PTSD in Love

I can’t get the words he said out of my skin. They point, prick and stab. The ones I said stick in and out.

We are dangerous, sharp, messy and impossible to move towards. 

I want to turn back to paper cuts wounds that annoy and splinter. They can be removed and soothed. But we are past that now. We are cautious, surprised, guilty and ashamed.

I don’t know how to fight for myself and be in love. Sometimes it feels like a choice as though we are flags at the end of ropes on opposite teams being pulled.

Only one of us will get to be the winner and I will end up face first in the dirt. That’s how my fear thinks. 

I don’t know how to convince my mouth to stop and pause when words will not help. 

“The map to me,” I said, in safety and in trust, “lies in skin and touch.”

I warned how words no longer get in when I am gone and that is this writer’s tell.

When fear is running the show I speak, hear, see and feel only mean. “That,” I said, “is how you will know I’m not the nicest person you have known.”

When I will throw daggers just to feel my skin.

When I will forget even these words and my own self – afraid.

My lungs and heart drips air and blood I need. I blame when wise me knows it’s never that simple.

Wise me knows the push and pull that lives in you.

Wise me is fearless, loves afraid you.

This is PTSD in love – at least for us – and it’s not news.

Our pasts spinning and swirling in the present.

Our pasts spinning out onto the present.

I don’t know how it’s possible to feel safe in my skin, in love and to disagree.

This is where I would have left you when I was younger. This how and where I have left myself, friends, jobs and dreams


and time

and time again.

I say I let things go but then find them piled into a wall. I say I say nothing because nothing is bothering me except all that remains unsaid turns to pine needles in the rug long after Christmas. They stick and prick the naked skin. They clog the vacuum and smell out of context, incongruous in summer.

You walk on eggshells and are also afraid. You don’t know how to be angry with me because your anger makes me invisible and numb. It makes you afraid I will disappear.


How can I hear words as communication rather than a challenge?

How can I set a place at the table for all of you even when our perspectives are different?

How can I trust angry you is just a seasoning?

I forget that I am not a six-year-old swinging in the bottom of the bunk bed. I need not make a cocoon of a sheet to wrap myself up in using all four covers of the fabric to make a space so small no one else can fit.

I am not the girl who knows her skin is no boundary against trespassers and yet I am. 

How can I free myself from the childhood I am no longer in?

Can I stop trying to control words, people, and everything? Can I learn how to let others in without abandoning either you or me or us?

PTSD in love is this lack of trust.

PTSD in love is forgetting.

PTSD in love is fighting because it’s easier than intimacy. 

I can’t remember how to





I forget





PTSD in love I say without blame or judgment.

PTSD in love is where we have been and will sometimes go. It’s where we will return again as well as long as we are these humans with these histories.

But remember the safe haven?

Remember the clues we left?

Remember the other use for nails that do not get pushed by tongue and teeth by pain into flesh?

Remember the sturdy wood and all the magic hinges and the way a nail support and guide and create an opening which will give sway when it’s hammered in with purpose?

That hinge in the corner will screen, yield, shelter and protect us whether we are coming or going and it will do it countless times.

Remember how the frame of love we built can go nowhere. It will hold us and space once we find our way back. 

I can’t promise I won’t get afraid or run.

I can’t promise I will remember these words right away.

I promise to memorize this terrain though, our PTSD in love, until it becomes I road I recognize so I can find my way back sooner.



You Matter Mantras

  • Trauma sucks. You don't.
  • Write to express not to impress.
  • It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
  • Breathing isn't optional.

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  1. I haven’t read something this powerful in a long, long time, Cissy. There is sooooo much here that resonates for me. Thank you for putting this to words.

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