Lately, and frequently, I find myself repeating the following words to myself: I don’t want to disappear.
I’m not sure what I mean when I speak these words. Physically, I am quite substantial — no risk of “disappearing” in the literal sense of there being less of me. So perhaps these words harken to a more figurative disappearing act; perhaps I’m referring to my sense of Self: this idea of who I am, what I like, what I dislike, what drives me, what keeps me here.
If you’ve ever undergone a psychological assessment you may recall some of the first few questions asked: Where are you? What day is today? Who are you?
If a patient accurately answers these questions, they’re considered “oriented times three.”
Where am I? At home, in my bedroom, sitting on my bed.
What day is today? February 4th, 2019, a Monday.
I might be asked, Who is the president? To which I’d reply, Trump.
Who are you? I’m Lisa. Age x.
True, I can accurately answer these questions, but I assure you I’m closer to disoriented times three. Such is life with PTSD.
Reality is not solid and enduring. Time plays tricks on me; I can be in two places at once without knowing it. Who I am can disappear from memory from one moment to the next. Time and space are slippery constructs, so I must rely on a clock and calendar. I write things down so I have an accurate chronology of events to which I can refer when necessary. I used to rely a lot on others to remind me of who I am. These days, less so, for fear of the answer.
My intentions, though good, aren’t enough. Too many days end in regret and empty promises, so who I am is not who I was. Who I am is — is a pause, a too-long, very awkward pause of a person who used to be so much more than whatever you see in front of you.
I’ve held my breath for too long, waiting, waiting, waiting but for what, I don’t know. Maybe I knew at one time, but I’ve long since forgotten the why.
So maybe that explains the stubborn insistence that “I don’t want to disappear.” It’s not something you can tell by looking at me, but I assure you I don’t want to disappear.
I don’t want to disappear. I don’t want to disappear. Idontwanttodisappear. Idontwanttodisappearidontwanttodisappearidontwantto–
Over and over, hundreds of times through the course of a day.