The Invasion

As I become more self-aware of my behaviors related to PTSD I notice more and more often a certain level of discomfort in almost every place. The news has reported more and more stories about college campuses and other socially intense places are creating “safe spaces” for members of that community who feel they are being offended by certain communications from others. These places are set up for students to relax and recharge. “Safe spaces” have a whole different level of meaning to me. My first safe space I discovered was of course my childhood home. This is where I retreated to once I was able to leave campus after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. I remember being tense the whole ride home, every muscle aching from the length of time I had remained tense. The moment I walked over that thresh hold and met our family dog with a hug my muscles melted into nostalgia. Needless to say “safe spaces” have been significant in my recover, they are places that I can let my guard down even if just a little bit to feel like myself again. It’s a comfort of routine and familiarity.

As anyone who has been involved in any kind of serious relationship it is certainly not always routine and familiar. The person you are in that relationship with becomes routine and familiar but the circumstances surrounding the relationship can change at the drop of a hat. My husband and I did not move in together until we became engaged. This was to avoid any issues in custody with his daughter’s mother. We only saw each other on weekends and talked on the phone during the weeks. While I missed him during the week this set up also gave me space to create my own safe space that was consistent independent of my relationship. I would have this safe space regardless of the curve balls that could be thrown in my relationship. For three years I had this safety net, until we got engaged last January and took the leap to move in together(daughter included) when a beautiful house fell into our laps. While I was beyond excited to start the next chapter of our lives together I was mourning the loss of my familiar routined safe space (my mom moved into a smaller place and sold my child hood home as well during this time).

While this house was better than any first house I could have pictured, it was big, it was unfamiliar, it was not routine. For the first six months in our home there was a lot of rearranging, a lot of family meetings, and more than I like to admit of arguments with my husband. I woke up in constant survival mode, not a moment of relaxed muscles, I went to work and worked more than my fair share of hours with children who were not happy themselves. After losing my job and getting into a car accident my world felt like it would never be familiar or routine again. After weeks of panic attacks and sleepless I began to relax in my home. My husband was my flashlight in the darkness through those weeks, while he became frustrated at times by how helpless he felt, he never left my side, he was my routine and my familiarity. I finally felt that there was some familiarity in my surroundings now, the family was coming together, the roles were being more solidified.

Which brings me to the whole reason behind this post…….the invasion. One of the major things I notice with my PTSD is the over reaction when there is a breach in the typical day-to-day routine. My stepdaughter’s mother is a unique person. She doesn’t understand boundaries and seems to lack an understanding for communication. I don’t say these things to be judgemental or petty, I say them because they have been shown through pattern. As I’m doing my afternoon tasks for my home I hear my Chihuahua on the deck barking like she does when someone is here. I let her bark for a few minutes to make sure it wasn’t over something uber threatening….like a leaf. There in my drive way is my step daughter’s mother at 2:30 in the afternoon when we clearly asked that she pick my step daughter up at 4. No call, no text, just showed up. Then instead of waiting in the driveway while we gathered a bag together for our girl, she invites herself inside. This crossed so many boundaries my chest started pounding I’m sure my husband and my step daughter’s mother could hear it. Not to mention the crazy vibes my chihuahua must have been picking up, I’ve never seen her hair stand so high!

My husband apologized and identified that I had a right to feel uncomfortable because he felt uncomfortable too. I was grateful he acknowledged my feelings but there was an invasion in my safe space. It was much more than discomfort I was feeling. It’s hard to explain that to him without him misunderstanding it. That is the most frustrating part of PTSD and relationships, trying to explain something that affects your every fiber of being  to the person you love most in the world and them looking at you like you are from a different planet. Invasions like this cause set backs, I’ve grown to be okay with set backs, I accept them and focus on coming back even better. My husband doesn’t see them as set backs, he see’s them as being miserable. This creates more tension for me, I’m feeling unsafe because my environment has been invaded but I don’t want my husband to feel like he ruined my life bc he thinks I’m miserable, I want to tell my step daughter’s mother to come at the scheduled time but I don’t want it to hurt my step daughter in any way.

