Gratitude Sunday: Perchance To Dream

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The psychological trauma of losing a job can be as great as the trauma of a divorce.” Barbara Ehrenreich

Sunday Haiku
An island away
lava spews, earth opens while
summer blithely blooms.

Sunday Musings
There I was, going along pretty smooth, sort of relaxed, or as relaxed as I get anyway, and then bam. One of the dreams came and set me off again. I recognize it now, I deal, I handle, but I never know what trigger is going to set it off, and in the case of dreams, holy moley, all the funny movies and books in the world can’t make up for the surprise of the betrayal of the body.

I’ve never divorced. I’ve only ever been married once and it’s a vow I take seriously. I don’t consider my marriage disposable, to be tossed into the garbage if things aren’t working out. I consider the relationship to be under construction, always fine-tuning, till death us do part. After 43 years we are still growing older together. But even the hubster does not understand the depth of the trauma I experienced.

Post-traumatic stress is a pain to live with, no pun intended. I have physical pain, mental and emotional pain, and stigma pain. I don’t have a disorder. I think post-traumatic stress disorder is a misnomer. I don’t deal with a disorder, I deal with the stress brought on by past trauma. With that stress comes daily layers of anger, depression, anxiety, distrust, and hyper-vigilance.

The worst is the stigma part. It’s hard enough to admit what happened. It’s absolutely diminishing when someone responds as if what happened was nothing, and they certainly wouldn’t have been traumatized. We all have different sensitivities, and what is trauma to me might not be to you and vice versa. Most people don’t understand scapegoating, gaslighting, and scapegoat environments, and it can take many years to define that as the problem in the workplace.

I’m not ready to go into detail yet; I’m still dealing with the stress. I’m finally feeling like I’m dealing with the stress of what happened and not whining about what happened. It is what it is. It was what it was. It happened. Now I deal with the triggers. I see a person who resembles the ones who caused the problem, or accidentally run across their name or handwriting, or worst case, actually come face-to-face with one of them. There were many people involved in the years of abuse I withstood, and living in a small town bumping into one of my abusers is a real possibility.

I have had tons of unsolicited advice, though I don’t talk about the incident much. Repeating the events of the trauma sets me off again: all the adrenaline; the shakes; the vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea; the inability to sleep or eat washes back over me. People have said: “Just get over it.” “Is that all? That’s nothing.” “Just stop thinking about it.” “You are only a victim if you let yourself be.” “Time heals all wounds.” “You must have done something bad.” “Let go, and let god.” Words heal nothing; if it were so easy for platitudes to erase what happened many of us would be instantly healed. How sweet it would be if I could just forget, but 16 years, one quarter of one’s life, is not so easily forgotten.

We are an accumulation of experiences; they cannot be separated out. The memories often stubbornly don’t disappear. If I could just turn off the brain or exorcise the memory like the invasive demon it is, cast it out once and for all, forever done and free. Doesn’t work like that. The memory is embedded in your muscles and bones, flows in your blood, jumps from synapse to synapse bursting through in a demented dream. When the dream comes you are unwillingly and unexpectedly thrust back into the situation that caused you the greatest distress, and unlike real life you cannot walk away. When you wake you carry the dream throughout the day like a fog strangling your brain.

I had to seek professional help while I was experiencing what happened. When the abuse reached its apex and the ultimate insult happened she was already in place to help me deal. She can’t fix anything, there is no magic wand, but I can say anything to her without fear of reprisal or judgment.

Like I said a couple weeks ago, I own my behavior. I had a part in all of this, but I was not a single actor. In the psychology of a scapegoat environment, most of the players will buy in subconsciously to blaming the scapegoat because by doing so the spotlight is off them. It doesn’t matter if the scapegoat is truly to blame or not, because the self-preservation element is so strong, the scapegoat will always be pointed to, and whatever the scapegoat says in self defense is discounted. When this occurs in your place of employment it becomes easy to point to that one person so the heat is not on you.

I don’t have to be physically in the place where it all happened any more, which is part of the problem. I had a retirement plan which included that particular place of employment. It was killing me to be there, but I was really attached to that plan, and having to change horses at the end of the journey has been as big a pain as the abuse. No winning in a situation like that.

I’ve learned to deal, to handle the day-time stuff. It’s daylight, it’s reality, I know the difference between what happened then and the changes I was forced to make to help myself. I can hold up my head when I bump into one of the abusers, give out one of my famous grimace-smiles and grit my teeth through a hello, or I can quickly turn around as if there was no abuser-sighting and go on about my merry way.

