Still in Recovery

And that’s been hard for some of us. Some are still stuck in anger. Others have passed through but to a new round of social withdrawal and/or numbing. Some of us have been lucky enough to find a little peace even if the door is opened with a bottle of Abita. Trauma is not simple. First you must establish some sense of safety. Then it is possible to remember, have someone bear witness to your pain and humanity, and begin reconnecting with the world and its people.
There’s no such thing as getting over, Grandma would say. There’s just getting on.
(God, lately I would sell everything I owned to have an hour with that woman again. Every single thing. I love you all, but I would kill and eat you, no kidding.)
When something traumatic happens people counsel to “take some time” and “talk to someone” and it just always sounds to me like the most infuriating crap. Take some time to do what? Sit on my bed and think about how awful everything is? Talk to someone, so that two of us can walk around with this in our heads?
When I’m very angry or very happy talking to someone is exactly what I want. When my chest feels crushed by hopelessness and I can’t move because I’m such an utter failure at life, the last thing I want is somebody noticing how badly fucked up I am. I need to get an A in everything. I don’t need you telling me the F isn’t really that bad and I can retake the course. I know that. And I know that that isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference until a couple of days from now, when the crushed feeling has become normalized, and I start thinking maybe I can live like this, bent over under it.
This isn’t to say friends never help, but mostly when things are caving in and they ask, “What can I do?” the answer is “come over and eat food so that I have to get my ass out of bed and clean my house and make the food.” So that I have to get on, when I can’t get over. My best friends keep me out of my head, until such time as I can put one foot in front of the other without needing to write down directions first.

12 thoughts on “Still in Recovery

  1. The “take some time, talk to somebody” is just offered as the opposite of “hurry up and get over it, but keep it bottled up”. Given that there isn’t actually anything anybody can say, which would you rather hear?

  2. People should cope however they’ve got to cope, but me personally? I am a card-carrying member of the Church of David Milch.
    What I have mainly come up with so far is that when something happens, the only thing I really want to hear is, “This fucking sucks, and God sucks, and if this is his plan he is a monumental cocksucker.”
    There are days I’m only not an atheist so that I can have someone to be pissed at.

  3. How’s about you don’t say either of those, Ray? How’s about you say: “Look, you wanna laugh/cry/scream/get drunk/shoot at religious statuary, you fuckin’ let me know, and I’ll be there with bells and a .45 on. You need anybody’s knees broken, give a motherfucker a call. Food, drink, whatever, just let me know.”
    You know, do the same things friendsalways do, and don’t tell anybody how to address their own grief and trauma.

  4. I love you all, but I would kill and eat you, no kidding.
    1. If I notice an empty shelf in the condiment aisle I’m a ghost, I’m Casper, I’m outta here;
    2. This god you’re bargaining with: is it by any chance Ed Gein?

  5. Precisely Jude! And to A: MASSIVE HUGS. You need anything: distraction, shoulder, heinous puns, new kitten pics – holler! If I was closer, I’d say let’s hit the pub and throw darts and play crap Cricket and drink heavy beer all night…and load the jukebox w/the best of schlocky 80s music.

  6. Not that it will change a thing but I wanted to send you a hug, squeeze your hand and tell you that I so understand everything that you are saying. Right down to the dearly missing my Grandmother.
    My younger kitty child is bringing you her favorite string. I’m sorry that it is so nasty and well chewed on but if she brings you that one, well, you are considered to be really cool.
    The bad guys don’t always win and your courage and compassion is much needed. People like you helped to make the positive changes in society possible.
    hang in there

  7. Joining the choir. And I am so passing on that particular piece of your grandma’s wisdom.

  8. You are pitch perfect awesome A.
    Nothing beats the existential gombu better than doing dishes, kind of straightening up the joint and making food for somebody else. I don’t care if it’s peanut butter on a cracker. It’s sorta like communion but instead of taking it you are giving. I made you a salad and love you so much I didn’t use the iffy cucumber in my refrigerator that I would have used if it was just me! Yes, I did boil those noodles myself and thank you for noticing. I must not be entirely in the abyss if I can serve noodles.

  9. I love yall but I think people are talking about different things here. Traumatic stress isn’t a bad mood or the blues or an existential crisis or even depression, though depression can be a component.
    They named it trauma for a reason. It is an injury, or series of injuries. A potentially fatal injury.
    I am not discounting the impulse to, or effects of, kindness and concern but people don’t get talked out of, distracted out of, cheered up from, traumatic stress any more than they would from an amputated limb.
    Traumatized people will isolate and friends should reach out but it’s critical to recognize these distinctions and know they likely need serious professional help in addition to kindness, love and best intentions.

  10. I guess I don’t get all spun up and pissed that people are saying the wrong things to me. That anybody cares enough to express anything to me at all, I’m grateful for. The people who disappear because they don’t want to say the wrong thing or my pain makes them uncomfortable, those are the people I might end up resenting some day.
    The whole “For GOD’S sake whatever you do don’t say something STUPID during this difficult and life-changing time” thing. I guess I just don’t get it. Say something brilliant, say something stupid, say ANYTHING. Just please don’t fucking leave me alone with this shit.

  11. A, I can’t be there so instead I’ll just say I wish I could, and then just be there and not say anything, if that’s what you needed.

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