"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or erased...it can only be accepted."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

PTSD does not stand for "Probably Trying to Self Destruct"

                I was working on a project today for one of my classes and it occurred to me how easily I talk about my father these days. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like I’ve become completely numb to the situation, and I forget how sensitive the topic matter is. Doesn’t matter who asks me about him, or even what they ask…I’m a babbling fountain of TMI. But then I get in front of the keyboard…and not a word. Not a damn peep comes to mind. Figures the one place I’m actually encouraged to talk about him and I clam up like a criminal in front of a cop.
                Although now that I’m sitting here thinking about it…I have found something that has recently really bothered me. Lately I’ve talked to multiple people about my father and the situation surrounding the relationship he and I had. These people are friends of mine, coworkers, etc…and they looks they’ve given me, the tones they’ve taken, and the all-around attitude has really put me off.
                Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a lot to take in and I get that. And if I was just blindsiding them with information I would get it. But I have responded to specific questions truthfully…and gotten stared at like a crazy person.
                This has mostly come about regarding my PTSD. I’m taking a class on the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD right now and so it has come up a few times. I was talking with some people about it the other day and they asked me about it and why I was interested. So (in a roundabout and not specific way) I told them what it was and that I was interested because I had it. They asked why, I responded with a somewhat evasive answer…and then they kept prying. Finally I told them a little bit more, that my father had been extremely abusive, and that is what caused it.
                Well of course that started a new onslaught of questions. “What does it mean?” “What happens to you?” “Are you cured?” “What does a panic attack feel like?” So on and so forth. I did my best to explain in a short fashion…but by the time I got through explaining panic attacks…they were staring at me like I was a crazy person.
                Now because of that…I’m going to explain this again. I have PTSD. Some days it doesn’t affect me much…and other days it is completely debilitating. Today was one of the better days, and the only issue was the random panic about 2 hours ago for NO reason whatsoever. Last week however, there was one night that I slept about 35 minutes total…and spent all day in and out of hyperventilating…again for no reason.
                I can’t always explain why I feel the way that I do. And it can be downright terrifying and crappy. But I refuse to let it affect me. I get distracted easily and sometimes over focus on things that I shouldn’t. Sometimes I can’t breathe, or I get no sleep at night. Worst case scenario I step out of the room for a minute, or I’m a little crabby the next day. It doesn’t mean I’m going to go nutty and lose my mind on some unsuspecting person. Well…unless the person is a moron…in which case it’ll have nothing to do with the PTSD and all to do with my low idiot level tolerance.
                My point is…yes I’m a little crazy. We all are. We all have different issues that we deal with every day. This little disorder sucks. I don’t like it and I find it to be incredibly time consuming sometimes…but that’s all it is. My brain works differently that most people, and it’s got a bit of a malfunction. I’m still me. OCD cleaning-cat loving-homework hating-fitnesslazyass-me.
                On top of it all, I’ve learned to manage it. I’ve learned my triggers and the things to stay away from. I’ve learned how to handle an attack or the other symptoms as they hit me. I don’t need to be tiptoed around or treated like a child because of it.
                Here’s the deal…if you aren’t ready for the answers…don’t ask the questions. I’m an open book. I don’t lie about who I am or try to pretend that I’m someone that I’m not. And I won’t. I’m not going to sugar coat things because it makes someone feel better about their life.

                And on that note…I need to stop. I’ve been up for about 22 hours…and still have a very long day ahead of me. Way too cranky to keep this up.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Keeping it simple

