Pain and Chocolate-From the PTSD Files

Warning: This could be triggering for individuals with a history of self-harming behaviors.

As I go about my morning

A detail of Tuesday’s lost hour

(55 minutes)

Suddenly pops into my head with surprising clarity

I am sure that it has been sitting

Just below the surface for the last four days

And that I have been studiously looking around it

Like a white elephant in the middle of a living room

(why white?  i wonder

i have always liked the idea of a polka-dotted elephant

maybe pink and purple)


C.B. unexpectedly rifles through her notepad

And says, “Do you remember last week’s theme?”

“Last week had a theme?” I think to myself

(i don’t remember a theme)

Sometimes I forget that she writes notes while we talk

It is usually me who breaks the eye contact

Who looks away when I feel too exposed

Maybe she writes during those moments

Or perhaps she has mastered writing legibly

While never breaking eye contact

I picture scrawl at odd angles that she must

Struggle to decipher after I go


She has used the notepad several times

To draw me cryptic diagrams

That I fold like origami before disappearing

Them into the depths of my bag

Never to be seen again

(or at least not yet)


She looks again at the lined

White legal pad with curled up edges

(hello ocd)

On her lap to make sure she gets the phrasing exact

While I idly wonder if I have my own dedicated pad

Just for me

Or whether she uses it for everyone and

Gives us secret code names to remember

Whose notes belong to whom

For no particular reason I decide I want to be Blue Iguana


“I am attuned to pain” she reads my words back to me

The room is silent as I absorb this and consider

Why she wants to talk about this now

I am (relatively) sure that at the moment I said it

I meant that I was sensitive to other people’s pain

The probing and insightful look she is currently giving me

Suggests that she at least understands that

There are many layers of meaning to those five words

That I am still not so sure I am ready to explore


I rarely think about my relationship to pain (much)

Though I have had flashing thoughts lately (maybe more than flashing)

That not so unlike alcoholics and drug addicts

That perhaps (just maybe)

I have an addiction to pain

(and chocolate

but chocolate hasn’t come up yet in our sessions)

Not just any pain

But my pain

That maybe inflicting psychic self-pain (and maybe physical pain)

Hurting myself in this way

(if I take that self-revealing selfie what I do to the skin of my chest,

my breasts might be visible to others)

Has become compulsive

Out of control


I have not told anyone yet

Of the flash, the vision I had on Thursday morning

(barely acknowledged it to myself actually)

Of what it would look like

If my right wrist was cut open

Skin peeled back surgically

Tendons and muscles exposed

A puddle of blood

Seeping through the piles of papers on my desk

That I never seem to be able to make go away

I am horrified (and oddly comforted)

by this grisly image

I am not sure whether I am going to tell CB about it this Tuesday

(i am not sure that this is the only secret i am keeping from her and from myself)

Maybe this is why

I am eating so much chocolate these days

Categories: Poetry

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