It’s the dreams that are bothersome. Dreams sneak up on you like cats waiting for alley mice. There are plenty of them hiding in the dark waiting for the moment when you aren’t paying attention and they sneak a tiny paw out to run. They come in the dark, when you are supposed to be safe in your home, safe in your bed, all the bad people locked out beyond the windows and doors. The dream is the same as what happened, but it’s different, it’s out of control in a totally different way and makes even less sense than what happened. But the dream isn’t real, you aren’t in control, you’re beyond control, unpredictable, and waking up doesn’t make it better when you wake covered in sweat, shaking, unable to focus, wanting to leap far away from the bed where you dreamed, knowing it isn’t any safer outside the bed or outside the house. When you wake the dream lingers, amorphous, behind the eyes, annoying the brain, irritating the blood and synapses, fogging the day with adrenaline and heart palpitations. It often takes all day to soothe myself, to reassure myself I no longer work there, they can no longer abuse me; I don’t have to defend myself from them and always be watching for the next twisted lie or insult.

I used to love sleeping and dreaming. Now I never wake rested or restored. Trauma changes your chemistry and how your body reacts to the smallest triggers. It’s not just the difficulty of sleeping or staying asleep. It’s that, amplified by the randomness of the dream. When will it come? Will it disturb me tonight? Will the dream terror wake me and drag me through the day by the roots of my hair? Will my heart fail this time to keep me alive from the chemical onslaught I recognize during daylight as an anxiety or panic attack?

Trauma survivors take one day at a time, sometimes, one minute at a time. You don’t “get over it”. You go through it. You breathe one breath at a time; you can’t avoid sleep; you wake one day at a time. You deal, you handle, you survive, and as best you can, you put one foot in front of the other.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Purple globes of allium. Shades of pink and pale yellow honeysuckle. First of the season: a luscious peachy rose. Purple lupines with an old fashioned climbing rose.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Still bingeing on Blue Bloods (2010, rated TV – 14), on the last season available on Netflix. Though this is a formulaic cop show, I find the intricacies of the family and how they bend the rules indicative of any group who achieves a modicum of power to be a fascinating study. * Winchester (2018, rated PG – 13) about the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Though it stars Helen Mirren, who is one of my favorite actors, the movie attempts supernatural special effects, and to my mind fails to pull off the story. It’s too over the top or not over the top enough; it’s just disconcerting, not engaging. Meh. Grateful there was a new episode of Saturday Night Live on right after I finished this movie.

Currently ReadingBluebeard’s Egg (1983, memoir) by Margaret Atwood, mixed with short stories, but the history she presents about her life and her mother’s life in Canada are fun reads. * The Woman in the Window (2018, fiction) by A. J. Finn, seems sort of a mash-up of The Girl on the Train and the Hitchcock movie with Jimmy Stewart, Rear Window. We have an unreliable narrator who suffers agoraphobia, drinks, and takes psychotropic drugs. Tis a mystery to be solved, and I’ve re-read sections to see if I missed clues. The fun part of a mystery is to figure out whodunit before the author spells it out.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The advice of the antique shop owner when I waffled about an item I was interested in: “If it’s meant to be yours, it will be here when you are ready.” I wasn’t ready then, we’ll see if it is still there when I am.
  • Mild spring weather.
  • Watching the twirlygig seeds whirling down in a flurry from their tree during a little breeze.
  • Open windows and doors and fresh air through the house.
  • Staying up all night to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry on TV, as I’d watched his brother’s and his mother’s as well.
  • The miracle of modern technology and getting to view a wedding of strangers taking place thousands of miles away.
  • Waking up every day despite the trouble of dreams.
  • My challenges being merely what my challenges are and knowing my challenges can always be worse. Grateful my challenges are not worse.
  • My hillbilly clothes line: clothes strewn around the yard to use the sun to dissipate the horrible scent of laundry detergent that stubbornly refuses to wash back out of my clothing, and thankful for fresh air and the bleaching power of the radiant sun.
  • First of the season Oregon strawberries. Not Hoods, but local just the same.
  • Fresh picked-today greens from the farmers market.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Careers, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Gratitude Sunday: Perchance To Dream

  1. piratesorka says:

    Oh my dear I so wish we lived closer but I guess its our karma that we don’t. I don’t have the first clue about the trauma you mention and thats your buisness, but you know I am ever available and I can get my traffic phoobic ass out and go cross country to you.. I was thinking the other day about how lucky we were when we had that picnic in my car in front of the Multnomah Falls.. We need to find a place and picnic again. Don’t know when, I could be going into surgery in the next month ( knee surgery) Ahh well. Oh, I actually bought some gorgeous raspberries from Mexico at Costco a week ago. They were like jewels on my tongue. Spendy but still, they were jewels. Thank Goodness the Farmers Markets are startinig up… I just don’t know when I will have the energy to walk around in one plus return to my car! Such i s my life! Love you my dear sister of my soul.


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