By Laura Paris | Featured Contributor
I’ve always hated Audi cars, people dressed in brown, chipped glasses and plates, and the noise of keys and messy beds. I hate dirt and smells, I cannot stand mess. I feel agitated if I am in a messy room. I get angry if I am subjected to unpleasant smells.
Up until last year I thought these were just my random personal likes and dislikes, you know, like how we prefer a certain color or food. I thought they were simple dislikes. Only last year, during a series of hypnotherapy sessions, did it become clear to me the fact that these objects were triggers for my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This was previously undiagnosed. During a regression session, while I was in a deep relaxation state, I recalled one episode that functioned as a catalyst that sped up my PTSD identification and realization.
We were at Father’s countryside abode–a large piece of land with a simple house built on it–in the middle of nowhere. I was drying the dishes I had just washed. The dishes were all different and all chipped, as were the cups and the glasses. Father never spent money so all we had in the house were donations from other family members. I hated drinking from the chipped glasses as I always ended up cutting my lip, and it would take ages to heal. I often ended up drinking directly from the tap to avoid this.
I was 16 at the time. Growing up, I was convinced that I was ugly, as this was what I was told on a daily basis by my father. However, somehow–over the last few months, while I was out with my cousins in the village–a very handsome boy named Mark had started looking at me, beeping the horn of his Vespa when he spotted me on the road, smiling at me. I was flattered that someone so nice would even notice my existence so I started smiling back. Eventually, he started coming around my home to try to talk to me. When Father noticed the young man, he questioned me aggressively. I remember I was cleaning the stove at the time. Petrified, I lowered my gaze to the floor as I responded that I didn’t know the boy and that I didn’t know why he was there. Furious, my father suddenly threw a dish at me and started insulting me. He said I was ugly, that men looked at me only for cheap sex, that I was a whore, that this was why the boy was ‘sniffing’ around me, that classy ladies did not attract scum, and on and on and on.
My father menacingly stepped towards me. As I was trapped between him and the sink, I quickly moved out of his reach, as he continued to shout louder and louder. I felt my breath leave me and my heart pound inside my chest and my ears; I was certain he was going to kill me.
I ran outside and out of the open gate. I knew I had to run if I wanted to stay alive. As I ran onto the country road alongside the blackberry bushes and thorns, I silently prayed to God while trying to think of where to hide. I had no money on me, no place to hide. As I continued running along the road, I heard a car approaching, the engine revving. I stopped, moved to the side of the road and saw Father speeding towards me. I was petrified. As I quickened my pace, all I could hear was the blood pumping through my ears. As the car approached me, I tried to move to the side of the road. But suddenly, I felt something hit the back of my legs, and I fell forward. As I lay there, I turned around, and all I could see hovering above me was the car’s Audi logo. Those four circles would end up haunting me for years to come.
As the car engine continued to roar angrily, I went into shock. I was unable to think straight. I was sure Father would kill me. Terrified, I scrambled to my feet and started running again, convinced that this would be the way I would die. My father pulled up alongside me and started shouting for me to get into the car…that if I continued to run he would kill me.
At that point, I was defeated. I was sure this was the day I would die. Helplessly, I opened the car door and got in. I closed the door and sat there, waiting for the beating.
Time stood still. My father started to drive back home in silence. Inside the house, I sat in a chair as my father started to berate me, saying how he wouldn’t be shamed in the village by my behavior, and how I was the shame of the family—the black sheep. Stepping closer and closer to me, he told me, once again, how he would have loved for me to have died instead of my mother. He explained again why I was a failure and a loser; I would never amount to anything in life.
I never realized why I hated Audi cars, and why, when I sat in one, I would physically feel sick. Only after that hypnotherapy session did it all become clear to me. I now understand I suffer from PTSD—a condition I always associated with soldiers and people who had suffered and endured prison or torture. But for me, I just assumed it was out of my personal preferences that I tried to avoid Audi cars, chipped plates and cups, dirty beds, and people dressed in brown.
What about you? Do you have personal dislikes? Do you know anyone who suffers from PTSD? What is their experience? How do they get through it?
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