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.


8 Responses to “P is for partially blind”

  • Teddi Deppner Says:

    Excellent insight to how our strengths (compassion, loyalty) can put us in the path of harm, or add to the burden we bear.

    And what a concept! The past as an active “player” in the present, telling us how to react, telling us what to think and which direction to go. So true, but I’d never heard it spoken of like a personage. Using that metaphor helps uncover how much we actually let the past “talk to us”. I see now that there’s an invisible person in my life that is influencing my choices. Dude.

  • Victoria Newman Says:

    Well written, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing your heart, your pain. I know that isn’t easy. But so many people who live with the sheriffs in their homes will resonate with what you’re saying. Bravo!

  • Susan Basham Says:

    How connected I feel to you, my friend –providential that “blindness” is a theme in both our posts this week, literal and figurative. I’ve been feeling a heavy heart for soldiers and law enforcement folk lately. As strong as they may be on the outside, on the inside they are souls — spiritual beings made in the likeness of God. How could the tragic atrocities not wreck them? Your husband and kids are very fortunate to have YOU, Rebecca…so insightful, aware, perceptive. God has placed you there. But I’m pretty sure you know that…….XO.

    • Rebecca Qualls Says:

      Thank you Susan. I felt likewise as I read your blog yesterday. And I’m praying for you as you approach Friday.

  • Jesse Says:

    What a beautiful way of writing such a heavy topic. You have a tone that makes it feel like a chat with a close friend, comfortable and intimate. You know what would help…Dirt Bikes and Camping with friends and family 🙂

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