Solidarity With Every Non-Military Person Who Experiences Triggers & Flashbacks on July 4th
This was the first fourth of July that I spent alone, at least in the night time. This was the first night that I lived next to the Ballpark in my city. It was so hard to concentrate on doing anything. I spent most of the night underneath my kitchen table or in my bathtub with some pillows and my Dumbo pillow pet. I forget that I have people I can lean on because I am so used to people telling me that I couldn’t possibly have triggers or flashbacks to fireworks. I wasn’t a veteran. I wasn’t an active duty military person. I was a civilian. There are so many people who are convinced that I couldn’t possibly understand. That’s something that’s not talked about. Civilians can have PTSD, too.
I understand where a lot of that can come from, but it hurts sometimes. It’s like someone delegitimizing a part of my identity, a part that I would love nothing more than to separate myself from. What kind of mess is this? That I cannot process what is happening to my body because I am so focused on what everyone else is thinking. It sucks! I really wish people could widen their scope of who can have flashbacks and who can have triggers (in reference to fireworks). My triggers and flashbacks should be just as valid. Granted, they come from a different place. However, at the core, they are both just that: triggers and flashbacks. I can’t understand the triggers and flashbacks of someone who is active duty or a veteran, and they can’t understand mine unless they have been in my situation, but at the end of the day, we can indeed empathize with one another.
This isn’t about policing what can trigger someone. This is about trusting people. Listening to their pain and their struggle, and being willing to hold that. This isn’t about delegitimizing people and make them feel like they are losing it. This isn’t about any of that. Just trust people when they say that they are experiencing something, and support them through all of that. That’s all I’m asking! Working through a lot of my triggers and flashbacks, forcefully due to hearing fireworks all night, I decided to write myself a little list in the quiet moments:
- Don’t panic. Whatever you do, don’t panic. It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re in a safe situation now. You’re okay. You can make it.
- Remember your safe numbers. Remember the people you’ve designated as safe people. Call them when you absolutely need to feel grounded. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone.
- It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to remember. It’s okay to go through the pain, and cry it out. But you also have to find a way to jump back. Even though it’s hard, you must go on. It’s okay. Take your time. Say a prayer. Be in the moment. Just don’t stay there.
- Above all, remember all of the love and support that you have. Remember that you have lots of chosen family that can support you. When you feel as if you have nothing left, they can hold you up. Remember this. They all love you. They all want to support you.