                I wanted to write tonight…but I didn’t know what to write about exactly. There were so many random thoughts that came to mind…but they were all entirely too scattered. So in order to center myself I went and found my old FA book…”Today a Better Way.” Today’s reading was all about keeping it simple. One of the sentences that really caught my attention was “I remind myself – keep it simple – and let go of everything that doesn’t matter at this second, this minute, this hour, and this day.”
                This seems to be something that I really struggle with. I try to be everyone and everything way too often. I need to remind myself on a regular basis that the world isn’t on my shoulders. Everything ISN’T up to me. Yes…I have a lot of responsibility. I work, I go to school, I teach gymnastics, and I coach at the high school. I run a household by myself at the moment. I’m lucky to have help from an amazing man…but the everyday things like laundry and dishes get exhausting when you’re all alone.
                I don’t mean it to sound like I’m whining, because as much as I’d rather have help…I honestly don’t mind doing those things on my own. BUT…sometimes I put entirely too much pressure on myself. When things like dusting or cleaning out the car can wait…I stay up until 2 am doing them. I hold myself to this impossible standard that no person in their right mind can attain. Well…at least no truly happy person.
                The point is…the simple things are the most important in my life. Whether it be the little things like lighting some candles and taking a relaxing shower to the sounds of James Taylor…or having a clean house and organized car. The simple things really make me happy…they keep me centered. Heck, just tonight I made a pot pie and drew a heart in the crust. It sounds silly…but that little detail made me smile and reminded me that it’s ok to just be happy sometimes.
                It’s not hard to be happy. It’s really not. It takes a lot more effort and energy to be stressed out and sad all the time. Finding joy in small things and welcoming all the “happy” that life has to give really isn’t too difficult. The hard part of being happy is letting go of the stressful things…and letting go of the restrictions that we put on ourselves.
                There are a lot of simple things that make me happier than I could have ever hoped. Things like the fact that I have an amazing boss (or two of them), the fact that I have a family that would do anything for me, or even just the fact that my life is better than it’s ever been.
                I used to need a lot. Even just a year ago I needed more attention, I needed more chaos…I needed more of something that I couldn’t find. Now it feels like I can finally keep it simple for once in my life…I can finally just be happy with what I have.

                And I suppose in the idea of keeping it simple…that’s all I can say about it all. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chances

                Today has really made me think about where my life has taken me. January 13th 2011 I was at the doctor’s office waiting to see my baby on the ultrasound. Instead of seeing the baby however…I saw a tiny baby that no longer had a heartbeat. I remember sitting there staring at the screen waiting for the doctor to see something…anything that would give me some hope. Instead…I got a scheduled surgery. A surgery to take my baby away from me for good.
                The next week was a whirlwind. I had my surgery, and curled up on the couch for 2 days. After those days I started to feel like something was wrong. I had an extreme fever, I felt weak, slightly delirious. My ex-husband took me to the hospital, where they discovered I had a nasty infection. My fever was 104.3 when I got there, and the pain was unbearable. They did an ultrasound and found that the doctor who did my surgery had messed up, but I was too unstable to go back in for surgery to fix it. I spent the next 2 days in and out of consciousness, with a fever that I couldn’t shake. I didn’t find out all of the details until last year when I was reviewing medical records with my current doctors. But during those two days, they almost lost me twice.
