My ongoing struggle with my survivors guilt

By Zubia Hasan | April 19, 2018

It’s 2 a.m. and my chest closes. Suddenly, I’m drowning in a sea. I can’t swim. I can’t breathe. I’m in physical pain that won’t stop. Pain that has no tangible symptoms but can only be described as a mental cage of thoughts that drive in over and over again with an unparalleled intensity. I’m a deer caught in the headlights by the sudden rush of intrusive thoughts that collapse like a crashing tsunami.

Just 10 hours ago, it was 2 p.m. and I was sitting outside Brody Cafe in a pink dress with the sun warm and shining. 

I don’t understand what happened. 

It’s 2 a.m., and I’m trying to cry, but the tears will not come out. 

They are stuck inside like this storm of sadness that is brewing and cooking and is about to explode — I just don’t know when. 

I have been told taking deep breaths helps, but next time, I would like a warning of when these thoughts will strike. That’s the thing, though. They are razor sharp, and they strike where it hurts and when you least expect it. 

My mind is racing. My thoughts are disjointed. My fingers are shaking. My body is trembling. I try and try to make sense of what is happening to me, but I cannot answer myself. I cannot answer when my mind does not seem like my own.

Call it PTSD, call it anxiety, call it whatever you want — all I know is I’m drowning and I can’t come up for air, because air does not exist in this world. 

I’m a monster, I’m a monster, I’m a monster. 

I ruin peoples lives. 

I’m a burden, and I do not deserve to live.

I ruined everyone’s lives. 

I say this out loud, and the tears finally come. And now they wont stop.

And now there is only one thing I feel — guilt and guilt and guilt. Wave upon wave of guilt — each one stronger than the last. 

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen, I didn’t mean to let my trauma become me, but I let it become me. I’m sorry.

I cry and I cry and I pray to the gods that are out there. I ask for forgiveness for things that are out of my control. I ask for forgiveness for things I shouldn’t be apologizing for.

It’s like I was waiting for this: waiting for me to be unkind to myself; waiting for me to punish myself; waiting for me to say things that are distorted and untrue because in that moment it is easier to blame myself and punish myself than to punish others, than to punish a concept and a system that is only always going to be against me. 

This is such a shit show. 

Deep breaths. In and out. In and out. In and out. 

I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.

I’m not my trauma. I’m not my trauma. I’m not my trauma. 

Go to sleep, wake up and try again. It’s trial and error. It’s trial and error. And one day I’ll get it right. 

Its 2 p.m. and I’m outside Brody again and the sun is shining and my dress is green like the grass. 

At that moment, I know that the night has passed and those thoughts have passed. I also know those intrusive thoughts are distortions of a reality I don’t want to accept. A reality that something terrible happened and that I’m not to blame. I’m not to blame. And I deserve to live. Oh, I so deserve to live. 

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