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Other Obsessive and intrusive thoughts about traumatic experience

Thread starter #1
I wake up in the middle of the night a lot and often can't get back to sleep because I end up thinking about things I can't do anything about. I woke up this morning around 2 a.m. and am not sure how much more I slept.

I've talked about this b4 but not in this much detail and not about how much of a hold it still has on me.

Here's how it went down.

In my early thirties I was engaged to be married to a schizophrenic but Joshua was no lock-down case. He was absolutely amazing. If he had any anger or scary inside of him, it never came out.

However, he couldn't work and stigma got him.

He should have been insulin-dependent but before we got together he failed to seek medical attention for his diabetes because he wasn't interested in being around much longer. Life was too much.

The reason we got together in the first place was because I was waiting tables at a restaurant he frequented and I saw how the locals treated him and it infuriated me. In an attempt to lend my support, I fell in love with him.

Two and a half years later, medical word was that Joshua had only months left to live.

Right around that same time, he came home with wounds all over his legs. A local had kicked him over and over. Granted, Joshua meant to screw with this guy but why this particular fellow felt it appropriate to kick the shit out of a diabetic's legs is still beyond me. Still, Joshua could have stopped this attack but did not and I realize that. When he came home with broken skin all over his lower limbs, I came unglued and started for the door. I may not look like much but with a tire iron in tow, I might have gotten my point across. Joshua grabbed me and insisted that this man was "not smart" and that I needed to let it go at that. I couldn't argue with Joshua; he was too sick.

But it didn't end there. Joshua's legs got infected and more. I had some of the most gut-wrenching, death-by-stigma discussions I have ever had in my life while I doctored them.

Over time, however, I felt that I had forgiven the man and he and I seemed to get along alright. We had known each other for quite a while before the kicking took place and because I was living in an area that made no sense to me so far as diversity or inclusion were concerned, I accepted him as the lesser of a lot of evils in that place.

When Joshua died, this man reached out to me. I assume he felt guilt for what he had done to Joshua. I accepted what I thought was friendship from him.

Unfortunately, 2.5 years ago, my husband came under the employment of a board of directors of which the kicking man's wife was a part. It was employment bullshit. He was demeaned, not paid for hours he worked, and basically made a joke of during meetings from his telling.

One night, another member of the board walked into my husband's office and began trying to intimidate my husband while I was there. Then, she slapped him in the head. I immediately had the first and only flashback I have had of the pus and stench that was my life for that last few month's of Joshua's life. I tried to get up but my legs gave out which was probably luck or God because I was out for blood.

A whole lot more happened but the endgame was that the kicker said something shitty to me (which just so happened to involve my disability) while I was still not wound down from my flashback. I walked away but I wrote him a letter later.

I told him what he had done to Joshua, not in detail, mind you, but in summary. I also explained what had happened with my husband. I remember saying, "I don't understand your culture and I don't understand this behavior, even a little." I professed that the behavior of demeaning other people who don't understand was not cute nor funny. I said "I might kick the shit out of the next bully who does one damned thing to hurt one of my people" and so I was going back to the civilized world where ethics and responsible behavior were still a thing because I could do a lot better there.

I also thanked him sincerely for reaching out to me after Joshua died. I said I knew he was a decent person, I just wished he would have acted like it at certain pivotal moments. (This wasn't our only problem just the big one.) I wished him well but said I wouldn't be around town much longer - I could not continue to live the way I had been living, surrounded by reminders of Joshua's suffering and local levels of sensitivity than ensured that I would go through similar shit again.

I knew the letter reached him because he was clearly angry and could no longer look at me when we saw each other in town.

His father obviously felt badly about it but never could come right out and say so.

The thing is, I really had hope for this guy. I had hoped that he would realize that I had cared enough about him to leave it alone for over 8 years. And maybe he'll figure some things out, yet.

I guess I shouldn't have tried to make friends with him and I guess I have guilt for lashing out at him, even though I went through hell for his dumb redneck amusement.

My husband says I shouldn't have any guilt. The apologies should be from the kicker. That if he had ever been a friend of mine, he would have been at my door as soon as he got that letter.

Still, I sit up at night wishing I had said the more right thing in that letter because there was a whole lot I didn't say and I could have been more zen about the whole ordeal for sure. I worry about the day I will see him again - and I will - my family and my husband's family are out there in that tiny town.

I don't wake up nightly thinking about this, anymore. I woke up last night because of pain but I am quite sure that this didn't help me get back to sleep. I also still have intrusive thoughts about it fairly frequently, though not nearly as often as I used to.
 
