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Tapeworm Education

Today’s post is going to obviously be about tapeworms, so if you’re squeamish or not interested, please pass this post by. I totally would have myself in the past if I hadn’t gone through an experience with them.

For context, I’m going to be providing information on the type of tapeworm that cats and dogs get from fleas, not the type from raw meat like eating raw rodents and such or contracted usually by trappers (even I couldn’t handle any of that research). Back in October we adopted twin stray nearly solid black kittens to make things all the more lively with having two older cats all ready. Zane and Izzy are now almost a year old and although I may slip and call them “the kittens”, they’re really not anymore. Just a heads up on that.

Anyway, one day as we prepared for bed (we are day sleepers since he works overnight), we noticed what looked like white rice around the backside on Zane. L held Zane and I removed them with a tissue, and promptly freaked out when one moved. Although it was way whiter than the following picture shows, here is an example.

We thought it was mucus or something until the bugger moved. Thankfully on a black cat they’re extremely noticeable and one of the few times I’m thankful that the twins tend to moon us frequently instead of keeping that tail lower. LOL After it moved L looked closer and said he thought it looked like a tapeworm, but maybe he was wrong and it was a different kind of worm. He was certain it was a worm, so I jumped into researching. After a few hours of research I discovered a lot of contradictory and even downright false information, but confirmed that the three were indeed involved with having a tapeworm. So, I wanted to provide the correct information here in the hopes that it helps someone.

Let’s start with getting to know the truth about the tapeworm itself. Usually your cat has only one infecting it and by the time they are mature, they average between 5-8″ inside the intestine, with the head latched onto the intestine. It is made up of three parts: the head that connects to poor kitty, the neck, and a long body of segments. This picture gives a great example.

Now, this worm tends to be difficult for the vet to detect unless segments have detached and the owner finds them, since it’s not detectable in a blood test and is really tough to test for in a standard fecal exam (unless the segments are breaking off). Now comes the creepy, crawly part. That segment that breaks off and passes through is actually an egg sac. First they’re a bit lively when they’re freshly out of kitty (or pup) and the nasty buggers have the ability to move around to find a host. You can even see them snake their way out of the anus sometimes (insert gagging). After exposure to the air and lack of finding an immediate host, they drop off and dehydrate.

You can find these anywhere the cat has walked, played, or slept. At this point they will not move and are waiting for a host. The important thing to know now is that tapeworms need an intermediary host, such as this variety needing to be ingested by flea larvae, which then grow into infected fleas. (Note: the dry segments/egg sacs, break open and the eggs are released, which the larvae can then infest.) The sacs can not infect you or your pet directly, even those nasty crawling ones, and they’re not going to go back into kitty’s backside. If your cat roams the house freely, you have a high chance of finding these dehydrated sacs in your own bedding as well, so don’t freak out if you see these tiny, really weird gold looking, sesame seed-like, hard sacs.

Here are the top keys to taking care of this. First, make sure that kitty is treated with a flea preventative, preferably one that kills fleas and larvae ASAP. Contact your vet and buy tapeworm anti-parasitic treatment from them (oral or liquid application, so whichever you’re more comfortable with. Since we use the liquid flea treatment, it made since to use the same for the other), and thoroughly clean anywhere kitty has been or where fleas could have gone, especially vacuuming anywhere possible. Now, I am not addressing a heavy flea infestation with this, but instead the random type. If you have an infestation, contact your vet and follow their recommendations to the “T”. Also, it is worth the extra cost of buying the tapeworm treatment from your vet instead of an OTC version, because the OTC isn’t usually as strong and sometimes doesn’t kill the worm itself, so you may get this issue all over again once that worm is at a reproduction stage again. Now, poor kitty may spend a lot of time in the litter box trying to get the irritating matter to pass like fecal matter (which won’t happen, so the poor thing is just getting kinda tortured trying to care for itself) and every so often, although it’s more common in dogs than cats, they may scoot on the carpet to remove what is irritating their backside. Thankfully Zane didn’t do that or I’d have probably set fire to that area of the carpet and just dealt with L’s anger later. *laugh*

Now, those infected larvae grow into fleas and kitty either eats one while grooming or while nipping at the itch of fleas biting, and ingests it then. Within three weeks of eating the infected flea (most vets seem to agree that the flea can still be infected even if it is dead and the cat grooms up that dead flea), the worm living inside the flea then attaches to the intestinal wall. Note: the worm MUST go through the flea to complete the life cycle, according to our vet and most documents I found written by actual vets.

