The Colors of PTSD

How long must I sit here and ruminate? What seems like a century in and of itself, has only been 8 years. The pain has gotten better with time, yet it still haunts my never-ending thoughts. The songs that play invoke the memories of what once was, which brings about anger and fear. What was once beautiful, seems like a dusty dull painting. When will the pastels turn vibrant once more? As I search for the right pallet once again, I am met with more grays and reds. I add more white to soften the hue, yet it burns brighter. Perhaps if I paint this picture, it will stop invading my dreams.

Memories turn into flickers of what once was as they fade into the abyss. A learned pattern of black painting over the ugliness in an attempt to erase the unwanted panorama. However, we all know that even underneath the darkness, the strokes that make it so, are still there. It still exists in our gallery, even if no one sees it anymore. Is that sufficient enough to change our history? As hopes turn into distant dreams, newer brighter ones trickle in. I search desperately to find that perfect spot to paint what could be, ever exploring. The possibilities are endless! Will they see what I see as I paint my future?

I find the perfect pallet and start a new, a fresh canvas is hard to come by. The blank stark white staring back at me, creates the infinite dreams and desires I once had. There’s no more darkness, yet it still is always behind me waiting for the opportune moment to engulf me again. Shine from within and look for the stars. Stock up on those blank canvases and the perfect pallets, I am going to need them. Instead, paint it all black, turn it into something beautiful. Beauty is in fact everywhere. Add some light to the darkness, paint the night sky. There is always something bright to look at, you just have to look hard enough.

As days go by the colors fade once again. I slip back into the black and white dull monotony of life and wonder, is it really worth searching for those colors… again?!?! Maybe if I just turn off the lights and let my rods take over, the pain won’t have to return. I try and try without ceasing to keep the colors at bay, albeit little by little they start to bleed through. Small blips of color pop and the seething red and orange come back if only for a nanosecond. As time passes, the duration of the pops diminishes and I attempt to return to the black and white. All the while I hear “Don’t give in, why don’t you use more color?”

I try and fail at letting other opinions of my paintings rule the roost. Until I finally snap back and realize once more, this is my painting and I wield the brush. So I paint my picture just as I like, only this time, its not as dark as you think. What once was dim now shines even brighter a second time and a third time, even the fourth time. Finally, I see the masterpiece, and let it dry. As I spray the sealant on, I feel the relief washing over me, this canvas is finished. While the painting dries, I pack up my colors for safe keeping. Maybe one day I’ll use those colors again, but for now I lock them up and throw away the key. As beautiful as the painting is, I never want to see these colors again.

~Caitlin Pfeifle~