My bridal gown was huge and gorgeous. And also impractical. I could hardly go anywhere on my own, and my dad had just told me to stay put or else the wedding guests would see me before the ceremony.
Before he left I requested, for the third time, that he go find one of my bridesmaids for me. He said he'd try.
And then I was alone.
No cell phone.
I was hungry. There was no food and no way to contact anyone for food.
I felt panic begin to rise.
*You're okay* I reassured myself. *You're not really alone. Someone will be by soon.*
The minutes dragged on. I was alone. I couldn't move and I was alone. I couldn't eat and I was alone. I couldn't contact anyone, and I was alone.
A familiar silent scream emerged from the darkness and remained in the back of my head like a nearby emergency siren. I spent years of my life listening to that every second of every minute of every day. The overwhelmingly desperate need to escape your situation, and yet entirely powerless to do so. Screaming internally nonstop because there is nothing you can do, and yet, it is unbearable.
And you are alone with your suffering.
I couldn't take it any longer. I forced my logical brain to think through the haze of the flashback. This time I am capable of resolving this, I told myself firmly. Suddenly I decided my sanity was more important than the guests potentially glimpsing the bride before the wedding started. And so I picked up my gigantic dress and train in both hands, and headed in the direction of people.
My dad spotted me first. "Get back inside!" he says sternly, the stress of the Big Day evident.
It takes every ounce of mental fortitude I have to focus my thoughts. "I am having a PTSD reaction and I REALLY need one of my bridesmaids", I communicate.
"They're busy", he states matter-of-factly.
"Well they're supposed to be busy helping me!" In hindsight that retort felt a bit closer to bridezilla than I'd like, but it was true nonetheless.
He left to go see what he could do, and I was left alone again. I paced outside, unable to stay still, the eyes of the curious public on me. I willed my face to not betray how I was crawling out of my own skin.
Finally, the face of a familiar old friend, asking what I needed help with. The moment we were alone and she embraced me I lost it. The silent scream was no longer silent. I was hysterical, sobbing, shrieking in terror, eyes wide, body cringing away from the invisible forces that threatened to crush my very existence. My chest felt like it was exploding from the pain. My entire body shook uncontrollably.
I don't know how long it took for me to calm down. It was a while. As soon as I could, I explained that I could not be left alone, it was a trigger to all those years of severe illness.
The flashback was disorienting in its intensity. I was overcome with nausea as my body spasmed, as if attempting to figure out how to put itself back together after such severe trauma. "What happened?" others who had heard my screams poked their heads in, concerned. "PTSD", was all I could manage to reply.
After the crying came the numbness. My emotions were all wrung out. I had nothing left. It took every ounce of focus not to vomit. "It's okay", my friend assured me. "They can't start the ceremony without you."
Another person entered. "They've started the ceremony."
My stomach dropped, and I heaved towards the bucket someone had helpfully placed nearby.
I can do this, I told myself. I'm not letting PTSD ruin my wedding.
With one last deep breath I stood up, stepped out, and walked down the aisle towards the rest of my life and dreams.
I have not forgotten.
Blog entry posted by Dainty, Sep 22, 2018.
About the Author
Dainty became ill as a teenager and spent 7 years mostly bedridden from ME/CFS, life-threatening MCS reactions, extreme food allergies/sensitivities, cognitive impairment, fibromyalgia, episodes of temporary paralysis and various unexplained emergencies. The past 5 years she has experienced profound improvement from various treatment approaches. With homelessness and PTSD presenting as significant obstacles, she continues to pursue healing full time and find incorrigible opportunities to enjoy life.