Thursday, April 1, 2010

When The Night Is Dark

Are you ready?

Well, I'm not sure I am.

I don't know that I am ready to tell you what I am about to, but I do know that it is time.

So here it is...

Some days I think I am losing it. I have moments where I am sure I am going crazy, I am sure I am the biggest disaster of a person that the world has ever known.

Sometimes...I am a wreck.

A few days ago I was working in the back office here in Colorado Springs, out of sight of the front door. One of our staff members had left to run and errand, it was windy that day. As she opened the door upon her return the wind whipped violently through the building. It was so strong that it rattled all the doors and windows. Before I even processed what I was doing I was out of my chair. My heart was racing, my eyes darted frantically around for a place to go. It was over by the time I realized it had begun but the damage punched me so hard I couldn't breath. In just seconds I was catapulted back 10 weeks. I was crying. My body started shaking. For those brief seconds my world rocked again. For those brief seconds I realized once again that I was powerless regarding the earth beneath my feet.

Even worse yet, it wasn't the first time that had happened. Once I was in a grocery store. I stood in an aisle and saw the shelves crashing down on top of me. As the people around me watched I dropped my basket and ran for the nearest exit. They stared in curiosity while I fell apart.

Sometimes when it happens I am in a crowd and it is awful, usually though, it comes at night. In the days directly following the earthquake the hours of darkness were the worst. Lying in bed you felt every single tremor. I would drift off to sleep only to be jerked awake by the next aftershock. My stomach tied in knots as I finally gave up trying to sleep and just laid there praying for morning. Amazingly after a few days I began sleeping again, partially because there is only so much a body can do before you have no other choice. Mostly, because people at home were praying specifically for my peace. Bible verses poured into my email and at night when the fear and darkness overwhelmed I would read them over and over again. I slept. So, imagine my shock when over a month later the sleepless nights returned. I was finally feeling like I might be getting myself back together and then they started again. The "earthquakes" Most of the time it is just as I am falling asleep. Right as my eyes start to close my bed begins to shake. Instantly, I am awake. My body is filled with adrenaline and I know there is no hope of me going to sleep now. I fill the dark of night working, watching infomercials and praying. I don't sleep. The drifting off "quakes" are awful The middle of the night ones are worse. If I do end up falling asleep I can only pray I will not have one of those. More often than not I do. I wake up to my entire room swaying side to side. I can see the items on the shelf next to my bed crash to the floor and I can hear voices screaming and babies crying. Even when I have been awake for several seconds I can still feel it. When those come I know my night is over. There is no lying down again after that.

I understand that what I am going through it normal. I understand that what happened in Haiti was traumatic but I can't help but feel guilty and embarrassed about it. How can I be so upset when I am safe? How can I be "allowed" to be so traumatized when there are others who have it so much worse. I was inside the gates of a compound that sustained no damage. I lost, not one family member or friend. I saw the same CNN images you did, I watched it unfold on the TV with the rest of the world. I got on a plane because I had somewhere to go.

I left.

I left my friends when they were scared. I left them in chaos and hopelessness. I left and now I am in a place that is safe. I have more than most Haitians could ever dream of. My body doesn't understand. I fight it with all that I can but I can not fight what I do not understand. I do not understand why I can't enter a room without taking note of the nearest exit. I don't understand why I can't just pray and have peace. I don't understand, I hate it and I feel guilty. What right do I have to be traumatized by this? The things I felt and saw are nothing compared to what the Haitians have, why can't I just deal?

I hope you can see why this was difficult to share. I don't want to be a "damaged" person. I want my faith to be enough to conquer my fears. I want to be strong and I don't know why I'm not. I love the person I have become since January 12th and at the same time I hate her. I hate waiting for morning in the dark of night.


nan said...

thank you for sharing, Rhyan. please don't forget the love and care you gave to those babies while you were there, with 150%, all serving God. if I remember correctly, you left to help the babies being adopted...i know you did not want to leave, and yet now you are doing so much at home to help them in a long-lasting way, even though at times i am sure it doesn't feel like it. God's peace be with you as you process all that has transpired...

Lumiya said...

Rhyan- you have me love, my prayers and my admiration. Your strength is amazing. You are God's gift to the world of helpless drone's like me that are searching for something more out there. The babies you left in Haiti stay strong because they know their day will come, the day when they will be where you are and when they are afraid from the past events they will have people in their life to lean on. You know how to get in touch with me if you ever need a friend. We may not be related at all, you are still part of my family!

I loev you, keep your chin up and remember that it's darkest before dawn. It will get better!

Anonymous said...

Dear Rhyan, Faith alone may not be enough when you are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Please find a professional to help you through this.

Nancy said...

Exactly what I was going to say, Anonymous. You have no control over PTSD by yourself.

Anonymous said...

Oh Rhyan! I've dealt with similar night terrors, although not from an earthquake. What I found comfort and healing in was Psalm 27. Please read it. It really pulled me through. Whenever you wake up feeling that way, choose your favorite verse from that chapter to memorize, and recite yourself back to sleep.
Mattie Patterson
My Mom's blog is There you can contact me if you want to.

shannalyn85 said...

Hey Rhyan! Even though I didn't go through what you did, I can relate to the being fearful of many things. Lately, it's been a fear of planes (both crashing in them and also being on the ground and having a plane crash into me.) It sounds ridiculous and I have no idea where it came from. Also, being that I live in LA, I've always been terrified of earthquakes. Ever since I moved here and to this day, I constantly check the exits, think about the best place to be if a bad one were to happen. The fears that I have of many things often consume me. Over the past few weeks, however, I realized as a Christian, I can't let fear overwhelm me. I cam across this verse and it really impacted my life. Maybe it will help you too: "For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are my children if you do not fear anything that is frightening." 1 Peter 3:5-6. Fear is a hard thing to overcome at times, but I guess that's why we are able to remember verses and constantly repeat them in our heads. "Do not fear anything that is frightening." Wow.