Fourth of July has to be my least favorite day of the year and for good reason. All the noise from fireworks triggers me, all of the sudden I’m transported back to my gloomy NY apartment and my ex banging on the walls like a caveman.
I do my best to cope. I’ve downloaded a white noise app, bought the noise canceling headphones and generally stayed indoors for the past few days. Moving to a more densely populated area means more neighbors and that means more people spending money just to feel like the pyrotechnics coordinator for Kiss.
I understand their enthusiasm, I too once enjoyed it but its not just limited to one day out of the summer. Its the day before and the day of. The days after as well. It’s incredibly frustrating to know you can’t do anything about it but it’s an even more frustrating thing when people simply have no clue what you have experienced and try to dismiss your feelings.
I want to make it perfectly clear that combat acquired PTSD and my PTSD aren’t remotely close. Going through this has given me a greater sense of empathy towards combat vets and I can’t imagine how severe their symptoms must be around this time of year. I might have the disorder but I can’t relate to their experiences just as they might not be able to relate to mine. I still want to offer my support and condolences to anyone experiencing triggers, flashbacks or panic attacks because of this tradition.
With that said, I’ve barely slept the past few nights. When I do, I have vivid nightmares of violence again. The cherry on top of this shit sundae has to be my living situation.
My boyfriend and I live with his grandparents and they are by far some of the sweetest people ever. Much like a lot of other young people our age we can’t afford to move out yet. So we’re inadvertently left to deal with the consequences of a shared household. There is only one thing I’d change about this arrangement.
His mom babysits one of the most horrific toddlers on the planet. She works here during the week as a CNA and also a free childcare service for his cousin. Despite the clear manipulation of emotion by the cousin to get free childcare, what essentially amounts to my mother in law does not see it that way and will not say no.
That being said we’re on good terms. She knows I can’t tolerate the constant increasing decibel level of this child. My boyfriend is more sympathetic, as he knows the true extent of the abuse I suffered and why I don’t like the noise in general. A toddler throwing things sounds just like my ex in more ways than one.
That being said, I’m generally tolerant. When it’s here I don’t go out of my way to interact with it. I normally have my headphones in and my app on. I can’t always have that on because batteries eventually need to be charged. When this happens I usually go outside on the porch for some fresh air.
On one such occasion before the fun of random explosions began this summer. She’d dragged the kid outside into my holy sanctuary of peace. I had my headphones in but my phone had died. I felt dizzy that day, sometimes a symptom of a migrane for me. I was cranky again from little to no sleep and this thing was wailing at every opportunity.
I finally reach an equilibrium between lucidity and apathy and clamly say, “Jesus kid shut up.” The indignant look on my MIL’s face didn’t phase me. I simply dragged my ass back in the house with a smile on my face and search for some nyquil.
More recently I had an encounter with someone who thought surprising me with an airhorn was hilarious. In a perfect world airhorns would be illegal but again I can’t control the actions of others.
After I calmly stated that I didn’t find his little toy amusing he adopted a condescending tone towards my shaken response. He continued to do it, not aware of how far a sound could push me.
Now here’s another difference between my personal experience with PTSD and combat borne PTSD.I can’t speak for combat vets on this issue, but because of the environment that produced my PTSD my inital response if triggered enough or pushed too far is pure, unfiltered rage. I am not talking about garden variety anger. I’m talking about the kind of rage that results in memory loss, poor decisions and lack of self control. Thankfully the existence of this rage reaction to loud noise is slowly improving but you can’t expect me to be perfect.No one is.
I guess what I’m really attempting to say with this is, its perfectly normal to have bad days. You don’t owe courtesy to anyone who does not show it to you family or otherwise. I have a condition that is very dependent on personal management of my environment and I hate being the poriah when things get the best of me because a lot of variables are beyond my control at this point.
I’m okay, but I need my space from time to time and that’s not wrong. Testing someone’s boundaries with comfort is. I don’t want my boundaries tested. I’m afraid I’d do something I would regret. I want some understanding of that but it feels impossible.