Lauren Bacall has been in my head all day.
It's a Billie Holliday tune I first heard in this Hoagy Carmichael rendition in To Have and Have Not, probably my all-time favorite Bogey and Bacall film. The words of the song (a man who's done her wrong) don't have anything to do with my funk..... or do they? I'll let you decide after you finish this.
The events of last week blew up in my head last night. For no reason on God's green earth, I decided to be furious with my boys for talking about the NBA on our usual, Sunday night, phone call. I could feel the rage boiling up inside. Little bits and pieces emerged first; head shaking, muttering, mumbling got no response. I made my feelings known, fury was unleashed, anger unfurled, accusations hurled. I was outside looking in, as my mouth was spewing vitriol.
Such is life with PTSD. It appears randomly, set off by loud noises or skinny white boys in hoodies, or with a definite cause, like Senators who don't represent me, like stumbling unwittingly onto a picture of carnage, like watching a young man mourn the loss of his town, his friends, his co-workers, his home. Whatever the origin, the results are invariably the same. One of us is screeching while the other stands there, bombarded by nastiness.
It's the most out of control I've ever felt. I knew I was creating chaos where sunshine and laughter had existed a moment before. I was incapable of stopping myself. It was just there, a burning triangle resting on my breastbone, pulsing and growing hotter with every passing moment. It was fueling the darts flashing from my eyes, spurring me on to an anger I didn't know existed within my soul.
Poor TBG was on the receiving end. Rightfully, he was furious. This came from nowhere and it felt awful. He did the only prudent thing - he fled the scene.
Once the major explosion passed, my insides and my outsides became one, again. My heart was not filled with fury; it was ripped raw by the passion of what had come before. It's a physical ache and an emotional ache and it's an awful, empty, hollow, lonely place that's left behind. I took responsibility for the attack, I agreed with TBG that certain things should not be foisted upon those who care for us, who have our backs, who are there when we need them the most. I know that. PTSD seems not to care.
Apologies accepted, hugs exchanged, tears wiped and noses blown, the evening was a series of What brought that on? conversations. It was hard for me to concentrate on the triggers; my soul was bruised. I don't like being mean to the people I love.... and I include myself in that group. I spent the night trying to forgive myself for breaking apart. PTSD respects no boundaries, pays no attention to what is needed in the long run. When it's ready to explode, it explodes.
Living with that fury is, perhaps, the hardest part of recuperating. I can predict that my hip will hurt after two hours in a restaurant chair. I know that my body will rebel if I take a day away from my rehab routine. Without analgesics, it is a certainty that my parts will begin a conversation with my nervous system. These are things I can anticipate, things I can expect, things I can control. PTSD is another ball of wax, entirely.
I thought I was doing fairly well last week. I took action and encouraged others to do the same. That's always my first step; "What do you think we can do about that?" was my go-to query as a practicing social worker. I surrounded myself with those I love. I participated in activities and exercised and read and wrote and through it all, beneath it all, behind it all, bile was building up.
I was snippy for no reason and, when asked about it, I turned the other cheek and agreed that I'd misinterpreted the situation. That went on, intermittently, all weekend. Should I have seen the ultimate blow-up in these mini-attacks that preceded it? I didn't.
Instead, I shrieked and sobbed and admitted aloud what I'd been holding in all week - I am very, very sad. I spent the week watching my friends lobby Congress, telling their stories and achieving nothing. I knew I was not ready to join them in D.C. Somehow, I thought that by keeping my distance and reducing my activities to phone calls and emails and blog posts I would be protected from the emotional baggage they carry as they walk the halls of the Senate. Turns out, that was a false assumption. I had my own sorrows to add to their frustrations. In its own way, it was overwhelming enough.
Athletes were blown up and another slightly built young man will spend forever in a cell and the whole thing is living in my head. I avoided the graphic images... and was blindsided by Sports Illustrated's photo of a man with severed limbs. I'd love to close my eyes and see something else, but I can't rid myself of the picture. Worse, it sends me back to my own hospitalization, to the pain and the fear and the immense sadness. I'm not sure where to stash these thoughts. My head is, suddenly, not big enough to encompass them.
I'm not alone in this funk. TBG is walking around with a dazed look in his eyes, too. Sometimes, the world is just too much. Am I blue? You betcha.