I was really overloaded today. I was overloaded yesterday also, but yesterday is a really long teaching day. I teach 6 periods, then VP Ma’am wants to spend half of lunch helping students in our club prepare for an event. Then we have these football games—the school is hosting a football tournament for adult men I can’t quite see the point of, except that people here have no idea how to spend their leisure time and really most people just drink. They are shifting away from subsistence farming as something that basically everyone does and into actual professions, so people have leisure time. Anyway, it means I am at school from around 8 am until 5 or 5:30, and it makes for a very long day. I was surprised about today being hard, because I only teach 3 periods. It’s a very, very light day, but it was still so terribly hard.

I got home and after crying for a while and getting my mind a little bit settled, I began to see this is not hard for anyone else. Everyone has stuff to do. People have personal things to attend to. They might perhaps have family problems, but no one finds it unbelievably stressful just to be around other human beings for 9 or 10 hours a day. No one else feels absolutely at the breaking point because the day has been extended by an hour or so. No one else came home and felt like absolutely all the brightness had been sucked out of life because the day is unbearably long and will be for two weeks and after that there will probably be some other additional stress so that basically being at the breaking point never seems to end. No one else came home and felt suicidal because they had to sit at a football game and try to keep a polite face on.

It’s just me.

I am the only one who has to do this here. Everyone else is sitting at a football game and either bored or tired or interested, but no one else is just trying to keep from crying from exhaustion. I think I have just never let that sink in.

I have to fight for myself. There really is no other choice about it. There is no one else to be aside from me and no other way to be me except to cope with trauma reactions all day every day. And I have to fight. I have to fight because of a childhood I didn’t get to choose and cannot change.

Truly, I do not think I have ever fully accepted that before. I do have choices, but there are many choices I don’t have. I don’t get to choose many of the triggers I have to cope with throughout the day. I don’t get to choose the intense trauma reactions I still have to those triggers. I try to manage the triggers I can control and do get to choose, but it doesn’t always mean it works out well. It doesn’t mean that I always gauge things right or that one more thing doesn’t get thrown at me I wasn’t expecting, and suddenly it’s too much.

The degree of trauma I have to cope with I just not that common. There isn’t some raft of people I don’t know about in my life who share similar experiences. I am the only one doing this, and it means the same experiences are frequently different for me than for other people—like the football game. And it is because of how I was treated as a child that it is like this.

Sitting at the football game, totally overwhelmed with exhaustion, feeling like I can’t keep it together any longer. Yeah, that’s because of my parents. That’s because I was so badly hurt as a child. And I don’t get to choose whether to deal with that or not. I can choose how I deal with, but basically regardless of how I deal with it, it’s exhausting and it’s painful, and I don’t get to choose the exhaustion or the pain.

I really do have to fight for me. There isn’t another choice.

After years of denying and minimizing the problem, or imagining I had choices I don’t really have, or mentally complaining about it, I can finally accept it.

Yep. It’s like this. I didn’t choose this. The people around me don’t have to deal with, and I do, and that’s how it is. No one in their right mind would like it, and I don’t like it either, but that’s how it is. I have to fight.


3 thoughts on “Fighting

  1. Rachel April 7, 2016 / 6:02 am

    I just kept saying “yes, yes, YES” when I read this last night (or was it this morning?) this is so insightful and thank you for writing it out. It resonates. We don’t have a choice. But what I do hold some hope for, is continuing to find connections that validate my existence. Because we never had that validation in the past, but I think all people need it to really thrive. Others to see them. And reading this felt validating to me, because I know you understand something that I experience, in the (limited) way we can understand others’ experiences through our own lens. But I do think you get parts of my emotional world in a way many people never can or will, and that feels very validating and humanizing to me.

  2. Ellen April 7, 2016 / 6:27 am

    I relate to this, even though I don’t have your level of trauma to deal with. If someone tacked attending a football game to the end of my work day, I don’t know what I’d do, as all my energy is used up by that point. I need to go right home and lie down for a few hours.

    Is there any way of getting out of activities that don’t seem so vital, like attending football?

    I do think a fair number of us are dealing with trauma and the exhaustion it entails. It’s like an invisible handicap. I think you are unique in that despite the extreme severity of your trauma, 1., you are alive, 2. you are able to function, and 3. you are able to articulate your experience. You’re doing an outstanding job given the hand you were dealt. You’re living a good life for anyone, let alone someone with your past.

    Hope you get some rest and some easier days.

    • Ashana M April 7, 2016 / 6:46 am

      Thanks so much. I know you get it. I think I had just never understood that, really and truly, for my colleagues the football is not that big a deal. It’s an irritation and an annoyance perhaps if they aren’t interested, but they just do not experience the level of exhaustion I have. The world is designed for them. It isn’t designed for the. And, no, I can’t do much. Maybe I will see if I can take a remedial class. At least that feels meaningful.

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