23 March 2010

The Trauma of The Beginning of Spring

Today everybody looked tired. I thought I might've been projecting, but a few co-workers told me, without my asking or prompting, that they indeed were as tired as I thought they were.

Maybe it had something to do with the rain, which started falling yesterday morning. It hasn't been particularly heavy, but it's been dreary. Although temperatures have been mild, the sort of rain we've had doesn't leave people with the sense that spring is on its way, much less present.

I'm starting to worry about something. Today I bumped into the head of the office of academic advisement, a very nice professor of social work and three Spanish professors who indulge my terrible accent when I speak their language. I hadn't seen any of them in some time, and they were all very friendly to me. In fact, the Spanish profs--all female, two of whom are, as best as I can tell, straight--embraced me warmly. Somehow, though, I felt lonelier after seeing them, as well as the social work prof and the director of advisement.

Lately, I notice that whenever I'm at the college and not in the classroom, or otherwise working with students, I feel like a stone in an ocean. Seeing the people I saw today made me realize that so much has passed and, in some way, I am a different person now because of it. It's almost as if they were talking to someone who doesn't exist anymore. In a very real sense, he doesn't. Nor does she: the one who followed him and preceded me.

Some people are committing all sorts of petty treachery. Others, I think, have tried to be friendly or at least have made gestures toward that. Somehow they are more more alienating than the ones who are hostile or treacherous.

Maybe I'm suffering from a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. Memories bubble to the surface and I don't want to talk to other people, even if they ask how I'm doing. If I were going to tell the truth, I'd say that during the past couple of days, all I can think about are the people who were once in my life but are gone from this life. They were friends, lovers and relatives who, in one way or another, had to deal with their own sorts of pain, as I had to deal with mine.

In my case, I didn't know how much pain I was in until I wasn't in it anymore. That's something I don't expect most people to understand. My old social worker and therapist, on the other hand, probably would have understood. In fact, they both said that the experience of being in the closet, not to mention the prejudice and sometimes violence we experience and internalize, is a kind of trauma. And in that sense, they said, helping LGBT people is often like helping trauma victims.

It's the beginning of spring. But the harshness of winter is neither so far in the past nor from the surface. Or so it seems.

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