On the rare mornings I feel too much, my heart slams itself against my trachea and the world nestles hard on my esophagus. It is not unlike a hummingbird flinging itself against a still, sharp, rain-washed window.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, my breathing collapses upon itself, repeatedly, like someone squeezing my cheeks together in a vain attempt to release the smoke inside. Breathe, baby but I can’t. I never can. My brain is on the fastest merry-go-round and I fight to not faint. I fight to remember and remind myself that I am more than one of PTSD’s lovers.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, I feel like I’m betraying J. somehow. I hear his voice instructing me to balance my thoughts, to breathe, to speak truth aloud, but this merry-go-round of death is too quick, too cunning. It knows my soft spots and how to exploit them, so that all I want is to curl up cat-like in my bed that’s always a little too warm—even with the fan on—and never move again. It takes an act of the supernatural to not be afraid on a morning where mantras and breathing techniques prove themselves inadequate. Maybe, if I statue myself, he won’t find me.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, I wonder why my friends are my friends. I question if they only tolerate me. They tell me they love me, but warn me, as subtle as a caterpillar crawls up the flesh of a human arm, to “get over” my trauma because it’s been four years and “don’t you wanna move past it?” It is seemingly trite advice for a body—a life—massacred by trauma and memories. Or maybe, I’m just projecting my insecurities into places they shouldn’t be.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, I hear my mother quoting the Bible, the part that says, “Be anxious for nothing…” and I want, ever so much, to body slam both her and Jesus, especially Jesus.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, I throw myself into the jaws of theology to let my analytical mind escape the acidic rain of my tortured hippocampus, the part of my brain that loops trauma memories on repeat like a good 90s song. I can’t be PTSD’s lover when I’m reading A. W. Tozer and C. S. Lewis.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, the world keeps moving. No one cares. People walk and drive to work, to church, and to the bar. Children are picked up from school or ballet or karate. Wives try to remember who they were before they became mothers, and husbands cook a meal most chefs would envy. I contemplate how flying off the roof would feel and wonder if I could taste Heaven on the way down.
On the rare mornings I feel too much, I fight to remember and remind myself that I am not one of PTSD’s lovers, that trauma doesn’t own me. I play with my dog and force myself to cook breakfast, if for no other reason than “my body can’t survive without food.” I sit in the living room while my parents watch sports and imagine what my future home library will look like. I watch the sunset in all its glorious wonder and eat whipped cream from the can.