My flashbacks have never come as visions, and for that I am grateful. The memories are too fragmented to play in a continuous reel. I can’t see her face in my mind; I can’t see anything. The world becomes blurry and dark, and all I am aware of is her hands around my neck. I can’t get enough air. Even now, as I write about it from the safety of my living room, I want to pull those talons away from me. I want to tear at the constriction around my throat. I couldn’t fight back then. I was only five years-old. My little hands were powerless to defend me.  I was helpless as she squeezed the life out of me. 

And then, just as suddenly as the monstrous rage had engulfed her, she came back to herself. Did I stumble away? Did I run? I remember only fragments. I don’t know how long I hid, crouching in my own urine and excrement. 

It was just a series of moments, but the terror of those moments has defined my life. It returns at unexpected moments, infiltrating my emotions and paralyzing my body. Loud noises, arguments, sudden movements, or even the sensation of something touching my neck can cause the panic to rise. Sometimes I’m not even aware of the cause. 

My inability to move sometime lasts only for moments. Other times it lasts for hours. On several occasions, my body has relived the humiliation of soiling myself. I simply could not get up and make my way to a restroom. 

I’ve been told it’s like an animal that excretes waste in moments of extreme fear.  The purpose is theoretically to make the body lighter while running for one’s life. Only I don’t run. I freeze. I shut down. 

I meant to write more here. I meant to further explore the effects PTSD has had on my life. But these few paragraphs have drained me. I feel nauseous and the world is a blur. I will return to this topic when I can see the screen more clearly.  I’m still going to post this as a work in progress, because I am proud of myself for writing it.