What’s your story? Your life story. Do you see yourself as the hero/heroine of your own story? I’m beginning to. I think.
A few weeks ago it happened again: panic attack.
In the aftermath, I spent two days hiding: alone, crying — unable to stop, unable to articulate why, pushing away everyone who loves me. I was exhausted from trying to think my way out, from trying to hold it all together, from the emotional spin cycle, the physical alertness.
Having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), no matter how mild or severe, is like having a ghost, a spectre, a shadow — that follows me around. No one else can see it and some days, weeks, even months even I forget it’s there. And then one day out it pops: BOO! This ghost has the emotions of an abused 4 year old, the reaction time of a race car, and can hit like a sledge hammer.
Only there’s no broken bones, no bruises. Nothing I can point to, nothing I can show people to demonstrate the trauma their actions caused me; no hurt to document, no visible healing to point to and see that today is better than yesterday.
There’s an uneasy companionship between us, this ghost and I. When the ghost wins, my head is filled with its faulty wisdom born of poor experience and shallow comfort — see, you can’t trust men. You can’t trust yourself to make good decisions. You’re not safe here.
And I’m left invisibly bleeding, broken — ashamed. Again. But life goes on and I stumble for a long while, lingering behind pillar and post like a too-often reprimanded dog. If no one sees me they can’t hurt me.
Each day I wake up and convince myself that I’m better, and as the day wears on I find myself holding back where I once was bold. I keep quiet where before I might have shared my opinion. I avoid eye contact with those I feel threatened by.
Time For A Hero
But if all of life is a story, then a new year should bring a new chapter. Yes? I usually pick a new focus word each year — a trait or a character improvement I want to make. This year I couldn’t think of one. Nothing came to mind.
See, the ghost thrives in isolation, in pushing people away, in fear and shame. Instead, I felt this persistent call to intimacy. Greater intimacy with God. Drawing close instead of withdrawing from friends, from community, from those close to me.
This won’t happen overnight and it won’t change my personality. I am still an introvert that requires a lot of time alone and I will still avoid large gatherings (and probably many smaller ones too). But a week into my search for intimacy (with God and those close to me) has brought a good measure of peace.
There are two kinds of tired I suppose.
One is a dire need of sleep, the other is a dire need of peace.
Does intimacy bring peace? Does intimacy bring rest? Does intimacy refresh? I posit that it just might do all those things — and more besides.
“You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” John 16:22.
Do you pick a word or reflect on how you’d like to develop or improve your character each year?