I always assume I’m over it. I know I have PTSD, but I tell myself eventually, I’ll get over it. I’ve done so much work – years of therapy, meditation, writing, medication, shadow work, hypnosis. There’s no way things can still affect me the way they did when the wounds were still fresh. It’s just not possible, 20 years later, that I can still feel things with the same ferocity.
I assume I’ve worked through the years of abuse until I’m sitting in a cafe getting some work done and Unchained Melody comes on the radio. Before I even understand what’s happening, my cheeks are wet with tears. My face is hot, and my throat is closed, and I am scared. I’m shaking. My whole body is vaguely here but not here. A familiar cotton fog fills my head, and my arms and legs are heavy and weird with pins and needles. I don’t consciously realize any of this until I literally gasp for air, shocking myself back to reality (and earning strange glances from nearby cafe patrons.)
I’m 32. That means the abuse I endured as a child happened 20 years ago. It’s been over longer than it lasted. Most days, I am good with those facts. It took me the better part of those 20 years to reassure myself that it is over, and not to fall asleep reliving the worst of it. I can go about my life and be my own human without that shadow over everything I do and everyone I meet. Most days. I’m also coming to the realization that some things may just trigger me forever. There are things seemingly unrelated to abuse that I clung to while I dissociated from what was happening at the time. They still sneak up and rock me to my core when I’m least expecting it. Things like the smell of ketchup, the sound of my former first name when pronounced with a particular inflection, the texture of scrambled eggs, and the song Unchained Melody.