Day 4 of 31 Days in July, the “TBI Collection” from The PTSD Poetry Project
Original poem and personal journal entry.
“Dancing in the Rain of the Day”
Tears pour out of my eyes
Images of a dog’s death
Will not leave
I hear the neighborhood’s random sounds
Of illegal fireworks
My mind is branded with an image I cannot let go
The storm has come full force
Memories rain down inside my head
All the hopes, dreams
All the firsts and many beginnings
These all become a personal parade inside my head
One which reminds me of what I’d had
A parade with the banner
“All the things you have lost”
A new country becoming my new home
A country which had felt like ‘home’ to me
All the snapshots show up in my mind
Of roosters in palm trees
Of the feel of crushed shells beneath my legs as I sat at the ocean’s edge
Of the happy look of the love I’d thought to never lose
Of the scent of this man I’d loved so hard
I think of the first moment we met
And I begin to cry again
From half a world away he’d come to me
From half a world away he’d disappeared from everyone’s lives
And the rain pours over me
I raise my face
I raise my arms
There is nothing else to do
But to relearn how to dance in this crazy thunderstorm of my life
July 4, 2016
Personal Journal Entry
Too many things collide inside my mind this morning. Yesterday our neighbor came to the door and my son talked with him. Friday night the fireworks had upset their very large German Shepherd Dog. They’d tied him up near his huge doghouse as he’d jumped the fence before in fear of the firework sounds. But this time was different, he jumped the fence, was caught between the two fences. He hung there between the two fences and slowly choked to death. My son was in shock when he came in the house to share this.
It is a senseless thing and has taken away a beloved pet of two little boys. No animal deserved to die this way and this kind big dog did not deserve this at all. It also had brought back triggered memories for this man who’s brother had overdosed 12 years ago this week. My son said the man was nearly in tears. My son had no idea how to handle this man’s show of emotion. Then he had to come inside and tell me. Then we had to tell his sister who has the tenderest of hearts towards animals. She got so choked up and tears filled her eyes about this dog who was a huge gentle dog, a great guard dog. We’d always been able to tell if there were strangers because of the sound of his bark. The quiet next door is deafening in it’s silence..
At this point I’d been waffling about having to go buy another pair of jeans. I’d bought a pair the day before, washed them, worn them and had to face up to the fact they were still two sizes too big. My daughter pushed me out the door with the parting remark, “you need to get OUT of the house today.” I feel like I’m being micromanaged lately. She knows I’m hurting inside and doesn’t want to see me hurt. Today’s news added to this pain. Yet I got myself into the car, went out to the dreaded trying on of jeans and stripping naked in a public changing room.
As I waited to go across the crosswalk a car slowed down with the two men inside turning to stare at me. One rolled down the window as they pulled past and yelled “hey baby..hmm hmm looking good” This has been something the last 14 years I do not deal with well. I want to get back in my car, drive home and forget this buying of jeans. I told myself just let it go, move on and get in the damned store. I try very hard to stay very focused with what I’m doing, hold my head high, smile, walk slowly and not rush.
Twice I tried on jeans to face the fact that yes, I really have a need for this smaller size. Yes I could buy the one I’d bought the day before but in 3 more weeks? They’d be over large too. Most people wish for this problem I tell myself. When I’d first moved here my mother set me up with a long time friend to talk about how to deal with this attention. She was one of those women who’d gone through the so called ‘ugly duckling’ stage and done a lot to transform into a gorgeous woman.
I remember sitting at lunch and her explaining to me how men’s attention is often like being a mom and hearing kids’ noise. You just tune it out until they get too loud and then you actually pay attention to it. She also said most people just want a smile from an attractive woman and so she smiled a lot at people. She had the advantage of flashing a huge wedding ring in order to offset any unwanted attention. As I was going through a divorce this was not an option for me. Her advice? Buy the best looking fake diamond ring to wear so it looks like you’re married. This worked for a long time for me to keep the unwanted away. The flip side was it also kept away those I’d wanted to get to know.
Yesterday ended with me cuddled with my dog crying into her fur. She’s lost a dog buddy in a senseless manner. I’ve lost something I cannot even name inside my head as it’s gone from my memory. Yet I still know in a part of me I wanted to keep all those in my file cabinet drawer. The sorrow had hit me hard about this dog’s death. The crying only came later when I was writing about the day. It stirred it afresh and it spilled over until I was curled up crying into my dog’s fur. She’d put her leg over me and kept licking my arm to comfort me. I cried further to realize this was all I have for these moments.
I’d worked so hard to keep anyone out of my life to the point I truly have no one to hold me. I have my dog. What would I do if she was gone? She’d helped me sleep through the night after insomnia had stolen my nights for over 7 years. The thought causes tears to pool in my eyes again.
My life has become one of slowly allowing people in it. I work hard to take notes to remember the people I meet, to help jog my memory later. There are notes I take with me inside my purse and sit in the car before going in places so I can at least have a semblance of good social skills. This is something I’d learned a long time ago from a dear mentor. He’d done this too and it’s been my go to act for my return to the public eye. Take notes, go over them, respond immediately to emails, put notes in your planner and smile a lot at people.
Allowing people in is not a go to act for me. It goes against all my personal safety rules. If I don’t let anyone in they can’t hurt me. What I’m learning is life is full of hurts and it’s not normal to be so shut down I had become incapable of being hurt, of connecting with anyone. I am not a robot, no matter what my ex says about how he ‘liked it better when I was a robot’. Well, there is a reason I was called the ‘ice bitch/queen’ on the job. I had been so shut down no one got in. This is a deeper symptom of the PTSD. Now the inability to feel a continued connection after 3-5 days because of the TBI makes me have to work a lot harder to let anyone in.
I have no clue what my plan is for today. This holiday brings a lot of very sad memories of love coming into my life with so many amazing moments for the following two years. It had been the beginning of a new life, a new country to live in. This holiday represents so many hopes, dreams taken from me. Of things given like a carrot before a horse, yet I’d been allowed to take bites. I’d tasted the beautiful joy, the happiness, the love like no other and in a mere moment they were all stolen away. Fear, pain, in their place and all the horrible things I’ve had to live with ever since.
This holiday I do not want to participate in any ‘festivities’ as I’ve been forced to do in the past. I want to hide in my room, to be sad, to cry with the loss of so many dreams. This holiday is the beginning of my decline towards Autumn. It’s less, but this dog’s death triggered all the pain, hurt to well up inside me and spill over in unexpected ways.
July had been my goal month for a reason. It’s always been the hardest month out of the entire year for me. But I will get through this month and I will get beyond it. I will still face this coming season. Perhaps this time it will not be with the smile plastered on my face, it will be with laughing, crying, and sometimes dancing in the rain of the moment.