Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WEATHER (07/19/18)
TITLE: An Open Letter
By Terry R A Eissfeldt
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Shall I try?
I’m not sure I have the nerve to step out of this boat of fear and onto the hurricane tossed waves I perceive in every situation…
I know it’s I who has walled you out like an ill wind. But you are not an ill wind…I just feel so vulnerable, like a seedling facing a monsoon….
It’s like this:
I know too much.
If ignorance is bliss, like a peaceful summer day, then living with PTSD makes knowledge bedlam, like unexpected tornados touching down chasing you into storm shelters.
Let me explain.
Because I taught horse back riding for so long, worked in summer camps, etc I always kept safety as the first priority. Now, when I come to the barn I see every possible situation that could result in my, or your, demise. This results in my body being flooded with the chemical cocktail brewed by the brain, as if all of these horrific scenarios are actually talking place.
As I’m grooming you or saddling up, I imagine you spooking causing me to fall underneath your hooves and being stomped to death. Or I see you hurt yourself, maybe break a leg…
Mounting is so dangerous. A million things could go wrong. I see them all. I see myself falling and being hurt, and you running around the barnyard. There are a billion things to harm you.
When I actually make it into the saddle and we’re walking down the road, I’m constantly bombarded, like a hail storm in my mind, with thoughts of you spooking causing me to fall off and you to run scared into the road and getting hit by a dump truck.
That’s what it’s like. A blizzard, a downpour, a cyclone of thoughts twisting reality, warping judgement, and contorting reason.
You never met Lou…my once-in-a-lifetime horse. I aided in his birth. We exchanged breaths before he nuzzled his mom. I was present at every milestone in his amazing life…except his sudden and tragic death. I was out of the country on holiday.
To say a piece of me died with him sounds hollow and trite.
The news of his death was no ordinary storm. It was more like a fatal mudslide caused by a tsunami, leaving my heart torn into innumerable minute pieces, scattered and buried.
I’ve worked through the grief and battled each stage like a warrior. What I didn’t know was his sudden loss caused more than grief. It left me traumatized.
Like a tropical storm building over the water unseen until big enough to be read on radar, PTSD waited for the next event to give it fuel before revealing it’s name.
It was an accident…I the lone witness…a beautiful fall day….sky clear blue…crisp leaves on the ground…my daughter’s head snapped back by flying hooves…her body spinning and falling to the ground….blood spurting out of her chin.
I did all the right things: stopped the bleeding, called the ambulance, called my husband.
She didn’t die in front of me, as I first thought, nor was she seriously injured. Twenty-some stitches, a night in the hospital and concussion protocols did the job.
My daughter has no memory of the event. I, on the other hand, hardly live a day without it playing over and over in my mind. The memory sits like a black cumulus cloud, never diminishing, always building until it unleashes a tempest of anxiety throughout my body paralyzing me like a little child hiding under her parents blankets until the scary thunder is silenced.
Peace does come but it never lasts…the next storm is always brewing.
This is what I carry to the barn with me. That is why some days I hurry through chores and barely look at you. I know by naming the spectre, PTSD, I have already begun to weaken it’s power over me.
I also use the power of God’s word. I repeat verses, second by second some days, to get through.
‘God, You are good and you’re love endures forever.’
’Father, Your plans for me are to prosper, not to harm, for a future and a hope.’
He is the anchor that holds through any storm, any tragedy, even death cannot shake the truth of who God is…bigger than PTSD.
*Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
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