Tag Archives: PTSD

Mistaken

It’s not something I prefer to talk about, but I may have mentioned I deal with some tremendous sadness. Now and then it can seem like too much for me. Sometimes I like to say, “Hey, let’s stop the pain train.” Even when I’m trying to be funny, I’m usually serious about that.

I hate to admit it (but hey, it’s just us here), sometimes I want to just quit – though that mostly happens before coffee.

The trouble with quitting is

1. I still don’t know how, and
2. I can’t imagine explaining to God how I couldn’t trust Him any more.

My life’s main accomplishment has been to prove how easy it is to drift off-course, to lose sight of even the nearest, biggest, most important goal.

Seriously, from the time I was about three for thirty-odd years, I often felt I was a mistake.
Circumstances and developments can seem like too much, but at least now we recognize and understand PTSD.

My personal game-changer happened when I was thirty-something. I rediscovered that I love God. I’m not talking about sitting in sanctuaries where my family met every Sunday, First Friday or Holy Day, nor the beautiful buildings filled with art that I fawned over as a child. I mean I cried out to the Creator of the Universe, God. He answered me and He showed me He had never actually left me.

He stayed with me and since then God consistently proved to me that relationship with Him is the best way through this world.

Today I’m all about appreciating that God does not make mistakes. Not even the devil (evil, et. al.) was a mistake. (How else would we appreciate God’s goodness?)

More than ever before I appreciate that I’m actually co-piloting my journey. Like most everyone else I know, I will likely continue to diverge – occasionally often. Yet, I can unreservedly trust that God, my Pilot will continue to make continuous adjustments, redirecting me back to His intended route. And He does it constantly for me and innumerable other souls, all the time.

So, I can sum up my whole point today in three words:

I’m. No. Mistake.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NIV)

 

 

Video, Mistakes by Influence Music  

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Ups and Downs

What a remarkable morning it’s been!

A fellow blogger at Life Continues shared some vintage photos complete with captions. I enjoy photography and I relish those times when someone else’s mind wanders in some of the same ways as mine. And I especially enjoyed her closing shot. Happy sigh.

I needed that. During the short, dark winter days we can be more sensitive than usual. Isolated by weather, spirits can easily take a nosedive.

For example, lately I’d nursed the sting of a clearly unintentional offense from DearFriend (not to be confused with DearOldFriend 😉 ). In fact, because of something else DearFriend said offhandedly a couple of times, the molehill had become a mountain in my mind. Soon I had to “walk it off” before I could spend my usual quality time with God.

Some days finding the peace that passes understanding* takes longer than others. ‘Ya know what I’m saying?

But this morning I was free of any gloomy feelings and was determined to not allow any negativity about anything – period. Then what promised to be a sunshiny day turned dark and overcast before I loaded the days’ firewood. With that disappointing change, once back inside I went to the WordPress Reader instead of working, seeking fun and lively headlines.

Comically, I was going to skip over that post. The title was a tad ambiguous so I kept scrolling. As I scrolled, I began to feel the days-old sting – DearFriend saying in passing that one of my post Headlines as it appeared on Facebook sounded negative to her. Since she’d just been through one of life’s wringers, she didn’t bother to read it.

Ouch!

But the timing this morning couldn’t have been better. I sure showed DearFriend… I scrolled back and read that new post. So there!

In that unfortunate conversation with DearFriend, time restraints did not allow for us to address my concerns for her – or her opinion of my writing. Later in my unchecked imagination, since one of my biggest fans no longer read my work I was ready to throw in the towel!

‘Fact is, I’m blessed with great friends that are consistently supportive. They understand that if I’m out of sorts there’s a good reason. DearFriend never implied she didn’t read any of my posts or that the one actually was negative. She said she had an issue on that one particular day.

Working through CPTSD issues, it’s easy to get stuck in a present day scenario. Often a moment can last for hours or days. Unable to see through the temporary fog – what would otherwise be a natural, reasonable response to new experiences – sometimes survivors can quickly slide down a slippery slope into the profound sadness of a past event or depression.

In those situations forward motion can falter and the joy of life can seem temporarily absent.

This is why friends, community, support networks, (ahem) the blogging community are essential to healing and recovery. One hand washes the other, people.

So, something I’ve learned this past year is to roll with occasional negativity, but don’t run with it. I’m learning to ask myself what I’m feeling and why. Often all I need is a simple momentary distraction:

  • Toss a ball – even better when there’s an obliging dog to chase it,
  • Positive affirmation. Say out loud, “I can do this,” “I can look from another perspective” “This is a test”
  • Step outdoors for a minute or two, loose those endorphins.

If in moments some happy possibilities don’t emerge,

  • Pick up the phone and shout out a simple, “Hey.”

