Possible triggers* Before I knew I had PTSD and before I knew that certain things triggered those moments I was just a considerate fucking person. My best friend had cancer and she went through a time when she was really sensitive to smells. I visited her in the hospital every week. Before I went, I showered, washed my hair with everything unscented and went to visit her. It is called being considerate. Thinking of someone else. Being mindful. Being thoughtful. When I volunteered in nursing homes I never wore anything. At that time in my life I still wore lotions. Long before my multiple chemical sensitivities diagnosis and my full on PTSD triggers. BUT many of the patients in the nursing home got very nauseated with smells. Whether they were going through chemo or dying of cancer, they simply did not like strong smells. I never wore them. I consciously got up, knew where I was going, and did not apply anything to my body that would make that person’s life any more difficult. It is called compassion. Sick people don’t want to smell strong smells.
Think about when you have a stomach virus. You are throwing up in the sink. Do you want your spouse to be frying up some fish or cooking eggs? NO! Because you are already nauseous and that smell will just make you throw up more! Pregnant women can not tolerate certain smells or it will make them throw up during the morning sickness time. At some point in a person’s life they will want to be in a smell free zone due to their current situation. Now imagine having the stomach flu every moment of every day and the one smell you don’t want to smell is EVERYWHERE. You try to take precautions. You ask people, please don’t put on that smell. But they don’t remember. “It’s habit sorry” But see I don’t believe that. I believe that yes, our body has muscle memory, we do do things out of habit. My hair stylist is used to putting gel in her hands and YET right before she put it on my head, without me saying a word, she stopped and went and washed her hands. She was thinking of me. She was being mindful. It’s not as if I am asking you not to bathe or wear deodorant. It is not like I am asking you not to wash your hands after you use the bathroom. I am simply asking you to skip a step when you come and see me. But no one can do it. My one friend Tracy will. She will even go as far as washing her clothes in vinegar before seeing me.
“If you knew that wearing that cologne would give me a panic attack would it matter? If you knew that wearing that cologne would make me throw up would it matter? If you knew that wearing that cologne made me go right back to a time where I was being raped would it matter? What does it take to matter to you? Is it too much to ask that you not wear fucking cologne when you meet me out? I mean really? I’m going through hell. With my health, my daughter’s health, all this PTSD bullshit. I just want a moment of normalcy. And you have to fuck that up by being inconsiderate.”words I wish I could say but haven’t yet found my voice for it yet. So I write….
These are my thoughts when I know I am going to meet someone the next day. I know that going out will tax my muscles. I know that going out will have consequences and it will then be a challenge to take care of my daughter after. I know that going out will make my body hurt and I will most likely not sleep well that night. But I want to see my friends. I want to live life. I want to experience a world outside of this house. So I go out. I may even try to drive, something I am doing for the first time in 11 years. Just to meet someone who is so loaded up with cologne that it nauseates me the entire time. Because to them, I am not worth it. And that is the honest truth. I know this. Because I have done it. I have left the house to meet my friend with cancer and realized I put hair spray on and driven home and washed my hair in the sink. Because THAT is what friends do.
My daughter’s friend came over to our house once. She got here and said…you know I think my hair my be to fragrant for you. You know she washed her hair in my kitchen sink!!!!! Once my daughter and I went to visit a friend of hers in the hospital. A friend of hers met us there. Her friend immediately says, ” oh man I put AXE gel in your hair, that’s gonna make your mom sick” That child…16 years old, went into the bathroom sink of a HOSPITAL and washed her hair with hand soap!!!!! I get more understanding from my daughter’s year old friends who don’t even KNOW I have PTSD and just think I am allergic to cologne (which I am due to the chemical sensitiviies). But wow. What a comparison to the adults in my life who just don’t give a shit.
Common courtesy, mindfulness, selflessness, compassion. Things missing in so many lives these days. And if you cannot skip your cologne for me. Then what else are you not doing for those you love and who love you. I don’t know….humanity has disappointed me as of late. And this is just one tiny example why.
You know I WISH the guy who molested me when I was 10 wasn’t wearing cologne. I wish that the man who lie on top of me when I was 11 wasn’t loaded in aftershave. I wish the man who raped me didn’t smell of beer that lingered on my skin. And I wish that the man who took advantage of me and used me wasn’t eating onions before he did it. I wish I could take all of those things away. I wish I could feel what a normal life was right now without those things and those reminders. But I cannot change those things.
It is night time I find my voice. It is past time I excuse rude unthoughtful people. Especially ones who know what I am going through. Those who choose to pick me up drunk to take me to dinner….those days are over….those who I meet out and greet me with a gust of wind blowing their cologne in my face….those days are over. I matter. It is time I start making people believe that I do.