Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On March 32nd

Dates. At this time of year, despite PTSD being a waning factor in my health (anger and grief are overtaking flashbacks when I do have bad days), I struggle with two things: weather, and dates. The weather is a more sensory trigger, a subtle reminder that it's that time of year again. Those beautiful signs of spring - forsythia blooms, robins, early buds - saying that time is passing, that I'm still feeling this way. It's a taunting, haunting start to the cycle, which I'm trying to reframe as a sign of strength, that I've gone through another year and damn it, I can do more.

But dates. This one has been more troublesome for me to piece together. The calendar is a social and cultural construction; on a lunar calendar, I could ascribe meaning to a different date. Days of the week are arbitrary, yet it means so much more to me that this year, once again, it is a Wednesday. I realized, though, today, that this isn't really a standard "trigger." It's more of a shorthand, a mnemonic. A phrase I hear more and more at this time of year, that places trauma in my brain even when I haven't been thinking about it.

Say your birthday is on March 10th (arbitrarily chosen). If someone says "let's schedule the meeting for March 10th" you probably think, at least fleetingly, "oh, on my birthday." We all have those dates that prompt a thought of something else, a "remember when" on-this-day sort of thought. It's hard, though, when that thought is a reminder of the worst day of my life. This year is hard in particular because I have a major deadline that day. The innocuous emails sting: "the second paper will be due on..." means more than the sender can ever know.

Sometimes I can go for days without ever thinking about it. A string of good days to hold on to, that are so natural that I don't even realize that they're good days until I've run out of beads to string. April makes that impossible. I'll be dodging reminders until March 47th.

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