Regular Poem: Trauma Response

25 Apr

somebody told me the other day that i’m
so empathetic

in context it made sense
and yes
i do tend to think of myself in that way

but i immediately started questioning it

it seems like the sort of characteristic
that should be universally evident
and yet

who else might describe me that way
and who else wouldn’t in a million years even with a gun to their head

it’s one of those innocuous things
that serves as a traumatic trigger for me

‘nam veterans have fireworks and/or wet shoes
and rape survivors have their attackers’ faces and/or smells

i’ve got sudden movements in my periphery
and comments about my personality that people in positions of authority have denied are true

i shouldn’t so freely equate myself with people who’ve endured so much worse
but then i look at my discolored and highly scarred forearms
and think maybe trauma is trauma is trauma
and it effects the psyche in similar ways regardless of severity
and also
just because i knew the reason i was being attacked
doesn’t mean it wasn’t scary and didn’t hurt

oh shit
maybe that’s why
the gaslighting sticks with me more than the physical pain
because i didn’t and still don’t understand the reason for it

i can reconcile why an autistic schizophrenic man might tackle me to the ground and punch me repeatedly in the face
but i can’t reconcile why nobody with any power to do anything about it didn’t believe me when i told them he was dangerous

i have no ill will toward that man who punched me as i jump out of my skin when someone a few feet away extends an arm very quickly and jerkily even though his erratic actions conditioned me to this heightened response
i have nothing but contempt and rage and deep sadness about those people who dismissed my concerns when someone calls me perceptive and i question that analysis because those people’s actions conditioned me to self-reflection and self-loathing

i know i’m too much up my own ass
spend too much time thinking about
my own problems and my own personal attributes–both positive and negative–and how those attributes are both utilized and perceived

trauma responses
respond the way they do
in whatever iteration they do
for a reason
and that’s just science

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