Giving a Voice to the Pain – Introduction (September 2016)

Standard

iWendyLogobanner

These blog entries provide recollections from 20 years of living with chronic pain and many more years of living with PTSD.

I began writing only recently in an attempt to give a voice to the chronic pain and to the trauma of PTSD. The writing started as a creative project during a “Mindfulness For Pain Management” course in which we were asked to express our pain either through a picture or through the written word. I chose to write.

I selected one hour out of my 20 years in chronic pain and attempted to convey, in words, what it really means to live in pain, day by day, hour by hour, month by month, year by year.

I shared my writing with my classmates and discovered that the writing and the sharing was therapeutic – for me and for them. It provided a voice that said what they all wanted to say but couldn’t find the words to say it.

I decided that I would continue to write and continue to share with any and all of you who are suffering from chronic pain, or PTSD, and who are trying to find a way to voice it.

The writings are primarily stream of consciousness, during which I place myself back in time and into those moments that are representative of my life. They are voiced in a way that bares the heart and soul, leaving one vulnerable. They are meant to be read in the same voice.

Although not cheerful subjects, there will be moments to uplift.  After all, 20 years in pain, and many more years living with PTSD, and I am still here and life still has value.

Regarding the PTSD, I live, now, with greatly reduced symptoms thanks, in large part, to about four years of psychotherapy and courses on anxiety and depression and mindfulness.  There is, overall, less anxiety and depression and there are fewer, and less severe, panic attacks.  In some ways, I am doing much better, although the pain seems to be spreading throughout my body and I do not get a lot of relief these days.  And, yes, I plan to share the pain, but I also look forward to sharing how much a life can improve when one seeks, and is lucky enough to find, the help needed.

Thank you for visiting with me today. Share your thoughts if you wish.  And come back again any time. I’d love to share my journey with you.

A Cry in the Dark (1997)

Standard

iWendyLogobanner

A Cry in the Dark, Island Park Towers, 1997

Lying now, on my new carpet,
In my new apartment,
With pain the likes of which
I’ve never known before.

Two failed marriages behind me.
Ten years, at least –
A Workaholic.
Eighteen months of workplace harassment.
PTSD underlying it all.

A new, high stress job.
Great expectations of me.
That is the problem with winning major awards.
People then expect so much,
Too much.

Exhausted.
Stressed out.
Reliving that first terrible divorce
And the violence and horror it entailed.
Going through the second divorce.

Something finally gives.
And I am in pain,
Pain like I’ve never known.
Lying here on my new carpet
In my new apartment,
Alone,
Alone and in pain.

It was the divorce, I think, that finally did it.
The straw so to speak,
Compounded with everything else.

And now I am here,
Lying on the carpet,
Staring at the ceiling,
My back burning –
Lower back,
Mid Back,
Shoulder Blades,
Upper Back,
Neck,
Shoulders,
Burning,
Aching,
Pain
Like I’ve never known before.

Worried about my job.
A divorce to get through.
A new apartment to furnish.
Organizing all the many details
Of a new life.

And I can barely move,
Barely dress myself,
Barely do much really,
Other than lie here on the floor,
Stare at the ceiling,
And cry.
Cry in the dark.

I’ll give myself two weeks off work, I decide,
That should do it.
That has to do it.

But it doesn’t.
Twenty years later,
Nothing has done it.

I’m functional now,
Live what appears to be a normal life.
But still the pain goes on,
Sometimes like it was then.
Fortunately, often less.
But there every day,
Or parts of every day.
To a great extent
Ruling my life –
What I can do
And what I can’t.

I never would have imagined,
Back then,
In my life before pain,
That I would spend the rest of my life,
Or at least the last 20 years of it so far,
Dealing with pain,
Chronic pain,
Unrelenting pain,
Life-altering pain.

And yet here I am.
Typing this.
Preparing to share, finally,
Some bits and pieces
From those years.

Putting it out there.
My cry in the dark.
Just to see who is there,
Who is listening,
Who knows and understands,
From their own experience,
What it means to live with pain,
What it means to cry in the dark.

22 Hours at Gunpoint – A Day Later

Standard

iWendyLogobanner

22 Hours at Gunpoint (http://iwendy.ca/1980/07/12/22-hours-at-gunpoint-1980/) – A Day Later

Racing
Down 20+ Flights.
Terror,
Racing With me.
Terror,
Racing Behind me.
Terror,
Racing Around me,
And In me.

Heart Pounding.
Straining,
For Breath.

Note,
On the Kitchen Table –
“He is not with us.
We don’t know where he is.
Do NOT be alone with him.”

And I’m racing,
Down 20+ flights.
Conscious of one thing only,
The terror following,
The terror surrounding,
The terror consuming,
Every step,
Of every flight.

Reach the bottom.
So afraid
Of that open lobby.

He might be there.
With his gun,
Waiting.
Waiting to take me out.
Waiting to see me fall
Into that forever land
Of never land.

