Deep breath. You will be okay. You are okay right now.
A brief explanation.
This letter is a reminder from slightly more conscious me who is not in the throes of panic and terror, written for sad, scared me who forgets what is true. It is part of my Book of Me, part of my endless remembering.
Some parts might also be relevant to YOU, person reading this who is not me.
And some may not. And that’s okay. People vary. When I say “you” and this resonates truth, you can let it wash truth through you. When it doesn’t, you can let it go, trusting that this is just what’s true for me, your truth can be different.
Oh, my dear. Oh, my love.
The thing with PTSD is that it completely deactivates the parts of your brain in charge of remembering that Now Is Not Then.
* Completely? How about we say instead: temporarily but pretty damn thoroughly.
You can’t remember. Your body can’t remember.
On Saturday night there were fireworks, unexpected, loud, almost right next door.
And then you were on the floor in the bathroom crying, and you didn’t know for sure how you got there.
You went downstairs and found Agent Z and you were shaking, and Agent Z said: “The fireworks?” and you nodded and then Agent Z said: “You are safe. You are safe. You are safe.”
Because that is part of the protocol, and Agent Z knows what to do.
And then you were on the floor again, this time in the kitchen, and you did not know where you were. You knew you were not at home, you were not sure where “home” was or what that meant. You thought home was Florentin, but you also knew that wasn’t true. You knew you were disoriented, but there was not a huge amount of information beyond that.
Breathing trust and steadiness. Or just breathing.
You are okay. You will be okay. It feels like everything is wrong and yet: nothing is wrong. Even this moment of falling apart is not wrong. It makes sense. There are reasons for it, and there is usefulness inside of it.
You don’t have to like it. And it will pass.
And each time we are in this, it will get easier to find our way out. We are learning the territory of our internal kingdom, and some parts look like this. But they will not always look like this. We are changing our internal space through this process of getting to know it, do you see? It is also okay if you don’t believe me.
You can stay grounded and stable while reading this. You are here now, you want to be here now. You are safe now.
It takes a long time, the remembering. And that’s okay.
The conversation you are having with yourself in your head sounds silly, and that is also okay.
Just keep thinking it out, even if it goes in circles and loops, even if your thoughts seem unbearably muddled. Everything is sifting out, my love. You will get back to ground. You will get back to truth and presence. To a treasure box of tiny stones.
In the meantime, breathe.
Breathe. This air is yours. It is here for you.
Breathe. Repeat your sankalpa, your wish-intention that you are trying on like a costume to see what it feels like, what powers it holds: I can trust the ground.
Breathe. If you know where north is, you can make a compass of words in your space, surrounding yourself with reassurance.
North is Trust. East is Steadiness. South is Love. West is Miracles. Remember? Maybe. It’s okay if you don’t.
Breathe. If you are too disoriented to remember where north is, let it be right in front of you, wherever you are.
And if none of this helps, just drop it. You will get your bearings again.
You still have your ground, even when you can’t feel it. IT IS THERE.
This is what it sounded like inside your head on Saturday night.
Like talking to someone in shock. Because you were.
Voice 1: First thing is we need to call everyone and tell them we’re okay. The cell network has probably crashed but land lines still work.
Voice 2: No, honey. That was then. This was not a suicide bombing. No terrorists here. No one is dead. This was fireworks, just kids, bored teenagers. Nothing happened. You are okay.
Voice 1: S can call for us. Oh god, S is dead. Everyone is dead.
Voice 2: Sweetie, that was a long time ago. You are okay now. No one needs to be called. Look, you’re in Oregon. You live here now. You’re an Oregonian.
Voice 1: I’m a WHAT. Screw you. That is not helpful or reassuring.
Voice 2: Sorry. Sorry, we try again, okay? You’re in Portland. It’s a city. You like Portland. It’s a lot like Tel Aviv, except nothing blows up. You’re a Portlander, which is like a Tel Avivit. It’s a lot like Berlin too, except people smile on the train. It’s good.
Voice 1: Too much information! Where am I now.
Voice 2: You’re at [Agent Z]’s house. Agent Z knows what to do. This is the right place to be. You are safe, you are loved, you are deeply cared for, you have everything you need, you can ask for what you need.
Disorientation. It is natural and normal.
It is okay that it takes you a long time to land.
When Agent Z asked, “Do you want company? Or alone? What do you need?”, your first thought was I NEED PEOPLE TO STOP TRYING TO KILL ME AT WORK.
You knew that wasn’t present-time, so you wrote: Company. Presence. Talk to me please.
And this is good:
You knew you weren’t in Now. You knew that Now is not Then. You knew that Now was reminding you of Then. You knew hearing more information from Now would help.
It’s just wormholes. It’s just process. It is okay.
PTSD makes your brain smoosh everything together in uncomfortably looping time-space wormholes, nothing is distinct. It is no wonder you feel disoriented.
Look. 10pm on a Saturday, and you and Agent Z were about to go to the Irish pub for a pint of Guinness.
And when the suicide bomber took out the place across the street from your bar , it was also 10pm on a Saturday, and you and the kid were headed to the Irish pub for a pint of Guinness after your shift.
And you did, after the police cleared the street and you closed the bar. Going out for a pint is what you do when shit blows up. And it’s what you’re doing now, but nothing has blown up, you just think it has. Of course this confusion. Of course of course.
Slowly, slowly. Life and aliveness.
You didn’t want to be crying on the kitchen floor, so you sat in the bar and thought: EVERYONE I KNOW FROM THEN IS DEAD.
But then you unpacked that. No one was dead from the explosions. Someone is dead from drinking and liver failure, and someone is dead from being hit by a taxi and someone is dead from choosing to die.
And then you remembered things that are not dead. A list. Things That Are Not Dead.
You looked for aliveness, vitality, breath. You found it in music and a tiny hanging plant. You found it in your pulse and in Agent Z’s smile. You found it in tiny moments of I am here.
This can take time. We have time. And: Nothing is wasted.
Remember the week before last when you got triggered way, way, way harder than this? Six hours of non-stop crying. Hiding on the floor of a bar. Thinking you were homeless. THAT WAS FUN. That was not fun.
But you know what? It was useful.
I know you don’t want to think about the fact that explosions are not even close to being the biggest trigger, not even close to being the worst thing that happened.
And yet, here it is: You have pain. And sometimes you will fall apart, my love.
It is a flushing out. It is a releasing. It can be a healing if you let it, even though it might not feel like one at first.
You think it’s the same territory as before, but it’s not. You have new information, new perspective, new things to practice.
You find your way out slightly differently each time.
Listen for the sound effects of the video game as you invent new exits, reveal new doors back to yourself. Jingling coin sounds, whooshing noises of yes.
By the time you get to the next level, you will have nailed this mission. You know how to recognize fear and give it love, to unveil distortion and meet it with truth, see your pain and give it legitimacy.
And when you can’t, you can’t. That’s part of this too.
Everyone has pain. This is yours. This is a piece of yours. You are safe. You are here. You have choices and options. You have sweet breaths of steadiness, yours for the taking. And I am with you. Reach for me, and I am here.
How commenting works here.
This is that very rare thing that is safe space on the internet, and for that to work, we enter consciously, and we agree to the guiding principles of No Advice and No Caretaking.
We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process. Each of us takes loving responsibility for what is ours, we let other people take care of what is theirs.
Within that, you can play any way you like. You can write letters to yourself. You can talk to Slightly Wiser You. You can say what needs saying, or be silent with things that need silence. I am also receptive to appreciation, things sparked for you, ways you might play with this.
And I will always always always take flowers, because flowers make everything better.