“But you look fine.”
Four words depending on the day and who utters them can be either hurtful, aggravating, or enraging.
Four words that can be dismissive, trivializing, contemptuous.
I know I look fine.
I want to look fine.
I do everything I can; it takes everything I have to look fine.
When in fact, I am shattered.
I don’t want to look how I feel.
I’m terrified; if I let my guard down, I won’t be able to pull myself back together.
I do my best to look fine.
It’s difficult for others to understand. I understand.
I imagine it would be difficult for me too if I weren’t living it.
No task is simple anymore.
Every movement a conscious effort.
Simply running to the store is a trek. I get my purse. Okay. I lock the door. Okay. Usually, double check the door is locked. Okay. Carefully walk to the car. Okay. Every move is deliberate; lifting my arm to open the car door, sliding into the driver’s seat. I’m hypervigilant as I place the keys in the ignition, and make sure it’s okay to move. I’m incredibly focused as I drive down the street. This heightened level of concentration consumes enormous amounts of energy. It’s exhausting. Some days I take the keys out of the ignition and go back in the house.
Simple tasks are now complex and can quickly become anxiety ridden. Cleaning the kitchen was one task that’s now many. Where is the cleanser? Where is the sponge? Where in the kitchen do I start? Wiping, back and forth, causes dizziness. I’ll have to clean and put everything away. Do I really want to deal with this today?
Plans with friends are tentative. They know that. It’s a toss-up as to whether I’ll call to reschedule. At some point even my closest friends struggle to understand. — After all, I look fine. — If my feelings get hurt, I reminded myself others can’t possibly understand. They love me anyway, and I them.
“The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino captures the challenges of living with an invisible illness. She writes about her living with Lupus, but I find her insight explains the intricacies of my life with PTSD. My PTSD brain makes daily living a challenge.
Letting go helps. Letting go of expectations I have of myself and those I have of others. Letting go of others no longer on the same path. If it’s meant to be, we’ll meet up further along the way. Letting go of masks I once wore to pretend to fit in.
Life is not back to normal. It may never be normal. A new normal, then. Even with age, I will enter a new normal.
A day at a time, an hour at a time, a minute at a time. Progress, not perfection. Not only does my mind need to heal, but my body and spirit as well."