Anniversaries mean something different to just about everyone. Some find them joyous champagne fueled events, often involving sex. Others struggle with loss and grief when those magic numbers arrive on the desk calendar. Those are the anniversaries that come immediately to mind if you ask your average joe about them. There is a different sort of anniversary for a lot of people. The kind that may never ever be talked about. If it is, usually confined to conversations with close friends, or a trusted therapist. I’m sure most would not even understand. Most would never consider the day you were raped an anniversary, because they can’t get past the superficial sweetened Hallmark variety “Anniversary!!!” that is sold to all of us with every syrupy ad on tv. But think for a moment how important that moment is, that trauma, and how deeply etched it is. The date-time-weather is included. For some it may be a season, or a month, their mind having washed away the vestiges to date and time in an extraordinary effort to protect itself. For me early February is an anniversary. It is the date I brushed up against death so close, nothing but its cold embrace remained. It was icy, and cold. A hard wind-driven snow tore at my skin, and shut my eyes. This was no party. There was no champagne. definitely no sex. It was the night I chose to walk away from this existence. Striding off away from love. Away from those that cared so deeply for me. I gave up, and gave in. The never-ending voice in my head won that night. And so I departed, no fear, no nothing. My pain evaporated and a deep calm replaced it. A place of studied concentration. I, this person I have struggled to be, got lost in that fierce storm.
We are just shy of 4 days to the date. In the midst of a wicked coastal Nor’Easter, I left my home and walked to the end of my deck. In a gale so brutal breathing became difficult. Ice pinged off the siding so hard it was deafening. That was my only company in the dark, the tireless howling of the wind and snow. I never paused, or reconsidered. I was as cold as the frigid air surrounding this place now. Today, seven years later, another Nor’easter bears down on us. The timing so close, it is unavoidable not to revisit the past in my head. It wasn’t by choice. In fact, I was unaware of my concerted effort not to check the weather these past weeks. I tend to an everyday checker. compulsive in my need to know what exactly to expect on any given day. I didn’t note the change. It didn’t even register. But as this storm grew closer, it was impossible to ignore the endless news coverage and the posts from friends on FB declaring the end of the world. Well, not really, but you’d think so after visiting a supermarket today. It is the hard thing about anniversaries, they come round whether you want them to or not. Always present in the mind, marked forever by whichever event, happy, sad, horrible or tragic it was. You can’t out run them, or ignore them. Short of abandoning civilization and all forms of date/ timekeeping there is no escape.
So here I sit, awaiting the arrival of the first flakes of snow. I cannot predict how difficult or easy this might be. I know I cannot ignore it. I must accept the fact that it may well be hard not to allow my mind to wander back. I can accept wandering. That is just a part of this life, and the aftermath of my choices. What I cannot accept is to relive that night in my mind, alone in this house, in the midst of a storm. Thinking about and reliving are two totally different places. One safe and workable. One I am comfortable managing even if it is painful and anxious. To relive is to loosen the ties with the here and now. Sometimes completely losing track of time and place. It is not a common place for me, though I have been there before. Often it is preceded by a deep disconnect and feeling of numbness. I experience that as cold. bone chilling cold. I can disappear, losing time. Sometimes in my mind I feel as if I am actually within the event, but thankfully that is exceedingly rare these days. It takes a tremendous amount of psychic force to flip that switch. When triggered these days I retreat into a hollow grey place, completely devoid of anything. It is not painful like a flashback. It is exhausting and difficult to pull out of, but it doesn’t have that terrifying edge to it where your mind can’t quite grasp it isn’t really happening. To be transported, in mind and body back to a place of fear and trauma is unthinkably scary and hard.
I felt it was important to write a bit tonight, just to keep a finger on my “mental” pulse so to speak. There is a lot going on right now, but I have faith in my strength. I’m in a far better place than I have been. So, fuck it. Let it snow. Bring it on momma nature.