PTSD, aftershock, and financial issues

It’s another day of doing nothing for me – almost- but for a first time in a week, there is no hidden mounts of pressure, no insurmountable challenges and feeling of despair. I’ve just receive my next chunk of money, my next payment, and the suffocating feeling like there is a ring around my heart(or lungs) constantly squeezing, has released a little. I can finally breathe. For about 10 days, I’ve reverted back to whom I was when I was scared, panicked, in shock and generally depressed. Sure, partly for money reasons, but let’s face it, it’s not only that. Once again, I’ve went from a period of regular weekly income, to having almost nothing. Literally- nothing in my bank account or wallet. Spending my last money for the bus and wondering how I will pay the next bill. Again. It’s not such a novel concept. I freelance, which means I’m floating from periods of getting more than I need, to periods where I just have to be patient for a month or two while I am trying to get new work.
But this, it’s like a physical reaction, and I completely lose all my logic, and ability to get myself out of that situation. It’s debilitating. I’m just starting to think there’s no getting out of it, and it’s all dire and impossible, until, when I receive my money, there is a day of shock and relief, whilst I’m fighting to forget that paralyzing fear…And then I’m back to real life. Like I just awoke out of the haze(which I pretty much did) and became real. It’s like my reaction to losing weight. It’s one of the hardest because I wonder if I can ever get over it.
The eminent shock waves go back and forth through me- finally! Air! And now that there is such, I’m unwilling to do anything compromising it again. Oh, the fear. The shock circles again. I’m out, and yet not completely. I keep wondering- what will happen next time I have this little money? What about next time I can’t breathe at the thought of work? It makes me think about so many things. My inability to work lately has left me with a lot of free time to think about things I haven’t thought about for a while. I keep regularly deluding myself at the thought that I am overreacting to that summer* (*when I was assaulted), but in moments of clarity at this one, I look back and something strikes me.

I have logically told people that I was in shock at the time, mostly because I have to explain somehow why I didn’t report it. But usually, I keep thinking- was I? Is that what shock feels like? I mean, there wasn’t any groundbreaking suffocating feeling at all. I didn’t feel like I was in shock much. I did feel like I was in pain, but the pain was so huge that it almost felt like a constant, somewhat numbed and manageable. I don’t remember feeling really sad, or angry- just “managing”. I thought that was a good thing at the time. I guess in a way it was. But it was shock though, as well, and it was very real. Even saying it, I think to myself, isn’t this overreacting. It’s hard thinking of how I acted, looking back, even knowing that my brain did the best it could for me to get back home healthy and in one piece.

The day in question, after what happens with that guy, it doesn’t occur to me to tell the police or my landlord. That guy almost convinced me to apologize, and for a while, when I tell that as a part of the story to other people, it’s like an amusing fact that makes it feel even more of a ridiculous story. It’s the story I’m telling- horrible and hard, but it’s like an evil fairy tale, and it makes it easier to detach from it. For a first time now I see clearly- not only did it not even appear as a thought in me to tell the police, tell anyone(until half a year later, for like a second), but I don’t even consider that night for what it was. I can’t. It doesn’t relate to anything I’ve heard about rape until that point. It’s not what I would have imagined. It feels more like an unfortunate incident, a night gone horribly wrong something, a moment to forget(though, obviously, that ends up impossible). The guy and his friend almost convince me to- oh, let’s face it. I do apologize, I do, and while that guy(my r*pist’s friend) had convinced me like that was the absolute right thing to do, when I actually apologize(yes, I did that) my rapist looks at me like I’m dirt on the side of the road.

