The thing people do not speak about: post-traumatic stress
SUPost sent a rejection e-mail today, and trivago a week ago. Flashback to 8 months prior–I was packing my things back home to the Philippines, and making sure I leave Japan without any loose thread. I took care of pending bills, and the mandatory pension I will get as a corporate professional once I return to my home country. I did not know then what was going to happen with me and my career. All I know was I chose the path of unemployment over misery. Now I still do not know what will happen.
My father died from heart attack at 40 years old. I was turning 10 then. That same night I could not finish my science homework, which was to draw the skeletal system. I remember having a funny feeling inside that I will have time to finish it. In my little unaware yet sensing mind I had the morning to complete what was little left undone. Before midnight struck I was awoken by a phone call and my mother’s screaming. I lost my father, the shoulder I depended on, my idol. The wake and the funeral (which happened to be on my 10th birthday) passed, and I was back in school like the new kid who didn’t know anyone. The science homework did not matter–I missed too many classes to count all homework I wasn’t able to turn in. The girl who used to be very participative in class suddenly fell mute. I was high up the ranking, perhaps 2nd or 3rd in class, then I slipped to somewhere like 19th or 24th by the end of the school year. All people around us were concerned of my mother, the weight she was to bear, and the future of her two bright daughters. Looking back at it now I wish someone had the percept to suggest that my sister and I who had premature capacity to understand death and loss undergo post-traumatic stress sessions with a psychologist. I went on with my life without ever seeing a psychologist. I gained academic achievements and more importantly mature as a young lady. But 14 years passed and I had grown to fear death, to fear that God will take the lives of people who mattered in my life the most. It is a little insecurity that buried a deep hole in my brain and has never been patched. Post-traumatic stress–who would have thought of it as a big deal. Move on is what the language of the world will offer.
When I finally resigned at the law firm and returned to the Philippines, people had a singular advice: take it easy. They suggested that I relax for a couple of weeks before I embark on what would be a long arduous job search process. Take it easy, relax were their word selection. So I did. I woke up, eat, and watched television every day for 2 weeks, not necessarily in that order.
For the second time in my life post-traumatic stress was yet again underestimated let alone brought up.
Malachite is witness to the number of occasions I broke down to tears because of the stress and heartache of dealing with unemployment in these past 8 months. Each time I wiped my eyes clear I remind myself that I am strong. Inner strength was how I came to terms with unemployment. Woah, that sounds very inspirational indeed–only life isn’t a 4-page Reader’s Digest article.
Here’s the deal with trauma: it’s a bad apple that spoils the bunch. If it is not dealt with, more negative things will spring here then everywhere.
From the moment I flew back from Japan, I never really found a moment to lay in the quiet of my soul until tonight. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus and I talk very often. But I never really took the time to sit down with Him and discuss eye to eye.
I’ve been pushing God a little too much lately–show me, Lord. Show me where you want me to go. Your will shall be done, shall it not? Then show me what it is and I will do it! Scott Hahn in his book Understanding “Our Father” calls this fatalism–accepting God’s will like a slave accepts the master’s in submission but with resent. After a rather deep sleep, I sit and close my eyes. To my surprise I hear a voice inside: what do you really want? I answered Him, and recognize that we are finally having The Talk.
Now the world is full of treachery and mischief, but there is a way to discern if one thing is a work of God and not of the devil. The devil can imitate all things but one. It can perpetuate abuse and control in the guise of love, selfishness and greed in the form of happiness, and pride and ego in hope. But it cannot imitate peace. Because only God can bring peace. Peace is the compass of the soul.
I turn the lights off and lay down. In darkness my body shrinks in submission. Jesus and I are sitting in the middle of a desert. I sob as we talk. Suddenly I am falling from a cliff towards hollowness. God, save me, I plead. Two angels with huge wings on their backs hold my hand in rescue. I sit again with Christ, crying more than ever. He assures me in my unemployment struggle, “I love you…I will not hurt you.” Then in my constant worry with the man whom I realize I love with all my heart, Malachite, God assures “You will grow old together, trust me.” Immediately peace falls on me. One second I was gasping for air as I cry, and in the next I’m filled with total relief, some sense of freedom. In a snap of a finger there’s calm. That is how peace feels like. God’s peace.
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” St. Francis of Assisi
I switch the lights back on. I realize that the two dark moments of my life are reconciled by one Talk with Jesus. Tonight, tomorrow, the day after next, Jesus promised that my Angel will be beside me.
All along I persist in combat with wounds of the past. Trauma. I recognize, but never acted on them. I have been harboring pits of post-traumatic stress that could have been patched by a psychologist. Maybe at some point, I need to deal with it clinically especially that which of my childhood.
But especially tonight I experienced true healing in the God of Peace.
I write so I remember. All glory to God.