Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. The 4th of July, fireworks shows, and sex in a dark room are all triggers when it comes to my rape that occurred in 2004. There is also a smell, I don't normally mention that to anyone, except for those closest to me. He smoked a certain brand of cheap cigar that has a distinct odor to it. Let me mention here that I have an unusually good sense of smell. Even the faintest scent of this particular cigar brand will set off my panic receptors. I can and will react in an unpredictable manner. Fortunately, the people I spend time with prefer more expensive cigars, so it's not an issue.
On Thursday, I took my oldest to the DMV, and, like always, there was a line snaking outside the building. I don't mind standing outside, so I talked to him as we waited, and then it assaulted my senses. A cigar, that cigar, and it was somewhere close behind me. First I said it's name, and tried to stay calm. I mean, I'm in line outside the DMV with my 6 foot tall 31 y/o son who is strong enough to fight off anyone, and there's a security guard 50 feet away. I'm safe. But the smell only got stronger. I had to turn around and look. The funny thing is that the young man smiled at me when I turned around like he knew what I was searching for. I plastered on my biggest smile, and asked (like I didn't already know) "Is that a (name?)" He smiled again, and said 'yeah'. That was enough. I told my oldest I had to get something from the car, and hid in there for 15 minutes until my heartbeat and breathing went back to normal. When I returned, my oldest was close to the door, so I told him I'd wait inside.
I feel I handled it well. My oldest was clueless, and I didn't react, but it leaves me wondering if I'll always do that well under pressure. Is this a sign of things to come, or will I act unpredictably the next time? Maybe it's best not to worry about it. I fight my PTSD daily, and I cannot change my past, but I can learn how to get a better handle on things. I just keep telling myself that the danger is gone and I'm safe. It's all I can do.