If you use a good flea treatment, then all traces of fleas on them, even the larvae, will be dead within 24 hours. Your vet will let you know how soon after the flea treatment that you can administer the parasitic treatment. The good thing is that a prescription based tapeworm treatment will kill the whole thing within 12 hours and only needs the one treatment! (Again, this is not the case in a heavily flea-infested environment or if your pet is able to go outside, since their exposure possibilities are nearly endless outside. Your vet will be your best instructor on this. Do NOT rely on the internet for guidance on this, please!! A LOT of the information people post is so wrong.) Also, make sure you clean the litter boxes often, just as an in-case preventative, especially while in the possible “something might still be alive” window.

At this point it is a good idea to clean thoroughly again, especially since there will be dry sacs and dead fleas in your linens and carpet. There’s contradictory information, but you can also use a cleaning spray solution such as Lysol or a bleach or borax and water solution, and spray anywhere you can’t reach with other cleaning methods. The jury is out on the safety of Lysol around cats, however, thankfully mine hate it and stay away from any wet spray, and they won’t lick dry spots either. With having a compromised immune system, Lysol helps give me an extra peace of mind, knowing that it’s killing any other germs or bacteria that may be hiding and can affect my system later, as well as making me feel confident that this is DONE.

A few more key notes now. It is extremely rare for humans to get this type of tapeworm. Basic hygiene should prevent this. You have to ingest an infected flea in order for the possibility of getting infected, so, in normal circumstances, you have nothing to worry about, even if you have a compromised immune system. Next, most vets all agree on only giving the tapeworm treatment to those that show they have been infected. As our twins have a tendency of sharing their grooming (blech!), we all agreed it was probably best to treat Izzy too, while the flea treatment was done on all four. And now the biggest thing to know. You must continue to use flea preventative all year long to prevent this from happening again, even if you have a foot of snow, since one can hitch a ride from a house that has fleas on something they bring over or on their clothing, or something of that nature, thereby bringing the infection into your house. It seems insane to treat even when the ground is frozen, everything outside is dead, and there’s snow everywhere, but if you never want to deal with these nasty buggers, it’s worth the cost of treatment. One last note that I almost forgot – if your pets roam your house freely, make sure to also vacuum your mattress pad while your linens are in the wash (warmest temps for washing and drying that the manufacturer recommends)! I don’t know how they can get around like that, but I found dry sacs on the mattress pad itself, despite us using several layers of blankets and sheets, so don’t half-ass clean (excuse the language please). For something without a brain, they’re very creative and goal oriented.

It’s up to you what flea preventative you want to use, but make sure it can also kill the larvae. Our vet actually recommends the new Revolution Plus, since it prevents a lot of other issues too that may affect kitty.

The only signs now that we had an issue is that I need to brush the twins’ fur where they had the treatment applied, since they have some funny fur patterns from the dried solution on the back of their necks, my house is way cleaner than it has been in a long time and all laundry got washed including anything the cats could have laid on, and I am out of energy spoons for the foreseeable future. *laugh* However, I was really upset that something common and so easily treatable didn’t have accurate information easily handy, despite the availability of information on the internet! I felt an obligation to help provide some accurate knowledge about this as a result. If you would like to read an actual trustworthy article, click HERE for the site that our own vet trusts.

So, other than a step back with my recovery due to using up too much energy and getting a little injured during the cleaning, and some irritated cats that hate getting their monthly treatment, life is returning to normal for our little menagerie. Zane is catching up on missed sleep from when he was kept up by his issues, the others are enjoying fresh bedding and a new heated cat bed, and all of them are super affectionate right now for some reason. I truly hope you never have to deal with this, but if you do, hopefully this helps prevent you from freaking out like I did, and also gives you a solid base of information to get this under control. Our key take away is that we will be giving year long flea preventatives with treats afterward and never dealing with this again. (And in case you wonder, nope, we didn’t have a single flea found on the pets or in the house. A great way to find out if you have an issue is to walk around wearing white socks. It’s easier to see them jumping on you and getting tangled in the material before making their way toward their food source and gives you a good idea of how bad of a flea situation you’re dealing with. With my immune issues, if there is a flea around, typically it comes after me and I react with a big red bite, or a series of them if I enter a place that has an infestation.)

