I had it in my mind to write it all down last night.
I opted to snuggle down, hanker down, hide under the blankets with my boyfriend last night instead. And in the safety of his arms, I knew I could write about this today.
Yesterday morning was a seemingly ordinary day. I love my job, and I love interacting with our listeners, so to spend a few hours with them in a box at the Brier was a fabulous distraction. A two and a half hour meeting with my boss that followed was also a welcome detraction from the inevitable I didn’t know was coming. My show went on the air at 3. And by 7:30, I was ready to leave the building and head home. Typical.
Something had been nagging at me through-out the day. Every time I’d write “March 3rd”, or see it in the clock window of my desktop computer. When I see it on my phone, when I’d read it on my tickets. When I read it on my parking slip. March 3rd, March 3rd, March 3rd. What was it about March 3rd?
At the end of my show, I did as I typically do. Take the elevator to the bottom floor to stave off having to walk down our Mezz ramp in the dark, and tonight in the rain. But the elevator button wasn’t working. Push again, nothing. Push again, nothing. Perfect, I’d thought. Take the damn stairs.
I was in my boots with heels. And I had my drink, and my purse, and my bag, and my Lenny Kravtiz-sized scarf. And down we go. Fuck, I thought, my knee is acting up again.
March 3rd, March 3rd, March 3rd.
I remember thinking – am I going to get through the 3k run tomorrow? Should I take a run on our treadmill at home to make sure my knee isn’t out of joint? Why is my knee acting up again?
Floor two, floor one, ground floor.
March 3rd, March 3rd, March 3rd.
And then I stopped. I stopped right there on the stairs. In the stairwell. At work. My knee is throbbing. It feels like it’s going to crack under the weight. I stared at the wall. Pull out my phone, call Jan.
“It’s March 3rd, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he replies. He knows.
Stress manifests itself inside our bodies in ways we can’t fully understand or comprehend. Post-traumatic stress disorder does the same, in a heightened fashion. It can call on our flight/fight reactors and force us to drop where once we were okay. Our adrenaline pumps through our veins, screaming survival. Our minds zone out of reality. Like a badly shot movie or picture show, our memories consume the present and force us back into a time and place best left filed in Pandora’s box. PTSD knows no boundaries, takes no prisoners, and does not like being forgotten. PTSD is the bastard demon child of an event so overwhelming, so fearful, so scary, so horrendous, that it haunts you like the boogeyman who refuses to sleep under the stairs rather than under your bed where you can feel it. Taste it. Touch it.
I have PTSD. And my brain knows it. And my body awoke from it through my knee yesterday as I hunkered down those stairs at work.
Five years ago March 3rd, I fell on that knee. My right knee. The paramedics had to cut open my favourite shiny leggings to get access to the swelling. They weren’t convinced I hadn’t broken my knee cap. The injury would have me on a cane for nearly four months, and intermittently for years following.
I remember being so upset that they’d be cutting open my favourite pants, but I couldn’t do more than stare out the ambulance window while they spoke in slow motion. While they, too, stared out at the police cruisers. Waited for my husband to come in and update. And I just laid there, with my back on the gurney, with my knee exposed under the florescent whites. “They got him, Carrie,” they say, “We’re taking you to the hospital soon. We’re just waiting for the police.”
And they were kind, and offered little chit chat, and I just stared. A neighbour had brought out a blanket and I cozied up inside of it. And I wondered where my phone was, and who would I call, and would my husband call my parents, and would my sisters come, and are the kids okay, and should I tell my boss, and how did this happen to me on March 3rd, March 3rd, March 3rd.
My knee reminded me yesterday it was March 3rd.
Over the years, the PTSD flashbacks have subsided; seemingly subdued from my conscious. I go through my life with my boyfriend, and our kids, and our home, and our life. I have a career, and a side hustle, and a small business, and I don’t have time for March 3rd.
I have worked with doctors and counselors, and managed to keep it under control without medication.
Flashbacks will rear their ugly faces when they choose. When I’m in a heated argument, or someone from those past days appears out of nowhere. When someone is yelling at me. When I had to use a knife to cut open fruit at my former job and it was the exact shape and length of the one on March 3rd. Being in a standoff with some people who weren’t there for me then are again no longer affiliated with me or my life. This reminds me of March 3rd.
When my knee buckles under the weight of a mountain of stairs, on boots with heels, in a day full of rain, March 3rd is back. And I am laying on the concrete, and the ice is cold on my hands, and my eyes are burning with tears, and I am screaming to the neighbours – he’s going to kill me. And it reminds me, reminds me that March 3rd is five years behind me, inside me, through me, and in front of my tomorrows.
I’ve have taken back my power by conceding that this will always be a part of my life; now I must manage its capacity to control me. I started on treadmills last year with the Y. And then I ran an 8k. And tonight a 3k. And I will laugh, and dance, and jump, and walk, and run, and that will all be with the use of the knee that refuses to succumb to March 3rd.
— c ☆
Big thanks to J & my sisters for providing me with a safe space to heal.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or you suspect domestic violence is happening, Kingston Interval House is an excellent source of help: http://kingstonintervalhouse.com/resources/