Telling me to get out of my comfort zone is like telling me to go jump off a bridge. It’s a big request, but I did it for my husband because he makes me a better person, more than any medication ever has. It’s scary, exhausting and at times lonely but it’s worth it because the rest of the time it’s home.

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Things of Life

Do you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone and think to yourself “we are on two completely different pages, they can’t understand where I am coming from and despite my efforts I can’t see what they are seeing. Before reading any further let me give a disclaimer about the different angles this post is about to take…at least 3 of them!

Let’s start with the first and easiest angle for me to discuss…..preconcieved notions about marriage. When I think of marriage I think of two people who love each other so fiercely they are willing to put their person before any other earthly thing. This means sharing in the good, the bad and the down right ugly. My husband and I had been together for three and a half years before getting engaged and married three months after the engagement. We had begun out relationship as two very different people who somehow met in the middle. Starting our marriage out I thought that is what would set us apart from other couples and the statistics of divorce. I thought because we had already seen each other at our worst, we would always be able to stay beside each other against anything life threw our way.

Here is where multiple angles start to be weaved in and out of the story.

Because me and my husband met later in life (25 and 33) we already had things happen to us that caused us to form certain character traits. My Husband unexpectedly and certainly unplanned, had a child with a woman he had just met shortly after his father passed away with cancer. This pregnancy and child turned his world upside down, he had new responsibilities and a new focus that caused him to become concerned about the future of our society and the world his daughter would grow up in.

I was diagnosed with PTSD after having close proximity with the shootings occurring at Virginia Tech my freshman year of college.

Although we each explained these things to each other and attempted to help each other understand the best we could there were conversations that go unattended because of these past experiences.

We didn’t know the impact of these until we moved in together after getting engaged and hiding was no longer an option when the stresses of life reared it’s ugly little head.

Our love is very unique, me and my husband have a clear understanding that even if we are in the midst of wanting to rip each others heads off we still love each other conditionally, so keep that in mind as your reading further! Since moving in together certain areas of discussion are almost sure-fire to spark an argument. Discussions involving his daughter, my emotions, his view-point on the future of the world and a few others to name some. When these things need to be discussed our past circumstances show where they have left their mark. The constant feeling of threat from PTSD causes me to become almost immediately defensive as if everything that is wrong in our relationship is viewed as my fault and I have to fight tooth and nail to defend myself. He becomes defensive and views my position as one of being inconvenienced or worth more than what I am being given. We go to our individual corners and don’t even wait for the bell to ding to start the throwing punches(verbally). By the end of it we both feel drained and more alone than before we began.

I want him to understand how completely PTSD has taken over my life and changed me. While it is more controlled than in the past, that constant survival mode is exhausting and terrifying at times. The pit in my chest grows and growls as the conflict continues to the point that I want to start clawing at my chest. He views my emotions as controlling me instead of me controlling my emotions, what he can’t see is the fight I put up every day trying to achieve just that.

I do everything in my power to not become a burden for my loved ones because of something I experienced 11 years ago. But as anyone with a traumatic past can attest to, there are days that I simply can not do it alone. While I thought his preparations for the future eased the insecurities I think it actually exasperates my survival mode in a way that confirms the need to be in survival mode. My husband is right, the world is becoming more and more wicked each day. I fear for the influences my step daughter will have to face. But God gives us exactly what we need each day and does not give us what we do not need. I spent the last 10 years of my life worrying about tomorrow and feeling ashamed of yesterday. Proudly I can say I am at a point in my PTSD treatment that I can start to let my guard down a little more and focus on the present. But it’s hard to enjoy the Present when your best friend and life partner is focused on the future instead of growing your marriage or building a new life together. We have come leaps and bounds in just a short time. We have both started to accept that even if we can’t understand the other it is important to us because it is important to them. But it takes work, time, dedication, patience and above all else prayer.  There is one thing my husband and I can always agree on, God used the troublesome times in our past to bring us together in some shape or form. There is divine intervention in our love that has brought us to this very moment.

