This time of year is always the most difficult for me - the end of April and the beginning of May. While at this point in time I do not wish to disclose the precise reason, I will allude to it. When I was but an adolescent, I experienced the worst trauma of my entire life. That trauma has followed me every step. I suffered from PTSD for a long time after - although at the time I didn't know what was happening. The flashbacks wouldn't end.
Flashbacks, in accordance with PTSD, can make you feel like you've returned to the scene of the trauma. They can make you believe that no time has passed and you're stuck in time repeating history. It's frightening, painful, and inescapable. Your mind is triggered backwards and it has a hard time remembering how to leave.
While many years have passed, and the flashbacks have slowed - they like to reappear annually around this time of year. I will be innocently smelling the night air, or perhaps laying in bed, when all of a sudden I'm back at the scene of the crime. Emotions flood my consciousness and I'm reminded of all the horrible things that happened, like it's happening in the present. I try to move past it, but I've learned a long time ago that flashbacks are not easily escaped, or for that matter, avoided.
Last night was no different. I spent a good piece of my present time remembering my excruciating history. It brings up so many dark memories, and darker feelings. Self-loathing, depression, anxiety, panic, fear...I felt myself falling backwards into torturous nothingness. Luckily for me, this instance had a rare exception to previous instances - I had a very loving and supportive partner. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been able to express myself openly, or as easily. I would have flailed in my own personal hell for a lot longer. Instead, they listened and held me, and reminded me that I was safe.
I think about all the other people suffering with flashbacks, and empathy pours out of me. I wish no one had to re-live their traumas. The mind is a delicate machine, that can be unfortunately programmed with undesirable routines. The trick is learning how to cope. While I understand the pressure to make it "all go away" (all too well), it's not the best solution. You inevitably end up hurting someone else - and perhaps even cause them PTSD, making it a vicious cycle. It's best to learn how to cope. The most important thing here is that time heals. While it heals rather slowly, it does heal. Perhaps there will be a scar, but it means you're a survivor - not a victim.
While I was thinking about coping techniques, I did a Google search for the hell of it. I turned out this article: Coping with Flashbacks by Matthew Tull. There's some good information there - I think next time I experience a flashback I'll try either biting into some peppermint gum, or cranking my music. It can't hurt.
In my previous post I mentioned being grilled by a Japanese company for a position as an ESL teacher. I've been in constant contact with a representative from the company and after completing a questionnaire, essay and grammar test, along with submitting two references, and a copy of my degree and passport - I finally have an answer. While it is conditional on submitting a third reference, the representative told me she is 99.99% certain she was going to hire me. She wants me to start looking for flights to Toronto for orientation day. My tentative start date is August 18. I told her I would be more comfortable with waiting until it was official. I won't have the third reference until next week, so at least it gives me some time.
Time? Time for what? Well, last Friday (April 4) I had an interview with another possible employer who hires in Quebec (technically a government job). The interview was really successful - it was comfortable, I answered the questions professionally and there was chemistry with the interviewer. He said he would give me an excellent recommendation but it was ultimately up to the employer in Quebec whether they wanted to hire me or not. It's for a position as a language assistant and it would be very similar to the Japanese job. They'll take longer to reply with an answer so I'm hoping that I hear back from them before I send in my third reference, and confirm my position with the Japanese employer. If I was offered a position in Quebec, it might change my mind. Staying in Canada and learning French has other advantages.
While that's going on, I received an e-mail yesterday from yet another employer. I applied for a media relations/communications job months ago, and finally I hear back with: "After an initial review of your application, you are currently in the group of remaining candidates being considered". I just stared at those words. Then they asked me to complete a 40+ minute questionnaire. What is with employers and questionnaires? Anyway, I thought, why not? So I completed the questionnaire, and now I'm waiting to hear back. Yeah - that's right - three potential employers all at once. I didn't see this coming.
I've spent months and months scouring around for a job. Applying to as many as I could and hearing only negative responses in return. I was beginning to think that I was un-hirable. I was actually settling in with that attitude - thinking about completely throwing myself in to my writing and forgetting about a conventional job. Which was a painful concept to accept since being broke sucks. You still need money to subsist as a writer. Now I'm suddenly in a position with at least one guaranteed job and a possibility of two others. If I do hear back from either or both, then I honestly don't know what I'll do.
Each job has its positives and negatives, and they're all in different places. One in Japan, one in Quebec and one locally. While I will be confronted with some difficult decisions, I also know that I've wanted to live in Japan ever since I was a little girl. I've been in love with Japanese culture for as long as I can remember. This is a dream opportunity that may never knock again. I could say the same about the Quebec opportunity but the reality is I may never have the chance to work in Japan again. The only thing really holding me back is the trusted words of my third reference. It's my Japanese professor from university - we met again last year at my boyfriend's work Christmas party. It was like fate. Anyway, she said her friend worked for the same company and had a really negative experience. I'm waiting to hear back why she had problems - if it was related to the employer directly in some way, I may have to reconsider.
Anyway, I clearly have some upcoming decisions. Either way, things will change in a big way. What's really exciting, is that I'll have the opportunity to share my experiences with my readers. For now, it's a wait-and-see game.
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