No choice
But to go.
Race through
That terrible space.
A lobby
That is not a lobby,
But a place
Where he
Can lie in wait.

Where do I get
The strength?
I am not a runner.
I am not even very fit.
Yet, I race on.
Heart pounding,
Straining for breath.

Through the lobby,
Out the door,
Gain access to my car,
Key in ignition,
Tires squealing,
Making good my escape,
To live another day,
And then perhaps another,
As I wait,
For the moment,
That moment
When he will keep his promise
To end my life.

I’ve felt it so many times
In my mind.
Felt it,
Seen it,
Heard it.
The shot,
The impact,
The fall,
The blackness.

Then nothing.

But not today.
Tomorrow maybe.
The day after.
Next week.
Next month.

The promise has been made.
And I wait for him to keep it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 Hours At Gunpoint

Standard

iWendyLogobanner

22 hours – at gunpoint.
A lifetime – of PTSD, 1980

I am running.
Being chased.
Caught now.
It didn’t take long.
Seconds, really.

He is so fast.
So powerful.
Enraged.
With the strength
Of a madman.

I am dragged,
Literally,
By the neck.
Down the stairs.
To the basement
To the hidden gun.
Back up the stairs.
To the bedroom.

I am beaten.
It doesn’t hurt.
I am
Beyond pain,
Beyond fear,
Fighting
For my very life.

Stripped naked.
Thrown to the floor.
Raped, viciously.
Spare you the details.
No need to know.

Beyond pain.
Beyond fear.
Fighting
For my very life.

Strong hands
Around my neck.
Tightening.
I am losing consciousness.
He laughs.
Tells me I am turning blue.
Strangling me.
Almost to the death.

And I fight.
For my very life.
Eyes of insanity upon me.
Laughter mocking me.
Hands tightening.
Death approaching.
I see my death,
My death,
Approaching.

But,
Suddenly,
He stops.
Rises up.
Presses a shoed foot to my head.
All his weight
Crushing my head.
Grabs nylons from a dresser drawer.
Throws me over.
Ties my hands behind my back,
Nylon cutting into wrists.

I am dragged up
From the floor.
Lifted,
High.
Thrown to a crashing bed.
Where I lie.
Hands tied.
Circulation slowing in my wrists.

I am held at gunpoint.
My fate in the hands
Of a madman.
A madman
With a gun.

And the hours pass.
He paces.
He stops.
Paces.
Stops.
Holds his rifle to my head.
Finger on the trigger.
Tells me to pray.
Paces.
Stops.
Paces.
Stops.
Holds the rifle to my head.
Finger on the trigger.
Tells me to pray.

I wait.
For the final moment.
The click of the trigger,
The ending of my life,
I wait
At gunpoint,
My fate in the hands
Of a madman.

And the hours pass.
He paces, stops, points, tells me to pray.
And the hours pass.

My hands are numb now,
Nylons digging deeply
Into my wrists.
He agrees to untie me,
Finally.
What can I do anyway
Against a madman?
A Madman
With a gun.

He crosses the hall
To the bathroom.
Leaves the gun
Mid-distance between us.
We can both see it
Leaning there
Against the wall.
Dare I go for it?
Would I know how to use it?
Do I just pull the trigger?
Is there a safety?
Could I beat him to it?
Could I even pull the trigger
Given the chance?
I think that I could
You know,
In this moment,
With my own life in the balance,
If only I knew how,
Which I don’t,
And I didn’t.

Suddenly I know.
In that moment,
He is only waiting for the excuse.
The excuse for the blinding rage
That would allow him to pull the trigger.
And so I wait.
The opportunity passes.
The hours too.

I don’t pray.
Never once bargain
With God
Or the universe.
I look occasionally
For the angel of death.
Then close my eyes
So I cannot see.

I start a litany
At some point
During that long night:
Kill me, you kill your mother.
Kill me, you kill my father.
Kill me, you kill your mother.
Kill me, you kill my father.
Kill me, you kill your mother.
Kill me, you kill my father.
On and on.
A monotonous litany.
In my second language,
Not my first.
A monotonous litany.
Hour,
After hour,
After hour.

Finally,
I clutch a pillow to my face.
I cannot look anymore
Down the barrel of that gun,
Into the eyes of a madman.
I clutch a pillow to my face
And wait for the bullet
That will end my life.

And then,
Suddenly,
Something changes.
His eyes seems to clear.
A fog seems to lift.
And,
Just like that,
He tells me its over.
He frees me.
Tells me he will not kill me today.

He will not kill me,
Today,
He says,
But he will kill me
Someday.
He says:
I will never know how.
He says:
I will never know when.
He says:
That someday,
Somewhere,
He will kill me.
He will not allow me to live.
He will not allow me to make a life.
He will kill me.
And I will be dead.

But,
I escape for now.
Escape him.
And death.
For now.

But it’s here with me,
For a lifetime,
That experience
And that threat,
The panic attacks
That persist
Year
After year
After year.

I experience
Again and again,
My 22 hours at gunpoint.
My lifetime of PTSD.