Lying awake counting the seconds between the cars going by my bedroom window. Im still awake and now it’s minutes along with tossing and turning so the counting seems like a nightly ritual.
I go through the events of the day trying to make sense of how after so long and so much work trauma still creeps into my life in the most unexpected ways. Even meeting with a Veteran writing group. Yes this is a new group and new people so its understandable but Ive come so far. My old informed self plans the day for the new wiser self and takes note of the impending traffic and other possible obstacles. I leave my home about an hour early with thoughts of the road and each mile marker on the way. I have driven this distance many times before but this time was different. It had an outcome that could not be determined by the events that were forth coming. I could feel the anxiety in my body playing out by every stop and start every turn and every time someone moved into and out of my lain. I did however notice my stomach was rumbling and decided to stop at subway. When the light turned green I squealed my tires to get through the light only to turn immediately into the tiny parking lot . The person inside behind the counter was nice enough I guess but like a robot of efficiency with words keyed into her hard drive she said nothing more then what was necessary. This did not help my situation to me push past old self. Back in the car I decided to eat while driving because still 45 minutes early was not early enough. When taking a bite I noticed a young man behind me inches from my bumper. The next time I stopped I looked again and he was lighting a crake pipe. I am now imagining the scenario of being rear ended by a 18 year old with no insurance smoking crake. My car is totaled Im late for my writing class with 45 minutes to spar. All that preparation. You think this would be the reason I leave early to avoid my life challenges but that day this was only the beginning. I got to the library after passing the entrance twice and then pulling into a parking spot that seemed safe enough. Finished my chips and drink I began to case the lot. Fare too many people walking around, hanging out and signs saying it was free to park and other signs saying you have to pay to park. It was incredibly confusing what to focus on. Looking around I found a machine that seemed familiar and made my way over to it. Standing there looking at it for a minute or two asking myself is it free is it pay. How does it know my car is here. Shit there must be cameras everywhere. Breath don’t panic but there is a line forming behind you. Just do something.
I gathered my things and got to the front door of the library. Took a deep breath and went in. I asked the information lady where the Veteran writing group was and she said second floor to the right. Still half an hour early I can case the joint and try to relax before anyone gets there. As I make my way up the winding stairway and crest the top a seemingly sea of people sitting at tables and milling about arises. I felt my heart race and I started getting dizzy. I could not breath. I remember seeing the ceiling while holding onto the handrail and turning myself around right there heading back down the stair. Those first few steps were challenging. I’m not sure how I managed them accept for just coming up and the memory still in my feet and legs of the spacing. I saw myself falling end over end down to the bottom and all the people rushing over to help. This idea in my mind clinched my hand around the railing so tight when I did finally reach the bottom it was hard to let go.
I went to a room where I could be alone and started breathing deeply and recounting what had happened. Feeling sensations in my body accepting this was sensation and only that. Letting go of the experience that brought me to the very place and time incapsulated by my trauma. Breathing, feeling sensations, being with sensation and moving on. The practice that I know so well and still get blindsided by life. But don’t we all.
I made it back up those stairs focusing on my breath feeling sensations. The cold hand rail under my hand sensation. The steps under my feet sensation. The sounds of a library sensation. Yes I was 5 minutes late after all that planning and the early departure but “Still Shit Happens”. Clifford