Burning Down The Tree of PTSD

PTSD is like a seedling planted in my psyche. A random seed dropped, not from the sky, but from a random act of terrorism. It has been up to me whether the seedling planted was nurtured into a full grown deeply rooted tree or neglected until it shriveled. For years I nurtured it in secret until the day it took root overwhelming me. At first it had been easy to hide the seedling’s growth inside myself. Easy until it had grown so large no one could pretend it didn’t exist anymore.

The tree of PTSD wasn’t something which inevitably grew out of control. Sometimes the seedling grew until I stopped it’s growth in its tracks. But then, then I stayed right where I was, stuck in the moment for months, years even. There were times I was able to trim it back into a manageable sized tree. I could lay back in the shade and pretend it was a lovely creation instead of the truth. This tree needed to be burned down to the ground and the roots charred until nothing was left to grow.

Yet I’d grown almost fond of this creation I’d nurtured from the small seed. Each branch had life of it’s own. Branches I’d played on, danced on, and stood on the trembling tips of until I finally tiptoed back to the main trunk to climb back down to the ground for a bit. Inevitably I’d climb back up again, sometimes lounging in the branches for a time. This was a comfortable place I’d created. There really wasn’t a reason to burn it down.

However the day came when I took several steps back to look at this creation. Shockingly I saw it was made up of dark, spiraling, intertwining limbs which were strangling me, smothering me. If I didn’t do something and do something now? I was going to be lost forever inside the tree which had become a writhing mess of limbs growing out of control. Fear consumed me and I was overwhelmed at the mere thought of the task before me. The sun reached through all the dark limbs to touch me, reminding me of my former strength of self. In the most audacious of acts I began to chop the limbs down one by one. Slowly, surely the tree became smaller until only the trunk was left.

I have lit the fire to burn this tree down to the ground. Nothing will stop me from charring the roots until all that is left is but ash. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I have the lit the fire to save me from myself.

(Also posted to USFRA.org)

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