Unappreciated . . . Unwanted . . . Unloved . . .
The child in me cries every time those emotions erupt. They come too often for me to ignore, and I finally meditated and traced my “anger” to its source and saw a truth: I felt unappreciated, unwanted and unloved when the latest PTSD explosion occurred. And maybe now, after looking within and seeing how those feelings may have surfaced, I can cope with them better .
From what I learned, my mother nearly died during my child-birth. The baby Michael was shipped off to a “farm” in Mays Landing, New Jersey, where the grandmother raised the infant.
The boy’s father had been quoted as saying he would have preferred to see the son dead, and not see the pain such a birth caused his wife.
Could any of this have been absorbed by an infant, and more importantly, could those long suppressed feelings affect the man in middle age? Could they have contributed to events experienced in Vietnam and now mingle with fears, anxieties and a sense of loss I feel?
That’s my struggle with PTSD. I learn more about myself every day. Like today, I stopped at an “outlet” bread store for rolls. Picked up a dozen in a bag and walked to the counter. An older man was standing there, waiting for an order he made the day before. The young man, behind the counter, appeared rushed. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and the store was crowded, even before noon.
I placed my bag on the empty counter, hoping that I could quickly pay and get out to complete some other chore. But the young man did not look at me. He simply said to “wait a second” when I moved my bag closer to his line of vision. No luck in getting quick service here.
The clerk left the counter. Returned and said something beneath his breath, only to leave the sales area a second time for the bakery in back. Other customers had walked up behind me with multiple bags of breads, rolls, pies and what not.
When the clerk returned, he lay two big boxes on the counter. I had to remove my bag and place it behind the cash register. The older man paid for his goods and had trouble getting them out of the door some eight feet away.
“Here, let me help you,” I said, opening and holding the door for him to get by. I felt good to have provided him service. But when I returned to the register, the couple that were behind me were now being waited upon. Their order seemed to go on and on.
My patience, however, did not!
“A good deed never goes unpunished,” I said, loud enough for the cashier to hear me. Either he did not, or worse, he ignored me. The woman in line, however, did hear and offered an apology. “I’m not mad at you,” I said to her and the man accompanying her.
“I mad at this asshole,” I barked, my anger rising as I still was unable to get the sombitch attention. He continued to look toward the register, ignoring my challenge to his lack of courtesy.
As the man and woman looked at me, I knew I had done wrong. “I’m sorry,” I said, and added . “I have PTSD,” as if that could explain my rude behavior. I threw the bag of rolls to the floor and walked out of the store, blowing all other chores I had intended to complete.
“God, why am I hyper-alert, hyper sensitive?” I asked. Please make me calm, mellow. Just don’t make death the only way for me to find that peace.
Love your self honesty Michael, it speaks volumes of your goodness. . .
Aw shucks, Ma’am.
Oh, I’m so glad to know that somebody besides me has anger issues! I have come to the conclusion that a ‘hot button’ runs in my genes. Yes, it’s all ‘their’ fault. But I disagree with your statement that you had ‘done wrong.’ What you had done was natural, given the situation, and honest. But we live in such a dishonest world… We smile when we want to punch someone in the face, and so we turn out anger upon ourselves, which leads to all kinds of psychological ills. Forget it! If I’m going to do psychological damage, I’m going to do it to ‘them’, not to me. But if you want to understand your anger better, you might find some of these articles helpful.
If you keep this up, I might have to represent you in Court or argue to lower your bail after visiting you in jail.
The wrong I feel I did was to throw the bag of bread. I should have been more gentle. The sombitch bag didn’t do anything to me.
Gee, Michael, it’s good to know I can count on you.
It can be so difficult to know where our emotions come from at times. Things happen that trigger feelings from deep within. It can all run together…the past and the present.
Was the infant Michael effected? Personally, I think there is a good chance that he was. The fact that you even know how the event played out and what your father has said is sad. I cannot imagine that it would not cut deeply…even though it is a husband expressing love and concern for his wife.
I struggle with not being able to handle things sometimes. For me it is not anger. It is just a sense of losing it…of just needing to be home…NOW. Thankfully, it has lessened a lot over the years…but it can still hit.
PTSD stinks. Yet…it is what it is. It tells me there is more work to do.
I wish you well as you work through these things. Thank you for your honesty about what is going on in your life.
There is so much comfort hearing from another with PTSD. Thanks for extending your hand.
You can take mine any time you want, or more importantly, any time you need.
Thank you, Michael. I appreciate that.
People can be remarkably indifferent. They so easily get all caught up, like the young clerk, in their own melodrama.
Emotional honesty brings with it moments we would rather not experience. But it takes courage to fully experience it, pass through it, and still have the presence of mind to help someone else, like the older man having trouble carrying his bags.
Maybe you didn’t get your listed chores done,but in one act of kindness toward that stranger, especially in the state you were in, you demonstrate a deep reservoir of grace and love.
We are all of us wounded healers. No way to be a healer without the wound. No way to heal ourselves without caring,as you did, for our other brothers and sisters. The way out of hell is through caring.
” . . . The way out of hell is through caring . . .”
I’m not sure if I want to quote you above, or simply “requisition” it as my own. But, you’re right. I get a vision of me digging my way out of hole with a golden shovel called “Care.” Each shovelfull gets me closer to the top and provides more and more love on the way up.
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Hey, Michael–go easy on yourself. You reacted like a human being; it would be hyper-STRANGE if you didn’t feel like that in that situation. Kicking yourself for your response is not fair to yourself, and I find that endless self-recrimination somehow seems to keep me in the stressed-out frame of mind that made me respond in an angry way in the first place (not that you can’t take responsibility for your feelings and reactions). Recently I came up with an image that I’ve been using to help me temper and let go of the parts of myself that I’d rather not have as part of my “real” self any longer: when an ugly or angry or critical thought or reaction pops into my mind, I imagine that I’m standing on an iceberg and that I’ve just chipped off that “ugly” part. Then I just watch it float off, while still acknowleding that it was once a part of my iceberg. Sounds like hokey, New Age stuff, but it’s been helping.
And Steve has a post that seems to have been written just for you on his blog (the second one about the “elephant”)–take a look, if you haven’t already.
You are loved, and, as I said, you’ve been knocking on all kinds of doors to find peace–and the doors you’ve been choosing all lead to finding ways to manifest love and compassion–to manifest God’s will. The fact that those are the doors you choose says a lot about you.
Sleep peacefully, and have a good Thanksgiving.
*” . . . when an ugly or angry or critical thought or reaction pops into my mind, I imagine that I’m standing on an iceberg and that I’ve just chipped off that “ugly” part . . .”*
** *Gotta try that. Maybe i can curse at the part of the berg, the sombitch.”* ** *Thanks. I feel better.* ** *michael j