INSIGHTS

CAN A SINGLE IMAGE KICK YOU BACK INTO PTSD?

This slow train wreck of the impeachment process is watched by all us with different eyes. There are the ones who can do political analysis, they are others who focus on power calculations, winners or losers; there are some people counting hits for bettering marketing of their political ads…

Videos with important people taking positions, explaining policy, are one thing…they have a moving action. You can watch them in a way that images blur and condense in the message sent and received by our brains. We all absorb the different meanings exposed and react according to our interior environment…the individual unconscious is always catching up with the meaning of all we passively watch. It is an ongoing process, always latent, always churning some meaning that is particular to each one of us…but meaning we get, because understanding the meaning of our lives is basic for survival.

There is a silent audience that is processing the videos, the texts and emails, the words said, collected and used as munitions, in a different way. This is the way of the unconscious perception of our realities…how actual experiences refer to those of our past history, connected by some thread of meaning. This unconscious and silent process is no less important than the one based on “real facts.” Finally, the meaning we give to our history is shaped and colored by those meanings stored in our collective unconscious treasure.

An old comparison of the saga of the developing trumpian personality got matched, almost at the beginning of his presidency, with one amorphous but disgusting concept: it is like being married to the wrong husband: one day you wake up, open your eyes and discover, with horror, that you are forever tied to this narcissistic guy!

The aspect that for me validated this identification with a narcissistic husband was the constant downhill perception that each day he would achieve a new low. What is he going to do tomorrow, to disgust me more than what he did today? And, how to survive this terrible loneliness, keeping your thoughts for yourself, because knowing that sharing your deep needs will give him fodder to attack or humiliate you more?

Took some time into his presidential term to resign the dreams of a national space secure and respectful, where children would be cared for and respected (who can forget the cages) and women could be proud of the men in their lives.

Even expecting that each new day would present another humiliation, another debasement of our bodies, of our intellectual capacity, of our domestic environment and health, of our collective security allowing us to live our Hispanic or Muslim identities…we women survived. I personally believed that I could process each and every news with neutral equanimity, like an external observer watching the battle from away the line of attack.

Until today.

Today, the Facebook universe presented me with an image that gave me a shock, left me breathless…and forced me to run to a place where to hide my tears.

The power of a good image is that it can condense present news with hidden meanings… The rape metaphor is somewhat common, even if we women don’t use that comparison often..But, getting to express this exact historic moment as a rape of justice?

What can Trump do that triggers your own PTSD? His disregard for women? Some “special treatment” decisions about immigrants, people with disabilities, of a different non-white race or religion? There is a long list of possible triggers! My friend wrote:

My wife – we have been together for 20 years now – came from an abusive first marriage to a malevolent narcissist like Trump. There are things that he says and does that are triggers for her PTSD from her 1st marriage.

Because we can have unconscious hurts about different aspects of our inner self, the impact can target different vulnerabilities, but they will shake us: they will make us feel insecure or fragile, exposed or depressed, lost or confused about what is the reason for our feelings…

What can we do, that would reassure us in this time of uncertainty about our shared future? Not much: re-learn deep breathing; keep a diary; share the state of our confused feelings with someone we trust, cry in the bathroom when we need it…

And, much important, keep sharing this message: what he does/says/decides, in his narcissistic mindset is hurting us in different and hidden ways that we can not verbalize, but suffer anyhow.

How can we, as citizens, visualize a plan for our healing?