The title’s ridiculous to me. I mean… It’s normal for us to be our own worst critics in this life so I usually have a hard time loving my work, but PTSD? I thought that was only for men sent to war and scarring images that could never be unseen…
And yet, I can’t explain it any other way. I find myself waking up this morning not knowing if my partner in life will ever be my partner again. It’s something I’ve done, something in my personality. I expect too much. I appreciate too little. I’m as harsh on others as I am on myself and I’m incurably needing to be by the side of those who I love.
Last night as we talked things over trying to see where things went wrong he asked me…
“Why can you not be ok
without someone by your side?”
…A fair question. He’s not wrong. But it was a question that spiralled me into what I can only describe as a panic attack. He was right… everything he was saying was right.
I panicked because I knew where the issue started… It started five years ago when I left to attend Central Michigan University with my best friend. I didn’t know it at the time, or perhaps didn’t want to admit it… but she was also the love of my life– A fact I wasn’t willing to accept. To this day I have no idea if she felt the same way about me.
But it wasn’t just that whole cliched “living with your friend can drive you crazy and make you drift apart”. I wasn’t good at looking inward back then– I was a homophobic homosexual for crying out loud but I guess that’s a cliche too now isn’t it? It was more than that.
I have no idea how crazy this sounds to a fellow group of writers or if it’s something more normal than I realized… but the characters in my head are very real to me. I don’t make characters to write a story– it’s the other way around. My characters write me. Little pieces of me… a part of a whole but also separate and people of their own. It’s been that way for me since I can remember.
My characters write me
Jessie came to me when I was four years old and there were hundreds more to come. As a child, it didn’t seem weird to let my characters overcome me. To “let them come here” as I would say. But even by the time I was in elementary school I felt that if anyone knew about my fluid personality… of these other people I shared a life with… they would say there was something wrong with me. So I hid it. It was a game. That was how it was with my first best friend Kate and in that way, she was ok with it. She actually thought it was a lot of fun. But elementary left and junior high came and we grew further and further apart.
That was when I met her– Jennie. With the separation from my best friend, a new school, and most of all puberty I was feeling more down in the dumps than I had experienced before. The other kids would look at me weird. Why did I have black, boycut hair? Why was I wearing Tripp pants and all black? They saw my depression and stayed far away. But Jennie didn’t. She saw my sadness and came to help. With her friendship I could finally burn that suicide note that I had flipped over in my hands countless nights before… regain my confidence… and have a sense of safety.
But with any time I became comfortable, my characters were there. Begging to come out. They had been suppressed and ignored for over a year, and now they wanted that to end. It was painful… painful beyond belief to hide away and deny that larger part of myself, so I took a leap of faith and confessed to her everything about them… about me… how I was.
…and she stayed…
She stayed and I was free. Free from the chains I put on myself. For seven years I lived unashamedly, with purpose and pride in who I was. No more fear… no more doubt… just acceptance.
But times changed… high school neared its end and I began to worry again. How could I balance all of this when we both got married? How could I explain that I wanted so much alone time with Jennie? I only felt that I could be me around her… I couldn’t see myself ever telling anyone else.
I decided that on the day of graduation… they must go away… forever. If I was going to become an adult, I would have to start acting like one and stop playing pretend. I don’t know when it started but those logical years of getting older set in and there was no more magic in them to me. They were once again shameful… just a pitiful game of make believe that I created in order to comfort myself.
For a while… it worked. But within a month I couldn’t help myself anymore. They were there and without them I wasn’t myself. I slowly reintroduced them into my life and Jennie was as confused as I was– about what they were. About how things were going to work.
We got into a terrible fight in the middle of campus… and I broke down saying the only thing I thought I knew at that time. That they were fake. That my characters weren’t real and it had all been a lie. I didn’t understand myself at the time… and I was hoping she would tell me she believed that they were real… that they were a part of me… but she didn’t.
She told me to kill myself…
walked away… and never looked back.
I tried to talk to her… but she shut me out. All at once I was realizing my feelings for her… what it meant if I lost her… but it didn’t matter. She left our room… locked herself away in friends rooms down the hall… told people about my secrets and reported to the RA that I was suicidal. They forced me into counseling and put a note in my record that I would need to be watched.
After that… she moved schools… she talked to me once more to let me know that I had destroyed her life, was a terrible friend, and never once made her happy. Then she blocked my number and my social media accounts and went away to Western Michigan University. She went on to pursue her dreams and live a life happier without me… and I dropped out of University… enrolled in a community college and lived back at home where all my friends were gone away.
It took years to move on. To ever feel like I could trust someone again… I had nightmares every night. I would sleep on the bathroom floor because I would rub my eyes raw and throw up from the tension of sobbing. That went on for about half a year… but it felt like a lifetime.
I still have dreams about her every now and then… but they don’t affect me the same. I came to realize that during our time as friends… there was a lot that was screwed up about our relationship. I became much more grateful for those I still had who had stuck with me through it all and proved to be better friends than she had ever been.
But now… Five years later as Greg uttered that phrase to me, I realized that the mistrust… the hurt… the pain that that event caused in me is not over. I still battle with it every day… waking up in the middle of the night thinking he wont be there by my side… not trusting the words he says… not trusting when he says he’s happy… just not trusting.
I feel poisonous
I feel poisonous and I don’t know how to heal this hurt. I don’t know how to take back what I have done to the person most dear to me. I really can’t be ok without someone by my side… and I’m not ok with that.