                It was a hard week, full of heartbreak…not to mention extreme physical hardship. But here I sit 3 years later…surrounded by people that love me…and a truly amazing life. 3 years ago life was a lot different. I was in a marriage that neither my ex nor I was happy in. I was out of school, working way too hard…and I had no idea who I was as a person. I had a lot of crappy friends, my father was in jail, and to be honest…I had no future.
                In those 3 years I’ve gotten divorced, I’ve lost my father, and I’ve finally truly found myself. I’ve gotten back into school, I’ve found a job that makes me really happy, and I’ve found friends that better me as a person instead of ones that hold me back.
                I’m not sure exactly where I wanted this post to go. I started thinking about writing because I started thinking about all the places that my life has gone. I only started thinking about that journey because I was thinking about my baby, and all of the other babies I’ve lost over the years. That sounds bad, but the truth is…I’ve been pregnant many times. And every time it has ended in extreme heartbreak…and not only for me.
                I can truly say, that for the first time…well…ever…I’m happy with almost every aspect of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my babies, I miss Nick when he’s gone…hell I miss my mom every day too. But I’m happy. I’ve found this inner peace with the things that have happened, and I’ve accepted why they’ve happened. I’m not holding my babies today, and that hurts. Nick isn’t here when I wish he was…and that hurts too. My mom lives far away, and sometimes that’s hard to deal with. But I have come to find a peace through everything.
                I was abused. For 15 years I was abused physically and emotionally…my father dragged me through the dirt over and over again. He made me feel like I wasn’t a person, and that my life would never mean anything. The bruises, the cuts, and most of the scars healed…but the emotional ones didn’t. Losing my children broke my heart more than anything ever has. Being told one minute that you’re about to be a parent…just to find out a few months later that your child has been ripped out of your hands…is a knife to the chest that I can’t begin to explain.
                I’ve been to 4 colleges…I’ve lost 3 pregnancies in their late stages…I’ve been in 2 serious relationships…but for the one and only time…I’ve found me. I’ve found this life that I can be proud of. I’ve found a man that loves me now, and will forever. I’ve learned how amazing my mom is, and how strong she has been over the years. I’ve found a way to honor my dad’s memory in a positive way, instead of falling apart in a way that hurts and scares other people.
                It’s hard for me to write sometimes for two reasons. 1- things seem so good that I wonder what I have to write about. And 2- I don’t want to bring up the things that aren’t so good…the things that brought me to where I am. It’s not because they don’t exist…it’s just because everything is going well and I don’t want to dwell on the negative in my past.
                But the fact is…all of the things that have happened…have made me who I am. And I don’t say that as some cliché. I can literally say that without my father being completely insane and tormenting me…I wouldn’t have taken the chances I did in my life. Without my mom being a solid rock throughout my life and teaching me to fight…I would have given into drugs and a horrible life years ago. Without my failed marriage…I wouldn’t be in the amazing relationship I’m in now…and even if I was I certainly wouldn’t have appreciated it. Without losing my babies…I wouldn’t have the chance that I have now…
                The chance to start over. The chance to learn from my past mistakes. The chance to have this new amazing life with the first man that saw me for exactly who I am. Not to mention a man that loves me for just how completely insane I am.
                I’m not perfect. Holy hell…I’m a complete disaster in so many ways. I say stupid things, I make split decisions, and sometimes I make choices that are completely ridiculous. But doing those things for the last few years has really put me in a good place. I’ve never felt quite so rounded, or quite so happy.

