I'm sleep-deprived and the shittiest part of the end of the world--the lack of caffeine--means that my mental acuity isn't getting any artificial boosts. Yesterday I mentioned that my unsure reaction to violence and having to fight had larger implications than I originally thought. That wasn't quite accurate. Instead I should say that it has more personal implications.
Yeah, I want to be able to stand up for the community. But what the hell happens if I'm out in the world at some point with Jess and freeze up? There are numerous situations that might arise (the Exiles returning first among them at the moment) that might lead to us having to flee New Haven. Hell, it might not be anything so extreme. What if we're called to visit one of our allied communities or something? What if we have a skillset required for a particular recovery trip with our scouts?
Everything has consequences. Every action has a reaction, a domino effect that ripples forward as unstoppable as the tide. Not all of them are bad, obviously, but I can't imagine me being crippled by anxiety when trying to defend my wife could end well.
Over the last month or so I've spent a lot of time talking to people about my problems. I've written an inordinate amount of words about it on here. I still believe it isn't inherently right or wrong to feel as I do. Self-recrimination won't solve the problem. And this is a problem. I accept that my issues exist as a set of reactions to the world around me and the terrible things I've seen and done. I can't undo them.
No amount of therapy is going to make those feelings go away entirely. I will never be able to know how my reactions will play out until I test them, and I don't want that test to put someone I love at risk. I can learn to be at peace with my situation over time and I plan on working toward that.
It's also possible for me to do that and bypass the risk that comes with my fear of facing combat. When I was a kid I got over my fear of spiders by making it a point to approach them when I saw them. I hated it. I cried. The terror pushing me to run away was almost a singularity, it was so powerful. I didn't give in to it then.
Steve has had the right idea by taking me to the holding area and making me fight the undead. He began the process of rebuilding the emotional callouses I need--that all of us need--to make it in the world today. It isn't a pretty reality, but it's the only one we have. My friends are showing me a lot of love and giving me total support, but I need to know that I will do the right thing if my loved ones are threatened. If I'm against the wall and no one is there to back me up, can I stand true?
It's a good thing people have an incredible capacity for cognitive dissonance. Maintaining the separate mental constructs that A) I need to heal slowly, over time, and come to grips with my breakdown and B) that I need to be able to ignore the pain of my emotional scars in an emergency, is going to be hard. But I can do it.
The how is another monster entirely. I've killed a few dozen zombies in the last several weeks with Steve. Not a lot of human beings around to murder out of hand. So today I start training my body and mind together. First step is combat with a living person. People, actually. I'm joining in on the practice sessions our assault teams and full-time defenders do every day. They aren't going to use any kid gloves. I don't want them to.
I think I can do this. I have to try. Without that vital edge, one mistake could cost me everything I hold dear.
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