This is a Really Real Trauma post.
TW: Mention of a gunshot and completed suicide.
This is another long winding one as I get my late night thoughts out.
Night time is hard. I feel like something is going to jump out from behind every corner. Daytime makes things seem a little more open, but in the dark there are shadows and I feel like I won’t see what’s coming.
It was daytime and I was sitting at my computer, in my dad’s house. I didn’t have any music on. I was listening to him in the kitchen through my ipad. The occasional shuffle of something on the table where he always had a stack of snacks.
Wheelchairs move absolutely silently, I didn’t hear him move from the table, around the counter, through the door separating the kitchen from the dining room.
I didn’t hear him open the drawer and retrieve the gun.
I was just at my computer, which was sitting on the end table that I had spun around to use as a desk off of the side of the bed.
I was responding to an email from Wonder Woman. We were discussing the best way to work our couple’s therapy schedule since the therapist wouldn’t see us while I was out of state. I was detailing what schedule had been worked out for Draven and I to switch off. Flipping between my email window and the calendar, typing up exact dates so that we could have 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off with the therapist.
I was proofreading the email, making sure I had the dates right, and checking for grammar.
It was silent.
And then it wasn’t.
The gunshot echoed repeatedly. It took a long while for it to become totally silent again. At about the same time the room filled with the smell of gun powder.
I knew I didn’t need to look, I knew exactly what had happened, but I just had to look, something made me check.
“I wish you didn’t look.” Aimee has said to me a few times now, in person and in text.
I’m not sure what made me look.
Tonight Wonder Woman has the TV playing in the background, we just ate dinner together. Behind me, or off to my left, depending on which way I’m facing, is the rest of our tiny apartment. A small hallway, a bathroom, 2 bedrooms. I can feel the darkness coming from those rooms. I could just leave the lights on, but then there would still be shadows and I’m not sure what’s worse, total darkness, or the hidden shadows.
I reach far out in front of me to hit the light switches as I move throughout the house. I don’t want to step into the dark.
But back to the TV playing. I still feel the silence underneath. The silence that could be broken at any second. I feel like I haven’t fully relaxed since that shot rang out.
I’m waiting, waiting, waiting.
My Partial Hospitalization Program is done through video chat. One of the people in our group participates from her car, probably because it’s the only place she can have privacy. Today she had to sit her phone down get out of the car for a minute. She didn’t turn off her video. I could see her steering wheel, a bit of her seat, and her drivers side window.
I kept waiting for the loud pop and her window to be splattered with blood. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her little square on my screen. I was frozen with panic for absolutely no logical reason. Nothing she had said would have lead me to worry about that. Eventually she came back and I could breathe again.
But I’m waiting to be blindsided. If I worry about every potential trauma, then I won’t be caught off guard next time.
Of course that isn’t how this works.
Kidlet asked me this afternoon, “Hey ma, can I ask you a potentially insensitive question?”
“Have you made popcorn since you’ve been home?”
Popcorn is my all time favorite snack. I had just made some earlier today, before he asked his question. I commented out loud to Wonder Woman that each pop sounded like a tiny quiet gunshot.
She rattled off a few other things that sound like popcorn.
Popcorn doesn’t scare me. The sudden sound of the blender does, even when I’m the one turning it on.
This afternoon Wonder Woman opened a door slightly differently than normal. The towel rack that hangs from it popped back against it. It wasn’t all that loud, but it was sudden and it caught me off guard.
I was too frozen to yell out and ask if it was her.
A few moments later I heard her feet shuffle towards me and I released the breath I had been holding.
I’ve mentioned before all of this, how thankful I am that Wonder Woman goes out of her way not to startle me. She shuffles her feet whenever she walks throughout the apartment. And now, when something makes an odd sound she lets me know what it was.
I’m lucky to have someone who is so trauma aware and so thoughtful.
She just went to the bathroom and paused the TV. The silence is deafening.
I’m exhausted all of the time now. Being tense and on edge will do that.
After Parker died I found myself checking that people were breathing whenever they were still. Slowly, over time, that need faded. I trusted that someone could be still and alive. However, even now, 4 years later, I still have those odd moments where I stand absolutely still and watch a sleeping Wonder Woman, waking her up if I don’t see the rise and fall of her chest.
I wonder what this new anxiety will be like in 4 years. I’m sure it will slowly become part of my new normal. I’m sure I won’t need to turn on lights ahead of me, and I won’t hold my body tightly whenever it is quiet. I’m sure I’ll stop clenching my jaw.
But that time can’t come quick enough.
This trauma is new, exactly a week old today, I need to cut myself some slack, but I expect myself to heal immediately. I know, logically, this isn’t likely to happen again. Not this exact trauma in this exact way.
But I’m still holding my breath.
Still waiting for the next gunshot to break the silence.
This is a Really Real Trauma post.