                And I have to say…I give a lot of that credit to my angels. I lit a candle tonight in their memory. There’s a reason they aren’t here with me…and as horrible as this may sound…maybe it’s because God knew their mommy needed some extra guidance over the years. Because let’s be honest…I can use all the angels I can get.

Monday, November 11, 2013

PTSD...a life in the shadows



I mentioned panic attacks in my post last night, and I realized that I’ve never provided a real description of what the panic attacks do. I’ve made a few little comments here and there in posts, but I’ve never truly explained what they are.
               My panic attacks are from an underlying issue of PTSD. PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s typically caused by certain traumatic experiences in one’s past. It is most often seen in people returning from war. The most common examples for them would be hearing a car backfire and hitting the ground out of habit. They also may deal with certain events bringing up feelings, and having their mood suffer because of it.
               My PTSD is obviously a little bit different. Mine is coupled with depression which is in itself a never ending battle. For me the symptoms manifest in anxiety and panic attacks. Occasionally I get flashbacks…many times while I’m sleeping. There have been times where I’ve had these flashbacks in a dream, and I’ve woken up in a strange place…completely freaked out. Happened once this past summer right after my father’s funeral…I woke up on the living room floor next to my father’s picture and his box of ashes…with no recollection of how I got there.
               When I first started dealing with the panic attacks they were incredibly strong. I would be fine one minute, and something would trigger a feeling of nervousness. My body would essentially shut down and my actions were out of my control. Suddenly it would be hard to breathe…kind of like when you go outside and there is an extremely cold wind…and you get that feeling that you can’t take a breath. Finally I would get a huge gasp of air…and it would turn into hyperventilating. Breathing would get faster and faster until I’d get so lightheaded that I would see spots and start to pass out.
               My body would shake uncontrollably. Mini attacks would make my hands go numb and my feet tingle. Bad attacks would leads to convulsions that felt like when you get unbearably cold and can’t stop extreme shivering. Most of the time I had to sit down because my legs would shake so badly that I wasn’t sure how long it would be before they gave out completely.
               The biggest and scariest problem during the attacks were the thoughts. Many times my brain would take me right back to the past. My vision would cloud over to where all I could see was some horrific experience in my father’s house. I would hear whooshing noises in my ears until I couldn’t focus on anything. Deep down I knew that I was safe, and that nothing bad would happen…but I couldn’t bring my brain and body back to reality. It was like being trapped inside your own body…knowing that everything is still going on around you…but not being able to reach it.
               I learned to ride out the attacks. I could start to tell when they were going to happen, and I learned my triggers. Men yelling, watching any kind of fight between a man and a woman, watching a parent really yell at their child, or being hugged unexpectedly. Any time I felt physically uncomfortable or vulnerable…I could feel that slight catch in my chest that I knew was going to lead to bad news. I got better at removing myself from those situations, or breathing slowly through the trigger. But the dream attacks have always been the worst because of their unpredictability.
               PTSD is no joke. I’m lucky to have people in my life that understand it now. But too many times I’ve been told to “calm down” in the middle of an attack…or I’ve had people tell me that I need to stop being “dramatic”. I get so sick of close minded idiots that refuse to admit that there are scarier things in life than bills or minor family drama. Just because PTSD is a disease of the brain doesn’t make it any less painful or hard to deal with as a disease that manifests itself in a visual form. I don’t walk around with a walker, I don’t have some physical problem, and I don’t take medication (anymore)…but I still have a disease and I can admit it.
               I have been lucky in my battle…but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a daily fight. It doesn’t just “go away” with time…and it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. I have seen things that no one should see…and that will never leave me. I thank God all the time that I essentially beat my PTSD and depression. I had enough support around me, and the right tools to be able to combat it head on. Too many people don’t have the same.
               As I said before, a lot of times you can’t see the effects of PTSD or depression. Unless you’re very close to someone, it can be next to impossible to spot it. But it has to be understood by the public that both of these diseases take lives. I don’t even mean in the physical sense, such as suicide…which unfortunately is WAY too common in these situations. But also in the sense that too many people fight the battle alone. They get trapped inside their minds, and hide all the pain they’re in. “Fake it until you make it” kind of idea. It’s not life when you’re living like that. It’s painful, scary, and restricts you from enjoying all of the beautiful aspects that life has to offer.
               So I guess in part to honor Veteran’s Day, and in part just to raise awareness of PTSD and its effects…I encourage everyone who reads this to open their minds and realize just how serious this is.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Panic attacks and a seance



