Disclaimer: Although not horrific in nature, this post is not intended for young kids. Also, probably not safe for work.
1. A deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
2. Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury….
“There’s a bullet in my pocket burning a hole. You’re so far from your weapon and you want to go home.”
~ The Dead Weather
I’ve chosen to publish this blog post for two reasons. The first is to take back the power those officers took from me all those years ago. I’ve felt shame, embarrassment and immense amounts of guilt over the years. I’m just now started reaching a point of talking about it. The other is that If other’s have been in similar situations, my hope is that they will see this posting and know that they aren’t alone. It wasn’t their fault. Let me repeat that. It wasn’t your fault. If I can face it and get past it, so can they. It’s hard. And I’m currently in the middle of it. But, I’ve never been more confident than I am today that I’m on the right path toward recovery.
The following, while not meant to be a transcript from a recent PTSD session, is how I am instructed to speak about it every week. Speaking of it in present tense as if it’s happening now is completely intentional. I have to make an audio recording of it on my iPod Touch. Between weekly appointments, I’m to listen to myself speaking about it once a day. Eventually, I suppose, it won’t have the impact on me that it does today. At least that’s the desired outcome. While speaking about it, you will see my counselor break in asking for my SUDS score. It’s sort of a stress level indicator. I established the benchmarks in the beginning. Zero is me sitting on the beach in the early morning on Oahu’s North Shore. Fifty is me in the middle of a crowd of people at Gay Pride in Denver (nod to my social anxiety). And One Hundred is the middle of this incident described here. I begin after I’ve been pulled over for speeding. It ends as I drive away. I was dressed in female clothing. For some reason I decided to leave the valley where I grew up. The police officers involved are from the California Highway Patrol. I don’t have their names.
Setting: Lambs Canyon, Riverside County, California (A canyon between Beaumont and the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley)
Date: Sometime between June, 1991 and June, 1992. I’m not entirely sure of the date. It’s late at night. I’m heading back toward Hemet.
I just pulled over to the side of the road. A police car is behind me with lights on.
My breathing is heavy and for some reason, I’m hiding my male clothes. But, before I stash them under my backpack, I grab my wallet. I’m also grabbing my registration and proof of insurance from the glove box.
I do a quick once over to make sure the car looks okay. And I hear a knock on the glass. I forgot to roll down the window.
As I roll down the window, I hope the officer will be professional. I quickly think of the story I told myself if this ever happened. I’m on my way home from a party at a friend’s house.
I can barely see the officer. It’s almost like he’s standing behind me. He asks if I know how fast I was going. I say I’m not sure. He asks for my license, registration and proof of insurance. I give it to him.
The officer walks back to his car.
While waiting, I think about taking the dress off. But, I’m not sure if I have time to take it off and put my clothes on. Maybe the top. Maybe not. I decide to just leave it as is and hope the officer is professional.
He’s taking a long time. Longer than I thought he would.
Counselor: What’s your SUDS?
Another car pulls up and stops in front of mine. Or is it the first car? No. It looks like the first one is still back there.
The first officer walks past me to speak with officer #2. I can see them being friendly. They know each other. Officer #2 starts to laugh and look in my direction.
I think I better get my shoes. But, I’m not sure how that will look. My shoes and socks are in the passenger seat floor. Will it look like I’m reaching for a weapon?
I want to run. But, that’s not smart. If I drive away, they’ll follow me. And everyone knows that makes things worse.
Officer #1 turns in my direction and says “Sir, please step out of the car.”
I pretend not to hear him. Even though my window is open and they aren’t more than 20 yards away from me.
This time more strenuously, he repeats himself.
I open the door and slowly step out. I tell them that I know this looks funny. I was just at a friend’s house. It was a costume party. I’m sorry for speeding. I was just on my way home.
Officer #1 ignores me and tells me to close the door to the car. The door is the only thing standing between me and the officers. I take a step back on the gravely road and close the door.
I’m embarrassed. I’m standing there exposed. I don’t like it. I can’t look at them in the eye.
One of the officers asks the other if he’s ever seen a man dressed so nice. The other officer says no.
Officer #1 tells me to walk up to the front of my car.
My breathing is heavy. I just want to go home.
I do it. I walk up to the front of my car and stand there.
Officer #1 walks up to me. I can’t look at him. I find a rock on the side of the road and stare at it.
The officer gets close to me. Very close. I can’t see the rock anymore. All I can see is his badge. He’s taller than me.
He’s so close to me, I can smell his deodorant.
Counselor: What’s your SUDS?
He takes his left hand and moves his fingers under my right breast.
I can’t breathe. I flinch and step back against the car. I can feel my calves against the bumber. I’m shaking.
Counselor: What are you feeling?
He’s being very creepy. I don’t like where his hand is. It’s making me feel horrible. I just want him to move away from me and stop touching me.
He takes his right hand and grabs my left wrist. He moves my arm to my right side and hands my arm to his left hand. I tell him please. I just want to go home.
He leans in closer and places his mouth over my shoulder. I can feel his right hand on my buttocks. He squeezes and whispers something in my ear. I don’t know what he said.
Counselor: What is your SUDS?
He backs away. Although I’m trying not to look at him, I can see a smile on his face. There’s something about his eyes. It feels like he can see right through me. I wish he would stop looking at me.
He rejoins Officer #2. I’m looking for the rock. But, I’ve lost it in the darkness. Where is that rock?
I apologize and tell them I won’t speed again. I just want to go home.
Officer #1 holds up what looks like my drivers license and other paperwork. Officer #2 takes it from him and approaches me.
I hope he’s going to give it to me. But, I’m not sure if he’s going to hit me. I put my head down and tense up.
Before getting as close as the other officer did, he puts his hand out and gives me my paperwork.
Right when I’m grabbing them, he says “Why don’t you get out of here faggot.”
I take the paperwork and turn left, running into the corner of my car. I make it to my door. Open it and get in. I can’t find the keys. I’m shaking. Oh, there they are. I start the car and look behind me. No oncoming traffic. I pull out and drive away as fast as I can.