I warned you the angles this blog would take……but here is where I try to pull it together. I never realized how difficult intimate relationships could be while battling with PTSD or significant past experiences in general. But I’m grateful that even when we are different pages my husband is still here with me. My hope for my revamped blog is to process the hurdles of overcoming my battles while strengthening my marriage despite my battles, and maybe helping just one other person fighting the same fight feel like they aren’t alone either.

Welcome to my soap box

I try to stay away from my soap box, I’m not a person who releases my frustration on the world through social media. I’m a firm believer in “to each his own”. As long as your decisions are not affecting me then they are your decisions alone to make. Recently a “friend” on facebook came out as bisexual. I imagine the power it took to do that was hard to muster up. I went to high school with this person and during those times that person was very outspoken and not scared to voice their opinions about anything, so this newly found sexuality kind of surprised me. Again let me reiterate, to each his own, I have no problem with anyone’s sexuality because that is your cross to bear not mine. However when every post becomes focused on the fact that anyone who doesn’t support LGBT is the the worst person on earth, I start becoming less empathetic. I imagine that it is frustrating to live a life many people don’t acknowledge or condon however that is their right to CHOOSE to support it or not. By judging those people you are placing yourself in the same position as them. You are doing exactly what you are mad at them for doing.

I strongly feel that this is one of the wicked reasons this world has become such as scary place. Instead  of respecting the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion, people tend to take a side and spend all of their time and energy proving how their side is right and the other side is wrong. I personally am a deeply rooted christian, we fill our home with God’s love. I by no means feel that people who do not believe in God are any less of a human being than I am. However many of those people that I give respect to will judge me for my faith. For me, judgement of others doesn’t impact how I live my life, I will still choose what is best for me and my family. This doesn’t mean that those judgements don’t leave an impression on me.

My challenge for myself and others is to try to stop yourself when you begin to judge others for their choices or opinions. At the end of the day whether you agree with it or not everyone is entitled to their opinions, who am I to make judgements. Wake up everyday and do what you feel in your heart is the right thing. If you can do this than those judgements will just melt away!

Girl Brain

Ladies, we are all guilty of it……that mind frame that causes us to be presumptuous and down right self sabotaging. I for one am guilty of this more often than not, and while in girl brain I feel fully justified in my actions……then I step back for a moment and see the bigger picture. I see that it makes me selfish and spoiled, I see that I feel that whoever my girl brain is targeting should bend to my will or they are doing me wrong. Then I see how self absorbed this is.

If you aren’t familiar with girl brain, it’s when something burros it’s way into our minds, plays on our emotions and distorts reality. For me recently it’s been this nagging voices that tells me my boyfriend doesn’t consider me a priority because he has been busier at work than usual. As an outsider you may be having several different thoughts, one may be that he is only saying he has been busier but realy just does not want to be tied down by our relationship…..THAT’S GIRL BRAIN!! unless your certain that it’s going down like that never make assumptions. Girl brain feeds on assumptions and only gets stronger from them.

Girl brain can be useful, don’t get me wrong, it helps us self preserve in the right situations. However when the situation you are in has never given you reason to question or expect the worst ( like no lies within the last 3 years as in my situation) girl brain does nothing but shoot us in the foot.

So how do we stop girl brain? The jury is still out and I fully plan to market my cure once I discover it! But as for now I feel the best way to avoid girl brain is stay true to yourself. I find that when I try to act like a cold jerk my girl brain picks up on it and takes residence inside my mind until it’s job of screwing me over is complete. I’m a caring person, if someone I love has a bad day I want to hear about it so I can be that comfort or support for them, but society tells me that I should be put first no matter what, so instead of worrying about my loved ones busy day, I complain that he didn’t talk to me enough through out the day.

Girls, Don’t play into what society says your relationships should be. No relationship is “ideal”, but if that person makes you happy and makes you the best version of yourself, work hard for it, put all your eggs in that basket without being terrified of failing. Life will happen one way or another, it’s just a matter of if your going to take the time to enjoy it or let girl brain make you miserable throughout the course of it.

