"The glacier knocks in the cupboard, The desert sighs in the bed, And the crack in the teacup opens A lane to the land of the dead."

-W.H. Auden

Monday, April 17, 2017


I don't talk about it much here, as I'd like this blog to be nice or pretty, or interesting at the very least. PTSD is none of these things. Talking about it doesn't help anyway. It only feeds the slavering maw.

But I've had a hell of a week. Oh, nothing happened, not as such, but then nothing really needs to happen. It was just a matter of taking an unexpected detour through a certain neighborhood at a certain time on a humid, drizzling morning. Suddenly I was back there, or rather back then, 23 years disappearing in less than a blink, a nerve twitch in a bloodshot eye.

I think it was the bird song that did it this time. There must be different birds in that neighborhood, some kind that prefer the sprawling dark of the magnolia trees. It had been a long time since I'd heard those birds calling out, in that way, in that weather.

I shuddered three times, full body shudders. That was my warning. I laughed it off, except not really. I told myself to laugh it off, because my flashbacks are stupid and dumb and meaningless. They aren't, of course, but I see it through other people's eyes. Stupid girl, dumb girl. Can't get over it, always grieving. As if it were real grief. What a fool.

This is before time disappeared, like the ocean pulling back before a wave. I never catch it in time, but then, I never think I should. It's something that doesn't come up in support groups - who's to say I don't deserve this? Perhaps these Furies live in my head because the punishment is just?

Given the oft-quoted principle of what you would say to a friend suffering this condition, if this was said to anyone else - and understand, I am a pacifist who abhors violence of any kind - I might feel inclined to punch the one who said it. Such a suggestion is beneath human dignity. It is plain wrong. But the Furies in my head are not so forgiving. The Furies want to kick my ass.

So there I am, woefully young again, on the precipice of losing. I'm about to lose so big that the  damage will spread to those around me, like a prairie fire or a row of dominoes. The man shakes me, calls me names. His cruelty makes me want to disappear. I want this to stop, yet I will have to relive it again and again, years into the future. The Furies aren't only vengeful, they're ironic. Their memory for nasty details is impeccable.

After the flashback, there's nothing to do but continue to exist, through the fatigue, through the brain-fog.  Put on my smiling face, even though it's a miserable fake. Draw a big X on my mental map, and write "here there be monsters." Or Erinyes, to be exact.

Call me a coward, but I have no wish to venture into their territory again. Some things are not worth the price.


  1. That is not cowardice. That is prudence. If for some reason you can't get treatment, or the treatments available haven't worked, I don't know what you can do besides avoid triggers as much as possible.

    1. Hi Peni - one day I hope to have EMDR treatment. Doesn't quite fit in the budget right now and this county is not keen on charity. But one day I'll manage.