The saw starts up again at 9 am. I really do have to figure out how to deal with it. It is likely to go on all winter—I think now they have begun cutting stones, which is really quite loud. It is louder than cutting wood. Headphones do not block it out: I end up straining past the music I have going to hear whether it has stopped or started. I can go to certain parts of town that are further away from the cutting. I think the Holy Site is out of range. I can go to a friend’s house. I can take a long walk to the Nature Preserve. But these things will all bring different triggers with them, and if I leave my house in a hypervigilant state, it won’t get easier to deal with them. I have to figure it out.
I know the stiff upper lip approach doesn’t do anything except make the days pass, and I didn’t organize my life around having the holiday be wasted time emotionally. I think I will have a really hard time if I go directly from this state to school in a month.
I have to do something. I have no idea what, but something.
So I start counting. I count how long the whir of the blade lasts and how long the interval in between lasts. I think if there is any kind of pattern to it, maybe it’s possible I can relax, like any degree of predictability might help me.
In the midst of doing this, I get really, really scared. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It might mean at least I am coming back from dissociation enough that I can feel my own emotions. Or it could mean I am getting more and more beside myself. Sometimes, it is so hard to say.
But it dawns on me suddenly that I am a middle-aged woman afraid of a circular saw. It is not a child self afraid of a saw, although that is how it feels. It is me. A forty-two year old woman who knows perfectly well men are cutting up stones and not dead bodies. I know full well what is happening in the present, but I am still terrified.
It’s the same person.
I don’t know how to articulate that. The child who endured the horror and the adult trying to cope with it are one and the same. It’s true the horror is not happening now. What is happening now is I am assaulted by memories I can barely handle.
I have been responding to the symptoms (if you will) of trauma in the present without fully taking in the import of them: I do take it in from time to time, but maybe in bits or maybe only partway. It did happen. It did happen to me. And it was that bad.
I am not sure of every detail I remember and there are things I thought I remembered I am not sure really happened. But the things I am not sure about are not worse than the things I am sure. If anything, the things I am sure about are.
And it’s not to say that those things I remember are happening to me now, but the process of remembering is happening to me now. I think that had not entirely registered. Somewhere in me, despite my attempts at acceptance, I had wanted to maintain these things happened in the past. In the present, I am fine.
I am not fine.