Content Warning: Sexual Assault
I went to a sporting event Friday night.
As you may guess, this is not something I normally do. I have social anxiety and PTSD. I hate crowds and loud noises. A stadium with thousands of people and a cannon that goes off when a home run is scored is a bad place for me. However, it was “Episcopal Night” at the ballpark, and a bunch of people from my church were going. My sister really wanted me to go. And it was my two-year-old godson’s first baseball game; how could I miss that?
The things we do for the people we love.
Everyone met at an Episcopal church a few blocks away from the stadium a couple of hours before the game for hot dogs (ew) and socialization. On the 45 minute drive from our suburb to downtown, I had to take a milligram of Klonopin, that’s how anxious I was. Once we saw some people we knew, it was better. And once my best friend and godson were there, that’s when I actually started having fun. I loved seeing how excited he was. That child is the light of my life, no matter where we are.
We walked the few blocks to the stadium, and as we filed through the metal detectors one of the security guards told me to smile. I suppose I must’ve had a more grim look on my face than I realized. Also, to the men, seriously: STOP TELLING WOMEN TO SMILE. IT IS OBNOXIOUS.
When we were finally sitting down, I was focused on my godson and so I was ok for a while. We pointed out colors and shared some apple slices. Loud announcements were a bit unnerving. I only sort of paid attention to the game. I was having more fun taking photos of my godson. He was adorable. He only lasted for a couple of hours, though, which was understandable. When they left, it was harder. I became more tense.
I found myself sitting there, looking at all the tiny kids around me. Wishing I had a tiny to take to a first ball game. That hurt. Fucking grief, again. I found myself with my arms wrapped around my body protectively, my shoulders practically in my ears, feeling dissociated from what was happening around me. Towards the end of the game, the husband of a church member, who was sitting next to me, patted my knee to reassure me that our team would pick up a few runs and pull out a win. The first thing that ran through my head was, “GET YOUR FUCKING HAND OFF MY LEG.” The second thing was, “That was unreasonable.”
Here’s the thing about PTSD: Your brain literally believes and lives as if you are constantly in danger from everywhere. So there’s this low-level anxiety that hums in the background all the time, and it sends you signals of total overreaction to completely innocuous events, people, and actions. It makes things that are simple and ordinary for most people difficult, exhausting, and sometimes impossible for people with PTSD.
We left before they set off fireworks, thank you Jesus. I would not have been able to deal.
And the next day, I was completely exhausted. I slept the majority of the day, because I had to recover from trying to maintain seeming “normal” while inside parts of me were screaming. Let me tell you, that takes a tremendous amount of energy. It drains energy from your body, from your mind, from your spirit.
Ordinary things. The most ordinary things can be a nightmare. I got home the other day, and my mom had put shampoo in the soap dispenser because we ran out of hand soap. Creamy, white shampoo. And as I went to wash my hands, this creamy, white substance forcefully spurted out of the dispenser onto my hand and a bit onto my arm. I froze, because in my mind, this was not soap. And I was not clean right now.
I felt suddenly sick. I washed the stuff off my hand and arm, sat down on the edge of the tub, and freaked out. I was shaking and crying. I was an abused child in that moment, a rape victim. I was not a confident adult with a voice, a woman who can heal and protect herself. When trauma kicks in, it kicks hard. I recovered after a little while, and went on with my evening. But I was angry. Because that type of rude interruption is so unfair, and so frustrating.
It’s not always this bad. I can have months where things like this don’t happen at all. For me, PTSD get worse when my general stress level gets worse. So right now, with all the commitments I have and worrying about school and money and processing grief as well, trauma becomes a part of my life again. Which stresses me out. Which makes me more prone to experience the trauma. It’s an ugly cycle that I truly hate, because all I want is to be a person.
I just want to be a person. Not a victim, not a survivor. Not a person who can’t go to a ball game without taking medication. Not a person who sees semen in shampoo. Just a person, whose life isn’t interrupted by trauma.
Will I ever get to see that?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6-7
We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5: 3-5