 

The extinction on consideration

A lot of times I feel like people are mean or hateful, I get my feelings hurt, maybe shed a tear or two and continue to wonder why. Reports of bullying increase daily and more people, kids and adults alike, feel inferior, inadequate or worthless. Its an awful feeling to truely believe in your heart that the world wouldn’t miss you…..no one should feel that way. The more I think about it though, the more I wonder if maybe the act of consideration is fading day by day. For example, when I see someone is behind me at the store I take the time to hold the door open. More often than not people will disregard everyone else and walk on into the store. Here’s my theory about it , while I may have emense consideration for others, my expectation for the same consideration in return is setting me up to be hurt. This doesn’t excuse others behaviors but its damn near impossible to change someone els . But I can change my way of thinking. This upset me for a few reasons. I want to have faith in humanity and mankind but its not possible to have absolutely no expectations and still keep that hope alive. The other reason this theory concerns me is , when did it become acceptable to project your misery or talk down to others. It may be the way I was raised but in my family you never took your aggression out on someone else just to feel better, especially if they were not the source of the aggression. Although I have this theory it will never change the fact that I will continue to have consideration for others. That’s the way my mother raised me, to always have compassion and be understanding of others situation. While I realize everyone is brought up differently I still strongly believe that blaintly being rude, hateful or selfish is in most situations uncalled for.

#selfworth #fillothersbucket

“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.”

hit the nail on the head

Stacy Westfall Horseblog

“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That's the only way to keep the roads clear.” %0A― Greg Kincaid

Ever have one of those days when you just feel like you are ‘plowing’ through? I guess this quote sums it up…or at least I hope it does. I know when these days happen to me I find it difficult to see the point, I just have to have faith that something good is going to come out of it:)

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When is enough, enough?

It’s in our nature as humans to be self centered and focused on “me, myself and I”. However there are certain people in this world that put themselves second and tend to get heart broken because of it. On the bright side of the matter these people tend to make great health care providers, they are nurturers at heart and have the world to give to others in need. On the less bright side, they put themselve in the line of fire everyday. I happen to be one of those people.

Starting from childhood I always tried to be a “helper” some saw it as sucking up or being teachers pet but I saw it as being helpful, being useful. The word “No” was not used in my vocabulary very often and even if I was busy I would take on even more tasks.

This has followed me into adulthood, which is much more complicated than handing snack out after nap time. I currently work in an Emergency Room, which for people like me could be a dream job or a daily nightmare. I feel that I always uphold the rights of the patients and families I work with, after all I’m a patient advocate so it’s literally in my job title. What people don’t see is the emotional baggage that comes along with this job. Every mother I sit with after losing their child, every wife I sit with after becoming a widow, it sticks with me, it makes an impression. I don’t let it consume me but I let it change me to better myself and appreciate life more. That being said it’s also exhausting to be a part of these tragedies day after day. It’s even worse when there is no support from the leaders in your work environment.

People come the the ER at the most vulnerable times in their life, it’s my job to easy the chaos as much as possible, but by easing others chaos it gets transferred into my already hectic life. I pride myself on the work I do for our patients, however constant negativity and lack of feedback from supervisors makes wanting to come to work a struggle.

Again this is where my helpful heart gets me in trouble, because I voice my opinions for my patients instead of following the crowd it makes me a target for workplace bullying. No, bullying isn’t just on the play ground, some adults never grow out of the bully role and continue to push others around their whole life. I can handle personal attacks, I brush those off, but when it comes to calling out my work ethic and my devotion to patients I have to draw a line. No one in a managerial position should make their employees feel personally attacked to the point that they feel they have no other option but to put their notice in.month after month, week after week, day after day, I am being called into the office for bogus things while other employees get away with much more.

I took a deep breath and looked at the past two an half years at this job, it began as a position with so much potential. But it has turned into a nightmare that withdraws me from the things I love most in life.

Yes, I realize quitting a job in this economy is very risky. But for once I felt it was necessary to take a stance and show my true worth. Even though I don’t feel that anything with change as a result of me leaving, it’s a huge step for me to see my true potential and the great things I’m capable of if I have the right support behind me.

 

In that moment we were infinite

I’m a big literary nerd to say the least, I love living in the romance of two fictional characters. Most people are surprised by this because I’m more of a realist than a romantic. But in a world full of confusion, mixed signals, heartache and pain, it’s nice to escape into a happy ending every so often.

