Partake — Discomfort in Trauma
A story about partaking in substances and feelings.
Not really. Partially. I guess a little.
My grandpa once said to me in the hushed whispers of a difficult conversation about life that “The ‘ism never really goes away.” He was referring to alcoholism, and at the time it was evident that my dad was heading down into his worst foray with it, although it would be a couple years after this conversation that a team of four doctors — one being my grandma’s oncologist who just came over to the building Dad was in to tell him to straighten up — scared sobriety into him. The culture in the house shifted, the flow of alcohol ceased, and I was left to face my own issues with it. I binge. If I am to suffer the undesirable effects of alcohol, I want the maximum fun of it. Once the fun level is achieved, it must be maintained. I haven’t had a drink in years and I’m okay with never doing so again, although admittedly I miss the rich flavors of craft porters and stouts.
Our state had moved toward being fairly generous with medical cannabis cards, and the family had acquired them. Took a bit of experimenting, but Dad ended up finding out what worked for him. Interestingly, we seem to have similar reactions to sativa and thus hate it together. Quality bonding. Whether or not he still uses the card, he gets good edibles and flower from some high-tech candy-store-esque dispensary.
The timeline with marijuana and alcohol is a bit muddy, but then everything is the past handful of years. Since I never really enjoyed the effects of weed, it had left my life sooner than alcohol, and then I never felt like partaking again, lamenting only the loss of enveloping synesthesia when high.
My last rotation of my anxiety medication ended up being the first time I took up the singular refill on it. It was a tough year. As the days, weeks, months, ticked into this year, I realized it would be similar. Toeing the line of addiction seemed unwelcome, so there was a day some weeks ago when I finally asked what we had in the house. Sure, getting high is definitely not the same sensation as the sheer calm from a benzo, but it still works similarly enough that it feels a safer option. We had some gummies of a flavor that…who cares? it tastes of weed, not berry whatever. Indica, marketed as a sleep aid, 100mg per hexagon (although finding the balance of CBD/THC has been difficult on websites and the packaging was delightfully damaged). Split it into six pieces at first, and even that was too much, so intended on splitting the next into twelve. Had 1/6th earlier, however. I could have reached for my meds instead, but I wanted to coast for a bit.
There is very little to state about the feelings surrounding it. The world is terrible, the past 8 years have been difficult, there is just not enough energy to care about some THC in my system.
Although I have written of my trauma, and ensuing feelings while delving a bit into some memories, it feels as if I cannot truly clear the damage from my mind. The dreaming is semi-persistent, and ever-changing. At least the triggers are few nowadays.
I was not prepared for him to text me.
He is not listed in my contacts. In some scenarios we could thank swapping to a new phone for that, however I’d already hooked everything up through Google a while ago and thus my connections were instantaneous the moment I logged into that account on my Pixel (it’s okay (it’s great don’t let me fool you), I’m trying to learn how to best use the camera). Some of the content of the message seemed specific enough that assuming it was him was reasonable.
He said he was at the store I shop at, 2 miles from my home.
He’d left the house in a bad state from an argument, “shouldn’t have driven here,” and wanted to know if I would come shop some silly thing we used to shop and make sure he didn’t drive “compromised.”
As this message began to set in, every moment of working through anxiety and panic seemed to vanish. I was at a loss. I walked out to the living room to tell my dad, but he was sleeping already. I returned to my room and told a few friends what was happening, but as clear as those messages were, I was shrunken into myself, curled tightly like an overcooked shrimp. My stomach was tied into such a tight knot, and although I wanted to vomit, some invisible creature had my chest in a vice. Breathing was difficult. I turned most of my background sounds off and listened intently to the road while hoping someone would materialize through the internet and calm me.
A friend who had gone to bed sometime earlier seemed to have sensed this, and messaged me stating that I was welcome, to just let her know, she would unlock the door for me. She lives far enough away, and he has no idea of her and our friendship, that it seemed like an incredibly safe option. Of course there were other options, but we have our preferences for one reason or another. A few were too close, still in town, and I was terrified of the idea of a car pulling up to my house. I was terrified of leaving too, but determined that I can see most of my street from the windows and would be able to see his car, or him, lurking.
