Poem- Still in that Moment

by Crystal Torres on May 7, 2015

I wake up terrified
heart pounding, outpacing
footsteps in the hall
try to identify his mood
by the sounds of the opening and closing of doors
Listening without movement, without making a sound
still in that moment
An older man told the younger
the thing about PTSD is part of you stays
still in that moment
Now, I am not being yelled at
and what if I was?
I have a car
gas in my tank
places to go
I’m no longer alone
kids still in diapers
milk in my breasts
I have no reason to fear
a man who only yells
never hits, only breaks
stick shifts
I never feared his fist
only the way love turned to condemnation
the drives home while he catalogued my mistakes
how I’d embarrassed him
this time
his tongue unraveling my shame
I still wind myself smaller
when I’m with him
just in case it’s not over
“I’m sorry,” I say.
waving words like a white flag, or a shield
between he and I
between now and then
part of me here
part of me
still in that moment
lyricIt’s strange the things that stick with a person, the little things that make big changes. Recently, I listened as two men at my work discussed love and trauma. One of them described PTSD to the other in a way that I found startling. I do not have PTSD. I have not had any trauma big enough to warrant it. Still, it’s stuck with me, this sense that I have lost my “right now” because I am still so afraid of things that have happened already. I verge on panic at home with the (ex)husband. We have our fights, but that’s to be expected when a broken up couple can’t afford to live at separate addresses. We each have our own room, but that doesn’t mean we don’t annoy each other. The fights we have now aren’t so bad, as fights go. It’s just that I can’t stop remembering that this man will figuratively kick me when I’m down, that his temper can be set off by unlikely things, that he can fight dirty.

Ever since that conversation between the two men at my work I’ve been trying to claim my right now, to acknowledge that much of what I stay so afraid of has come and gone and done me relatively little harm. I still have nightmares that he’s yelling at me, like he used to, years ago. He’d get so angry that I sometimes thought he would hit me. He never did. He never would. Still a part of me lives in the fear of that moment, anticipating the blow that never comes, right before remembering that I can take a hit, that physical pain cannot break me. It’s a heavy feeling, the way the sky feels during monsoon season, before the clouds finally release their rain drops. I keep revisiting that horrible space where pain seems inevitable but before recovery seems inevitable too.

I’m trying, in my waking hours, to remember what is, I mean, what really is, not what has been or could be. He has never laid an inappropriate finger on me and his words only hurt if I care about his opinion of me. So what if I can’t predict his temper. He has no power over me. It’s becoming ridiculous how much stress and strain I put into avoiding the horrible fate of him being mad at me, as if that anger still matters. He doesn’t fly off the handle as badly, or as often, as he used to and my worst fear then was losing him. I’ve left him, that loss is done with. I’ve realized that my situation is not scary. Still, I wake up in the morning afraid.

I just don’t want to be afraid anymore. That’s all.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Richard May 7, 2015 at 11:23 pm

“I do not have PTSD. I have not had any trauma big enough to warrant it.”


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