The sun filters through the cheap blinds of my apartment. My roommate is off to work, and I am left alone to start my day.
A flash, a memory? Passes before my eyes and all I see is the barrel of a gun. I shake my head to remove the thought. It remains. A tear falls from my eye; an overwhelming sadness encompasses my person. My abdomen twists as I run to the bathroom to expel only the bile left in my stomach.
There’s a bite in my throat, it feels like frost enveloping each particle of my saliva. I can’t shake it; I feel it rise from my stomach pushing its vicious sting into my mouth. I swallow it down, yet nothing I do hinders the burn.
Lassitude adheres to my heavy heart; I starve to sleep it off, to pretend my fairytale dreams are my reality.
But as my eyes clear of sleep, I feel it all. I relive every second.
I swallow my emotions like I haven’t had water in days. I place a fake smile on my face. Feigning happiness, though a constant itch of anguish reveals another story. My emotions spin out of control.
Sadness and depleting melancholy are like an ache barely scratching the surface. I can’t tell if it’s real. Eventually, it deviates from a dull pang to an echo inside my bones. My muscles ache and my head throbs.
My surrounding world feels muted, cloudy. I try to manage the day-to-day tasks only one morning before I did with ease.
Everything was different only a nine hours ago.
Waking from a full night of sleep, I find myself sluggish, unwilling to face the world. I can’t find energy, or the will to leave my bed. Opening the door to my bedroom terrorizes my psyche, for fear of what is on the other side.
I desire to be alone but want nothing more than to be held in the arms of someone safe. Confused, angry and oblivious, I do as I am supposed to and try to prepare for my day.
I’m alive, what is wrong with me?
Not even the hot steam from the shower is flushing away the strange shadow of sadness I am having such trouble emerging from. I stand there weightless, lost. The rush of cold water is now stinging my skin as I realize I have spent over an hour sitting on the shower floor. Time passes without any time passing at all.
There are no tears, no feelings, only a paralysis of emotion.
I can’t find my way, the sun pulses on my skin, yet everything seems dark.
Food has no taste, though I force myself to eat. The pop from the toaster has every hair on my body at attention. I am numb, yet somehow in a constant state of fear, my mind quiet, yet aware.
My body reacts as only it knows how. A neon yellow fluid emerges from my liver as I urinate. The officer said this would happen; it is adrenaline leaving my body.
All of this, and it’s not even ten a.m…
Every day for weeks, this is how I spent my mornings. Dictated by what I could only describe as fear.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is what Victim’s Services called it. A label for a moment in history, my history. A description used to embody a cold steel gun pressed up against my face. A summary to describe what my body would go through after seeing my life flash before my eyes. After thinking, I would die.
After believing, I would die.
I spent weeks to come revisiting the moment he pulled his gun from his jacket and put it on my face. Flashbacks of the man with a beard screaming “Get in the corner, or I’ll shoot you.” I watched a movie play out before my eyes. Visualizing the gun pointed at my co-worker eventually pushing him to the ground. I didn’t just play out the scenario; I relived it.
Every. Single. Minute. For many weeks. Maybe months, it’s hard to count time when it feels no time is passing at all.
For almost a year, every time I stepped back into my place of work, images of the man and his gun shot before my eyes. And every time, any man pulled his wallet from his jacket, I lost my breath and saw a shotgun.
I am here ( and thankfully ) to tell you how it felt having an erratic man wave a gun in my face, what it felt like to have PTSD because of it.
On the heels of history, the largest mass shooting ever to take place on American soil, I felt it necessary to relive my story. Not only for the ones who may not understand what it’s like to look down the wrong side of a barrel of a gun but for the ones fighting to hold them so desperately in their hands.
I can’t imagine the terror of a mass shooting, and hopefully I never have to. Because just one man, who didn’t shoot my co-worker or me that night, caused me enough pain.
I am not here to wage a war against the right to bear arms. This is simply my story.
The other side of a gun.
I have written about this before, to read please click here: http://www.bluntmoms.com/time-gun-held-face/