The Black Car

I have found my own modern day hermit’s cave, which I call The Black Car. I work, only because I must. And on days when I have to bring the magic in my job I have one of my parts do the heavy lifting. I’ve stopped answering most text messages and phone calls. There are a small few people whom I will reply to or answer calls, but its often painful for me to do so, and I’m usually itching to cease the communication.

Last month I had memories start to come forth, though only slivers of clues that beg further questions. Though enough has come forth that I am constantly stupefied by memories that pour out of my brain at moments when I need my full concentration, usually at work.

I tried explaining to one friend in particular this afternoon why I had been isolating and strugggling. When I told him I had been struggling with memories he just looked at me, and said nothing. And then after an uncomfortable silence he changed the subject altogether. I felt silly sitting there in that sushi restaurant with too many sushi rolls between us, and the cloud of discomfort in the air. The interaction confirmed my instincts for staying hidden away from most people to the extent possible.

I walk around only seeing what is directly in front of me.  An old friend saw me in the tea shop yesterday, and she had to wave me down and say my name loudly to get my attention. I honestly did not see her sitting in close vicinity of me.

I have days where I can fake it very well, when my dear Sabrina can fully come out at work and bring the magic. And then at the end of the day The Black Car is waiting again, and Sabrina has left when she senses that she is no longer needed for work.

The Black Car is a dependable old girl, and she’s always there patiently waiting for the next ride.

a purple Gaiam yoga mat

It’s just a purple Gaiam yoga mat, nothing special about it aside from the fact that it’s thicker than the Gaiam “original” model, and it has a lovely lavender side to complement the opposite deep purple side that is the typical yoga mat color. This purple Gaiam, slightly thicker, yoga mat stared at me from the offerings in the Target fitness aisle. Somehow, after my Monday night chemical dependency treatment process class, I found myself standing in front of this yoga mat priced at $29.99 with a strange pull to make the irrational purchase. And irrational it was because I was down to less than $200 in the checking account with the bevy of psychiatry appointments I’d had in the past 3 weeks, enough to add up to a car payment on a new fully loaded SUV. But payday was in close sight, and I had no idea why, but I needed this mat, and I needed it that very night. I don’t even recall how or what led me to this aisle, or even this store. My assessment is that the universe said to me, “Girl, you need this …” and so I heeded the directive, and purchased said yoga mat.

I had been staying at Dan’s place for nearly a month when I made that strange trip to Target to get a yoga mat. It started incongruously the day of my birthday party, the last Saturday in September. I went through all the motions at my party, talking to people, making myself not cry, not turn into a pile of goo. But at the end of the night, I said to Dan, “Can I come over?” And he said, “sure, but you need to give me a ride as well because I walked here.” I drove us to his place, and I barely remember putting myself down on the couch. Somehow, the sofa bed was opened, sheets were put on, and a pillow found it’s way under my head. One night became nearly a month.

Doc didn’t want to put me in the hospital because he feared it would do more damage than good. Yet, no one disagreed that I could not be home alone. So, there I was with my ex-boyfriend, on his couch on the eve of his annual gaming convention that he puts on every year. The timing could barely have been worse. Towards the end, I started to remember why we broke up in the first place. His place started to feel like less of a sanctuary, and more of a self-imposed halfway house of sorts.

At Dan’s place I immediately opened up the yoga mat, between the sofa bed and the tv in the living room,  I was met with a most unwelcome chemical smell coming off the mat. Still though, I was undaunted, annoyed, but still undaunted. I had not been to a yoga class in more years than I could even quantify. I couldn’t recall a single thing from yoga class in that moment on that smelly mat. So I just moved. I moved and stretched, and tried will all my might to set an intention and focus on it all the while just moving, moving, moving .. just to do something. I desperately needed a something to do in my life as my job had gone to shit, and, at that moment, I was on medical leave.

I’ve always challenged myself, and I never fully realized, until this experience, that challenging myself is a a big part of who I am, and when I do not have this I am lost. I look back and realize that the best jobs I’ve had forced me out of my comfort zone, and pushed me to do better, and keep reaching outside of myself. Losing this with my job situation falling apart led me to the moment where I needed yoga. I needed something to do, and I needed to challenge myself again. In a way, yoga became my job when my actual job disintegrated in front of me.

Somehow, even with that yoga mat purchase, I did not expect in find myself in an actual yoga class. But, that’s exactly what happened. And so far it’s happened 11 times in 30 days. I’ll keep coming back with my smelly mat.

Just for today

The PTSD brain can be hard to trust when it gets jacked up. It just takes off down the road like a scared chihuahua. Too many things become anxiety producing and stressful. You become hyper-vigilant, and immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion in too many scenarios. In the far reaches of your mind you know that every situation in your life cannot possibly be this dire. But when your brain is amped up on PTSD fear it can be increasingly difficult to conjure up the objective and reasonable side of your brain. And with a certain amount of this hyper-vigilance, it does not take long before the dark veil of despair becomes a fixture over your head. 

It works like this: First comes hypervigilance, then indefinite despair that is difficult to kick. You want to just shoo it away, but like an incessant weed, it comes back. 

There are intermittent moments of hope, such as those fleeting moments with friends at breakfast, or the renewed energy from that breakfast that makes you think you can do some baking today. You head to the grocery store to get items to attempt a straight-forward recipe for gluten free donuts. But after trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond and the grocery store you find yourself seemingly glued to the seat of your car. You feel too heavy to move, and you know the floaty feeling is settling in. You make a phone call in order to reach out for help, but there is no answer. So, you turn up the air conditioning to try to jump start yourself out of being stuck. But you just get cold, you’re still stuck. You read your Facebook feed, and then your emails on your phone. Finally, you resolve to get out of the car. You have to plan it out in your mind: all the moves that will get you out of the car, and into the apartment. Your skills as a stage manager in college come in handy for this exercise. 

Finally, you come inside the apartment and throw a leftover quiche in the oven for dinner. The gluten free donut recipe now seems like a far-fetched fantasy. 

Somewhere in the back of your mind you know there are good reasons to keep going, keep trying. You decide that just for today you have to trust that those reasons are real and worthwhile. Otherwise, there is nothing else.