeling not-right-at-all.

Driving home I could tell the edges of my consciousness were getting blurred. I was getting fuzzy. It’s something that happens when I start knowing things that are too much to know. I can’t focus, I can’t think, I can’t function much at all. I wound up in bed, half present and half gone to whatever place I go. Laying there with the late summer sun forcing its way through the blinds. Drifting in and out of awareness. Much like times in the past.

Past? Yes, this felt familiar. Like I’d been here before. My high school bedroom on the coast of Florida which had also been drenched in sun. Part in the present, part in the past, rising realization of knowing I’d felt like this in the distant past. Knowing I’d felt that same fuzziness of not being able to be present because it wasn’t safe to know. Knowing I’d known even back then.

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