Last night, we dreamed of zombies. In it, our spouse was straying from our side amid a nighttime zombie attack. We couldn’t keep spouse close to us, which increased panic. We saw a fallen body and instinctively moved toward it to help. Before we could get within 50 feet, the body was dragged away legs first by an unseen zombie. Where is spouse?
We awoke in acute distress. We tried to ground–notice we are in our bed, zombies aren’t real (hopefully), our spouse is asleep beside us–and the brain could not grasp reality. We slept poorly the night before, due mostly to self-criticism and self-recrimination because the car died and we called spouse to rescue us. Only yesterday did we realize we could have simply jump-started the car, which we have done with success on multiple occasions in our life.
That is the nature of PTSD and DID: when our baseline arousal state is already elevated, a legitimate stimulus, like a car that won’t start when we’re away from home with a child in the car, shuts down problem-solving parts of the brain in a flood of cortisol and other disruptive processes. Anyone can get distressed and overwhelmed by a car that won’t start, so why would trauma survivors beat the shit out of themselves when it happens to them?
Fear that the world is now unsafe (highest threat level), confirmation bias that the universe wants to punish us, reinforcement of our inability to function in an adult world.
So we slept poorly that night and felt yesterday that we were between sleeping and waking for much of the day. Add a further stressor: our lone sibling, who lives in another state and is (through no fault of sibling) a major trigger from childhood trauma. This proved a recipe for prolonged dissociation.
Hence the zombie dream. Hence difficulty discerning sleeping from waking.
Right now, as we write this, our heart is pumping and we feel anger where yesterday there had been sadness, grief over our lost mastery of society (jump start the car or call roadside assistance). We want to get back to the sadness and grief. Don’t let anger turn us against ourself.
Compassion is the only answer. It makes total sense that we would get overwhelmed by car trouble. It is understandable we would want help. It was wise to ask spouse to help us. And blessings to spouse for being helpful, supportive, and positive. Blessings to child for reassuring us all would be okay and that nothing was our fault. We could hear and absorb neither’s love during the stress, and now we can see their positive intent.
We accept that we have a high baseline of stress and vigilance. We accept us for who we are at this moment.
We encourage us to allow us to be. To accept we are exactly who we are supposed to be right now. We are worthy of spouse’s help. We are worthy of child’s love.
As spiritualist A.H. Almaas asserts in _Pearl Beyond Price_:
“One cannot seek happiness, for it is the result of realizing the Truth. The personality, which has security and pleasure as its aims, cannot be happy. Pursuing pleasure or safety will entail covering up unpleasant or frightening truths. This automatically closes Joy. For Joy is the radiance of the heart when Truth is appreciated.”
Be curious of any feelings or thoughts that do not reflect what is happening in the present. Embrace them as what is. Run toward Truth, which is toward ourself. Run toward ourself, which is Truth.