Today is not about fiction, it is about reality. I blog partly from experience, partly from creative license but in it, my goal is to touch the emotions of others, stir something inside of others and reach people with my writing. The following is a sampling of the reality of my world. You are welcome to comment.
Boston Marathon. Being a now defunct runner, this hit close to my heart. I’ve known competitors in the past, one whose last marathon time was just over 4 hours…lucky.
Where was I when I heard? I was in the car, my husband (oddly) had on a sports talk radio channel, and adding to the strangeness of it, we were driving away from Boston Pizza where we’d just had a late lunch. We were talking, the radio was on in the background, I caught the words, “…missing loved ones who were running the Boston Marathon can call…”
I became heightened, I interrupted our conversation by saying, “Is the Boston Marathon on today?” as I turned up the radio, “they just said something about runners missing….” That was when they reported about the explosion and my heart leaped into my throat. First thought in my head was of the name of a guy I know who usually runs it and I immediately felt sick to my stomach. My heart began to race, my fear started to surge forward, I started to hyperventilate steadily, my body was tense and I began to tremble…..I cried, I won’t lie. I tried not to but I did. I am proud that I was able to hold off the tears for another 3 minutes at least. Kept reminding myself that I didn’t have the full story yet.
Hubby and I pulled into a parking lot, sat listening to the details unfolding as they were coming in to the reporter. I did my best to contain my emotional reaction but as hubby walked away to go into the store to make his purchases, the tears began to stream down my face as they reported possibly two dead, close to a hundred injured and the start of the evacuation order for downtown Boston.
As usual, I began to evaluate and analyze the details, looking for clues, answers, just something to make it make sense. I prayed that no one I knew was there. I prayed for those who were hurt, I wished I could be there for them. That urge to help is so overwhelming sometimes. I wanted to get out of the car and start running south (yes, it would likely take me WEEKS or MONTHS to get to Boston that way, but logic does not prevail when your heart is guiding your thoughts).
I was sitting in the car crying – people walking by looking at me concerned, curious, I didn’t care. For someone with PTSD, this is a breakthrough. I DID NOT CARE. Tears are a fact of life, they are nothing to be embarrassed about. They mean I care and with PTSD, I CARE (if I could stretch and super bold that word I would). The feeling of that emotion is deeper than just care, it’s heart wrenching care. I fear for others, I feel for others and my feelings are not just “feelings” like those others experience, they are way deeper, far more intense and very visible. No shame.
I was glued to the TV the second we were in the door. Hubby hugged me as I stood in front of the TV, pointing out clues in the repeated video footage with shaking voice, ragged breaths and tears pouring down my face. In about 10 minutes, from the photos and video showing on the news, we deduced a low velocity explosive device, possibly projectile laden, amateur and not sophisticated, possibly domestic terrorism and a point of origin at the first site.
You see, even in the midst of a trigger, I can still deduce, analyze, access my logic centers etc. My body is reacting, my mind is “split”, partly pushing away memories, fighting to be present and partly harnessing deductive reasoning abilities to make sense of what is unfolding in front of me. This is PTSD for a former paramedic. I saw it through the eyes of a medic, an investigator, a scene manager. I felt as if I was in my boots, ‘scope around my neck, equipment by my side, responsibility hanging over my head – stress, pressure and fear. I reacted as a person suffering from trauma, I triggered emotionally, I felt intense fear, I cried and I had difficulty communicating. Despite all of that, I stood my ground, no matter how heart wrenching it may have looked, underneath my outward reaction, on the inside, I was doing my job…………despite no longer having that job.
I sigh deeply today with dark circles under my eyes. I managed at least 4 hours of sleep last night, which, after the events of yesterday, is good considering my heightened emotional state. Today, I turned off the TV, avoided Facebook and Twitter, did not open a single internet browser and forgave myself for having to do it. Repeated exposure to it does nothing more than hurt me and add to the crack that already exists in my armor.
I’m here now writing about it to put it down and make it safe to let go of. It is not mine to own. It is not for me to hurt. The screams, the wounds, the fear and pain in the eyes of the victims, were not the same ones I saw, this burden is not mine to carry. I was not there. These are not my patients, these do not belong to me.
I cry because I share their fear. I see it in their televised eyes, I hear it in their televised voices, I feel it in my core. I know what it is like to feel that stunned speechless, wordless horror. I know how in those seconds and minutes your mind and logic evade you, leaving you bare, unarmed and unprepared. Exposed. Vulnerable and afraid.
I know this. I worry because I’ve walked in that aftermath of emotional turmoil, and I see how I struggled so hard to just be “me” again, and I wonder how I made it to where I am today. I sympathize with those who will now walk that path after me. I pray they make it to the other side, because there is an “other side” and for some it’s not the greatest, but its better. It gets better. It gets easier to accept. You can function again.
Events in life cannot destroy you, they can only change you. How they change you is your decision.
For the most part, I write fiction, I make it up but the emotion in those stories is real, I feel it and I hope I am adept at conveying it. I appreciate all of my readers for putting up with my spotty performance and I hope you will continue this journey with me, exploring further where it takes us. I am strong because of you.
Be safe and hug your loved ones.