Saturday, February 28, 2009

erasing the past

Vine House, Victoria BC

I didn't get a lot of chance to read or write yesterday! Bill and I spent the day running errands, and he took me for lunch at a Vietnamese place. Afterward, I had an appointment with my therapist to try Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy for the PTSD.

To do this, I had to recall and describe a traumatic incident that continues to bother me. In this case, it was the day that Dale was arrested for a DUI. Jamie and I had gone to the local fair and he'd had to work, but was going to come back and join us so that he could see the Tiger exhibit. He didn't answer his cell when I tried calling in the early afternoon, but I got a frantic and angry call a few hours later.

Come and get me!

Where are you?

I dunno. I was visiting Charlie's grave, then I left and drove down Highway 21. I'm in the ditch!

How am I supposed to find you if you don't know where you are?

Get your ass in that car and come and get me!

You're going to have to turn off the ignition, sleep for an hour, then wake up and figure out where you are. Then I can come and get you.

Two hours later, Jamie and I made our way to the payphones at the fair and tried calling again. This time, an RCMP officer answered, who told me that they were taking Dale to the detachment for processing and that I could pick him up in a few hours. I took Jamie home and waited, but by the time I called they'd opened his file and discovered that he'd done weekend jail time for discharging a shotgun at my car and wouldn't let me come down. Apparently he'd been arrested by force (he had several large fist-sized bruises along his back) and they thought he'd hurt me.

I knew Dale so well that I knew he'd be extremely upset if it wasn't me that got him home. Instead, he was forced to call his mother, who drove for ninety minutes to pick him up. Eventually, I heard her car in the driveway and I told Jamie to go to her room and lock the door.

I was right.

The first thing I heard when he opened the car door was a roar, then the sound of him kicking the van. I grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen and slid the door closed, locking it behind me and going out through the dining room, where I stopped and stood behind the small freezer. I placed the knife on top and covered it with a tea towel, just as I heard him come up the stairs.

He flew down the hallway, screaming for me.

You bitch, leaving me down there to rot! Where are you?!

I heard him looking in our room then trying Jamie's door handle and discovering it was locked. Then I heard him start kicking it, and I couldn't bear Jamie facing him so I had to run out into his line of vision.

Dale, I'm right here! Leave her alone, she's trying to sleep!

I had my hand over the tea towel, but didn't grasp the handle until he picked up speed. By the time he reached me, I'd had to pick it up.

Stop! I demanded. You stop right there! I don't want to have to use this but I will if you take one fucking step closer to me. I looked over and saw his mother standing at the top of the stairs. If your mother isn't going to say it, I will. You're acting crazy now! I didn't come to get you because they wouldn't let me. They said you were dangerous - are you trying to prove them right?

I must have stood there for half an hour with that knife in my hand. I don't know how it ended really because I must have blocked a lot of it out. I know he acquiessed and went over to sit down on the couch, I know I kept the knife nearby because I didn't trust him. It took another few hours for him to agree that we loved each other and that the liquor was changing who he was. He might have promised he'd quit or go to rehab but then he always did in desparate situations. Honestly, from what I have pieced together, it was around this time that he'd decided to drink himself to death. He'd made reference to Ozzie Osbourne's song, Suicide Solution several times.

So yesterday this all came out, and while I had this vivid picture in my mind she made me say (over and over) how scared I was. While I was saying how scared I was, her hand was moving back and forth like a metrodome. After that, she made me say that I was okay now and that I was over it.

I have no idea if I am or not. I didn't get teary writing about it, so maybe it really works. The whole exercise reminded me of erasing something off a chalkboard.

Today I have the day off so it'll be laundry for me. Laundry and maybe some more underwear shopping. Jamie wants to go lingerie shopping this afternoon, and I could use some too.

Hope you all have a nice weekend.


  1. Hope talking about it makes it easier in the future for you.

    I would say have a nice day doing laundry but I hate that job!

  2. I have never been in a situation like that, for that I feel lucky. To be able to read your words and know you survived but also have to carry that memory with you, as survivors do, makes me hope your therapy session did help you erase it from that blackboard. I like that image, as it doesn't say it never happened...far from it, but that it did happen, you remember it, but can file it away and move on to the next "lesson" in life.

    Makes doing laundry a walk in the park and maybe even something pleasurable...I love clean sheets, and sort of makes my weekend sleeping in better when I've done that :)

  3. Jesus on a stick.

    Kate. perhaps you will never live it down. I can only say he would have avoided being in jail if he would have left he car and sat on the road.

    I am perplexed why he was angry at you for his own actions.

    Wow!!! You are tough.

    I don't know what to say other than I love you for who you are.

    Pull it out, take a good look at the past and leave it out in the sun for everyone to see. Pretty soon you will not think anything of this issue and it will be behind you.

    It appears you survived.


  4. Kate, it's shocking enough that you went through that but that you also kept your head as a woman at risk and a protective mother, speaks volumes about who you are and the strength in you. I hope the therapy works and you can move on taking with you the confidence of knowing you can take care of you and yours.

  5. That's a very intense memory.
    I hope the treatment helped you to feel better.
    If it did, great. If not, maybe you should look for other avenues to help with this. Some brain research is showing that remembering and reliving traumatic events can make PTSD worse for some people.

  6. It was so difficult seeing and dealing with the self destruction, I had to bail after 16 years of marriage. The kicker was he was such a good man when he wasn't drinking unfortunately in the latter years that was only when he was passed out.

    I honestly don't want to think or remember all the bad... I wish you the best, Kate. ~S~

  7. PTSD is really scary stuff! Reading this, it made me cry. On so many levels I can relate.

    Big huge hugs sweetie, and I am sorry you ever had to go through this, nobody should have to. The Therapy sounds like it is working- YAY!!!!!

  8. You're one tough cookie -girl!

    I guess traumatic memories that scare the sh*t out of anyone would not get out that easily.. although it will eventually. That's the beauty of the innate resillience , esp for women!

    anyway- glad it sounds like you're coming out from the tunnel.. and seeing the light.. and yes, what a nicer way to conclude with an underwear survey.. me, gee.. i dunno..i've got to check.. (people actually need such things? hehe)

    btw- i have a post back in my Reflection blog.. would you do me an honour to tell me what you think abt somethings relating to dying/ death- or just mere frustrations for people left behind???

    sweet butterfly kisses to ya..

  9. Wow. You have some pretty incredible stories to tell. You are obviously pretty strong and I hope that exercise helped you.

  10. What a terrible experience. How awful. I can see how that would leave a lot of emotional damage. Do what ever you need to to take care of yourself.

  11. I agree with Bobby and Lou. I am truly glad I have never had to go through such a traumatic experience. You did so well. (((HUGS)))

  12. Oh yes I should have said it is DM1 here. :-)

  13. I admire you for your courage in facing all this. it is said that the only way to leave these traumas behind is to face them and go through them. you are a wonderful mother and an inspiration.