Living with PTSD: Stumbling in the Dark

Ugh, I just have to say…I am so tired of this…so very tired.

Tired of what you ask?  Tired of hurting, what else?

Healing feels like stumbling around in the dark, sometimes you can move along pretty stealthily and fool yourself into thinking you are some kind of ninja, but then you bump into something and hit your shin.  Reflexively, you bend over to grab your wound and while doing so you hit your head.  This throws you off-balance and you end up lying on the ground without enough hands to touch, soothe and comfort all the aching places.

Fumbling around in the dark is a great metaphor for triggers because they often seem to hit you out of no where.   I know some of my triggers and can anticipate them and work through them fairly stealthily.  Therapy has helped with that.  But then there are other triggers. . .

I’m struggling to explain what I am feeling without going into specifics about what hurt me this time.  Let’s see if we can work around this.  A family member did something that hurt me deeply.  The hurt was not intended.  (I wonder would it hurt less if it was?  Maybe so.)

Photo by Gerhard Suster
Photo by Gerhard Suster

That situation may or may not be as it appears to me.  We may or may not work it out.  I may or may not emotionally guillotine this person.  Emotionally guillotine means that I cut him or her out of my heart.  I can do this with a rapidity and a finality that shocks even me.

I do wonder if this is healthy.  (My husband doesn’t think so, and my therapist is out-of-town. . .)  Healthy or not, I have guillotined a lot of people, and it does stop the hurt.  So how can that be a bad thing???   My husband says it’s bad because if I guillotine enough people I will be left alone.  And yet, I don’t think they were really there in the first place…that’s WHY they were guillotined.  So how has anything changed except that I stopped my emotional hemorrhage?  Anyway. . .

The real issue here is the pain of the past that was triggered by this incident.  How does a four-year old child deal with the pain of feeling rejected, abandoned and traumatized?  It breaks my heart to think of it.

I’ll tell you how I dealt with it.  I learned to emotionally guillotine people (it’s amazing I don’t have some sort of attachment disorder!) and I put the rest away in my Haunted Mind to deal with later as an adult.

Now I am facing that emotional time bomb.  An event triggers it, and suddenly I am awash with the unbelievable pain of being a child abused and feeling very alone in a very dark and scary world.  All this while people around me wonder why I am over-reacting to whatever the trigger was.

Somebody please turn on the light.  I want this healing business to be done already. . .like yesterday.


P.S. Please note in my effort to blog regularly, I am now scheduling posts in advance.  So I have had a little time to recover from the situation that hurt  me.  I am feeling better, and yes, I did emotionally guillotine the person that caused the problem.  Here’s hoping I can get back to Ninja mode now…at least emotionally!

Photo attribution is embedded in the picture now.  Just hover over it.   Don’t I feel clever?!



  1. Leslie,
    There is too much here that I would like to comment on, but cannot. To the extent possible (infantessimal as it is), I hurt with you and hope for, at least, night lights!
    I like the imagery of the emotional guillotine. Mel and I had to excise a couple people from our life a while back. They were unpredictably and uncontrollably hurtful. They went out easy enough. It has been a long and hard process welcoming them back in. I think the cutting out was right at that time. I think the letting back in is right, too. And I know for sure in this case that at least one of the individuals was squarely in Mel’s heart before the excision.
    Here’s hoping your endarkened stumbling is at least leading toward the doorway into the lightened hallway. I don’t know when, but I am confident you will someday find the corner you can turn and see the light through the open door.

  2. I really love Chris and Mel’s comments. I was just thinking of times that I’ve had to deal with minor emotional trauma–healing in my own way–and how I get tired of it after a month or two. Yes. It is exhausting to carry those burdens. I guess your mental/emotional/spiritual muscles are going to be that much stronger for it. Think about how much you are (and will be) able to lift others as a result! I’m sorry that it’s taking a while. But, it is so encouraging to see how far you’ve come!

  3. 28 years of toe-stubbing, head-to-rafter, and in the eye misery as I wandered in the darkened halls of the past then suddenly a door to light opened and I never looked back except in gratitude.

  4. ‘I learned to emotionally guillotine people ‘ – I do this all of the time.
    I can relate to this post so much I wanted to reblog it, but couldn’t find the button.

    • I’m glad I am not the only one with an emotional guillotine! I talked to my therapist about that–after he returned from vacation. He didn’t seem concerned. 🙂

      Thank you for trying to reblog this. I really appreciate that. I’m not sure which button you mean though. I’ll add it if I can. I do have buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google, email….did you see those. They are below the post, but before the comments.

  5. Leslie, I suffer from depression and anxiety. Part of the whole mess is PTSD from being in a very abusive marriage. It took over 10 years but those chickens came home to nest. Therapy, medication and more therapy. My blog chats about my way back. I followed a sign. that was given very clearly to me. If you get a chance, pop over and read it. I always knew I would write my story down if it could help just one person get through a day. My life has turned around so much and after 25 years I am healing. I know that you will experience good things and conquer your illness. I send you positive thoughts and wish much strength for you.

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