This is a Really Real Mental Health Post
The continuation of a Really Real Trauma Post.
This is the reason we had story time.
Back to today.
I’m eating lunch in my college cafeteria.
People in police uniforms start filing in, more than 20, maybe more than 30.
My stomach clenches. I can’t tell if I want to freeze in place or if I need to get out of there quickly.
See, our school houses a police academy. Normally when I go in for lunch, they are already there and sitting down. Normally there aren’t so many. Normally it doesn’t bother me.
I pack up. I walk over to throw my trash away. Two of them are using the microwave next to the trashcan. I contemplate crossing the entire cafeteria to use the other trash can.
I ask myself why I’m reacting this way.
I don’t think about my own story from so many years ago.
When I’m driving and a cop is behind me, I immediately want to pull of the road. I immediately start thinking of how I’m supposed to react if they pull me over. What’s the least likely to get me in more trouble.
Even when I’ve done nothing wrong.
I remember how, literally overnight, 3 year old Kidlet went from wanting to talk to every police officer he saw, to hiding behind me when he saw a cop car and even screaming in terror if one came close.
“How were you so calm when you got pulled over?” I asked Wonder Woman the night she got a ticket. I was in the passenger seat all but shaking. It wasn’t until halfway through that I realized I had my hands in my pockets and then I was petrified to take them out. “What am I supposed to do if they talk to me?” “How am I supposed to react to keep us both out of trouble?”
Today as the police academy students filed into the cafeteria I immediately started looking for a way to keep myself safe. I immediately questioned that reaction because I’ve never been hurt by a cop. I even said to myself “What has a cop ever done to you?”
I don’t think about that part of my story.
It was so long ago.
I’ve been through so much since then.
It barely seems like a blip on the radar.
I was halfway across the campus before I remembered.
“That’s what a cop did to you.”
But my body doesn’t forget.
Not even for a second.
My stomach clenches.
My thoughts spin.
I go into flight or freeze and would never consider fighting.
Trauma is hard.
And, now that I recognize it, I can work on healing it.