That guy who has flirted with me, and looked at me like I was a goddess until the previous night. That guy that was such a caring friend(or so I thought at the time) and helped me with absolutely everything I needed until that point. That guy who had hurt me so recently, in ways I can’t even think of yet. Yet, there I am apologizing for overreacting. I don’t know what’s happening anymore, I’m senseless, and everything is pulled into this hazy ball of panic and pain and I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know what happened, I can’t grasp what it means even remotely. None of this makes any sense. And when his friend explains to me that I should apologize(may be not knowing what really happened, or may be knowing- I can never be certain) I listen. I feel bad. I try to explain my side of things, but I’m shaking and stumbling over my words, and he looks at me like I’m the one to blame. Nothing I say sounds anything more than a vague attempt to excuse myself. Nobody knows what happened, at at that point, I am not sure HOW all of this happened. I can’t think, let alone voice anything, so I let him convince me to apologize.

I’m not sure what I say exactly, apologizing to my rapist. It’s still one of the more surreal moments of that time for me. We are standing at a balcony at sunset, with the summer breeze blowing over my face. I haven’t had time to grasp the magnitude of what happened yet. It’s been less than a day. I’m looking at a guy whom I’ve considered a friend for considerably longer- a new friend from few weeks, but one nonetheless. Somehow, while I haven’t yet decided what to make of that horrible nightmare of a night, he is still my friend and somehow our mutual friend has convinced me this is my fault. So when I apologize, I still feel like I am apologizing to my friend, to the guy who had such high opinion of me, the guy who helped me find my first job there and was always there for me. I expect my apology to be met with one of his nice looks, and for him to be back to being my friend, and say “thank you for apologizing to me”. Instead, he looks at me like I’m the lowest of low people. He looks at me with pity and disgust and asks me what am I trying to achieve by trying to apologize. He looks at me like I did something unforgivable. To HIM. I’m in such shock, that it doesn’t even occur to me that I was in shock for months after.

That is a horrible night at the time, yes, but I was still running out of money in a foreign country, so finding a job was a priority. All else sort of melts away. That night I’m reeling, wondering how to classify what happened, and sure I’ll be unable to sleep, but I’m sound asleep before I know it. It’s like falling in blackness- I feel asleep and the next thing I knew, I was waking up a second later and it was morning already. And on the following day, there are no more thoughts about it for a while, not verbal, not consciously. I do my best to concentrate on taking job interviews, and obsessing over the exact amount of money I have to earn before going home. At that point, earning that money climbs from a really important thing, to few steps above it, on survival level. I came for that money this summer, and I have to make them. I have to. I gave all I could to come earn them, and after all that happened, I. have. to.

So now looking back I know what shock really is like: when you are so much IN shock, that you can’t realize that you are, or think straight. This is something like what keeps occurring now when I start running low on money. It’s a bad precedent I’m setting: my past being connected to the thing in my current life I struggle with the most. For an entrepreneur, the idea of occasional lack of funds is a fact of life. Fact which I handle much better lately, but then there are times like the past month.I react to the lack of money by completely numbing my senses, and while actively thinking of the problem, doing very little to actually resolve it. It’s a bad precedent, connecting that feeling of shock going through my system to money, because at one point or another in life, we all struggle financially, whether we have a little or a lot. And I won’t always have an option to freeze, and pause all I’m doing in life until that passes. It’s not the same situation anymore. Not even remotely. But 3-4 active projects that I’ve been working on for few months, I finally complete all but one.

It should be a celebration, but the shock wave drowns me. Time to look for more clients. I still have one more active client, and if working to my full capacity, the amount of work for them would be enough to float me through the month, pay the basics. I don’t live on my own, I don’t have lurking deadline, and although my work is suffering(as is my ability to look for more clients) I know no matter what I have where to sleep and what to eat. I should not be panicking at all- but this is beyond logical panic, it’s like my whole being freezes in shock and waits for the crisis to finish(which is good in actual crisis perhaps, but in this situation it’s just making things worse).

