At least once a month, sometimes two, I have to attend a long training session for my job. Usually I am completely depressed within the first 15 minutes. This month, however, it was a little different.
I am not a person who hates work training. I appreciate and understand the need for them. Our boss expects us to be very creative in our approach to our work and I probably could not do it without this help. Most people who hate the training at my job do so because it’s on Friday afternoon. Of course, these are the same people who complained because it was on Friday morning and they just couldn’t possibly make it in by 9 AM.
The reason I find myself depressed at training is that we always start with some ridiculous act or group question that triggers me. For example, at the beginning of term training we always begin with meditation. If you haven’t heard, meditation makes me suicidal. The reason for this reaction is possibly that in meditation the thoughts flow in, and you are supposed to let them flow out. If you know anything about severe anxiety–that’s not happening. The thoughts flow in, anxiety seizes on them, and proceeds to rip your mind apart.
Last month’s regular monthly training we were asked to “Describe your life in six words.”
Six individual words? A sentence that is six words? It doesn’t matter. I’m a realist and I don’t gloss over anything. My sentence was, “My life is an epic story.” Because the trials never end. And when you get to the big party where everyone is happy and celebrating, next thing you know, it’s the Red Wedding.
Outsiders don’t know how to process that, so their reaction just makes me feel worse. The people in my group at work are almost all religious. Religious people tend to be useless in times of trial–I use the word “tend” just in case, out there somewhere there is a religious person who is not useless in times of trial, but I have yet to meet them.
(As an aside: Dear Religious People, Praying is not helping. Thanks. Everyone who has suffered.)
This month, though, our table got a question that was whatever all that other stuff is supposed to be. “What is the most courageous thing I’ve done? How did it make me feel?”
There are only two things I will openly, and in front of the masses, praise myself for. One is my ability to write, the second is that I was effing brave to leave my ex. It was, and continues to be, the most courageous thing I’ve ever done. It is still a daily struggle and fear, yet I continue to stick by that decision.
This is what I wrote, edited so I look like a good writer:
The most courageous thing I’ve done was to leave my abusive husband. It was terrifying because the facts show that an abusive husband is most likely to kill the partner and the children when the partner tries to leave. My kids and I were in hiding for several weeks before we tried to return to normal as much as possible.
That threat is constant. An abused woman cannot be stupid enough to ever think she and her children are entirely safe. Even the abuser who never used his fist is just as likely to kill them all as the one who did.
Still, things are infinitely better and we are now in a place where we can hopefully heal. There will forever be effects of the abuse. That is not something that will ever go away. The only reason people on the outside think it has is because we know all know the social norms force us to lie about it. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, my life motto is “F*ck social norms.”
I do not complain to my boss about those other sessions. It’s not her fault that I have PTSD and that there are things others consider normal that make me feel terrible. This is just one of those things people who have experienced trauma have no choice but to deal with on a regular basis. Most of us do not demand the world conform to us. We just try to make it work for us the best we can. And, well, that’s pretty damned courageous, too.