Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Shying Away from Happy
(Tomorrow I will explore this post's relationship to yesterday's about my friend, Ken.)
Our cat, Miss Emily, who could be as old as Methuselah for all we know, was a stray in our backyard when we took her in. She is a bit on the crazy side, just like her namesake, Emily Dickinson, for whom she was named due to her color...only later did we realize their mental states also matched.
Miss Emily suffers from PTSD, most certainly. She goes through definite times when she is "triggered" on a regular basis. She has times when she seems completely calm and content, but then, for no reason (no reason we can see), she will start to bite a bit when we pet her. Or when you reach for her, she flinches.
That is heartbreaking. To see a cat flinch when you have only ever loved and petted and fed and taken care of her. She had a life before us and I can't bear to think what it must have been like.
Marcy says that I am a lot like Miss Emily, and I think I could see that in her from the first moment I looked in her green eyes. I had always told Marcy not to look in a stray's eyes (because I knew we would end up with 500 cats), but Miss Emily's eyes were magnetic to mine.
I also have times when I am more likely to flinch and to bite a bit.
These times get further and further apart and they tend to be a lot less severe and much shorter in duration, but they still visit.
Never more so than when I am really starting to feel truly happy.
I shy away from Happy.
It has smacked me one too many times.
Those smacks...they were so long ago. Another life.
I am reading an academic text right now about trauma and the body, and it turns out that when my brain is triggered, it cannot distinguish whatsoever between past and present. When I am triggered -- like Miss Emily -- my brain places me firmly in the Past.
This is not a matter of me thinking about or wallowing in the past; no, this is physiological. Our brains do not know "time." That's the invention of a human mind.
And yet, our brains are a huge part of the solution. Not quite as huge as our bodies, though.
This is why dancing cures me. My body, when she is dancing, is firmly in the Present and my brain goes right along with her.
There is no flinching or biting in my present life.