It began at 2116 hours, Independence Day evening. The sun was no longer in the sky, though it’s glow was still slightly visible beyond the western hillside.
That’s when the first staccato discharge from a firearm echoed across the landscape. It touched off the ensuing explosions of further gunfire, M-80s, Lady Fingers, Whistlers and Bottle Rockets, which lit the sky in multiple colors.
Generally, I do not bear witness to these events. Rather, I am in bed, tucked away beneath my blankets where I find myself jumping, twisting, on edge from the noise, but safe.
However, as counter-intuitive it seems, during this unauthorized local celebration, I posted myself in our backyard where I had no so-called protection from the barrage of noises. And as I write this, I am still unable to explain why I felt it necessary to do this to myself.
Looking back, I admit that I have been somewhat of a blank slate the last couple of weeks. In fact, if it weren’t for personal frustrations and a general sadness, I’m certain could easily be considered a ‘dead fish,’ by many.
Anyhow, as the cacophony of explosions continued, I started sweating profusely, my heart raced until I could feel it pounding in my head, my breathing became short and labored to the point I was on the verge of hyperventilating, then I grew ill to my stomach, wanting to heave and lastly, my irises dilated to the point that the darkness appeared to be that of prolonged noontime solar eclipse. And though I wanted to run away, I endured.
PTSD, in full drive.
By the time it came to an end at 2230 hours, the sheriff’s helicopter was on station, searching for the long-gone culprits. It reminded me of an ‘Overwatch’ flight, as our little neighborhood had all the hallmarks, save for the barking dogs, of a small Central American village under siege, where roving gangs battle one another in a constant state of chaos.
Laying in the grass, I allowed myself to connect to my most frightening emotions – my anger, fear, and shame. These are the ‘three biggies’ that I tend to avoid if possible because I’ve used each to lash out at people in my life over the years and they scare me.
At last, with all the adenine coursing through my body, I developed the shakes which caused me to realized how much I truly felt alive for the first time in days. It was as if a life-long fog had evaporated, clearing my brain for the first time in ages.
Perhaps, this makes perfect sense. Perhaps, none of this makes any sense.
In the end, it was as if something had broken-off inside of me and by the time I picked myself up from the yard, I was wishing I had a way of bottling up whatever potion I’d found. Finally, I’m stuck for a lack of words to better express what happened in that hour and 14-minutes – but suffice it to say, I’m healing.