There is a weird, "Who could possibly care?" and also "Why would I want them to?" thing that happens when I can't manage PTSD. It permeates every aspect of who I am until I lose myself. There is no trace of self-pity. It feels logical and calming. I stop reaching out to people. I become lovely, and pleasant, and two-dimensional. Grocery store clerks and strangers fall in love with me. I don't know why that's important to me. Maybe it affirms that I'm still living and breathing and real.
Years ago, this was a state of being. No one really cared beyond knowing I was "fine." Fine was what and who I was. I'm fine, thank you. I had lots of friends. We laughed often. We enjoyed each other's company. I said we should have lunch soon. Then I went home, exhausted, and tried to regroup. It's hard work not being me.
But over the past decade I've been working on believing people do care. They care. Not everyone, but some. And those that care want good things for me. They're sad, even if only momentarily, when unfortunate things happen to me. I try to think, "There are people who care about me," when PTSD becomes unmanageable, and, "I need to want them to care."
I think I've gotten close to believing in the caring. Last week I confided to a friend that I really, really wanted someone to be sad about the assault and molestation that happened to eight-year-old me. And I was confused as to why I wanted that. I'm still confused. He suggested that if someone feels sad or angry or upset about what happened to me, it means they love me. They care.
I went home and thought about that. There's so much that confuses me about the whole incident. Not the incident, itself, but my feelings and reactions to it. I honestly cannot figure out what I'm feeling. I don't know how to feel. Part of wanting someone else to feel something about it is so I will have an idea of what I, myself, feel. Maybe. That sounds silly. See? I'm very confused.
But today I'm lost in the PTSD crap. I haven't talked to anyone yet because I can't seem to crawl out of the hole where "Who could possibly care?" rings in my ears, only to be followed up with, "Why would I want them to?" The answers come quickly. The first: No One. No One, Sam. They have their own stuff. They don't need or want yours. No One. And then the second: You don't. You don't want them to. That means they'll ask questions and you'll want to answer. If you talk about it it's real. If you don't, it will go away. No One cares and that's exactly how things are supposed to be. Just make everything go away. Be fine. Fine is good.
But for 10 years I've been working on not hearing those answers. They're very loud today, but there's a second, quiet voice, insistently telling me, "You know better, Sam."
Maybe. I'm pretty tired. It takes effort to hear that dissenter. It's easier to listen to the voice that has controlled me for many years, to heed the words, disappear inside myself...
Probably right now is not the best time to listen to either. I'm too confused.
In moments like these, my brain imagines reactions from people who supposedly care. I hear them say, "I've told you I care. Why don't you believe me?" or "We've been through this so many times. How long will it take?" or "I don't have time for this, Sam. Pull yourself together."
So I do. I pull myself together. And I don't give anyone opportunity to say the hurtful things I imagine. Because it would hurt. A lot.
"I've told you I love you. Why don't you believe me?" I want to. I want to so much. I'm trying. Sometimes I try until I'm exhausted with the effort. And then I feel terrible because you don't deserve my doubt. And I don't deserve your love.
"We've been through this so many times. How long will it take?" I don't know. Honestly, I thought, when I began therapy, I'd be all over this in about three months, maximum. I was wrong. I'm wrong about most things. You're right. We've been through this repeatedly. It's a lot to ask of you. It's a lot to ask of me. For a long time I kept asking people to stay. I don't ask that anymore. I don't know how long it will take. No one deserves that kind of negative repetition and pointless uncertainty. And it is pointless. I don't know if this will ever stop happening.
"I don't have time for this, Sam. Pull yourself together." What you don't know is, this is me, all pulled together. I'm not sure anyone except Darrin has seen me completely unhinged. Even my father, when I told him I needed to be taken to the hospital's psyche ward, was presented with a completely calm person. So if I seem unsettled, or confused, or at odds with something, that's probably a very toned down version of what is really happening to me. And I know you don't have time. I don't either. But you also need to know I'd never take time you're unwilling to give or that you would give begrudgingly. I don't do that. I never would. You don't deserve that.
Oops. Time for me to go. For the next little while I need to be competent and confident. Fortunately, I'm not going to be with anyone I'm trying to fall in love with. That helps.