I'm always a little amazed when the PTSD symptoms completely subside. Life suddenly swings back into focus and I find myself groping for ways to make sense of what I've felt, said, and done. About a week ago I was telling Tolkien Boy I'd appreciate it if he didn't ask me any personal questions. I suppose there are times when this is said in honesty because the timing is wrong for discussing life's difficulties. I said it because I meant: Don't ever ask me anything personal ever again--I don't trust you and I'm not going to discuss my life with you--and I'm angry that I ever did in the first place.
Sigh...this is not going to be forever. Therapist believes this, and I believe he's always right.
Today I am hoping Tolkien Boy (and every other person who encountered me while I went through this last PTSD cycle) will remember that I do share with him, probably more than he would like, and perhaps he'll view this last PTSD thing as a much needed vacation from Samantha overshare. I stopped closing myself off from people a few years ago and have tried with my whole soul to be honest and open with the people I care about. I had this conversation with Therapist last month:
Therapist: You know, Sam, there's not much more I can tell you about strengthening relationships.
me: Yes, there is. I'm bad at relationships.
Therapist: (laughing) Actually, you're better at them than most people I know.
me: I'm not. I build a good relationship, and then I have stupid PTSD symptoms and I destroy it.
Therapist: How many relationships have you allowed your symptoms to destroy in the past few years.
me: None. But that's because I try to do damage control when they subside.
Therapist: I don't call that damage control. I call that communication. You identify feelings and behaviors you feel are misplaced, and you talk about those things with the person they affect. Not many people do that.
me: They don't have to. They're sane.
Therapist: They do have to--and they don't. Which is why we have parents and children who become strangers, and a huge divorce rate, and people who are lonely almost all the time. They don't talk about the things that are uncomfortable. You do.
me: Because I have to.
Therapist: No. You don't have to. Remember that uncle of yours who would just disappear when the symptoms hit...
me: Yes. But while I understand what he did, I've also decided he and I are nothing alike.
Therapist: I agree. But here's what I'm saying: Even if you didn't have PTSD disrupting your relationships, you'd still talk with those you love when something cropped up that was negative or concerning--and it wouldn't matter if it resided in you or the other person, you would still address it.
me: How do you know?
Therapist: Because every time we've discussed a person in your life, along with the things that are concerning to you about your relationship with that person, I suggest something and you say, "Yes, I've talked with them about that," or "You're right. I'll probably talk with them about that...." and then you name a day when that conversation will take place. And when Tolkien Boy has come with you to therapy, he's confirmed that you do, indeed, talk with him about the things that cause concern, and Darrin has told me the same thing.
me: Yes, but everyone does that. You have to talk about things when they're small or they get too big and can't be solved.
Therapist: Everyone doesn't do that. I could be out of a job if they did. And you haven't always done it, although you probably have to some extent--you've just learned how to make it a regular part of your life.
me: I don't always talk about relationship problems with people, you know. We have other, more fun conversations, as well.
Therapist: No, which is why when those things crop up you can discuss them. People don't feel threatened if you bring up a problem (which could be something they're doing which is problematic, or something you're feeling, or something which was said), because they trust that you're saying something because you want the relationship to become even stronger.
me: This makes me tired.
Therapist: You still see it as a negative thing that you do this?
me: That I have to do it.
Therapist: You don't have to--that's the point. You do it anyway--that's the other point.
me: Okay, but someday, I don't want to have so much to talk about, and it will be because my PTSD symptoms are no longer messing with me.
Therapist: You'll still have "so much to talk about." It's who you are. You'll just choose different topics.
me: Sometimes it's okay to just sit with someone and not talk.
Therapist: You're right. I vote for that, too.
Okay, I'm leaving this for now.
Last night after dark I walked to my dad's office to do some work for him--without a sweatshirt or jacket. I don't remember ever doing this on November 6th. We often have warm days, but when the sun goes down it becomes very cold. We usually wake up to frost. Not this year. There was no wind and the night was soft and beautiful. I'm certain there's some dire scientific explanation for the warmth this month and throughout October. I'm refusing to be alarmed right now, and choosing instead to enjoy the gorgeous weather, soothing my conscience by reminding myself that I was not contributing to carbon emissions in the moment because I was walking...such a lovely walk, too.
When the first hard frost came last month, I harvested all my green tomatoes and put them in a box to ripen. This year I had a purple daisy volunteer in my garden. I'm not sure where it came from, but the blossoms were large and plentiful and welcome. I waited a few hours after the tomato harvest, then went out and cut the plant. It had three blooms and a bunch of buds. This was two weeks ago. Today it's blooming in a small glass of water as it sits on my kitchen windowsill. The three original flowers finished within a couple of days and were cut off, but now five more blooms have opened and two more buds are waiting.
In the meantime, my pansies recovered from the frost and are a vivid, colorful riot spreading through the less hardy brown remnants of other flowers, basil, tomatoes, rosemary, and oregano. They seem to bloom better when the temperatures are unpredictable.
And I have committed myself to learning Brahms this year. Right now I'm playing the Rhapsodies and have two left to memorize--I need them finished before mid-January when they have to be performed.
My last flashback took place on July 31st. YAY!
I have nothing more to say.