Sacred Heart Redux, with some hard thoughts about C-PTSD in crisis times.

Jeweled Sacred Heart lit by fire by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020I am so lucky to be obsessed with new materials right now.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have the privilege of staying safely at home, and then as if the universe is being wildly generous, I am also really excited about some mixed media work. I made this Jeweled Sacred Heart, which you see here in our hallway lit by actual fire, with the 3D Printer Pen my mom-in-law gave me for Christmas.

Jeweled Sacred Heart made by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020Like many trauma survivors and childhood sexual abuse survivors with C-PTSD, I am feeling calm and focused.

I’ve been seeing disabled, chronically ill and survivor folx on twitter, Medium and The Mighty talk about how they feel clear and cool. For the first time in a long time, our insides match the outside. This isn’t a good feeling, but it is a different feeling than feeling like you are wrong for how you feel. Or being told you’re crazy for how you feel.

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020My nervous system feels lined up with the world in a way that it never usually does.

And I feel powerful, because I’m endocrinologically in touch with all the resources that helped me survive my abusive father, adolescent sexual attackers, professional harassers, and life-long severe depression and OCD.

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020It’s true that my night terrors have ramped up, and the nightmares are harder to shake off when I wake up.

But unlike so many chronically ill and disabled folk, I have all my medications on hand.

Who knew that my American habit of hoarding meds, developed in my early 40s when for a short period before Obamacare I was both uninsured and uninsurable, would come in handy? Well, me, I knew. Because I’ve always expected this.

If you’re disturbed by GenXers in your timelines yelling “Wolverines!” and seeming … almost relieved ???, please know: it’s the first time in decades the world’s messaging matches the daily messaging of our C-PTSD endrocrine systems.

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020 flame detailI told my husband that I imagined this time when we signed the lease for our flat.

“You did??” he replied, astonished. Of course I did. This, or the water wars, or dirigibles of starving Southern Hemisphereans landing at Tempelhofer Field and taking, deservedly, the food and medicine we should have been giving them all along.

 As an ’80s teenager I used to jolt awake at a crack of lightning in my Chelsea bedroom, thinking, “That was it. The bomb.”

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020 on velvetYou don’t ever shake that off; we are all refugees of some terrible part of the timeline or the planet.

It’s just that the West has never wanted to admit it, has never wanted us to raise our voices or amplify the voices of all the other sufferers.

I myself couldn’t really hear the voice of my own trauma until I came to Berlin and got on good German health insurance.

Until I went to the ER and never got a single bill. Until my husband and I pulled ourselves from a burning building.

Turns out social justice is the most important thing in the world.

We all matter. Our burning hearts are one.

Hearts Afire shadowbox

Hearts Afire embroidery

4 thoughts on “Sacred Heart Redux, with some hard thoughts about C-PTSD in crisis times.

  1. Victoria Aronoff

    I felt this way after September 11th, when so many people were saying, I can’t believe this happened or I never expected something like this to happen, my whole world has been shattered etc. I don’t recommend spending a whole life suffering from anxiety and the constant feeling like something bad is going to happen (and in my case feeling this way everytime I felt happy, because of course I would be punished for that!). But it does come in handy during significant external crises, like you say. And as Bridget Jones said, all the “smug marrieds” are facing a crisis to their imagined perfect existences. I don’t wish ill on them, of course! And I’m perplexed and impressed how they even lived that way, thinking nothing bad would ever happen. I really don’t know what i”m saying except, that YES, I understand what you are saying!

    1. Suzanne Forbes Post author

      Ah, I totally get that about September 11th! Were you still in DC, or in Murray Hill by Kurt Vonnegut’s place? I can’t remember, which is weird! I was in California, and I actually worked a farmer’s market that day, selling artisan pasta to people who asked if we had any sweet pea and lemon zest ravioli left, and acted like absolutely nothing had happened!

      So many adult people in Northern California in the 90s and Oughts made me crazy, living their lives like NOTHING bad would ever happen. Leaving their windows and doors unlocked *in the city*. I used to lose my mind at the injustice of them being kids in a world so different from the one where you and I would walk up Broadway from Little Red, eating Starburst and stepping around the homeless people, dirty needles and broken glass.

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