New Year’s Eve is a difficult time for me. I have PTSD, which is related to an old relationship and NYE. Each passing year, I think it will be easier. But each year it serves simply as a trapdoor through time and the evening passes in a haze of flashbacks, panic attacks, breathing exercises and simple survival strategies.
Through New Year’s Day, I tend to sit and calm myself until I regain my present and my sense of security.
Last night there was a fireworks display. Very loud. I like fireworks, but this year they were difficult. Bangs and crashes and a hissing, spitting noise and I found myself curled in a tight ball, reminding myself to breathe. Not to throw up. I got to sleep at about 3am, exhausted, fearful and tearful.
I think I probably write pretty much the same post every New Year. Here’s my diary entry for NYD 2013, for example:
DATE: 01/01/2013 03:41:18 AM
It’s nearly 3am on New Year’s Day. I can’t remember the last time I was awake at this time on New Year’s Day. I can remember, but I don’t want to. I won’t remember the last time I was awake at this time on New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Eve was hard, this year. I often struggle with NYE. I may have written about this in other Januaries. I haven’t looked back.
I’ve just finished reading Jeanette Winterson’s book, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal. On my kindle. I found myself highlighting two passages – I hate kindle annotations. I’ve never done this before. One passage reads:
“…the past is so hard to shift. It comes with us like a chaperone, standing between us and the newness of the present – the new chance.”
That’s how New Year’s Eve was. I fell down a hole, yesterday. Old Vicki came for lunch, and outstayed her welcome. My head resonated with invective, accusations. I wanted to sit and write it all down. Write it out. All the venom. All the spite. All the hurt. But I couldn’t – I can’t. There are people who would read it, who don’t need to. I’m one of them. I don’t need to remember all that. It’s no longer relevant. It’s part of my past. It *is* a chaperone, but not to me, as I am now. To me as I was, maybe. To itself. It keeps itself in its place.
It is hard to shift. It is un-shiftable. I can’t unmake it or take it away or refashion my history so it didn’t happen, and there are times when past and present cohabit in my head; when the past catches up with new me, and has a little fun; does a little haunting. Yesterday I was haunted. The voice in my head reminded me: “nobody will want you” “you’ll never work” “it’s your fault”. Well, pah! Over the last nine years I have refashioned my life and rebuilt myself and been successful beyond anything I could have imagined, then. The past is in its place, but occasionally the chaperone lets down her guard.
I was rattled. I tried the usual things: sewing, knitting. Occupied my mind well enough, but not *quite* well enough. I cooked a meal. It was delicious, but I wasn’t hungry and so physical discomfort added to my jiggling mind. I watched a film. I was, I’m afraid, pissy with the children who’ve only been home a day. And so I took myself to bed at 9pm, resolving that sleeping it off was the best way. Unfortunately, that was too close an echo and I lay in bed, fighting flashbacks and misery until at 11 a thumping bass line drew me downstairs to tell the kids to shut the fuck up.
The music wasn’t the kids. They were watching some god-awful, but utterly un-soundtracked, teen drama. Something like the worst elements of Grange Hill and Byker Grove combined with hair extensions and junior tart wear and boobs. But there was comfort and congeniality in being downstairs with them, in a way that there wasn’t in being upstairs by myself. So we cuddled up and I watched it with them. And then Rude Tube, and then it was 1am and time for a cup of tea, and bed. And I felt better. Drained. Exhausted. Unable to sleep. But better. I’m pretty sure. Better.
I think I now remember quite a lot about that final New Year’s Eve. I’ve not been able to think about it before, really, much less remember it. Not that it was, in and of itself, either particularly dreadful or particularly remarkable. But it was enough, and it was final. Fatal. And perhaps the fact that I do remember so much of it now is an indication of how much better I am, now. I’ve not dared think about it before. Not allowed myself to remember. So now I know that it is dreary and depressing rather than dramatic or fearful, I can choose not to bring it with me again. Perhaps. I can consign it to the chaperoned past and leave it at the door, and move beyond it.
Anyway, this New Year’s Day I got up and went for a run. Running for Dash seems particularly appropriate, today. Running, in general, particularly sanity saving. Kirsty (all unaware of her sanity-saving role in today’s endeavour! Sorry, Kirsty!) came with me and we chatted and ran for 60 minutes in the cold, January rain.
Running in the rain makes me feel like a superhero. Which is apt, because today I *am* a bloody superhero.
Please consider sponsoring me. PTSD is a very treatable condition and if people in abusive relationships get help early enough, it doesn’t have to haunt them for a dozen or more years. This post is uncharacteristically personal for this blog, but I’m exposing myself to encourage you to give. Thank you for your support!