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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Conversations and Dreams

My awareness of stress acceleration is becoming more acute--which means I can recognize it before it explodes. Most of the time I'm able to circumvent the explosions by making time for a walk or a run by myself. The alone time seems to be the key which is not what I was told in the hospital. There I was instructed to not be alone--even if that meant contact online or through the phone. But what I find is that I either begin venting to that person, which makes me feel horribly guilty and even more stressed, or I am listening to them, and while I enjoy listening to others, the moments when I'm feeling out of control are not the best time to be a good listener.

For awhile the "talking" thing worked. The problem is that I have nothing new to say. There are few people who wish to hear the same thing repeatedly. There are also few people who will hear what I'm saying, validate me, but recognize that most of what I'm saying is not reality, but rather me expressing the extremity of what I'm feeling. And much of the time I don't really mean what I say beyond the moment. Today I had an unfortunate conversation. I was talking to a friend about feeling overwhelmed by the sadness of another person--whom, in truth, I don't feel overwhelmed by. Basically, I was talking, and that came out. This is not a case of subconsciously speaking the truth--it's me allowing stress to exaggerate the tiniest aspects of my life. The truth is, the friend in question does not cause me stress--ever--in fact, being with him makes me feel joyful and calm. So the fact that I was saying otherwise is proof that I am unable to interpret what I'm feeling in a rational way:

Chat Person: It can be draining to be with people we love.
me: I hate that! I don't want people to feel drained if I'm with them. That's why I'm hating this so much. If I feel this way about someone, and I adore him, I can't imagine how I've sucked the life out of every person I've been with for the past couple of years. I would seriously rather have been alone.
Chat Person: You would choose not to be with your friend? He's not worth the effort?

(long pause as Sam refuses to answer)

Chat Person: Well, it's obvious that's not the case. And I guess you have to let other people make that decision about you.
me: I'm tired. This is not what I should be saying. This fatigue--frustration--I feel toward my friend--you have felt it toward me? When I was overwhelmed emotionally and I came to you?
Chat Person: Well, I don't know the caliber of fatigue/frustration you're feeling, but there have been times when I've felt fatigue and frustration, yes.
me: I think that should not be.
Chat Person: I personally would distrust a relationship that required nothing.
me: You asked if I would choose not to be with my friend--if he was not worth it. There are times, when I wish he was not part of my life, yes. I wish that about everyone occasionally, especially when I'm overwhelmed. I don't particularly care what that says about me. I'm well aware that I'm not the poster child of good friends. And, quite honestly, I don't think that will surprise you. However, as to whether or not he's worth it...that's something different altogether. And like it or not, I fell in love with him. Once that happens, I'll pretty much donate all my organs for the person I love. I can't help it. So--there is your answer.

The truth is that 30 minutes after this conversation, I was feeling no more antagonism toward anyone. It was a fleeting thing which I should simply have waited out. As the day progressed my stress levels increased. By dinnertime I was unable to eat, on the verge of laughing (or crying) hysterically, and absolutely irrational.

So--I went for a walk. I walked outside the city limits to a place where there are fields and dirt roads. The fields were green, the sky an incredible blue, the clover was in blossom and it smelled lovely. I walked for an hour and a half, and came home feeling much better.

Tonight I'm calm, but still wondering if I should avoid people for awhile. I feel poisonous when I talk during a PTSD episode. There is still random anger floating about inside. It seems to direct itself toward everyone I love, especially the person kind enough to spend time with me.

I had a dream last night. I was talking with a loved one in the manner I was speaking today. I was vicious and spiteful. He waited until I was finished with my unkind tirade, then he walked over to me, put his arms around me and said, "You're hurting again, aren't you." I said no. He hugged me and said, "It's okay. I'll just stay here until you feel better."

I woke up crying. I realized that many times in my dreams I allow people I love to act out what I wish had happened when I was hurt as a child and teen. It feels wrong to do that, somehow--to put them in a situation where they act differently from how they would in real life. And I feel guilty that I allow it to happen. But there is also a part of me that, for just a moment, feels absolutely safe. It's a rather remarkable feeling.

Someday, when everyone knows everything, and those friends find out that in my dreams I let them hold me when I was hurting, I hope they'll forgive me.


  1. Forgive you? I imagine they'll be thrilled that you wanted them there to comfort you when you needed it most.

  2. That's a beautiful dream.

    Most of us are bad at recognizing when people's negative behavior is because they are hurting.* I greatly regret the times when I should have showed love to someone who was hurt and instead reacted defensively to their unhappiness. I expect that your friends and family wish they had showed you that they loved you when you were hurt.

    *You, however, are exceptionally good at it. I always appreciate your perspective, because you're much more understanding of people.