Ray’s Rays, Number 20: Living With PTSD, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Ray’s Rays, Number 20

Living With PTSD


Radiance Angelina Petro






What does it mean to feel safe in this world? What does it

mean to you? How does it feel for/in you?

Have you ever felt safe? Felt safe for long periods of time

and/or just brief glimpses? What do you do

when you feel safe or unsafe?

I can say for myself I have yet to feel utterly

and truly safe—ever–no matter the situation,

circumstances, or company. My body/mind/spirit/heart

is so hypervigilant, so on the look-out to be hurt again,

so ready for something horrible to happen–

some form of violence, some shaming, some rejection–

it’s ingrained in me. Something is about to happen–

something bad, something scary, something really, really

wrong. How do I live with this sort of deep trauma?

It’s day-to-day. I don’t describe myself as “healing,” so much

as being able to exist in this world in a somewhat

present, compassionate, creative way. I have wounds

that may not ever heal. Certainly there are scars

that won’t ever go away. There are memories

and visceral experiences inside that may not ever fully

drift into the void. How do I keep moving?

I try to build little glimmers of safety—moments

when I feel relatively safe. Who am I with when I feel

a tiny bit safe? What am I doing, or not doing?

Where am I? What time of day is it? Again,

no matter how safe a situation and certain people

may feel safe to me, there is always the impending

terrible thing that’s about to happen—usually

of a violent variety—something horrible happening

to my kids and loved ones, some sort of accident

happening to me or those I love. But that being said, there are times

I can gently, tentatively sink into a sense of safety,

and I am learning to be deeply grateful for those moments,

to help create more of them for myself as well as others.

They help me remember safety is more or less possible

for some periods of time.

And yet, in this world of terrorist capitalism, far-right

extremists, environmental devolution, racism, violence,

viruses, and unpredictable weather extremes, it is very

difficult for me to feel truly safe, even when I’m in a “safe,”

situation. What helps me? Conscious breathing, writing,

and reading poetry, listening to a making music,

drawing, looking deeply at a flower, practicing some sort

of mindfulness and gratitude, my meds, my therapist,

being a part of healthy communities, helping others,

doing little, secret and anonymous acts of kindness, finding

funny memes and sharing them, reading, watching silly TV shows,

embodiment meditations, movement meditations,

and sometimes pleasuring myself sexually.

Living with complex PTSD sucks, and yet,

it is also livable—in the sense that I am able

to survive day-to-day. There is no finish line

to grieving or healing, or resolving, but there are

moments, little, and sometimes big, experiences

of joy. I hope you experience them too. I hope

you have safe places and people, and things to do

when it all gets too scary. They say, “this too, shall pass,”

and it’s true. And sometimes knowing that

doesn’t help a goddamn bit. In this moment–

the one in which you’re reading this right now–

may you feel safe, held, and able to seek, and receive,

and share support. It may totally suck. But you got this.

It may or may not, get better, and yet–here you are.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *