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TBH: Trying to be Honest With and About PTSD

I tell myself that something bad will happen if I’m honest. But it’s not about what might happen. It’s about what already happened.

Dearest Doodle Soupsters,

Why do I care about what others think? Why am I trying to be someone I’m not? I check the door over and over and over again … is it locked? Is it locked? Is it locked?

I check the stove … did I forget to turn it off?

I’m out and I check my bag … did I lose my keys? Did I forget something?

Fear has a funny way of manifesting itself in the tangible even if the tangible manifestations are besides the point.

I don’t check because I’m really scared that I forgot to lock the door or turn off the stove or because I actually think lost my keys. I check because I’m trying to make myself feel safe. I’m trying to feel a sense of control in a world where I was powerless when I needed power.

I was going to write that I didn’t want to share this. And yeah, a part of me is afraid that I’m making myself more vulnerable to attack or being taken advantage of or otherwise hurt by sharing the truth. But there’s another part of me that’s had enough of acting like my lived experience is something to hide and be ashamed of.

I don't just write to connect with others or to be creative — I write to free myself.

I’m so tired of saying “I just have a bit of a headache” when what I mean is, “I couldn’t sleep last night. I had nightmares while I was asleep. I woke up to flashbacks. I’m having sensations in my body right now. I’m grieving. I’m emotionally exhausted. I feel like I'm drowning.”

I’m just so tired. And you know what? I want to write about it.

I tell myself that something bad will happen if I’m honest. But it’s not about what might happen. It’s about what already happened. It’s about all the times I was honest and it only emboldened the people around me to threaten me, manipulate me, yell, hurt me, gaslight me.

You have no idea how much pleasure it brings me when the moon catches my eye and I just look up. For a moment, it’s all there is — a giant white-silver circle or crescent so far away and yet so present with me. I love sunsets. And ladybugs. And butterflies. And watching the ocean waves roll in and out and in and out again. I love painting. And poetry. And guitar strums. And singing. And gently moving across piano keys. I love hugs from my husband. Cuddles with our cat. I love being alive.

And sometimes, well often, I feel so self-conscious of my pain. I just want people to know me for who I am. I’m just me. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know how to be my full self. And maybe that’s okay - we don’t all feel super comfortable in all environments everywhere around anyone. But still, I think I want to be more comfortable with being more of who I am wherever I am and whoever’s around.

I truly believe in the magic of being alive, in hope, in love, in the power of free will, in the potential of change. I also feel so much pain and grief and anger. And often, I doubt, well, everything. I doubt whether any of what I’m doing even matters. And I still believe it does, even if that’s just because it matters to me.

Why do I care what anyone else would think of this? Why am I so scared to be seen and heard and known for who I really am? Why am I so afraid?

And the thing is … I know the answer to these questions. I just don’t know how to accept the answer. I don’t know how to believe myself. I don’t know how to accept the truth of what I’ve been through. I know I’ve survived it and it’s past but it doesn’t always feel like that.

That’s PTSD for you — the past is present, kind of.

But what PTSD really is beyond some diagnosis or acronym is my body giving me a map of how to heal. My body giving me the clues I need, leading the way. And I can curse the flashbacks and nightmares and just overwhelming pain all I want and need … yet, at the same time, my body isn’t hurting me. I was already hurt and my body is guiding me to all the little nooks and crannies I need to explore in order to understand, to remember, to make peace with the reality of how my life used to be. Even if that means that the past is part of my present.

I heal now. I live now. I remember now. I try now. I love now. I work toward something beautiful now. I make something beautiful now. I rest now.

Just being honest,

Nicole Sylvia Javorsky


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