Thread starter #2
The thing is, I had no intention of ever saying anything to anyone about what had happened to Joshua because I couldn't even think about it - and I really hadn't - only my husband knew. But I had a couple of moments where, when met with this man, I suddenly had nearly uncontrollably strong urges to stab him with a fork which I am not exactly proud of. But I was really afraid I might do it. I figured I was either going to stab him and have the whole story come out or not stab him and just address it before the shit hit the fan.

We left central Oregon for Portland primarily due to this situation and Portland was a huge improvement. I found work, made friends, etc. Having just left Portland, I think I may just have some fear that my husband now has a reasonable job and we are possibly going to settle down. I lived in central Oregon for 14 years, owned a home, etc. I think I am genuinely scared of getting caught in a mess like that, again.
 
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#3
One of the things I’ve found is that when I’m in similar situations, my brain starts throwing memories at me. Increasingly more detailed, more pervasive, more consuming memories. Then? The panic attacks & flashbacks start. Then? The everything else.

They come in really strong themes, although it can be a bitch to identify what the f*ck they are, in the beginning.

During my divorce, for example? The most repetitious theme was “transitions”. Totally obvious connection, right? Except it was pulling all manner of transitions over a dozen years. When you can see a hundred versions of the same thing? It’s easy to spot. On number 8 or 22? Not so much. My kid, meanwhile, the connection was obvious from the first. What happens to people I love, that I fail to protect.

It’s very much like my brain is trying to warn me, and the less I listen & continue on the same path? The more violent it’s attempts to warn stupid little ole me to change course. Even if the REAL situation is totally different, and I have durn good reason to stay the course,

So, to me, it makes perfect sense rhat the move from Portland to AZ is evoking all the stuff surrounding your trip from central Oregon to Portland. Not only is there the trip, with your beloved, during crisis... but also? Major climate change. So tiny little things like your sinuses clearing from the perpetual infection most people in the PNW have? The humidity content of the air? The angles of reflected light in forests vs. horizons? Are also likely to be playing things up a bit.

How to get AROUND those connections wreaking havoc & unleashing hell? No f*cking clue. I’d like to say simply being aware sorts them, and maybe for some people it does. I only found that being aware of the connections, patterns, & etc. let me take myself less seriously. Which is still a boon. Just not a solution to lessening or preventing getting increasingly symptomatic in response to them.
 
Thread starter #4
One of the things I’ve found is that when I’m in similar situations, my brain starts throwing memories at me. Increasingly more detailed, more pervasive, more consuming memories. Then? The panic attacks & flashbacks start. Then? The everything else.

They come in really strong themes, although it can be a bitch to identify what the f*ck they are, in the beginning.

During my divorce, for example? The most repetitious theme was “transitions”. Totally obvious connection, right? Except it was pulling all manner of transitions over a dozen years. When you can see a hundred versions of the same thing? It’s easy to spot. On number 8 or 22? Not so much. My kid, meanwhile, the connection was obvious from the first. What happens to people I love, that I fail to protect.

It’s very much like my brain is trying to warn me, and the less I listen & continue on the same path? The more violent it’s attempts to warn stupid little ole me to change course. Even if the REAL situation is totally different, and I have durn good reason to stay the course,

So, to me, it makes perfect sense rhat the move from Portland to AZ is evoking all the stuff surrounding your trip from central Oregon to Portland. Not only is there the trip, with your beloved, during crisis... but also? Major climate change. So tiny little things like your sinuses clearing from the perpetual infection most people in the PNW have? The humidity content of the air? The angles of reflected light in forests vs. horizons? Are also likely to be playing things up a bit.

How to get AROUND those connections wreaking havoc & unleashing hell? No f*cking clue. I’d like to say simply being aware sorts them, and maybe for some people it does. I only found that being aware of the connections, patterns, & etc. let me take myself less seriously. Which is still a boon. Just not a solution to lessening or preventing getting increasingly symptomatic in response to them.
THANK YOU.

It's a small town we are moving to, so there's that. I really didn't want to be in a small town but staying in Santa Fe isn't a great option so I am trying to keep reminding myself that there is really only one rural central Oregon and my husband is working at a good-sized public school not a tiny office full of big fish. Over and over I tell myself.

I am hoping the infection clears up soon. It was killing my left ear. I wanted to stay in Portland in spite of it all but my ears and arthritis said absolutely not.

But yeah, this is a different world and there is probably a lot more at play than I realize. Downtown Portland is almost like it's own little cave. Everything towers overhead and the canopy of tree branches just separates it from the rest of the world. Santa Fe is wide open. You walk outside and a guy picking his nose in his car three miles away can see you. It'll take some getting used to.

I really appreciate your take on things.

Thanks again.
 
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