Tension began to loosen a bit once I got onto the highway, knowing I was now out of my neighborhood, away from the store, and on a path he wouldn’t know. When I arrived at her house, I felt secure. This was someone who wanted to make sure anything I needed in that moment I got. I stayed for a couple hours, we went to her Taco Bell before it closed (looking on the website menu I asked who on earth a veggie option would be for with people going there, but then I saw a spicy potato soft taco and yes, I am the person it is for). Some while after everything had closed down and tiredness was wearing on me, I came back home.
Slept like garbage.
Today my anxiety was high. In discussion with another friend earlier in the day, it was suggested that I do something calming. “Cannabis,” I responded, half-jokingly. But I took that sixth of a gummy some hours ago. It helped, not only with the heightened response to anxiety, but to alleviate thoughts and frustrations about other things surrounding this.
I’d posted on social media that I needed help due to being “a panic” last night and briefly mentioned what was happening in a comment. The typical responses came first — police and other places helping domestic violence victims. I had the local police number pulled up; I feared he’d show up to my doorstep. This was a difficult thing to deal with when he was harassing me originally, and I was in no condition to pursue action. It was a great mountain to climb, and I could not. In part, this has to do with certain orders of protection requiring taking him to court, and I’d rather not see him.
The other responses were, of course, block him. It was while I was out that a friend had responded to another friend on this status detailing why she wouldn’t block someone like him, and I later thanked her for putting down her perspective so well. There is an aspect of control as to whether or not someone should be blocked on all avenues, especially given what may or may not still exist as a barrier to legal action. Having one avenue for him to contact me helps me determine whether it feels safer to bug out or hide.
My dad was not particularly understanding of my decision to bug out and our discussion after his return from work devolved into me repeating that “it freaked me out,” as discussing the overwhelming fear seemed like a dead-end.
Coasting on a high for a while seemed ideal.
There is a comfort in how many reached out to offer not advice, but an ear. There is also comfort in knowing I have a number of people to ask for help if it comes to this again. There is comfort in knowing that even if I am misunderstood in what is arguably a safe haven of a home with a Big(sounding) Scary dog and perpetual presence of officers patrolling for coyotes or whatever at night, there are people willing to help in myriad ways. And looking at the ‘logical’ aspects of that last bit, I do exist in a safe haven with a big-scary-sounding dog and intense locks…and a Dad who, if he was awake, would be ready for a fight. I get my sturdiness from him, although I still win.
This isn’t going to be the last time that Bill reaches out to me, and I estimated years ago that he would when his relationship crumbled. He harassed his ex before me, stalked her, all sorts of red flags I should’ve paid attention to. He’s a good actor, though. The other thing he did was reach out to her for help when things went awry between the two of us.
I cannot fathom such willing helplessness.
Perhaps that sounds a bit judgemental and harsh to say, but it comes from a place of knowing. Knowing the kind of person he is, and the acts he puts on for specific events. Playing out the same script repeatedly. His request that I make sure he “doesn’t drive compromised” is a brief illustration of this. It was hardly the first time he’d put on such a play, and it won’t be the last. There were times before when he would get inebriated and require ‘saving,’ whether he cleared half his town and walked into the next one, or made the trek from his town to mine despite me telling him that I could not hang out and was not going to drive anywhere due to being sick. I ‘made’ him take that exceptionally long walk back home. He falls, puts on sad eyes, and expects the labor of a woman he’s harassing to fix him. That is who he is, and what I know to be his current girlfriend will be next in line.
There was some humor in it. The audacity (and frankly, caucasity). The idea that the fight was definitely started because he has been holding a lie for some time — past experience would suggest this is a fair call. On the flip side, there is something sad about how it’s not safe to reach out to her, for either of us. I never felt secure trying to reach out to his past girlfriend either, but primarily from the point of view that I didn’t need to dredge up that part of her past and put her in a position of recalling whatever gross things he did to her. It is not any other woman’s problem to deal with the destruction left in the wake of a selfish piece of shit.
When they fall apart, he will be back.
I hope it is not as traumatic for her as it was for me.
I had many, many more thoughts to add to this, but exhaustion is taking me. I’m certain that instead of simply falling asleep, every feeling and thought about those feelings will come to me.
In retrospect, it would have been better to try an anxiety med. Not taking it when necessary just calls to how strong the fear of falling to the ism is, after all, the ism never goes away.