From my journal for February 5, 1996
I’ve been trying to live as though I were going to die soon, and of course that brings me right back to the present moment, to being in the present as much as possible. But the present is no escape from the pain and fear that come from no source that I know of. It feels like everything is contaminated by the fear of death and meaninglessness. I think of the Zen tale of the man hanging off the cliff by a vine that is being nibbled by mice, at the foot of the cliff is a hungry tiger. Near him a strawberry is growing and he plucks and eats it — and enjoys it. He’s so completely in the present moment that the taste of the strawberry is not contaminated by the fear of doom. But I feel like my life has been contaminated by something that’s already happened and that can’t be changed. There’s no growth, no forgiveness, no transformation possible. I feel like an infant whose mother has said “You’re more trouble than you’re worth.” What am I to do? I can’t leave, I’m truly dependent and helpless. So of course I live my life trying to be as independent as possible, trying so hard not to be a burden to anyone. And feeling that it’s too late to redeem myself, there’s nothing I can do to make myself “worth” the trouble Dana takes for me for example. It seems that he should be in charge of deciding that, he seems to think I’m worth it. But I can’t take it in. And, in fact, I think I defend myself against it because it would be too painful to take it in and then have it vanish.
“the pain and fear that come from no source that I know of.” “my life has been contaminated by something that’s already happened and that can’t be changed. There’s no growth, no forgiveness, no transformation possible.” This is such a brilliant description of what PTSD feels like. In 1996, I still have no idea what happened to me.
Some of this — “too late to redeem myself” — is also from the fact that my mother never forgave me for anything.