The trick to these stories is not getting so wrapped up in them that you begin comparing your life to them. While I would love to be swept away to a glamorous Gatsby party on east egg, the reality settles in, there’s no glamor in getting hitting by drunk men in a bar. But what this reality does do is make you appreciate what you have that much more.

No my prince charming isn’t the best communicator, or always the most romantic, but he is a gentleman and treats me like a queen. That’s more than I can say about a lot of women and the men they actually married.

We’ve been going through some bumpy roads thanks to the evil queen afore mentioned in previous blogs. There have been times where I wish this were a fiction story so what I wished could happen would come true. But wishful thinking gets me nowhere, so being the realistic ray of sunshine I am, I look at what I see. It’s messy and incoherent sometimes, other times its beautiful and hopeful, but no matter what it’s my fairy tale. I’ll never have a love like Romeo and Juliet or Katniss and Peeta. But even those couples faced some pretty serious bumps in the road, actually my problems look more like a fairy tale than any of theirs.

So while I love a great love story, the stories also teach me that love isn’t suppose to be easy, it’s suppose to be hard because the best things in life are worth the fight and the wait. There’s also never going to be a relationship that you can compare to anything else, they’re like snowflakes, all different and all beautiful in their own way.

 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Looking over the the cliff of McAfee’s knob I felt like I could see into the next state. We took in the beauty and inhaled the fresh air then prepared to hike to the camp site. As we set up our accommodations for the night the sun began to dip lower in the sky, the lower it got the quieter the world became. When darkness blanketed the sky there wasn’t a single peep to be heard. I had never felt such serenity and peace as I did that night. Temperatures began to drop but nothing could take away the calm feeling washing over me in the quiet air of the woods. 

Crawling into my sleeping bag I looked up at the stars shining so bright I mistook them for airplanes. Cuddling is virtually impossible in 30 degree weather but huddling close to him I felt safer and more confident in where my life is heading than ever before. Life tends to get busy and some days it takes everything I have to keep focus on the important tasks at hand. But in that moment my happiness felt like the only task that needed tending to. 

We woke up the next more to 27 degrees and the most beautiful sunrise I have ever witnessed, it was like the world was just starting to wake up. We packed out camp and headed back to the real world. The closer we got to the car the more I wished we were back in our sleeping bags away from the hustle of life. 

As humans we tend to get caught up in daily stresses and forget the amazing experiences that we are given. There are certain responsibilities that must be taken care of but if we can bring ourselves back to a state of pure happiness like I was on the mountain life could be a lot more enjoyable.

Mirror mirror on the wall

Today’s world brings a whole new level to hate, judgement, bullying and negativity. Facebook opens your world to anyone who knows how to work a computer. So why do we continue to endulge in the social medias that bring so much unessecary and unwanted drama to our lives.

True to my last post I completely believe fear drives alot of our actions including actions done out of jealousy. Let me tell you a little story……

Once upon a time there was a self sufficent, indepedant, brave princess. She was being courted by a kind, compassionate, adventurous prince, and thus far they were living happily ever after. Until the evil queen voiced her opinion where it was not asked for. The evil queen sat at her computer screen summoning up photos and tagged posts of the princess. Jealousy in her eyes she took her rage out on the prince hoping to persuade him against his princess. What the evil queen didnt realize was that the princess was more cunning than the queen thought. The princess deactivated the facebook portal and put an end to the queeens creeping sessions.

The Princess knew this wasnt the end of the queens jealous rampage to rid the princes world of the princess, but for now she broke the queens connections to her.

We easily forget how mortal we are, we willingly put our lives on the internet for anyone to search. Yes there are privacy settings but those settings can only protect you to a certain extent. While the princess was in no immediate danger, the queens actions reminded her how easy it is to be stalked when you make your life an open book.

Twitter,Instagram,Facebook,Vine, Tumblr, and other various social medias allow just about anyone into our life, there are bound to be haters and jealous people, the important thing to remember s it’s our life not theirs and as long as your happy with what your doing those negative people have no room to place judgements. And when they do it’s up to us to remember it’s out of their fear and insecurities that they are acting on.