Yesterday, through a trick of acoustics, I thought I heard the baby crawling in the kitchen. The kitchen features a door that leads to the basement stairs, and we keep the door open there, so that the dog can go down at her leisure and access her bowl and things there. So when I thought the baby was in the kitchen alone, I raced in a panic to the kitchen, shouting, pulse racing, imagining that the worst was about to happen.
It was only the way my head had been angled, though, and likely also attributable to the fact that I was distracted with some work, that lead me to believe there was danger, when in reality the baby was crawling peacefully right behind me.
When my partner asked what on earth had gotten into me, I hardly understood, myself. I could have sworn that something just awful was about to happen to the baby. He demanded to know why I don’t trust that he was faithfully watching the baby, as I had asked him, so that I could tend to my work. Of course my little panic episode had absolutely nothing to do with my trust in him, but in that moment I was too worked up to explain what was happening in my head.
It wasn’t until later that I was able to draw a line of pattern in my life over the last several years, dating back to when my husband passed away. He died in such a sudden, unexpected and inexplicable, violent way, that my trust in the normal patterns of the world is irreparably damaged. I will never take things for granted the way I used to, before everything changed. Even if I wanted to – and I do, because maybe then I could relax a bit – I can’t unsee what I saw, I can’t undo what happened. This is what PTSD does to people.
I haven’t interviewed others on the subject, so I’m not an expert, but I do know that my life and my soul are changed because of my experiences. I believe that’s generally how it works; our experiences condition and shape us to see the world through varying perspectives. That’s why you and I like different things or get excited about different subjects.
It’s funny how I expect that time is going to bring me to a new place as a soul. That is, I felt a little frustrated that I am “still freaking out” so easily. I guess enough time has passed for me to conclude that it doesn’t really go away. The only thing I have found that helps me maintain a generally calmer neutral position is meditation. And the difference that it makes is related directly to how much I do it.
If you want to give it a shot, but have never tried, it’s easier than you think. Set your phone to go off in 5 minutes from now. For those 5 minutes, listen to the sound of your breath. Feel your body subtly moving as you breathe. When you have thoughts and get distracted from what you’re doing, come back and think about your breath again. And that’s it, to get you started. That’s all you do.
As you get better at it, you’ll be able to do much cooler stuff with it, like regulate your heartbeat and body temperature, and some say even heal your illnesses and have out-of-body experiences if you wish. But in any case, it helps you to relax and concentrate and control intrusive thoughts. Which, if you struggle as I do, is a huge relief.