I have one client, and I keep postponing the project I’m doing. I do tiny chunks of it when I can, but every minute is a struggle. Outwardly I’m doing okay, except that I haven’t participating in many social events lately- but I’m just coasting, stopping doing things to relieve myself of extra pressure, until I’m out of the situation. As it has been the previous times when I has such problem, my work ability diminishes greatly. I finish a project that otherwise, if concentrated would take me 3 days, in 3 weeks. I’m floating through the days, just trying to get through. I’m really struggling. The more days pass, the less I can pay my bills, or anything really, but if I wasn’t panicking, that would have been okay. AT the state I am in though, it’s unbearable.
And just like that that feeling is back. That feeling like I’m stomping in one place and can’t move forward. This time, unlike that actual summer in my past, I am doing it all to myself. And still I can’t help it, stop it, change it. Suddenly finishing that project and finding more work at that exact moment becomes essential to my survival, and any moment that hasn’t happened hurts me almost physically. The days drag along one after another. I’m exhausted under the pressure I’m putting on myself and all logic goes out the door. All the things I can’t pay for, all the essential things I am not yet able to do, suddenly seem important, more important than they are. Suddenly I dread every time I have to work. It’s not a matter of what I work. Even any form of art, which I generally loves, just stalls. I’m unable to be productive. At. ALL. The pressure, to be able to have financial stability, to be “equal” to everyone around me, to be “normal”, to find more regular clients, to have extra income to finally celebrate New Year the right way, expands and blows up in my head.

I’m not unsafe anymore; screwing up work won’t lead to anything ground-breaking. I may not go to few social events or see my friends as much, or go to an office, but I have a home, and food, and hot water, and the ability to do my work from my bedroom. And yet the shock wave makes me freeze and float through the days. Doing anything much feels like a huge effort, and I keep telling myself, it will be over soon, but it’s not. The projects drag on. I finally finish and submit, and to my utter surprise I am lucky- I haven’t completely ruined my chance to work for that client. I haven’t done my best work, and while I have taken longer time, there hasn’t been a deadline on the project. It’s not nice that it took me that long, but it’s okay. Finally, I get paid, and suddenly, I relax. I take a day of doing very little, but for once, there isn’t that frozen feeling anymore, and that unreasonable expanding panic of HAVING to find a client at that exact moment.

The moment I get paid I realize, I wasn’t going to be on the street anyway. Sure, I would struggle with my bills for a bit, bit it wasn’t such a dire situation. Except, that is still one of those reactions I have since that summer, where I can’t think. All that happens, is like a physical reaction, it just happens, I just react, I can’t think straight. Shock wave. And when it’s over, I’m tired and relieved. There is always that need to relax for a moment. There is, almost without an exception, incredible “renewal” feeling. The feeling you get when you have been sick for a week and finally wake up feeling exhausted but healthy and with clear head. That need to shower and groom yourself, clean your house, return your unanswered emails, catch up on everything that got side-lined because you were sick. That feeling.
It’s like waking up from a haze. Having finally seen the pattern in what I do, it scares me a little. It’s something that I am not sure how to resolve. Perhaps it’s one of the things that might get resolved as time passes and I get better. But if there is something I can do about it, I’ll try. I’m working on the financial security part though, but that takes time. Besides, no matter in how many ways I ensure myself financially, that is an issue I have to resolve anyway. First, because no matter how many safety nets I put under myself, it’s unlikely that I will always have security…And second, because it’s an emotional issue, a brain connection, and as seen in my story, the reaction it produces in me isn’t entirely reasonable or logical- so what kind of security can guarantee that I will never “perceive” danger?

It’s not a good issue to have. Actually, it’s kind of a horrible issue to have. But nonetheless, however I feel about it, here it is, rearing it’s ugly head at me. You can try to reason about it, but there is no reasoning when I feel like this, each tiny problem makes me feel like my life is threatened if I don’t have the ability to resolve it. I’m glad that moment is over right now(how I hope I get a decent break from that feeling), and I am glad I get to catch up to everything before I screw up something really badly…but I can’t ignore the implications of this. I have to resolve my emotions about this before the next crisis, and before I screw up again in any real, major, irreversible way. Anyway, I’m finishing this post, with a bit confused feelings and hopes of productive month ahead that can give me a chance of being better again, and figuring out that I can be better than the things in my past. That I am better.

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