The Eyes Have It

*sigh* Well I wanted to be okay. I sincerely wanted to be okay this year as Labor Day approached. My broken brain had other plans. I took part in mountains of self care, scheduled all sorts of projects to keep my mind busy, addressed my most recent trauma last week to avoid them and still the panic attacks came. The nightmares, the migraines, the whole nine yards. It’s been a rough week in PTSD terms for me.

Labor Day Weekend 2006:

My ex and I both took time off work to attend a local fireworks display in celebration of the holiday. It was the annual ceremonious end to Summer. I’d never been, but he had once or twice before. We headed down to the venue early in the day to secure our spot. We ate lunch, grabbed a blanket at a local mall and made our way into the venue to claim our spot.

For some reason my ex was in a particularly rapid cycling mood. One moment he would be joking, the next he would be fighting with any and everyone about trivial things that didn’t really matter. He almost got tossed out by security over a water bottle, and we briefly argued over the paternity of his ex wife’s youngest child. Or rather we discussed it, which only proved to sour his mood even further.

God only knows what was truly troubling him, but over all the evening was pleasant. We fought our way out of the crowds after laying next to one another in a cozy embrace for the duration of the show and made our way to my apartment. Once there we immediately shed the days sweaty clothes and snuggled into our pjs before promptly falling asleep.

A few hours later my back began to ache and I moved out to the small love seat as I usually did anytime I couldn’t sleep. It was generally understood when one or the other of us disappeared from the bed in the middle of the night we’d moved out to the couch for a variety of different reasons. That night something was different. Almost as soon as I shut off the living room lamp and closed my eyes my ex began to shuffle around in the bedroom before eventually wailing my name and stumbling out into the hallway, tripping over himself in the process and smacking into the opposite wall before collapsing to his knees in tears.

He was sobbing and yelling my name with repeated cries of: “don’t leave me! Please don’t leave me. I don’t want to be alone. Please don’t leave me.” I immediately rushed to his side to assure him that I hadn’t gone anywhere and that’s when I realized he wasn’t really there. His body was there, but his mind was lost somewhere entirely different. His eyes were open but instead of the usual bright glint of awareness and intelligence, they were dull, dark and flat. I can only describe them as dead eyes because that’s what it seemed like as he stared past me while looking right at me as tears streamed down his face and he continued to beg me to stay with him.

I’m not sure how long the moment lasted, but I held him until his rhythmic sobs and pleas faded before eventually coming to a complete stop. Like a damn light switch he was back. Disoriented, and exhausted, but the light returned to his eyes, he wiped the few remaining tears off his face and returned to bed. I joined him and held him the rest of the night.

It wasn’t the first night terror/split of consciousness I’d experienced with him and it was far from the last. I have no idea what triggers it. Maybe it’s his stress threshold, maybe it’s the aftermath of smashing his head into one too many windshields. I don’t know. I just know that those eyes are permanently burned into my memory, and I don’t like it one bit.

I actually gave his two personalities different names so I could speak to my therapist about it without causing mass chaos and confusion. One is J and the other is JNathan. J is a fairly good natured, happy, albeit a bit insecure but generally a nice guy. Impulsive and dishonest, but overall decent. JNathan is the scary one. He’s cold, distant, callous and dangerous. JNathan has the dead eyes. J has the sweet sparkle and smirk to match.

JNathan broke into my apartment and didn’t give two shits if I knew he was there. J fought for dominance and surfaced a few times. He was terrified that he would get caught. J hid. J (thank God) spoke to my daughter. J eventually won and got the hell out of there. JNathan fought with me in my bedroom. JNathan laughed after I punched him. JNathan smirked when he grabbed me and held me down.

The same way that JNathan almost threw me down our townhouse staircase, grabbed me by the ankle and tossed me across the bedroom directly into the dresser dislocating my hip. More recently JNathan spewed caustic veiled threats at me while J complimented my hair, and kids. “God I fucking hate you” *breath pause* “but your hair looks really cute blonde. You should keep it that way.” *breath pause* “God why can’t you just die already?” *breath pause* You have a daughter! That’s really awesome. *breath pause* I would love to see you get hit by a bus crazy ass bitch.” Etc etc. JNathan’s voice is about a pitch and a half lower than J’s voice too. It’s not just what the words are, it’s how they’re said and watching/hearing him flip back and forth with the ever so slight pause in between has really left it’s mark on my own psyche.

I think the most disturbing thing aside from the physical differences is that J has no memories of when he loses control and JNathan takes over. It’s almost like a blackout. Although, with J’s chronic dishonesty maybe he does remember and just denies it to avoid taking responsibility for JNathan’s behavior. I’m not so sure it’sIt’s simply denial/dishonesty though since J has other memory issues related to his head trauma. I don’t know. I used to vehemently defend J due to the simple existence of JNathan, but now… it is what it is. Whether JNathan is the dominant personality and J developed as a way to hide in plain sight or J is dominant and JNathan was born out of trauma I’ll never know. J is the only one who really knows (or maybe not if he really has no memory after the fact) and JNathan only appears at random overwhelming stressful moments. The memory thing might work both ways too. They may not be aware of each other to begin with, J’s compulsive dishonesty aside.

I’ll never know. I’ll just go on hating this trauma because those eyes are by far the most painful and terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s one of the only traumas I haven’t been able to overcome yet. It’s frustrating as much as it is triggering. Arggggghuggggh.