Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Where am I, really?

This morning I went on sort've a bender.  No, not that sort of bender.  An angry-depressive-don'ttalktome and leavemealone kind of bender.

It was all because my kids' elementary school gym teacher was enforcing the rules.

It was raining pretty hard this morning, so we thought we would just drive the kids to school instead of making them stand in the rain at the bus stop.  We had fun little giggles and a small dance party in the car on the way (these are not uncommon in our car).  As we pulled up to the school we realized that the carpool lane was horribly long and slow, so, breaking the rules, we decided to pull into the bus lane.

We pulled around the empty lane.  No buses to be seen.  No kids either.  Totally empty.  We just thought, let's throw em out real quick, no biggie.  So the kids start unbuckling and begin to give hugs and kisses.  Then the gyn teacher walks up as they're getting out.

"You can't drop them off here," he says as our kids are already hanging out the door.  "This is a bus lane.  You have to pull around to the other lane."  Our kids get back into the car; and my inner world gets dark.  Melissa begins to pull away.

I mean, if I shared the things I was thinking in that moment it'd make a sailor blush.  I'm glad Melissa rolled up the windows cause I may have hung out the window and yelled things that would've gotten our kids thrown out of school.  I'm not joking; that's how dark I got.

This is not the first time something like that has happened to me recently.  Last week I was rebuked for grabbing too many M&M's out of the  community pot here at work and I wanted to go on a killing spree.  Really.  I was so mad about it I could barely function the rest of the day.  And these two events are not isolated, believe me.  This keeps happening to me.

A quick addendum at this point may be necessary for me to say that I now completely understand neither the gym teacher nor the M&M police were doing anything wrong.

Here's what I'm gathering, finally.  Call me inordinately slow for taking this long to realize it, but these reactions are not normal.  Something in me is broken.  I am really messed up.

Each of the last three days I've begun reading a portion of a book I started on seeking healing amidst PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  And each time I've broken down in tears.  Like snotty, red eyed tears.

I hesitate to say it like this publicly, but I have had, and currently still am processing through PTSD.  I have virtually all the symptoms.  Outbursts of anger are definitely a symptom.

I'm already at 500 words here, and this could go in a multitude of different directions, some of which I'm hoping to discuss in coming posts.  But I'll get to the heart of what has been so hard for me:

I have trouble admitting reality about myself.  Especially when that reality is difficult or painful or broken.

I always want to feel good, and I deny feeling bad.  I grew up in a culture in which you "throw some dirt on it" or "walk it off" when you're wounded, weak, troubled or sad and grieved.  Compound that culture with the Christian culture's emphasis on the victorious Christian life and I began to believe that I should always feel good.  I should be joyful and loving and peaceful; I should not be sad or angry or hurt.  I should be growing in trust and peace in Jesus, not distress and outbursts of anger.

So I denied it.  I didn't deny it in a ridiculously caricatured way, please don't misunderstand me.  I would admit my pain and hurt and trouble.  But I did not want to stay there.  I hated it there.  That place was death to me.  Only weaklings dwell there.

I have a lot more to say about this.  Hopefully I'll write more about it.  But denial is real, and my suspicion is that it's not just real for me.

I wanted to pause here to pose a question for the reader.  Where are you, really?  If you had nobodies' opinion of you to weigh, no-one to impress, and no "right" emotion -- how are you doing?  When you sit quietly and allow yourself to truly answer, what would you say?

Or, to put it another way, if your feelings were all neutral--as in, there are no "good" or "preferred" feelings, there are no things you should be feeling-- how would you describe where you are?

A follow up question may be: why do you think it is that you tend to always put off a sunny disposition?  Is it suspicious to you that your answer to the common "How are you?" is always "good"?


Douglas Farias said...

You just got into my heart.. i just dont want to say it at loud.

Christy said...

Such a good post Bart. When you guys are up visiting family in Canton, come visit, I cook you all dinner.

Adelkareliz García said...

I remember when you asked me "how are you? really?". I have learned to respond with sincerity.

Judy said...

Your post sounds very familiar. I returned from Iraq with PTSD 12 years ago. My family and those close to me knew it, but I was stuffing it all trying to get on with life--miserably. When your father and then later your husband gives you a book on PTSD, the same book, you should probably take notice. I refused to get traditional help, but have slowly found healing and peace through a consistent time in the Word and building a deep intimate fellowship with the Lord. I don't know what you are specifically going through, Bart, but I do get PTSD. Praying.