I startle easily, I’m hypersensitive, and I often feel as if I am floating above my body.
I fluctuate between being here one moment and looking down on myself the next.
Crying comes on randomly. Sometimes it happens because of a class lecture. Sometimes it’s nothing at all but the mere fact that it is Sunday.
I often wake up early in the mornings (4 a.m.) and feel an urge to cry. It’s not my adult self, but a younger part of me—a child. I am unable to console her as my body shakes. I will hold a pillow and crawl under a weighted blanket until it passes.
I’m sensitive to words and tones. I will cry when reading an email that uses, “I’m concerned.”
I fear disappointing anyone.
I search for a mother everywhere.
I sweat through my clothes when in conversation.
I often need to crawl into bed mid-day to cry some more.
I’m always scared. I’m always hyper-vigilant.
I’m waiting to set the next person off.
My heart is always racing.
I thrive when I feel safe.
I don’t trust easily though.
I’m waiting to be hurt—raising my right shoulder high under my ear and turning my left foot in.
I’m scared of you.
I’m scared of everyone.
I like at least eight feet between us but am happy with more.
I become quiet if your voice is too loud.
I am silent if you have a big personality.
I prefer to not be looked at.
I prefer to have the camera on Zoom off.
I don’t like to be assessed in any way.
I want to be alone and yet engaged with others.
I prefer to write to the world than to speak.
So I am writing tonight.
I want you to know what it’s like to struggle with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
Please be patient with us.
Please be gentle.
We are working on not walking on eggshells, but it will take time.
If you’d like to help us, please quiet your voices, use gentle language, and give us a little space. We want to engage with the world. We are just a bit frightened and may cry without reason. We will be okay though. We are survivors, and we are resilient.
*Originally published on Elephant Journal
Rebecca Donaldson is a confessional poet, a Speech-Language Pathologist, and a PhD student in Positive Developmental Psychology. Her research interests include adverse childhood experiences, resiliency, narrative identity, and personality development across the lifespan. She writes on topics pertaining to psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, inequity, and the shamed soul with Borderline Personality Disorder. She believes therapy should be collaborative between client and therapist and writes to advocate for improved treatment for clients with BPD, complex PTSD, and DID. For her, writing is a medium of self-expression in which she can be open, honest, and reflective about the mud in her life and the flowers which grow from it. She attempts to be raw with the world as she is with her friends and disowns all labels of mental illness. She is a human being, a researcher, and a dancer of Brazilian Forrô.