My (Most Recent) Trauma Timeline and Losing My Voice

In the spring, I was assigned to a new therapist who practices “trauma informed” therapy. It was time to work on some of the deep, dark stuff that I had been dancing around for years and began to really acknowledge just in the six months prior.

I was still recovering from the hysterectomy and hadn’t quite connected the dots with that recovery and my history of sexual trauma. Over the spring and summer, we got to know one another and started working on a plan to eventually use EMDR, exposure therapy, and other treatments to go to the core of the traumas in my life.

And I began to have more intense responses to talking about talking about my trauma. My sleep deteriorated, plagued by nightmares (and daymares.) So a new medication for that and a bump in an existing medication.

When I look at all that has happened in this period of roughly late August to early November, it makes me wonder if I’ll ever get stabilized enough to begin the actual treatments.

July 20, 2018 – our dear friend Kerry dies a terribly unnecessary death because he didn’t have health insurance. I’m still so devastated.

July 30-August 4, 2018 – we take a business trip to NetrootsNation in New Orleans. Lots of stressors, including the risk of paying in advance things that we were promised would be repaid (and still have not.) Some personal stuff for me to deal with, returning to Louisiana after nearly 25 years.

August 12, 2018 – release of the Grand Jury Report Detailing Sexual Abuse by nearly 100 Priests in Six Pennsylvania Diocese. The immediacy and vicious pain is searing and unrelenting for hours and days and weeks. My friends are among those listed as victims. My parish was host to 3 different predators over a span of 23 years.

September 7, 2018 – a full day of pounding to remove our existing roof leads the weakened ceiling in our second bedroom to collapse around 8:15 PM. The homeless kitties were traumatized, 2/3 of my clothing was caught in the debris, and a thick layer of ashy soot coated everything with the lingering scents released by wood that was put into place 130 years ago.

Late September, 2018 – the world wrestled with the Brent Kavanagh Confirmation hearings and the realities survivors of sexual abuse experience even decades later with all the privilege they could need. It isn’t enough He’s confirmed.

October 3, 2018 – I started reporting on the decision of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon to partner with Chick-fil-A as a title sponsor of children’s events. FOX news writes a piece centering me. The magnitude and depth of the incoming hate is nothing I’ve ever experienced before as an activist or a blogger.

October 12, 2018 – within a 36 hour time frame, I attend 3 events. I typically attend 1 event a week. All three force me to confront my own stories. It is a whirlwind of parking fees, sipping water surreptitiously in theatres, and big thoughts. I am beyond overwhelmed.

October 18, 2018 – I go in for what I expect will be a standard EMG test so I can schedule the much-delayed carpal tunnel surgery in both wrists. I am told that I do not have carpal tunnel and finding the source of my symptoms will be a process of elimination. The good news is that it is likely musko-skeletal, not an autoimmune disorder, and so forth. The bad news is that my surgery solution is off the table and I am dealing with yet another ongoing chronic problem.

October 22, 2018 – my birthday. I turn 48. I stay in bed all day because I just can’t. I don’t care about turning older.

October 27, 2018 – a mass murderer shoots 11 people in Pittsburgh in a synagogue housing three congregations. they do not survive. others do. in addition to the horror, there is fallout along many avenues – false reporting by LGBTQ media about the identity of individuals involved, misgendering by local media about queer Jewish students involved in the response, devastating grief among my friends who knew the victims. I am convinced that I would never want to be a journalist.

Late October – November – election day stress plus the lack of resolution of Chick-fil-A and my health issues and my psychiatrist resigned and a replacement was delayed. and. and. and.

My sleep has been decimated throughout this period even with my bedtime meds. I am tormented by nightmares of childhood, church, former employers, disasters, and things I can’t describe. I stop taking naps because of the daymares. I can list all of the good things that happened during this time period, but I know that I don’t feel them. I am irritable, grouchy, unkind, and desperately unhappy.

So now I’m trying some news meds layered on to my existing treatment. The ceiling has been repaired and the kitties are okay. I might get my winter clothing out in the next few weeks.

This is not depression, rather not a typical depression. This is what my therapist describes as a trauma event. The collision of my hidden traumas with all of this above, well it gobsmacked me. And I am struggling toward the level of stability necessary to begin the trauma treatments. That process is going to suck before it makes things better.

One things about my young life that I have come to understand is that while I am resilient, I have always been at a disadvantage. I knew casually that I had been separated from my parents when I was a baby. My mother was hospitalized while pregnancy with my brother and I was put into the hands of caretakers whom should have been safe. They were not. So the bonding that took place was based on lies and eventually ripped away from me when I learned the truth about these folks.

The bonding and attachment of those early years is critical. And I didn’t have it. I didn’t have the next best thing or even the third best thing. I had a chronically traumatic stress experience of a childhood. It is a chronic condition, not something limited to one time or place.  I don’t know how I got the hell out of there, completed college then a master’s degree, avoided unwanted pregnancy or falling into addiction???

And here I am, blogging. Until I couldn’t. And I’m okay with that. Sometimes, a daily blogging exercise is good for me. Sometimes, it is not. Right now, it is not.

I had 11 different, totally new experiences that while interconnected were distinct events in the course of about 110 days. Things that almost felled me, but did not manage to do so.

I need a break, of course, but there’s no breaks coming soon. All I can do is try to be brutal about what’s happening so I can take the sting out of it. And look around the world, wondering – am I truly unique in what I’ve experienced or am I part of the larger human experience?

Why do I feel so alone? I share my stories. I have lots of connections. I have lovely friends. And I have Ledcat. But I feel like I’m behind a glass wall, especially when I go to sleep.

And I feel voiceless. Do I simply pick the wrong causes? I’m not a baby cast upon the waves of chaos in my family. I can speak words and write words. But they feel distant and removed from me.

So I’m having a trauma reaction which is a little bit like depression and a little bit like anxiety and a lot more like neither. My capacity to handle these new traumas is impaired by the chronic trauma I experienced. Hopefully, my capacity to identify and acknowledge what has been going on these past months and my determination not to hide them bode well for whatever comes next.

I try not to look externally for salvation or rescuing. I will say it would be a big help if Charlie Batch who is on the board of the Marathon would do the right thing by LGBTQ youth. God, I can’t stop, can I?