Forgive me, my friends– creative folk make allegory chatting with Muses of yore. So, I too tonight, sheltering beneath their cloaks — wishing this task less ugly, distasteful — pay heed to the tunes Dreamweaver Muses intone. Fiction and poetry– like Islam’s shadow theater, sole allowed dramatic form, where the play of shadow and flickering back-light suggests truth truer than the banalities of light of day– fiction and poetry, like toga-draped statues, highlight dimensions otherwise ignored.
The flashbacks of PTSD often flare with horrific dream-like qualities. Fear- infused recollection takes on vivid colors, erotic movements, and elemental smells. The revolting recollection nearly splits the brain asunder.
I had planned to write about “metanoia,” a reorientation of life following recognition of sin, a reformulation of self according to more loving, empathic and self-sacrificial values. But the radio talk shows resonate with the pedophilia of Roman Catholic priests. I wonder if the criminal ordained men are any more evil than this particular abuser — a close family member– who now attempts to use inheritance as an enticement to my allowing further abuse. Priests promised heaven in exchange for the victim’s delayed self-gratification of truth. This relative pretends to offer wealth in exchange for continued silence. Truth is the opportunity for healing. Truth is beyond price. Truth alone offers freedom and life. Truth marches on.
The abuse started, it is discerned from parent and sibling interviews, early in infancy. The x-ray evidence of broken bones untreated confirms that. Reports from siblings from when I was aged 30 months begin to complete the shattered half-recollections.
My middle sister did not realize until she was middle- aged that the trauma had blocked my memories of numerous violent, abusive events. We would both remember the start of a scene but only she knew how they ended, reciting unfoldings my brain hitherto protected me from.
I shook. The onslaught of tortured, half- fragmented memories did not stop for two weeks. I huddled on the floor of my closet, periodically wracked by sobs. I used all my sick leave, but made it back to work, miraculously, without AWOL.
No, I was not on drugs; I did not drink. I was an athlete in international competition as a hobby, a professional engaged in life with shakers and movers in the Nation’s Capital by day. This is just how PTSD manifests itself: early neglect and abuse by the primary caretaker actually have physiological impact on brain development. Some parts do not develop as they should, for want of loving touch, verbal interaction and eye contact. The reward system is underdeveloped, leading to a vulnerability to substance abuse if proper dopamine regulation is not provided by such valuable dopamine regulators as aripiprazole.
I clearly remember when my sole ally betrayed me, joining the primary abuser.
Within six months the terror triggered sufficient adrenaline levels that fight overtook flight: I twice successfully physically defended myself against the primary aggressor. It was do or die. My eldest sister, protegee in training, would never physically abuse me again as she never initiated absent her “coach.” Thus the chapter on physical abuse of various sorts closed for the most part.
Over 35 ago, I knew deep within that I could never heal until all contact with my dysfunctional family of origin ceased. Yet they cultivated dependence. They continue to believe they can do so.
But the crash and tumult of PTSD finally wrenches me free.