I have had an insane amount of anxiety over the last few days. I was thinking that it had something to do with how busy I’ve been and how many things I have coming up in the near future. But
I’m starting to think that it has nothing to with all of the things that are stressing me out.
                I’m about to talk about something that a lot of people are going to either A) Ignore, B) Think I’m crazy, or C) Think I’m just making it up. About 2 weeks ago I went with a friend to a séance. For those of you that don’t know what that is…it’s basically a group of people run by mediums, that contact the dead. Now trust me, my first reaction was that it was all going to be a load of crap, but it was something for me to do on a Friday night. I’m a psychology major, I study the brain, and how to analyze it…so while watching this woman go around and talk to people, I was trying to prove that it was all fake.
                I sat through the circle, and watched other people receive their readings from the medium that was working with us. And honestly, it felt like crap. She was digging for information, and then playing off of people’s reactions. I could have predicted the things that she would say…and I shut myself off from believing. She got to me, did my reading, and honestly I didn’t feel anything. However there was another medium that got my attention earlier on…so I decided to stay afterwards and talk to her.
                What happened next really kind of scared me. She asked me who I wanted to hear from, and I showed her my father’s picture. As she did her reading, I was very careful in my responses and body language because I wanted to know for sure whether or not it was fake. Right off the bat she told me that she felt large amounts of pain, and not just because of his death. She said there was a deeper pain there, that something had clearly been very very wrong. She looked at me and asked if I was sure I wanted to contact him, and I said yes and asked her why. She said that he had tried to contact me, and that every time I thought about him, it was him trying to contact me. But that I had been completely closed off, and that I wasn’t receiving any of his messages. She said that he knew I was way too angry to speak to him…and then she said that in her mind…I had every right to be. She said he was horrible, and he had done some terrible things…and my anger was clearly justified.
                I was still skeptical. And then she channeled him again, and she asked me a very simple question from him. She asked me why I hadn’t spread his ashes. I almost fell out of my chair. I didn’t tell her when he died, that he had been cremated, let alone that I hadn’t had the strength to scatter his ashes yet. There was no way for her to guess that. I was absolutely amazed, and started to trust in the things she was saying.
                As she continued, she said that my father was basically talking her ear off. She said it was hard to get what he was saying because there was just so much of it. She went on and on about different things, and one thing she kept telling me was that he wasn’t mad at me. He wanted to justify everything that had happened (shocking) but that she was getting the feeling that he had been very sick. However her next comment made me go from tears to laughter. She said that he was very mentally sick, and that his mind was never in the right place. She told me that he was warning me to be very careful, because it was a family problem…and it was all hereditary. I must say…I think I already knew that…
                As she continued to channel him, she told me that he was starting to piss her off. She essentially told him that he needed to leave me alone, and that I would contact him when I was ready to talk to him again. She said the main thing he kept trying to get across was that I needed to spread his ashes…for myself and for him. She said she kept seeing a picture in her head of a black shelf…with a box, a picture, and a candle. Ironic considering his ashes are on a black bookshelf in my living room…next to his picture and a candle. She then asked me if I had any questions for him…and I said all I wanted to know was whether or not he did it. She tried to clarify what I meant…and I told her that he would know.
                She looked at me and asked if I was really ready for that answer…was it something I really wanted to know. I told her I did…and before she answered the question she told me that the second I asked that question…she felt an extremely heavy weight that made her want to fall over. She said it was an overwhelming yes.
                Now I’ve always known that my father set the fire. Since the day it happened I knew he was guilty. But he never went to court and was never convicted…and he denied responsibility until the day he died. Hearing the final admission of guilt was a lot to me.
                But anyways…I’ve been getting this anxiety lately…my PTSD has been kicking in full force. I’ve been doing really well with it all until these last few days. They’re strange little panic attacks…and happen at completely random times. My chest tenses up, and I get a very overwhelming feeling of negativity. It’s hard to explain but I just get this feeling that something very bad is about to happen…and the feeling lasts for a few minutes. It gets overwhelming sometimes.
                After talking to the medium…I think I know why. It’s time to scatter the ashes. It’s a constant reminder in my house…and I think these feelings I’m getting are my father trying contact me in some way. It’s past time to get them out of the house and send him on his way. The more I hold on to him in a physical sense, the more he’s going to haunt my thoughts.

Monday, October 28, 2013

From a death sentence to safety

Ever since my bad day at work last Friday, exactly what I want to do with my life has been on my mind. Writing a book is of course a goal I would like to some day achieve, but I'm not entirely sure that it would be a channel that would lead to a career. I know that I want to work in rehab and with people who are trying to better their lives.

What I really got to thinking though, is how much I'd love to do some public speaking. Whether it be in rehab centers, or to groups of teens facing the choices of getting into drugs or not. I want to make a difference in some way. I have so many experiences and stories to tell...some that are downright mind blowing.

I know that it's not possible to stop all drug addiction. I wish it was, and in a perfect world no one would ever have to face the things that I have over the years. But it's isn't a perfect world, and there will always be people out there that choose to ruin their own lives, and choose to hurt the people around them. It is a terrifying disease, and the rate that it takes lives while ruining others is quite scary.

But another scary aspect of the whole situation, is the mental illness and domestic violence that so often comes with addictions. Too many wives, girlfriends, children, and other family members are affected by domestic violence. No one should have to live in fear...whether it be fear of being hurt...or worse, being killed.

I mentioned in my post last night about the person I was talking to about my dad. One of the things that stuck out in our conversation...was something that I mentioned to her about how I felt when I was with him. It's something that I realized I've never said outloud before...and it helped me see just how far I've come through the years. You don't always realize all the healing that has taken place...until you think about where you were.

Yes, I have PTSD. I have fought a long battle with depression and anxiety. Some days things are just too hard and it takes all of my energy to wake up and function normally. Other days I have random panic attacks sitting at my desk at work. They've gotten so much better than they used to be...and there used to be times that I lost all control of my body and forgot how to breathe.

