Dear Mom

You asked the other day if I was “ok”. I answered “yes” to the question and did not respond to the inquiring tone in your voice. Your question, and my answer, have mulled in my mind for a few days culminating in an unexpected written response, today. The content of this response surprised me. I suspect it will surprise you, and anyone who may read further if I am brave enough to publish this document. I never questioned whether or not I was brave, policing and fighting for my life and all, but I never expected bravery to house such transparency.

So yes to your question, I am “ok”. To answer further I define “ok” as including the fact that I will not injure myself. I suspect your three word question had more to it than either of us voiced. From my perspective both the question, and my ability to answer in the affirmative, are far more complex than your three word query finished with an upward tone marking a spoken question.

Over the years I am also sure you have noticed I can be pretty exacting about words. That means sometimes it is really hard to connect with me. What I have pieced together is when someone asks me a question I answer the exact question. So yes I am “ok”. My mind knows the definition of “ok” as wishy washy to the point where it is really a chameleon of a word. A chameleon of a word embedded in a question that requires a yes or no answer means I make the conversation as short as my one word answer. The result then becomes inconsistent with the situation.

With all that said by now I am sure you can see a bunch of floating thought bubbles holding the words I think you were really asking. Yes my dear Mom, I am “ok”. To be precise I find that the construction in the adjoining properties to our backyard causes a pervasive, persistent vibration in my body. It is a low hum that can be ignored only on the conscious level. It cannot be ignored on the physical level. Some of the reactions I am noticing, as a result of this ceaseless noise, is a reactive wish to throw chaos into my life.

That reaction includes flashes of ending relationships, self abusive behaviour, and less than calculated risks designed to dump adrenaline through my veins. All of this underpins what is really going on in my body as I am desperate to know the world is safe and alive instead of something that wraps one in a wet wool blanket surreptitiously plugged into an outlet pulsing an electrical charge. This causes me to fight with symptoms of that almost overused acronym – PTSD.

The current symptoms I am trying to eliminate, crush, or frack out of my body arrive in force with my forever companion called “Tinnitus”. It pitches high and fast and it simply best described as the music one would find in a psychological horror film. When I finally fall in exhaustion I later discover my body has taken over to the point where I have actually soiled the bed, only the way only a baby can soil. I am irritable beyond the wishy washy definition of “normal” and don’t want to engage. I manage all of this by being driven to do hard physical work and move my body, secretly knowing all this anxious movement is a siren call of wanting to run away.

None of this allows for peace so when I do fall asleep I know the nightmares are waiting in the wings. What is interesting is I do find a flash of peace because I know the nightmares are manageable today, for they are not night terrors. Today those nightmares happen to be stories that are not mine. This indicates some reprieve from one of the most horrific of PTSD symptoms  – the day and night terrors. Just for today those nightmares are very old yet very familiar dreams. They are all tied to Nazi Germany/WWII.

My analysis of all of this chaos starts with knowing I need to answer your question, my dear Mother. I am “ok” and I need to be brave allowing gentle analysis for these aforementioned symptoms.  That gentle analysis starts with, possibly the most horrific of symptoms, the soiling of the bed. I find I understand it as a release from very young stuff to which I have tethered far too long. That old and weathered tether is the story of not being believed when I say something. It is so old that I have lost the desire to demonstrate any emotion to what I share. My sharing has become perpetually dry and stoic.

To allow a gentle interpretation I find I must look at the surrounding circumstances  afternoon before and as I do I register I was believed by a coworker. I then recognize I am believed by my doctor, my counsellor, and a case worker, as well as my partner. I also have some injured colleagues deep in the throws of PTSD and they also believe me. Being believed is so important. This camaraderie resulted in an unexpected police platoon upon which I now find myself. One of those unexpected friends call this new platoon, Platoon F. To explain, my police work was comprised of five platoons which were named using the first five letters in the alphabet. F is the sixth letter and a platoon that never existed in the workplace. It is also the letter that starts a common explicative which seems to fit our alliance.

My second analysis is about the Nazi Germany nightmares. I suspect they may be tied to stuff I picked up with Grandpa talking about the war. Being his granddaughter he spoke to me in a way he did not with his children. I am also very hesitant to discount that you, my dear Mother, in this gentle analysis. You see I know you were in utero when the Nazis were banging on the front door of the house. You were in utero while your mother was braving the horrors the Nazis at your door. This story is profound because Grandma was facing the Nazi’s while Grandpa, and the men they were hiding on the farm were running out the back door dodging active fire. So in this second analysis I venture to say our stories carry on in the DNA in what is known as ancestral wisdom.

My ancestral story is one of strong women.  We both know that Grandma need never be contained to one paragraph, nor one sentence. You, well you are part of that ancestral story and in that process you have lived a number of decades in which you seem to upcycle one or another of your well used nine lives. Me, well I have been raised well, and continue to brave redefining so many institutionalized injustices I now find myself teaching my two boys all the while knowing they have been born to privilege tied to gender, neutral accent English, and white skin colour to name three.

My final analysis is I am different than the daughter you knew. Mom you and I both know familiar pieces of who I was still remain. One of those pieces is I still cannot let injustices remain unchecked as I look to build a legacy dedicated to peace. In that process I appear to be word specific, which does not generally lend itself to verbal communication. Today, three days after you asked if I was “ok”, I finally answer beyond “yes” as I scribe on the 21st Century form of pen to paper, my computer.

In conclusion have a little laugh knowing that as I write I have determined  a third pair of glasses are necessary as I age. The distance ones are not right for the computer screen, the reading glasses are also inaccurate, and my naked eye needs help. Know that you have taught me well and I am able to dig deep and upcycle my nine lives and meet the Nazis at the door. None of that is easy and all of that is packaged in the word “ok”. I will manage, as I always have, due to wonderful examples from strong quiet women.

Love your daughter


Jt Murphy signing off for shift.

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