Jul 25 2012

P is for partially blind

An outing to the zoo the other day warranted the taking of many pictures. My girls quickly took control of all picture taking devices and began to document our adventure. The above photo is one from that day. Can you tell what it is?

Yeah, me neither. After close inspection, I have made out some concrete and a shadow. Hardly a kodak picture spot. And maybe not a great representation of a day at the zoo but an apt representation of the beginning part of my journey into the world of PTSD.

P is for partially blind.

They say love is blind but I beg to differ. I think love is only partially blind. I was drawn to a man who is compassionate, courageous, and loyal. A man of honor. A man who takes his oath seriously. “I subscribe in word and deed to…fulfill my oath as a soldier of the law…” I was not blind to those things.

I was partially blind.

I knew my husband to have those traits. But I was blind to the fact that they came at a price. His loyalty and compassion are not bound only to the situations that he can control. He can not turn them on or off at will. So, to the little girl that died in his arms, he remains compassionate and loyal, even years later regardless of forced good-byes.

I was partially blind.

I can’t see her. I have heard about her and the tragedy of that day, but I have no vivid pictures, or smells or tastes associated with her. But my husband does. And the burden of those memories, of the hopelessness of the outcome, exact a heavy price.

The caring man I married grew more and more impatient and aloof. His sympathies began to turn sour like spoiled milk. One of our children would get injured and he would be rendered incapacitated. Nightmares, anxiety, and unending mantras regarding safety. Locks on doors, emergency drills and angst. The beautiful family I thought we had was changing. Or better said, the rules that governed our home were changing and I didn’t see it.

I was partially blind.

There was a new sheriff in our home. The past. Those moments in time when beliefs in justice demanded a different outcome. The little blond seven year old girl should have lived. But she didn’t. And that is only one image among dozens. Each tragic loss of life has a face, a name and a memory. The man of compassion and loyalty was being stretched to the breaking point. The past began to invade and it would take no prisoners.

I have since realized that although my husband has been diagnosed with PTSD he is not the only one who sees the past command unwarranted authority over the present. We stand in our situations. Our trials. Our issues. And we don’t want to let go. There is an obscure security in defining ourselves by our scars. Our battle wounds.

I saw my husband changing and I thought it was just his issue.

 I was partially blind.

And not fully seeing causes one to react. But my response to the unfamiliar and undetermined changes happening in our home is for next week. When T is for ticked off.


Jul 18 2012

PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Panic. Temper. Strain. Depression.

Several years ago, I had no idea how four letters could turn someone’s life upside down.

Today is my wedding anniversary. Thirteen years ago I married an amazing man. I envisioned having beautiful children and a beautiful life. For many years that is exactly what we had worked to create. And then something changed. Suddenly a monster was living in my home threatening to destroy all that we had worked so hard to establish.

For years, the monster remained nameless. But its presence was no less intrusive. This monster laid open a path for fear, anxiety, even depression. And I felt helpless. It was terrifying and overwhelming.

I have alluded to this issue in past blog posts but there has been a hesitancy in me to discuss it in detail. Maybe it’s one of those things that is so painful it’s just difficult to talk about. But, it’s my anniversary. And I have much to celebrate. I think it’s time.

It feels impossible to transcribe our journey in a single blog post so I intend to make this a series. As I pondered how to cohesively write a short group of blogs I thought of doing an acronym. I seem to like those. So this will be the first post of five. Each post after this will highlight a specific part of our journey. And what better acronym to use than P.T.S.D.

Please understand that I am not a doctor or psychologist. Writing about this widespread and debilitating issue is strictly based on my own experience. And even that being limited. I am not the sufferer directly. I am not the one haunted and tortured and controlled by horrific images and memories. I am the bystander. One who has had to learn to love in the midst of the paralyzing unknown. However, I am intimately acquainted with the condition. I had a first row seat as I watched my husband wrestle and fight a foe that was unseen. I watched as the father of my children was nearly taken from me.

I am the spouse of a highly decorated law enforcement officer. He is courageous and honorable and broken.

Happy anniversary to us and I hope you check out the next blog, “P is for partially blind” and take this journey with us.

 


Jul 13 2012

Hope

Can you spot the flowers?

 

To conclude our mission trip to Mexico we had a time of sharing. Highlights. Challenges.

One of my teammates shared the profound. She was struck by the amount of hope demonstrated in unexpected ways. At first glance, all that could be seen was poverty. But as the days progressed, her perspective changed. In the midst of destitution and dirt, hope sprang up. The smiles of children, the wash hanging on the line outside, the bright pink and yellow houses. The tiny patches of flowers in unexpected places.

Small evidences of hope. 

As she was sharing, my perspective was challenged as well. I, who have much in terms of possessions, struggle with hope. It’s not that I don’t believe everything will work out. I do. There is an undercurrent of faith, a confidence that a sovereign God is at work. But faith is not hope. I believe God will work all things out but what do I do in the interim? Do I hope? Do I look expectantly at the good that He has promised? Or do I merely exist. Drawn through life on the tide of faith, never hoping or anticipating that good is close. That God is close and He is good.

Anticipation.

My internal dialogue has resembled a grey donkey with a similar grey disposition. “It’s raining again. It always does.” Downcast head and monotone voice. A cuddly donkey burdened by life and void of hope. I’m a lot like Eeyore. Not being like Eeyore takes practice. And it has occurred to me how I am out of practice.

Expectation.

Faith is believing that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do. And hope, hope is the excited anticipation of seeing just how He will do it. Faith is the soil. It is the foundation. The solid earth we build our lives upon. And maybe hope is the tiny garden of flowers so lovingly tended outside the house that has a dirt floor and no roof. Or maybe hope is the bright blue house surrounded by wreckage, need and hardship.

Hope.

So today, I pledge to practice hope. To build my life on the foundation of faith. To believe in a God mighty and capable. But also, to take a moment to tend to my garden. The tiny patch of beautiful flowers. To anticipate. To marvel at the creative ways God will bring about His plan. To hope in the unexpected.