The body does a funny thing when it is in danger. At least mine does. Back when I lived with my father, I don't remember a single panic attack. There would be moments that I was scared...but I always fought back and kept my mind together. They aren't kidding when they talk about "fight or flight"...and how it is the body's natural response. Living in my father's house...flight wasn't an option. Running away never helped...the moron police officers would just send me back to the house, and it would be back to a high monster who was angry as hell. Not exactly the safest situation. But the fight in me was so strong...that I kept a level head in the face of absolute hell breaking loose. I would find ways to sneak weapons into my room, and plan escape routes out of every window of the house. I would be awake for days because I didn't know what he was going to do...and while he crept around the house looking for the "gremlins" that were after him at 4 am...I "slept" with one eye open (http://therecoveringskeptic.blogspot.com/2012/04/gremlins-knives-and-government-spies.html). Just waiting for the day that he decided I was one of the things that was "after him."

But my entire point of saying all that...is I was always an eery kind of calm around my father. Any "normal" person would have been constantly terrified and worried about things going terribly wrong. Now sometimes I was...but most of the time I kept my head on straight. It wasn't until the other day that I think I finally admitted to myself just why I was so calm.

It was quite simple...by the age of 12, I had accepted that I was going to die.

Don't get me wrong, even typing that sentence makes me feel sick to my stomach. But it couldn't be more true. I always had an escape route in my mind...no matter how badly things got, and no matter where we were. But in the back of my head...I think in a way I had started to lose hope. My mother was fighting so hard to get me to safety, but the higher powers in the government were making it impossible. I was fighting for myself...but again these stupid people that were supposed to be protecting me...couldn't see through his lies and fake personality.

To this day...all I hear from people is how wonderful my father was...and how everyone loved him. It takes a lot out of me to look back at those people and smile. I say thank you...and walk away. Every once in awhile I can't even muster that...and I fight just to keep my mouth shut. If only they knew the hell he put his innocent child through.

I look at my siblings, and honestly can't understand how anyone could intentionally scare a child so badly. I can't imagine ever looking in those eyes and making them think I was going to hurt them. But at the same time...my sister is now 13...and I can't imagine her ever having to deal with the things I had seen by that age.

Looking at it from an outsider's perspective...makes me want to break down into tears. But at the same time in some strange twist of thoughts...personally I'm so thankful I saw the things that I did. Granted, life would have been a HELL of a lot easier in the safety of my mom's home. And I thank God I had her...she was the one that dealt with the breakdowns, and coached me back up from rock bottom. She gave me the fight to go back to his house and be able to make it through each day. But had all of that not happened...I wouldn't be me. That sounds so cliche...but I really wouldn't. I look at people my age who have this whole mental breakdown because they lose their job, or go through a breakup. I have one of two reactions every time I see things like that. I either want to shake them and tell them to get some perspective...or I laugh a little to myself saying "if only you knew."

Let's be honest here...life sucks. We go to school for years, to work in jobs that many times we can't stand. Friends...backstab us. Sometimes family members hurt us. We lose jobs, we overdraft bank accounts, and cars break down. In the winter, the cold freezes us...and in the summer, the humidity ruins our hair.

But seriously. Who the hell cares? Yes you read that right? Who gives a flying rats ass about that stuff. I'll be the first to admit that there have been times that I throw pity parties for myself. But it's usually pretty easy for me to put it all in comparison to my past. When you come from a situation where you literally had come to peace with the fact you were going to die...at 12...nothing seems all that bad anymore.

There is something that my counselor made me repeat over and over back when I was fighting to get myself back on track. After leaving my father's house for good...I was a mess. Finally not having that fear to keep myself together...the strong face all came tumbling down. The panic started...the overall anxiety and depression all came at once. All of that pent up fear came out like a tidal wave. But when I found a good counselor...she would literally make me repeat 3 words. "I am safe."

Those words did more for me than I ever thought they would. To this day...they serve two purposes. They calm me down during flashbacks and panic attacks. But they also remind me where I came from. I wasn't safe...but I sure as hell am now...and that alone is something to celebrate and pass on to other people.

Amazing how when I plan to write a few paragraphs about a future career...and it gets all of this stirred up in my brain. But everything I've just written...and everything else on the blog is a perfect example of why I want the career that I do. I want to share these stories not only to hopefully shock people into getting help...and to help them see what they're doing to their families...but also to show others that they aren't alone.

