Anthony W. Pahl


… this is an analogy about the effects of PTSD on me that I used (and still do) with quite some effect when speaking to my counsellor.

She said to me once (I think to get me angry on purpose because that is something I never knew how to do) that I was the most placid and well adjusted person she had ever counselled, and she could not work out how to help me, or even if I needed help, because my demeanour remained the same no matter what I was relating or hearing.

So I took her up on her “challenge” and became extremely agitated, physically (though I was not feeling anything at all – except perhaps, self loathing) and started throwing chairs through windows, punching walls (even breaking a finger in doing so) then quietly replaced a chair and sat down. I asked, “Is that what you want?”

Of course it wasn’t and I soon came to realise that and it was then that I used the high wire analogy.

I said, “I feel like I’m hanging from a trapeze at a thousand feet with no net. There are times when I am able to sit on the bar and feel fairly secure, with only the thought that perhaps the bar may break; there are other times that I am hanging on with only the tip of one finger, and there are innumerable times that I am somewhere in between those extremes. But there is always one thought in that back of my mind – and that is that I will never let go on purpose.”

Once I voiced this to her, her method of drawing me out changed and it was then that I started coming to terms with my illness, my PTSD. That was in 1995 – 3 years after my first session with her. It was not her “fault” that she couldn’t get inside my head. Despite the telling of many of the horrors that I subsequently accepted as mine, I was extremely unemotional about them, and even disconnected as if I were a witness rather than a participant.

So Cal, despite my ramblings, I empathise and fully understand your reference to the wire.

I shall, my friend, try to be below to catch you if you fall, but I have the feeling that you are like me – despite it all, we will never let go just to ease our pain.

Peace to you my friend,

Author’s Note: A response to a comment by my friend, Lou J. “Cal” Klaiber who wrote: “I gonna hang tight on this wire till I fall away. Gonna hang in with Ya’ll!”