PTSD and a Sense of Safety

I’ve moved far away from the place I lived with Jack. The entire area was awash with dashed hopes and sad memories for me. I was crying like crazy all the time. It felt unsustainable. Even the beautiful mountains brought tears to my eyes. How Jack loved them. We’d stop at the beginning of our daily walk and he’d look up and say, “Look at those mountains. I never thought I’d live in a place like this. It’s so beautiful.”

They say wherever you go, there you are, and that’s true.

But I am so glad I moved.

I have extended family members in the neighborhood and I don’t have sad memories popping up everywhere I go.

I love my new apartment. I feel safe. My survival brain was popping off all the time in the old place. Hyper-hyper-vigilance. Exaggerated startle response. Here, it sighs and says, “Ahhhhh.”

One reason I love my new pad is it’s surrounded by big old trees. I love big old trees. I love their shade. I love the shadows they make on the wall through the window.

Another reason is the space plan. I can see all the doors from my position on the couch in the living room or working at the sink in the kitchen or reading in bed. At the risk of sounding like a mobster, I only feel comfortable in a room when my back is to a wall and I can see all the doors. If you have PTSD, you know what I’m talking about.

Strange thing. I got lost my first day here. Need I say, those Google Maps aren’t always accurate. So I was driving through a residential area wondering where the heck I was and suddenly I teared up. Not because of a bad memory, but because the area seemed so wonderfully familiar. It felt like home even though I’d never been there.

I know that I cannot always feel safe. One of the chief characteristics of suffering PTSD trauma, especially in childhood, is forever losing the sense that the world is a safe place.

I can be nice to myself, though. I can do things to make it more likely that I’ll feel safe and have a sense of well-being.

I’m ripe for triggers when I’m tired and stressed. A couple precursor clues that I might flip out in the near future are intrusive thoughts and/or crazy, obsessive negative thinking, especially going off in my head at somebody for something that may never happen.

So I try to get enough sleep. That often means naps here and there to cobble together enough hours. If I can’t cobble enough, music helps. I plug in my earbuds and listen to a playlist or binaural beats.

If I’m feeling lowdown, I’ll ask, What can I do to comfort myself or feel better today? It’s not a totally selfish endeavor. When I feel good, I treat others well and as far as I’m concerned—that’s the only reason we’re here. Love and compassion.

Today, I made my bed first thing and ate a bowl of fruit. I’ll watch The Young & Restless and then start hanging framed pieces on my blank walls. Later, I’ll work-out. I hope to take a nap. I’m pretty burned out from the last two years, but nothing remotely like I was when I met Jack eleven years ago. (For that, please check out my short-read Startle: A True Story of PTSD and the Paranormal. It’s also included at the end of my book: PTSD: Frozen in Time.) I bought a novel I loved in my twenties, called Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. I always need a good read nearby for the midnight to dawn hours when sleep is hit or miss.

I hope you have a great day today and do multiple things to give yourself a sense of wellbeing.