I'm a normal 22 year old girl. Except for the fact that I have a crazy past. I like shoes, I drink too much coffee, and when my boyfriend is overseas...I live at home with a dog and 3 cats. I go to work every day, and I forget to do my dishes on a regular basis. But I'm a girl that wants to save other people from dealing with what she did. It is a long lasting pain...one that can only be cured by preventing the same feelings for someone else.

I was having a hard day last week because of all the time I was spending thinking about my dad. As I said last night...those letters were bringing up some old feelings that I wasn't quite prepared to deal with again. But I finally realized what I needed to be thinking about. This blog has inspired what I consider a miracle.  http://therecoveringskeptic.blogspot.com/2012/10/eyewitness-to-miracle.html. It was just over a year ago...and reading that post again...remembering that day...brings tears to my eyes for the best reasons.

That was just one family. One person was touched by the blog and the story...and it ended up not only saving someone's physical life...but an entirely family's relationships. This blog has almost 20,000 views...and it helped one family that I know of. Right there...it makes everything worth it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Letters from another life



I was talking to someone the other day about my dad and his addiction. This was someone who has struggled with addiction, and I wanted to really show them just how badly addiction can affect you later on in life. I pulled out some old letters that he wrote to me in jail…and I was slightly caught off guard.
                Sometimes I don’t realize how much my PTSD affects me. But in re-reading the letters, I saw all sorts of things that I had somehow forgotten. I suppose you can’t even call it forgotten…but there were words in the letters that I had completely blocked out of my brain. Reading the letters hurt me more than I thought they would…and brought out a sense of guilt that was more gut wrenching than ever.
                In the letters my dad would jump through feelings. One second he would be telling me how much he missed me and how sorry he was that so many things had gone wrong. He never really accepted full blame, but he would apologize that I was upset. Essentially blaming everything on my feelings instead of his actions. Then his thoughts would jump in the other direction. He would go to anger, telling me how horrible I was and how I was hurting everyone around me. He would tell me that I was a disappointment and that I would never become a good person with all the “hate” I carried with me.
                One of the craziest parts in the letters are where he shows "genuine concern" for me. He goes on and on about he just wants me to be mentally healthy, because I'm clearly not. Then he starts talking about how he wants me to stop using drugs, and stop stripping because I'm so much better than that. It was insane to me to re-read these things. If you all remember the posts about his accusations years ago (  http://therecoveringskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/11/drugs-and-strip-clubs.html ) you may remember. But the lies weren't that shocking as I've heard them before. What was insane was the fact that he truly seemed to believe what he was saying. The concern and confusion seemed so real...as if he invented these stories years ago...and actually managed to brainwash himself. It's insane what happens to your brain after abusing it for so long.
                The letters broke my heart, because in some moments you could read the pain he felt. You could tell how horribly he wanted his daughter back in his life, and how scared he was. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to fix him…and re-reading the letters I remember how I sat in bed for days crying over trying to decide what to do.
                Once again I was forced to make a decision that broke my heart. I had to cut him out of my life, despite the psychological warfare. I was hurting, but I knew it could only lead to more pain and frustration if I didn’t get away from him.
                But back to the point of this post. The letters hurt to go through again. It brought back that guilty feeling that I hadn’t done enough to make things right with my father before he died. Seeing the candy wrappers he put in the letters (still don’t understand why) gave me a deep horrible feeling…knowing that whatever he ate was coming from jail. Knowing that he sat in jail…finally forced to be sober…and was still so crazy is mind blowing. He clearly had mental issues from the start…and the drugs ate away his brain.
                My mom’s mom mentioned something to me the other day about my dad. I responded to her in some fashion and completely forgot about whatever it was. She confronted me a few days later and asked me if I had realized that when talking to her I had called my father by his first name, and not “my dad.” It was strange, because it hadn’t occurred to me. Being my usual self, I started self-analyzing. I came to the conclusion that yet again, my sub-conscious is trying protect myself. I have unintentionally distanced myself from the memory of my father in hopes of keeping myself together.
                My dad’s story makes me sad. Some days I rarely think of him, but others I can’t get him off my mind and it’s hard to get out of bed. He brought havoc and pain to so many people…and that is an incredibly hard pill to swallow. But as always, being a victim isn’t an option. It’s always going to hurt…but if I use my pain the right way…I can keep others from getting hurt in the same way. No one should ever have to read the letters that I did.