Pain and Chocolate-From the PTSD Files (revisited)

As I go about my life

a detail of Tuesday’s lost hour

(55 minutes)

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 don’t remember a theme)

I forget that she writes notes while we talk

I look down 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 leave


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

She looks 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 who

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 (okay, 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)

to my pain

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

hurting myself in this way

has become compulsive

out of control


© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved


  1. This is a stunning piece of writing. I really love the complexity of the thoughts behind the description of the reality and how the writing of the poem reflects back to the notes being read and written inside of it. It’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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