Friday, May 06, 2011
Want Some PTSD To Go With Your Muffins?
Muffins for Mom this morning, a primary grades event that I once used to have to dart between classrooms in order to get to all my children’s classes, now only Tabby is young enough to host this event, making it all the more sweet for me, in that she doesn’t lash out at me for not being the Birth Mom.
I’d spent some time with Dr. Mandy yesterday my own self, she’d chosen her words carefully, so fastidiously so that I was easily able to read through the lines and discern what she was carefully and sensitively trying to tell me regarding the diagnostic criteria of PTSD.
I clearly fit within the parameters, knowing I might protest too much at the distinction though, she eased me into the birth of this knowledge.
Yes, I get it, but what do I do about it? She gave me some steps that I’m not yet willing to climb up upon, still keeping the knowledge of what’s happened, the various cataclysmic events, deep within me. After my family has survived and endured the fallout, I’m now particularly unwilling to revisit it all.
“That makes it hold its power over you still,” she ventured to say, as I predictably threw out all sorts of smoke-screen roadblocks, much as any child of mine might also do.
“Well I’m just not ready,” I repeated, knowing she, the police, the judges, and a host of other professionals already knew all the details of all the events that had occurred during the last five years, it isn’t like I’d be re-explaining to someone new, but rather could be properly exploring my many mixed feelings with a professional.
I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m shocked and stunned, I’m ashamed, I’m blown away by man’s inhumanity to man, a thousand different emotions that I just don’t want to revisit, which is why I’ve lost my desire to write a book, even though via my blog, the pages are already written...but I've omitted too much, this I know.
Maybe just acknowledging the existence of PTSD is a major first step for me, having hinted broadly at secondary trauma which then led me here.
“Can’t I just pray my way through?” I hedged.
“If you verbally acknowledge that which has kept you bound up in fear enough times to loosen its hold on you, you might be starting to take a first step,” she maintained her professional stance, knowing the right answer of course, waiting on me to comprehend, also knowing I'd balk.
Hiding behind my excuses I told her I’d begin researching this, needing to learn first, stalling obviously, coming home to mull over her words.
I do know, plus folks have pointed out that my once very silly and sunny disposition has taken a whale of a beating over the past five years of some terribly cruddy events, a few of them played out in police reports, an ugly crime headline, investigations, no contact orders, fear-riddled nights, police visits, horrible anxiety, the threat of physical violence always hovering over everything, and me always on edge, brittle, bitter and upset.
Cries of laughter in another room set my heart pounding, instantaneously afraid a fight is brewing, the many times I’ve had to jump between combatants, bruises blossoming up and down on my arms, who the heck fights to settle a difference? I wasn’t raised like this, I find it distressing and debilitating.
Maybe because I have a fairly decent set of kids now at home, the others having so dangerously bombed out, maybe now that my guard is slightly down, maybe now I can begin to do that which I need to do in order for me to get better?
I have four kids still at home with hard-to-manage issues and challenges, but the overall danger level has dropped precipitously. Really, however, including three that don't live here right now, there's four out of five siblings with pending criminal cases, one being a felony. That reality sucks.
I know that I have inadvertently taken on so many of the issues once brought to me by severely traumatized children, now I don’t trust, now I’m fearful and hyper-vigilant, jumpy, wary, irrationally emotional at times, I twitch and flinch, overreactions and startled responses to loud noises, kind of like a returning soldier who has lived in a battle zone....because I am and I have done so.
I push people away, cringe from helpfulness, not wanting to infect them with our issues, I’m slammed shut emotionally, not in touch anymore with my own feelings, an automaton with Pavlov's’s theory turned backwardly inward. I’m a mess and I gotta work on it, this I know.
On the upside, physically hard work helps me, good thing too as I have a ton of never-ending chores, exciting soccer games in which I can bellow encouragement, baseball games on TV which allows even more venting on my part, and a majority of really good kids now still living with me, plus my disengagement policy for amped up behaviors,
“Just say, ‘OK’ thoughtfully when provoked,” Dr. Mandy suggested, which prompted one of the teenage boys to scream in an outraged tone, “Whaddya mean OK?’"
"OK," I repeated and floated off, knowing I'd not bitten the bait.
It’s garden time which thrills me, my 100 foot diet plan, gorging on strawberries, spinach, lettuce, chard, onions, radishes and new potatoes. I have a couple of very fun upcoming events, my years long decluttering is helping my mood, as are my many ongoing home improvement projects – like fixing busted windows and holes punched in my walls.
Who lives like that? No wonder I’m banged up.