I really don’t want this blog to turn into “1001 stories about how Kalypso’s fucked up in the head”, but I have to tell you all about something that happened over the weekend.
My sister, C, and her husband are currently stationed at Fort Hood. Which is awesome, because they’re only two hours north of us and I can go see my monkeys any time I want. So, I went up there on Saturday, spent the night and went to go to a concert with C, her husband B, and Monkey 1 and Monkey 2 (G and T, respectively), on Sunday. Now, the kids at 6 and 7, but they had a blast. It was a really good show, too, Man Made Machine, Halestorm, Staind and Godsmack. And I was having a blast through the first two sets.
So, to give you a little bit of background, I’ve lived in Germany twice, from 2003-2007 and 2008-2011. When I was there the first time, a LOT of shit went down. I spent 2 years taking care of war-wounded soldiers coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, I got married, I lost three babies, I got divorced. I tried to kill myself a couple of times. I got thrown in the mental ward for “observation”. I know I’ve mentioned my official PTSD diagnosis before. It was a rough couple of years. I was also listening to a LOT of rock at the time. C and B were stationed there too, we were always hanging out and C was always listening to Staind.
Fuck. I’m still not telling this story right. I’m sorry, guys, I suck at this. I should mention, before I go any further, that music has saved my life. When I was a teenager, I fell hard and heavy into love with Punk Rock. It was proof to me that I wasn’t the only one who felt so out of place, felt so uncomfortable in my own damn skin. It was proof to me that if I could just hold on, I would find the place where I fit in, where I wasn’t a freak or a loser. I would find the place where I felt OK, felt like a real person, instead of feeling like I was trying to puppet a life that didn’t belong to me.
And I did, I turned 16, got my driver’s license and learned how to mosh. I found a whole society of people who loved me, accepted me. A whole society of people who welcomed me. Who were just as fucked up as I was, struggling with a lot of the same shit. And for the first time in 10 years, I was able to breath again. I felt normal, whole, unbroken.
So needless to say, I tend to form really, really strong emotional connections with music. Songs can reduce me to tears, make me feel like superman, remind me that life is beautiful and precious. And sometimes, they can kill me.
So, back to where we started. I went to this show on Sunday night with C, B and the kids. And when Staind came on, I was OK for about 3 minutes. Then the lighting technician decided that a solid minute of strobe lights pointed RIGHT AT THE AUDIENCE was a good idea. And I started to hyperventilate. And all of the shit I used to feel every single day came flooding back in. Worthless, broken, useless. It didn’t help that it was HOT inside that arena. And I started to panic. Once it started, I felt like the room was getting smaller and smaller and so I ran.
I ran up the aisle, out the door, through the lobby and into the fresh air. By the time C caught up with me I was crying and hyperventilating and shaking. My nails left bruises on my palms from the firsts I didn’t know I was making. I sat outside with my head between my knees, intending to stay there until I could breath again.
and that’s when the cops showed up.
Random Sheriff’s Deputy: Is she OK? Ma’am, if something happened, we need to know.
C: No, nothing happened, she’s fine, she’s just having a panic attack. She doesn’t do well with crowds or flashing lights.
Random Sheriff’s Deputy: Are you sure nothing happened?
Me: (from between my knees) No, I’m fine, I just needed to get out of there for a minute. I’ll be OK, I promise.
Random Sheriff’s Deputy: Ma’am, are you sure? You were really red and really crying when you came running past us.
Me: (peeking up from between my knees) No, really, I’m OK. Well, I’ll be OK. I just need a minute.
C: She’s got traumatic brain injury.
Me: (Looking at C, thinking “REALLY?”)
Random Sheriff’s Deputy: Oh. Are you prior service?*
Random Sheriff’s Deputy: Oh, me too. I totally know how it goes. I don’t do well with crowds either, any more. That’s why I’m up here in the lobby instead of down on the floor “working”** and watching the show.
Me & C: Um. OK.
Random Sheriff’s Deputy: Well, you ladies have a nice night.
Me & C: … (look at each other and shrug)
Me: Let’s smoke a cigarette and then go back in.
C: Sounds good, sissy.
It was a little surreal, to say the least. But I calmed down and then we went back in. Monkey 2 sat on my lap for the rest of the show and holding on to him kept me calm enough to enjoy the rest of the concert.
* For those of you who don’t know, “prior service” means “having formerly serviced in the armed forces. It’s a slightly less nerdy way of asking of someone’s a veteran.
**Yeah, he actually made finger quotes.
You know, I don’t want to end this post like that. I want to talk about why I’m OK with what happened. When I was in Germany the first time and I was severely depressed and not handling things, I was also numb. I’ve had a 15 year addiction to self mutilation (I’m a cutter) and I got really, really bad in Germany. That’s the reason I was thrown into the psych ward. But I loved cutting. I still do, I miss it more than I can say. I miss the sting, the blood, the pain. And at that time in my life, I needed the pain. Because at least I was feeling something. It beat going through life on autopilot. It was better than feeling fake. Completely unaffected and unable to process anything. Like it wasn’t happening to me. Or I was watching from outside my own body. The pain brought me back to center.
I haven’t cut in almost 6 years. The last time I cut myself was the first time C ever found out about it. And she told me “I can’t have my boys around that kind of shit. You have to choose, cutting or your nephews.” And I didn’t even have to think about it. I still miss it, I do, but I know I’ll never cut again. Those boys mean too much to me to risk losing them.
The reason that I’m OK with having a panic attack once or twice a year is that I’m at least FEELING. It sucks when it’s happening, but I’ve got good friends and good family and an amazing husband who all know that my anxiety is usually situational. They all know that as long as I can GTFO for a few minutes I’ll probably be OK. And at least I don’t have to drive a knife into my leg to calm myself down anymore.