2006 was a challenging year.
I started the New Year by separating from my husband, moving to a new apartment, and switching jobs. Those were the stressful, positive parts of the year. Then I got pregnant. Then my father died. Then I had an abortion. Then I was sexually assaulted by a friend. Then my brother committed suicide.
It was an action-packed year.
Every time a new, terrible thing happened, I handled it by telling my counselor. At that time I was regularly seeing a social worker who was a Buddhist practitioner. I was preparing to start an intensive meditation course and part of that preparation was seeing a counselor every week and learning about basic tenets of Buddhism. So when something happened, I would dutifully relate it to my counsellor. I would read a book like Pema Chodron’s ‘When Things Fall Apart.’ I would go for massage therapy to take care of myself and buy myself ice cream as a treat, as a small kindness. Then I would go to work and work and work and work. I took one afternoon off when my father died. I took one day off after the abortion. I was sexually assaulted the day before New Year’s Eve so I had a few days off but for the most part, I just kept going. I was determined that no matter what happened to me, I was not going to let it interfere with the career that I had worked so hard for. I was not going to let any event, no matter how stressful, change the way I interacted with my son. I was a single mother in 2006 and my son was my first priority. I didn’t want him to see his mother beaten down by life, so I kept my head up and worked even harder.
Apparently, the longer you ignore your traumas, the more horrific the forms they take when they finally leak through your carefully constructed exterior. In my case, I went crazy. The worst kind of seeing things, hearing things, living in a horror movie crazy.
I started hearing voices whispering about me, calling me names. I saw the world fly apart into shards of meaningless images. I grew paranoid about taking public transit or being in crowds, convinced everyone around me was plotting against me. Strangers looked like horror movie monsters. I would be sitting at my desk at work and feel my cheeks grow wet and wonder why, only to realize I was crying. My hair started falling out. I had nightmares all the time. I felt like the walls were breathing. I was able to keep up a semblance of normalcy until I started meditation classes. It was during these times of silence and reflection that I became overwhelmed with grief and would sob helplessly, loudly, relentlessly, until I was asked to leave the class permanently. After I was kicked out of meditation class I decided I needed to see my doctor.