Most times only God knows the grief or fear one may have just relived. More often than not with the sound of a safe, friendly, familiar voice, I’m happy to simply be alive and far happier than I imagined I could be.

Now and then we all need a little help and simple, healthy distractions may not always be ideal. Most of the time everyday life on the ranch keeps me in balance. My methods are by no means a cure-all to traumatic events or depression and sometimes distractions don’t help in the long run. After years of working with experts I’m learning to recognize when I need a life-line, so I don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I’ve also learned I actually can handle sad times. What happened back then was then. It’s not now. I can now enjoy today. The sorrow, terror and pain doesn’t actually last forever. By learning to help myself back up, I learned to help others up too.

 

What’s more, when the time is right I can enjoy acting silly with my friends, at ease with the rest of the world. Of all God has shown me over the years, I am most assured that nothing can interfere with His plans for my life – not even me.

 

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!”

Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

 

* “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

 

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Response

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I now marvel over how quickly I’d reacted.

In the moments leading up to reaching my coffee pot I went from motivated to a mess. And I admit, I wanted a villain, someone to blame for my upset, let alone the difficulties that were certain to snowball.

Yes, friends, although I kept my bright red espresso grind coffee container out on the counter for two days – for the sole purpose of reminding me I must grind more coffee – that morning the stark reality that I’d entirely run out of coffee blindsided me.

It got worse. Not only was the strongest caffeine source in my kitchen some aged (however delightful) white tea, Deadline had advanced from the shadows of the cottage and towered over me, sword drawn over it’s obnoxious head. Annnd we had a villain …

Duh – duh – dunh.

This was quickly developing into one of those emotion/hormone-packed, full-on-drama mornings. I had already suspected that in hindsight I would wish to somehow erase it all from the eternal hard drive as if it never happened. A wise woman would have paused the whole day there. Not this one. Not that day.

Still, two mornings back I’d added coffee to my Needs Now List. For the subsequent forty-eight hours I planned my run to town between breaks and staring blankly into space. I try to economize wherever possible and make the most of the trip. This usually works very well. Until it doesn’t. Until that morning.

So, there I was, bravely forging onward sans caffeine, thinking I had a good handle on everything within my ken. Strangely predictably, it became the worst morning ever, something unexpected had happened. Forget happened – I felt like someone hit me across the abdomen with a five-foot long 2 by 4.

The car was gone.

Duh – duh!!  {Roo jumps behind the wall as if sensing a predator nearby, but seeing and hearing none, she then lets out a loud, agonizing shriek, “Why God? Why, without coffee?! scaring away any other life forms from the area…}  Okay, I sighed deeply but imagined screaming loudly.

Assumption:  Since Brother sometimes changes our arrangements, routines and moves things without telling me or giving me a heads up first. He took the car for the day without telling me.

The Lie: Brother doesn’t actually give a care about me.

Reality: The evening before Brother had used his vehicle (ahem, that he keeps mostly for my use), parked it in the back of the lot, and then forgot to press “send” after composing a text to me. Therefore, I didn’t receive his text advising me the night before.

Reality Check: Even though Brother’s mordant veneer momentarily confuses me and annoys me often (like most siblings I know), he also surprises me with thoughtfulness and sensitivity on occasion.

Granted, me without morning caffeine is scary, but it is not the end of life as we know it. Not hardly. However, for those few minutes that morning, before the exchange of texts set me back on track, I had wasted a morning’s worth of energy being extremely upset. A black hole sucked a huge chunk of my life away from us – over nothing.

Later, with a triple-shot/double vanilla latte in hand, I took a time-out with God. Deadline would just have to chill. After some needed time by the riverside I was actually glad for that wake up call.

Roo 1995 Columbia River

There God showed me that with my roots now beginning to unwind I have a better grasp of life than ever before. And yet, once a year  week  occasionally I jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and quickly follow with the big-ol’ lie at the core of it all that God really can’t care for me.

Silly ol’ Roo.

My eyes watered from what felt like a stinging punch in the face. Seriously, I checked for blood. Finding none, He then went on past my faults, deep into my needs. He showed me I have indeed come a long way in every facet of my life. Even so, I lived so long in darkness, ignorant of His love for me, we must also allow for time to adjust to light. Whatever my degree of healing, I was severely damaged back then and I am still quite human now.

He went on:

He noted how I now recoil far less frequently than ever before, that I now voice my upset feelings too – mostly appropriately. Then He assured me that some day soon fear, sorrow or anger will not overtake me with the mere thought of darkness. Then I’ll have learned to respond rather than react.

God says so. While I continue to trip up, and can’t feel it yet, I can believe it.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

I can believe it for me as well as for my siblings, other brothers and sisters on their healing journeys.

