“One of the toughest things this author has had to deal with since encountering trauma has been the identity piece. Your job that defined you, no longer exists. Your former identity is now a trigger to you, so you hate it, avoid talking about it and take no pride in it, in fact, since your employer terminated you, you hardly feel like life is worth anything anymore. Trauma has this way of making you feel ashamed of who you are, defunct, malfunctioning, hopeless and a victim of your own emotional instability.”
The phone slammed down onto the cradle. Tears began to collect on the surface of the receiver. A body hunches over, hair falling forward. The shoulders quake in silence as emotional pain begins to seek paths of escape.
In a nearby room, a wife sorts bills and straightens up a desk. Above a child squeals and babbles up at a rotating mobile, legs happily kicking the air.
In the kitchen a cat startles and turns to look toward the hulking mass, quaking and sobbing in silence. It wonders how it can get away but its drawn closer in curiosity. Suddenly the knees give way and the hulk crashes to the floor. The cat moves closer still, not enjoying this sensation of anguish emanating from the creature, but bravely moving closer in an attempt to make it stop.
“Peter!?” comes the concerned call from down the hallway. No answer. An envelope is tossed and hurried footfalls echo across the darkly stained wooden floor boards. The thud echoes in her ears and she fights with rising panic.
Upstairs, legs flail wildly at a spinning Eyore and fingers find purchase on soft gums.
Cat moves stealthily nearer, carefully watching the hands as they rub furiously at the eyes as if trying to push them completely back into the head. Water is streaming from this face and trickling off the chin. Cat feels the pain. It has to stop, it is unbearable.
“Honey?” She stops at the doorway and is overtaken by a wave of both relief and intense sadness at the sight. Her voice softens, “Honey? What is it? What did they say?”
Cat moves closer, glancing annoyingly at the woman who threatens to derail his plan.
The big hands fall to the ceramic floor as if suddenly devoid of animation. The head hangs forward, water streaming from it onto a visibly shaking chest.
“Honey?” Cat looks up again, annoyed, if he could speak he would tell her to Shhhh!
A mind spins out of control. Words, phrases, fears, anxieties, all wrapped in one large ball and being flung about recklessly in the space of a single cranium. Images. Feelings grip vice-like on a heart.
Uniform. Forge cap. White gloves. Shiny boots. Pride. Chest out. Innocent. Sadness. Anger. Fear.
Car seat. Black smoke. Wreckage. Fear. Anxiety. Pain.
Homeless. Alone. Street. Worthless. Cold….alone. Fear. Abandoned. Fear. Alone. Intense fear.
“Peter? What did they say? Please…” She pleads, afraid to come near, not sure what state he’s in.
Cat takes this as his last chance. He pushes forward, stretches his hind legs to achieve the greatest contact. A soft warm body presses tightly to a limp dangling arm. A tail stands erect, all he wants is the pain to stop, he can’t stand feeling this pain.
A sensation breaks through the mental fog. Soft. Warm. Heart beat. A head raises to meet concerned pleading eyes filled with tears not yet fallen. The mouth opens. How does he tell her his life just ended? How does he tell her he is no longer a man? How does he tell her he has just lost everything he’s ever lived for?
The vocal cords don’t work. The large body continues shaking involuntarily, tears continue to stream across the nose, the chin. There is no air to pass over the vocal cords. No words. The words are trapped in the mind, tormenting him.
Not a man. Can’t provide for your family anymore. Worthless. Defective. Fired. Abandoned. Lost. Why.
Cat presses harder and begins to purr. He circles back and around the arm. He moves to the legs, rubs his ears against the material, purrs furiously. This worked in the past.
A wife’s helpless tears begin to fall. She sees him broken on the floor. She sees his pain. She sees his helplessness. She knows he is lost. She prays for a God to take away his torment. She prays he is not fired. She sees it all answered in his hollow haunted eyes and she knows….
This will not go away, not for a very, very long time.