Trauma Anniversaries

A blog post written by our youth artisan, Joy 

It was 3:00 am on the twenty seventh of April, twenty twenty two and I couldn't go back to sleep. I woke up with a terrible knot in my stomach and anxiety that I couldn't quite trace. I didn't know where this feeling was coming from and I couldn't calm myself down. 

The anxiety got worse and I couldn't lie in bed anymore. I was pacing around my room trying to figure out why I had this sudden compulsion to leave everything and run. I tried taking deep breaths, counting backwards and even washing my face with cold water - none of that helped. 
But when I looked in the mirror and stared into my sleep deprived eyes, I realized that I've worn this outfit of fear and confusion before, and it suddenly made sense. I realized that the person that I was looking at, is not who I am now but a remnant of who I was before. 
It was exactly two years ago at 3:00 am that I couldn't sleep because I was haunted by that same overwhelming compulsion. I didn't know where it came from or what it meant, until later that day I realized that the time had come. My limbs, as if they had a mind of their own, almost involuntarily packed my things and left. 
I was in the passenger seat of my own consciousness. I just stood there, watching myself doing things that I didn't understand, calling places I didn't know, and moving without having any sense of direction. But there was a voice that said “trust me, it'll be okay” and for once I listened and let go. 
I'm reminded of this every year on the twenty seventh of April at 3:00 am. I'm reminded that I took a big scary step out of my parent's oppressive home and into a whole world without them. 
As much as it was liberating, it was also deeply traumatizing.  To suddenly and abruptly move away from the only environment that I had ever known and throw myself into the unknown,  hoping that things would be better. 

Leaving my family felt like a death and rebirth. 

 

To travel halfway across the world in a few hours sent shockwaves through my brain. It was so hard to keep up with all of the major changes that kept changing in a very short amount of time. 
Imagine walking into an airport, taking a flight and a few hours later, walking out of another airport into an entirely new life. All the rules of my strict parents, their control and their outline of my life suddenly had no meaning or significance on this side of the world. 

All of those invisible shackles were suddenly broken. But I was a little broken too. 

That's when I realized that even the things that are good for you, can also have traumatic effects. The way that I see it, trauma is an injury to your mind. The same way that you can scrape your knee or break your leg, psychological traumas are injuries too. 
Leaving my family's house and surviving was a battle I had won, but the scars sting every year without fail. And you can't hit the snooze button on PTSD.
Last year I realized that any effort to fight this or deny it, would be in vain. 
The thing about anniversary trauma is that it will take you back to exactly how you felt in that moment the year before. Feeling that rush of emotions coming back from the past, and being terrified and confused again is a lot to bounce back from. 
Even though logically it takes about a few minutes to catch up to where I am in reality, the emotions and feelings take so much longer. I can't speed up that process because some feelings and emotions can't be reasoned with.
I’ve been here before. It was these exact same feelings and emotions that compelled me to make such a drastic change. I felt hopeless. I felt completely alone. I saw that my entire life had been painful and that there was nothing but pain that lay ahead. I felt that there was nothing for me there.
There was no reasoning with these emotions because they were true. 
I remember hearing the phrase “When you don’t like your life, you can change your internal environment or your external one” and I did. I changed my external environment to the better and there are ongoing renovations in my internal one.

All that I can do in this state is to take time off from everything, sit tight, and be grateful for who I was because I wouldn't be here without her. 

I try to remind myself that I'm at a place in my life where I feel happy.  I'm pleased with the way my life is progressing and I love my chosen family. 
I found that the best way to deal with my trauma anniversary is through constant reassurance. It's good to reflect and regroup every once in a while. I just hope that next year's reminder will be less disruptive. Till then, I'll be grateful for every night that I don't wake up at 3:00 am.

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1 comment
  • Beautiful blog Joy, thanks for sharing your experience <3

    Melanie on

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