Today you and I are the only ones to know how short-sighted and down-right silly I was earlier. Shhh…

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom 5:2 (NLT)

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Differences Between PTSD and Complex PTSD ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

Many thanks to Persia at Blog of a Mad Black Woman for sharing this post.

Also in my early 40’s a lay-counselor recruited a brilliant professional counselor to help identify years of misdiagnoses. I pray this post helps lead others to the right assistance, healing, restoration and full lives:

Photo post by @HealingCPTSD.

Source: Differences Between PTSD and Complex PTSD ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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Hope

Even with my post deadline looming ominously, last week’s recap wasn’t especially inspiring – until I got to my notes from talking with Hope. A dear friend for decades, Hope inspired What Next’s theme and much of my writing.

In another state (and by other names, of course) she is a live-in health care provider, presently for a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder, a severe, often disabling mental condition.

HAVOCA-dissociative-identity-disorder

*

I’m fascinated with the subject. I studied and wrote a paper on D.I.D. in school. What’s more, over the years I’ve learned that while comparatively rare, it is more common than we want to think about. A form of PTSD/CPTSD, the fact that something otherwise unimaginable (consistently extensive, prolonged abuse) happens, causing the mind to shatter and recreate itself. I have the utmost respect for such victors (commonly considered victims).

I am often amazed by stories Hope can share with me without violating any confidentiality. Living with so many others, all contained in one physical body is mind-boggling. It’s a life most of us cannot imagine. I especially admire the rare individuals that excel at helping these particular victors as they pursue healthy, productive lives. Even with boundless compassion, extensive education, training and experience, not everyone is good at it. That’s our Hope.

In the fallout of the recent Orlando tragedy, and locally another young woman is in heaven early over an ended romance, I can’t shake something Hope said.

Referring to an episode she experienced where an over-worked receptionist made a mistake with Randy’s scheduling. After her charge (we’re calling Randy) pointed out the error, the receptionist became defensive, and then dismissive. Hope, like most people would have reacted strongly, but Randy graciously stepped up, handled the situation aptly and sensitively, actually calming the atmosphere so the upset receptionist could refocus on the tasks at hand and then sincerely apologized to them both profusely.

Describing her awe at how well Randy handled the situation, humbling her, Hope said,

“Seriously, I’d rather be multi-minded than minus-minded.”

Life seems crazy for most of us. Compound that by pain and confusion that can stop us in our tracks – and multiply that times infinite agony. That’s life for someone living with D.I.D. Many of us can’t imagine life for a PTSD survivor, more over D.I.D.

confusion image

**

Many of us have suffered some kind of loss that bent our world sideways – at least for a season. Talk to anyone who suddenly lost their home, their job; worse a loved one or themselves.

When we become minus-minded, when we forget that people today function at maximum overload constantly; the emotions, concerns and burdens quickly spin us out of control. At those points we too easily minimize the value of individuals. In my neighborhood I see it often, mostly with the street people. Without adequately processing loss, anger, pain, confusion and fear individuals silently disappear in plain sight at an astounding rate.

At such a point any one of us, even the most devout, righteous souls can take a seriously bad turn that affects everyone near us.

The world is moving so fast in so many areas, keeping abreast of potential threats is challenging. Maybe my sons being first responders makes me more aware, more vigilant than some. And maybe I’m simply getting old. I don’t worry about it all too much, but I’m not stupid about protecting my information, my family and my loved ones either. If that’s hard to understand, just ask around Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbine, Newtown, Killeen, etc.

 

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4 (NLT)

 

*Image courtesy, HAVOCA

** Image courtesy, ABSFreePic

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Not The Holy Grail

crane crown crown An experience this week brought to mind one of my favorite movie quotes from Miss Congeniality, “That’s right; wear the crown. Envision the crown. Be the crown…” I wish I could use the video clip to depict the intensity and the human frailty in the scene… but let’s move on. The crown in my family looks quite different anyway.

I grew up within a religious system that’s renown for submission through guilt. If that wasn’t enough to give me an exceptionally tender conscious, I also face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues that sometimes test my balance.

Recently I had overwhelming guilt for an incident that, maybe in some section of the universe could have been avoided, but in ours it falls under the category, stuff happens – deal with it. I suspect only I would actually shoulder any blame.

While we were all either on line or lounging upstairs, no where near the kitchen, we heard something fall downstairs. We all heard the sound, and asked about it, but only I investigated. A cup from my Sister’s matching dish set fell over and the handle broke off into pieces. Being especially fond of tableware in general, my kind of sparkly, I felt the loss like a stubbed toe.

