Crying Toddlers and PTSD

During that time that could be either the middle of the night, or early morning, depending on perspective, a toddler in my apartment complex unlocked their front door, climbed down a flight of stairs, toddled over to our breezeway and started crying outside my bedroom window. I thought it was the little girl upstairs, and Shelly assured me that she was probably just sick, and her grandma couldn’t console her. I tried to go back to sleep, but the crying had triggered one of those emotional responses that only those who have suffered from something like PTSD can understand. I had heard those scared toddler cries before. My sister used to cry like that when my father had turned his attention to her. The crying continued for some time; it could have been a few minutes or a few hours, I honestly don’t know. I wrapped myself around my wife, and tried to ease the anger/panic/sadness that was drilling into my head and wringing out my stomach. I couldn’t tell if I was conscious and having a panic/PTSD attack, if I was asleep and having nightmares, or some combination of both.

Our diagonally upstairs neighbors looked out the window, and saw the unescorted toddler, and tried to find the parents. Only one apartment has unidentified people in it, so it wasn’t hard. I assume that the reason they didn’t answer their door when an attempt was made to return their child was that they aren’t supposed to have all the people there in the apartment, and they didn’t realize that the toddler was out of the house. The police were called, and they arrived, all during my failed attempt to control this flood of emotion circulating throughout my body.

The police knocked on our door, and I think they rang the doorbell. I got up, threw on some shorts, and peeked out the peephole. They had moved on by the time I got to the door. Shelly went to the window, saw the police car, and asked me what was going on. I stepped out into the breezeway to hear to figure out what was going on. I was not there long before our diagonally upstairs neighbors started back up the stairs. They stopped and let me know what happened, and while we had a brief conversation, a man from the toddlers apartment was placed in the back of one of the police cars. The outside drama was concluded.

Neither my wife or I were ready to attempt sleep. We did what has now become our usual thing, which is to retreat to our individual computers and try to block out the world. She with her timer games, and me with my combination of researching whatever (this time researching clarinets and flugelhorns), and piddling around Farmville.

My wife decided she wanted to watch a “True Blood” episode, but I just wasn’t up for it – too much anger and posturing, and I was having too much trouble with my roller coaster of internal scream. This was a good example of her issue and mine not meshing. We had a quick discussion about how she needed to do something, I couldn’t deal with the anger of that show, but wanted to connect some other way, like playing a card game. She told me that she felt disconnected since we left a bad situation 2 years ago. I think it went back farther than that, but it really did get more pronounced then. I need to connect. I need to reach out so I can regain control over this out of control buzzing of anger and panic. I zoned back into the computer, because I couldn’t get my thoughts to form. She laid down and went to sleep, probably feeling ignored (upon editing this for spelling and tense error, she informed me that it was a feeling of guilt, because she was in the midst of her own issue, and couldn’t bring herself to reach out). I am not 100% sure, but I am pretty sure that occurrences like this are why counselors say that couples who both have PTSD have a difficult time. I started to do the thing I usually do when I give up on connecting, but still have to occupy my mind somehow. I sat down to play on the computer. Unfortunately, Farmville lost its interest.

So here I am, trying to gain control through listening to jazz and putting this all down on virtual paper. I look over at my wife, and all I really want to do is curl up around her, and lose myself in the comfort of a snuggle. Unfortunately, I realize that if I do, I will probably be comforted enough to give into the exhaustion and fall asleep, and then enter that world of memory and projection that has become what I have instead of restful sleep. Somehow, even this little bit of writing has killed about 3 hours, and I am now relaxed enough to feel the exhaustion. I will probably end up giving in to that snuggle urge shortly. Hopefully this time will be a bit different, and I will get some decent sleep. After connecting the sound of that scared toddler to scared toddlers of my past, I doubt sleep will be restful.

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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