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Walking Triggered

by Kalli Terrell (she/her) 4 months ago in trauma · updated 3 months ago

A Poetry Collection Describing a PTSD Experience

Walking Triggered
Photo by Pablo Guerrero on Unsplash


They say what doesn't kill you,

makes you stronger.

I would like to revise that;

what doesn't kill you,

might gradually kill you.


As the list of things that didn’t kill us,

but entrapped us in internal peril,

ever-expands the older we grow,

we begin to believe

that we are alone.


The visceral tearing,

of the heart.

The crushing terror,

of a threat that is no longer present.

The intrinsic self-doubt,

encapsulated in the essence of who we are.

The inherent self-deprecation,

of which we certainly do not deserve.

The immediate mistrust,

with any notion of newness.

The frantic urgency,

with which things must be accomplished.


Whatever abstract,

indescribable ache

that you feel inhabits

your thoughts, emotions, and actions,

is reality for you.


How terrifying,

as you watch from above;

as it grows stronger and more fierce;

as it takes hold and parasitically

feeds on your soul.


Fast Lane


is not

the enemy.


‘tis the drumbeat


in the chest.

The cars

racing around

the track

of the mind.


The invention

of hazards

that we veer

so wildly

off course

to avoid.

The fated


of the present

colliding with

the re-enactment

of a story within

our memory.



is merely

a reminder

of the detours

held in

physical form

that transcend

time and space

urging us

to process

the hurt

that blinded

the eyes

of an




The reactive


that once


our histories

are now

a larger


in the frame

of the

motion picture

called life

that is stuck

on repeat.


This is

the racket

we are


to hear

when the


are winding




is not

the enemy.

‘Tis the mirror

that holds

the path

through the fear

if only

we can stomach

to listen

to the screams.


Nightly Shadows

Slipping through

space and time

down a well

in the darkness

with no end in sight


Frantically grasping

while being consumed

by the inky abyss

for anything useful

to cease the descent


Stealing your power,

the illusion of gravity

pulls you deeper

into the bubbling

fear of reality


Falling to pieces

silently screaming

painfully aware

as you are



Jolting from stillness

a hand reaches in

to whisper a secret

in your ear

that inevitably wins


So urgently fumbling

you decide to show

a differing well

from the one that you hold

carefully conditioned

for nightly shadows



A twinge

A pounding

A dull or sharp ache

A tension rising

To push you

To keep you awake


A clenched jaw

A kick in the chest

A gasp for air

A strength test

To cause pain

To keep you scared


A similar feeling

A separate place

A recurring nightmare

A never-ending chase

To remind you

To keep you there


A trigger

A dissociation

A way to feel

An overwhelming emotion

To break you

To help you conceal



It’s a snag in time

that tugs the line.

A pull that shows

its strength,

as you stumble

inside of your mind.


It’s a trip

you’d rather not take,

down the spiraling staircase,

exposing your anguish

as you try

not to slip.


A burbling container


with slime.

You struggle

to seal it and return

to your timeline.


A wet heavy blanket

that blurs your sight.

Precious moments

are stolen

and quickly

replaced by fright.


You don’t know

when it’s coming,

that sudden attack.

You’re only aware

that it’s taking you

and you may never

find the way back.


Personal Photo


I keep envisioning my car sliding off the road and rolling end over end.

I imagine what the pain would feel like – with my lungs depleted of oxygen.

I wonder if it would bring relief to feel the wetness of blood dripping down my face as I fade.


I’m not ok.


I find comfort in feeling this way.

Like returning after an action packed vacation.

The whirlwind swirls around me to fly me home.


I am not inspired.

I am not numb.

I am hurt.

I am beaten.



It feels good to acknowledge the pain my life has brought me.

As if it reveals a deeper layer of identity.

Amidst the pain and fear,

I remain the same person who I thought I have always been.


Remembering helped me survive.

It is the logic that kept me sane.

It is the confusion that reminded me of my truth.

The difference between where I was and where I belong.

The reward is also the punishment.

Petrified in a holding cell among timeline ghosts.


I am sick.


I violently regurgitate all of the anger directed toward me.

Constantly purging a remix of what has become my haunting.


My brain feels dumber.

My soul feels dimmer.

My spirit, heavier.


I struggle to lift my feet to shuffle through the day.

I am greeted by a racing pulse.

Tightly clenched muscles.

A supernatural awareness.


it drains my energy and keeps me awake.


I am not sure if it will ever end.

This cycling pattern of terror, self-doubt and hatred.

I need to slow down the pace.


“Lean into the pain,” they say.

Unaware that the underlying roots never seem to cease.

I’ve leaned so far,

I don’t know if I will ever stand straight again.


Permanently positioned,

my head is submerged in water filled with memories.

My feet dangling on the surface of the present.

I have no choice.

I breathe the water deeply and choke on words of scorn.

In disbelief, I feel razor sharp edges slicing through organs and tissue.



I gasp for air.

The solitary relief I feel comes from surrendering to the sting of internal wounds.


Who I see today is certainly a product of careful conditioning.

No one will ever know the torture endured to mold me into who I am.

It was hard to fight against what I was told.

Now it is even more difficult to recognize the person in the mirror.

I wonder what is real.


The way I breathe.

The way I put on clothes.

The urgency I feel to hurry through tasks.

The panic not to make a mistake in the process.

The anxious surveillance of the room for signs of anger.

The nightly terror fueled battle to keep my eyes open as the sleep aid takes hold.


I shake my head to release the instructions I have been given.

Hoping to silence the dehumanizing words that resound in my head..

The feathers of ferocity cling to the brain as if it were made from tar.



no amount of scrubbing can release the entanglement.

They have become embedded in every move I make.

Every breath I take.

And every thought that aches.


No matter how understanding you are,

I can never utter the words to truly convey,

these mental details when you ask if I’m ok.


While I hope that no one has to experience what is portrayed in my work. However, I have published this here so that if you do, you know are not alone.

I sincerely appreciate you taking your time to read my work. Another collection of poetry with a more hopeful theme as a response to this one is on its way! Thank you for your support, "hearts", and tips when you feel called to leave one. You're all magnificent! 🙏🏼💛


Kalli Terrell (she/her)

The human experience through my personal lens.

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Kalli Terrell (she/her)
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