Though it’s not fine china, it was the first piece of her set to break. What’s more, unable to find where I’d left my travel cup that morning, I had used the cup  – that’s right, heap on the guilt. I hand washed it and set it on counter-top rack to dry. Not really paying attention, in my somewhat obsessive way I assumed I had placed it securely. In our older, rather run-down townhouse, vibrations occur and items simply and otherwise inexplicably fall, especially in the ramshackle kitchen. There’s no mystery there.

A collector of antique, fine china and porcelain, I’m not a huge fan of Sister’s squared dishes. But one of the few items she saved from her marriage, she is very fond of the set. It may as well have been cast iron for the weight I felt.

After guilt, and then denial, my next inclination was to shrug it off as happenstance. But no. Being hyper-sensitive about things I lost during my separation, I felt the stab of loss again. Like some places of our hearts, sharp spikes remained on the cup where the handle broke away – literally a two-edged sword.

Also being exceptionally green minded, I began to brain storm how to re-purpose the cup. I often get teased about this inclination, so I kept my ideas to myself. The uneven breaks make a better seat for gluing it, but if there were missing shards, the surfaces could require filling and polishing which is tricky. Those who have experienced any degree of PTSD can easily understand how old memories blindsided me as I searched the sink and counters for shards.

After years of expert counseling, I’m grateful for my vast experience managing such episodes. So I set the cup aside, went to my safe place (sat down there on the tile floor) and examined the facts and the memories. Eventually it all melted into a single concern:

– No matter what, the cup cannot be unbroken. As I have experienced, much like I would, Sister was going to suffer more pain over the loss.
– – The best and only thing I could do is destroy all evidence and lie about what fell or hope to be available to either console her, or take the brunt of her emotions.

Maybe I’m going through a hormonal influx. Or perhaps the loss was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had not only nicked my thumb taking a shard from the garbage disposer, but memories and emotions overwhelmed me and I melted into a tear and blood puddle. Okay, actually tears (and some blood) dampened my blouse.

Wiping mascara traces from my face, in my potentially unstable disposition I prayed for help and direction. Before I could say, “Amen” two images successively burst onto my mind’s big screen.

– The scene in Murphy’s Romance where the son confessed to his mom that he broke, and then mended a plate before she discovered it.
– The first Easter Sunday dinner with family a few weeks after I met Jesus.

After I cried myself dry, I prayed to make sense of the scenes and then get back to work. Immediately the image of the toasting glasses and the pewter goblet I purchased for that family Easter dinner came back to mind in a spotlight. That image made the most sense, so I went with it.

pewter gobletglasses-of-champagne-4650x2993_81693My first holiday dinner with family in a decade, it fell on me to not only say grace, but to make the toast. It’s a tradition we all look forward to, especially afterward; mocking, editing and re-interpreting what the toastmaster actually said. In my new birth as it was, that year was different – for me at least. I had substantial resources at the time, so I purchased fine crystal toasting glasses as a gift to everyone there, one rustic pewter goblet and a couple of nice bottles of wine.

My toast attributed how at the Last Supper Jesus drank from a common cup; the contents of which represented, among other things, each one of our wrongs, past, future and present – for all mankind. My prayer was that we all remember to drink from the cup, but to strive to not fill the cup. It was a bit over-the-top, especially for my sibilant company, and so polite ridicule and jesting flowed freely for hours.

In my new found relationship with Jesus, the meaning came from somewhere deeper in me than I knew existed. Decades later, on her deathbed, Momma recalled that toast almost verbatim. Though she never mentioned it before then, she proudly remembered it all those years. It was only then that I realized she had never joined the chiding either. It was a blessing I could never have imagined. For some reason I don’t actually grasp yet, I actually felt redeemed somehow.

Soos GrailLater on I opted to glue the handle back onto the cup. Wiping the dribbles of super glue from it as best I could, the inside edges of the handle has a sharp ridge where a shard is missing. It could potentially cut a finger. As I reflected on the work, brainstormed how I could polish it out with emery cloth and remove the excess glue well enough, I again remembered the toast from years before. I dearly wanted to drink from the cup, and not help fill it.

candle crownThrough the years I’ve come to relate my walk with Jesus to be like crafting the crown He promises us. Mine will most likely be dinged up a bit, bent and misshapen with some stones missing, but I’m honored to own it. I look forward to tossing it across the Glassy Sea. Today I can envision the crown, “be the crown.”

Instead of proceeding with mending the cup, I chose to write this story. I’ll print it and put it into the cup – and stow it at the very back of the cupboard. I might email it to Sister so she doesn’t count on using the full dish set in the unforeseen future (redirecting more guilt – it could happen), but hopefully she’ll have read it here already.

 

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” The Apostle Paul

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NLT)

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