Pull The Trigger

*THIS POST IS ABOUT ME BEING TRIGGERED INTO A SEVERE ANXIETY ATTACK* 

Please don't read any further if it could trigger you as well. 

Since I've been in recovery there have been a few blog posts that I have avoided reading - even from writers and friends that I love. Sometimes I just knew that there were things I couldn't have in my head right then.

Most of them didn't come with trigger warnings. I've always been of two minds about them - if you think that something could hurt someone then of course you should warn them, but how can you ever know? I don't think that my experience has cleared my thinking at all. There was no way anyone could have foreseen what happened to us last night.

We had a plan for the weekend. My mom has the Little Monster and we were going to have a 'just us' weekend. No hanging out with friends or parties, just the two of us doing two of us stuff - movies and board games and sitting by the fire and going to dinner and maybe even sexy time if my legs ever recovered from my first session Personal Trainer From Hell.

We went to dinner at a restaurant on the harbor with a view of the city and the aircraft carrier. We had seafood and steak and key lime pie. Life was goooooooood. We got to the movie theater and rolled our eyes at all the 50 Shades of Nonsense and settled in for a fun ride. We went to see Kingsman. And it was fun. Violent, really violent in a wacky way - but we were prepared for that. And then there was the baby - (SPOILER ALERT!) at the end there is a mother and her toddler. The mother has locked the toddler in a bathroom and thrown away the key. She has done this under orders from someone who is trying to keep them both safe. What she doesn't know, and the audience does, is that she - and everyone in London - is about to be turned into something more beast than human whose only desire is to do violence and kill. As the main characters fight to stop the evil plot to destroy the world this way we get cuts of people fighting like dogs in the streets and landmarks and pubs of London and cuts of this mother battering the door to that bathroom while her baby daughter cries inside. First with her fists - and then away to street scenes, action hero day saving, etc - then things are better for a moment. Did our hero win? The fog clears and the mother looks at the bathroom door in horror before the violence descends again and suddenly she has a butcher knife and is attacking the door with that. Of course our hero saves the day and one of the last scenes in the film is of that mother holding her daughter and repeating over and over, "Mommy would never hurt you."

I ran. Typing it out now, I want to run again. I can still see every frame of the last ten minutes of that movie in my mind. I pushed through the people leaving our theatre and the crowds of Christian wannabes lining up outside and I pushed through the lobby and the doors and out into the cold, damp air. I got away from the people as far as I could while still being able to see the door and I willed myself to not throw up.

There was enough adrenaline in my system at that moment that I could have run the 10 (ish) miles to my mother's house from that movie theatre and I thought about it. I stood there in the cold and tried to remember to breathe. I waited for Dork Dad to make his way out and find me and I told myself over and over that our Little Monster was fine, that he was asleep with his grandmother, that I did NOT need to see him, that he was safe. Under no circumstances was I going to make Dork Dad drive us out there and wake up my baby. My body shook with the wanting to run to him right then and the willpower it took to stay in that one place. I felt like a cartoon character who had been hit by a cannonball - there was a huge yawning pit where my heart should have been and I NEEDED my baby in my arms. Which was ridiculous. He was fine. Everyone was safe. You are not crazy, you will not act crazy. You will stop standing here crying in public. You will NOT ask to be taken out there.

Dork Dad found me in a minute or two that felt like hours. He walked up to me and wrapped me in his arms and I almost fainted from relief. The first thing I said was "I need my baby." I don't know if I ever stopped saying it.   One part of my head was screaming it over and over. I was terrified and I needed my baby. I needed to hold him, to touch him, to KNOW in my bones that he was there and safe and alive.

The other part of me was pissed. Because this was it. I had failed utterly and completely. I was now the crazy woman being helped to the car with tears and snot running down her face. No one marries that woman. No one stay with that woman. At some point one of my contacts came out. I remember the twenty minute drive as a haze of twinkling lights seen through tears - white from the cars and sometimes read or green from the stoplights. My mother wasn't going to understand. I was in no shape to handle her. So Dork Dad was going to have to do that too. I had ruined our night. I couldn't uncross my arms. If I let go I might literally fall to pieces in the car instead of just in my head. I was, at that very moment, killing whatever future we could have together because who could want to build a life with someone like me? And I couldn't stop. I kept opening my mouth to apologize, to tell him to turn back, and I couldn't.

Of course she was asleep when we got there. I don't really remember how we got in. I remember him calling her cell phone what felt like ten times and I thought I was screaming. "He's right there, why can't I have my baby?!" but looking back now I was probably whispering or whimpering. If I had actually been screaming things would have gone much differently.

Then the door was open. The door was open and suddenly my legs didn't hurt any more and nothing was wrong and I was up all of the stairs and there he was. He was just sitting up and rubbing his eyes and I reached down and he reached up and we were safe. We were okay. And he just folded himself into the hole in me and filled it. I sat down and cradled him in my lap and he sighed and closed his eyes, because Mama was there. And he was warm and sleepy soft and perfect. I don't know how long we sat and rocked like that. At some point he looked at me and stroked my cheeks and I was okay.

I apologized for waking him up and told him that Mama just needed a hug and a kiss. He looked at me with wise, 20 month old eyes and rubbed his cheek to mine, which was even better. I put him back in pack and play in my mom's room and told him it was time to settle down now. He grabbed his puppy and his blankie and curled up and I sang him our goodnight song. I curled up on the floor and watched through the mesh as he shifted and settled.

I don't know how I made it down the stairs. The adrenaline and my second contact were gone, the pain in my legs was excruciating (really the worst workout, ever!) and my head was pounding. I remember apologizing to Dork Dad and my mom. I remember him holding me again. He got me to the car. Digging around in my purse for something to clean my face with I came up with one of the Little Monster's sweatshirts. It helped to have something of him to hold as we were driving away from him. Dork Dad said we could come get him in the morning if I wanted - but I couldn't want anything through the pain and the fatigue that settled fast and thick, pressing me into a ball in the seat of the car. He got me home and inside. He got me undressed and tucked into bed, still with that hoodie in my hands. I tossed and turned all night last night. The pain in my legs and head not letting me really get comfortable, my dreams disjointed and unsettling, not letting me get and real rest.

My strongest impressions of last night are the fear that gripped me, the utter relief of holding my child and the absolute faith that Dork Dad would take care of me. THAT MAN. That man went through all that and held my hand while I slept and when I woke up this morning barely able to look him in the eyes he said that he loves me and that he doesn't want anyone else. He is a fucking miracle.

In the sunlight I know that we are all safe. That it will be okay. Now it's just the guilt and shame that I have to wade through.

Graeme Seabrook