I gripped the steering wheel. Obscenities fell from my tongue as I realized I’d unknowingly navigated my way back into the neighbourhood I had lived in for the duration of my pregnancy. I ignored it. I would just push it back to the inner corners of my mind, and deal with it later.
Or maybe not at all.
I took my time in the small store, hoping to delay the inevitable. How would I get out of this area without either wasting an entire tank of gas, or get through the neighbourhood without completely triggering my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I knew it was already too late. I knew I was going to get on the road and drive toward the neighbourhood. Past the church where I had all my meetings during my pregnancy. Past the sidewalk that I would walk to get to the grocery store. I knew at the corner where the Chinese restaurant sat, I would turn left, and then take another left. There, I knew I would find the house I lived in. I knew I would see the windows that often got frosted. I knew I would remember sitting on the couches in the living area, and writing. I knew I would remember listening to my roommate play Ben Folds, and Jack Johnson on the CD player.
It looked so different now that I drove by it at first. I sat in front of it, like my roommate’s car had long ago. I remembered when one of our roommates fell down the stairs and had to call an ambulance. I remember the soft lighting in the living room, the visits from our neighbours, the nights where we’d feast together, and I’d pretend that I wasn’t the pregnant girl.
I felt weird that the house looked different. Everything had changed even though in my mind, it’d all stayed the same. It felt odd, and abnormal, like these tiny tidbits of these memories should stay the same forever. I’m sure, if I went inside, the house would look far different than I remember in my mind. Everything is changing it seems. Yet, I seem to be stuck with these haunting memories, the ones that come at me like bullets, whenever they feel.
I snapped a picture, feeling like I had to hold on to a small piece of what that house looked like. And then I took a deep breath, and drove slowly down the frosted street where I had walked many times in order to get to and from work. So. Many. Memories.
On another night, I went thrifting, alone. I had my music on, and was breathing- today that was all that I could count on. Thrifting would be a nice escape. I laughed at the name of a pie shop, and then took a sharp inward breath. We’d, my agency worker and I, been at that pie shop after I had gone to the lawyer’s office…and on the right, was that office.
I punched the steering wheel. How was I forgetting about these little things? I felt foolish, like I was walking into my own emotional trap. I wondered though, if seeing each of these spots would finally kill that ghost inside of me, like Harry with the Horcruxes. Maybe if I faced each of these memories, head on, I would be free of post traumatic stress disorder, and this haunting pain that it causes. As I pulled into the parking lot, I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment, and begged my mind to come back to where it needed to be.
Right here, right now. I settled back to earth, I found some books, and had a time dreaming of all the things I would do with our new home.
Safely, I decided, I would drive home. I would make a stop at the grocery store, and then I would return home. Music filling the car, I began the trek home, sort of lost, but assuming that I would eventually end up where I needed to be. As I pretended that I was Adele, and screeched my vocal chords raw, I drove by another sign. I felt the hair on my neck stand up.
“No. NO. I am not going NEAR that hospital tonight. NO!” I firmly stated to no one at all.
I tried to quickly peek back, while still keeping my eyes on the road. I studied my surroundings. No, I knew I wasn’t in that area. I must have been seeing things. I had to be seeing things, I just had to be seeing things.
It was the white church on the corner. The field beside it, and I knew, I wasn’t seeing anything. I was going to drive near the hospital where I had given birth to The Kiddo. An area I had purposely avoided each time I had come to this city before. I just had no idea how near because my bearings were skewed, my senses were working in overtime, and nothing I was seeing was making sense in reality. I was driving ten years ago.
Then I saw the hospital. The shopping area near it. The Wendy’s where Darin had gone and gotten me a meal as my “feast to celebrate The Kiddo”. I knew beyond that was the parking lot, and the road I drove on to get there.
And then it hit me, between the mutterings of how I should have known, and almost tears.
I was back in Lethbridge, in fact, The Hubby and I were driving to his parent’s house. The snow was covering the ground, and we were just passing the soccer field where Potato had played last season,
“It’s going to be hard for me in Edmonton. I need you to know that now. I’m going to be triggered, I need you to know that. I am going to probably fall into a big, giant pit of despair. I need you to remember that I’m in there. Don’t cover the hole without getting me first. This is going to be awful for me. And I need you to know that now, when I’m doing okay. I need you to know that I won’t be okay in Edmonton right away, and that I won’t be able to say that to you. I will be awful to live with, a shell of a person. But please, please, remember, that I will need you. A lot. More than I will admit. Please, remember that.”
Suddenly, as I semi-sped out of the area near the hospital, it all made sense:
The Move. The newish city. The transition. The loneliness. The closing of the adoption. All of it.
And this, a trigger every single time I look somewhere. Something that reminds me of him. Of being pregnant. How ten years ago, he was mine, just mine, and ten years later, he’s not even in my life.
I knew I was walking into a minefield. I knew, even before I got here and forgot, that this was going to be hellish for me. Of course, the closing adoption hasn’t made this any easier for me to stomach. Maybe if I had spent ten years in this town, I wouldn’t feel so fragile, and sensitive to every movement. Maybe if I had a relationship with him, it would be better. I have no idea, really.
All I know is every single cell on my body is reacting. My post traumatic stress disorder has not been triggered this hard in a long time, and somehow, between all of the realities, and the memories of the past, I have to figure out a way to live here.
Today, I’ll be a little softer. A little gentler, because there is a seventeen year old girl within me who is cringing every single time we remember one more little thing.
Facing the memories is the hardest part of this adoption, thing. It really is.