The brain is truly a complex thing. The mind is such a complicated, layered, pile of memory upon memory. My brain has done its job to protect me from what I could not process at the time 30 years ago. But I am not sure my brain did me a service or a disservice really. It is tossing out memories now that apparently it feels I can handle, shedding layer after layer and just tossing one out after the other like a frisbee flying at me too fast for me to catch.
At first I thought PTSD was complex. Really it is just my brain that is complex. I understand PTSD perfectly well. I even understand why my brain, then body, react to certain triggers. Remembering fragments and then flashes of complete scenes from so long ago is too complex to really understand. So I try not to understand it and just go through the coping skills I have been given. Some days are much harder than others.
A man was wearing something and it took me right back to the man who abused me. The man was kind, I felt no threat by him. It wasn’t his fault he was wearing something on his body that emitted a smell that took me away. I’ve had smell sensitivites for a long time. I don’t like strong smells of any kind. I have understood that in PTSD it could be strong smell association, or sounds. Usually a strong smell is a pretty big trigger for me but I have never had as smell be directly linked to an event. Now I understand where the smell alert comes from. I now remember the smell he had when he would get out of the shower and come to me. It was strong. Hence my trigger of strong smells. But my brain! It has misfired from one strong smell to all strong smells. At least I have a connection now. Smell, trigger, PTSD, I now completely get.
This panic attack was one of the worst. Top of my list. I had decided to let this person in my house and work through the issue of men in my house. It was supposed to be a good therapy experience for me. He had already assured me he had on no cologne. I got a chair from the deck for him to sit in just in case. I knew he was no threat, so this was the perfect opportunity to allow my brain to realize, to be reprogrammed into accepting that not all men are bad, and fight or flight does not always need to happen when a man enters my house. My plan was utterly foiled! Due to whatever smell it was, my brain went right to, “RUNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!” So he left, I had a panic attack of massive proportions, and then I slept for a very long time. During this sleep I was haunted by dreams. Dreams of the abuser, of the aftermath, of the people who came to my house. Of the man they sent out to get my statement of the abuse. Ugh. Men in the house. More connections. More memories.
I’d like to just go back to the 44 year old me. Hanging out with my daughter. Eating pizza on the front lawn, and NOT having these constant memories pop up that create this haze over my existance right now. I’m sure it is therapy. I’m sure it is talking, reliving, expressing things, feeling things, I never allowed myself to feel, that have opened this box labeled “sealed”.
The “sealed” box in my brain has decided on it’s very own that it is ready to go into “discovery”. I’m not sure I want it moved there. But there it is. My plan? Deal with them as they come. Each new sheet of paper with a new title of a memory that was stored in that box will hopefully be able to be read, crumpled up, checked off, crossed out, and at sometime be moved into the “no longer needed” box of my complex brain.