Anyway, sorry for such an icky topic, but I really hope that it’s helpful, even if it’s just education to keep in the back of your mind for “just in case” purposes. In the meantime, happy pampering and please do a little extra for me, since I’m too tired to even get out of bed right now. 😀

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! 🙂

(And yes, it should be spelled with the letter “d” and not “t”, as “d” is the masculine.  We in the US have often made the mistake of calling the Saint by a woman’s name.  That’s today’s trivia.  *grin*)

Happy St. Paddys Day_001

Quick Note About the Blog

Hi there!  I just wanted to let you know that I created a website dedicated to my Second Life wanderings instead of posting them here, since several subscribers aren’t interested in my online gaming pictures and information.  If you are interested and would like to subscribe, my SL blog is https://breanamcdonnell.home.blog/  Thank you for all of the support and understanding in the meantime, and also for the feedback about separating my online gaming!  I promise to write a full post here soon.  In the meantime, I hope you can get your pampering on and have a wonderful day!

My First Blogger Box

Gaming Logo

 

As I mentioned before, I’ve been using Second Life photography as a creative outlet as part of my recommended PTSD therapy.  I am slowly getting better with editing, staging shoots, and uploading to Flickr.  It actually had a secondary benefit recently!  One of my favorite pose designers, ~X.T.C PoSes~, sent me a blogger’s box of poses they’ll be selling at The Chapter Four event in SL tomorrow, March 4th, for the ten days that it is open.  It included a whole set of female poses, the Sweet as Candy set, and one couples pose, Peaceful Silence.  It was totally unexpected and incredibly exciting, so I rushed out into the Grid to get creative.  After a ton of pictures, I finally picked ones taken at our recently renovated home/landscape and Backdrop City, and dragged Luke into most of them to make little scenes.  I’m really proud of my first “professional” set of SL pictures and my editing, so I decided to blog them instead of just adding to Flickr.  If you’re on SL, I’d definitely recommended checking out the company and consider joining the group.  Their bento poses work with very little adjustment, even with Bre in a Maitreya body and Luke in Signature’s Gianni.  If you’d like to look at the photostream, please check out my Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/gp/124931994@N02/pqbZ6A.  And yes, I have been in a bit of a Boho vibe and am totally obsessed with my Celtic and Elven combo body tattoo I bought at an event recently.  *laugh*

 

XTC Sweet as Candy_004

 

XTC Sweet as Candy_011

 

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The above were all taken at home.  They are poses 3, 5, 4, 1, and 2, respectively.  (Note, the 4th pose has two hand positions and this is the first, and is also my favorite shot out of these *smile*.)

 

XTC Sweet as Candy1_006b

 

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These were taken at Backdrop City and thankfully I could drag Luke along to up the ante of the sweet poses.  They are poses 5, 3, and a second take on pose 3, respectively.

 

XTC Sweet as Candy1_047b

This is the couples pose, Peaceful Silence, that we took at home.  Note that they are poseballs, so it was super easy to move them into place over the lounger, so the limbs could hang over.  I wasn’t so sure how to set the scene for this one, so I titled it as requesting at least a five minute massage please.  *laugh*  The exhausted look to the pose seemed to call for the dark windlight and filter.

 

All in all I had an absolute blast and was so honored to get to do this, especially when it’s so therapeutic for me, as well.  It’s also a huge bonus to save money from buying more poses, so I can spend it on props for setting some scenes.  It’s a way cheaper version of retail therapy and we all know I can use whatever therapy I can get right now.  *cracking up*  I hope you enjoy seeing some of my recent creative efforts and wish you a wonderful week! 🙂

Slowly Healing

While my immune system is slowly healing, I’m working on healing the shadows I’ve carried in my memories for so many years. Once I had my breakthrough that I blogged about last time, I decided to figure out what I needed in order to heal my immediate depressive issues, and now I am slowly opening the doors in the shadows to let each memory come out for me to deal with.

I wish I could say it’s been easy. Some parts have been incredibly empowering and others are just pieces that I needed to acknowledge in order to put them in the past, like memories of things my abusive ex did. I also had to let go of my own guilt and lay it at my ex’s feet, which I have to continually remind myself to do, after feeling guilty for everything that happened for 20 years now.

A few things with my healing have been some surprising needs that I have figured out, in order to move on. I realized that we needed to name the children and my awesome friend even helped me come up with a name for the adoption, since I am mourning the loss of the child that could have been and not the child that was placed with us. I also realized that I needed some type of small ceremony with our inner circle; one to publicly acknowledge and name each child for the first time, and to have that fellowship of grief and closure. Pinterest came to the rescue and I found the perfect idea to alter slightly to fit our needs. Following is the picture and explanation, since it is so much better with the wording.

Instead of the exact theme I am going to do a layer of colored glitter for each child. The jar I’ve been hoarding for years just because it’s cute finally has a purpose. It has a little spoon on the side and I will spoon out a little of each color as we acknowledge that child, and then we will spread the glitter. I’m still working with L to iron out the details and help me make this happen, but I haven’t been this sure of something being right for me for a long time.

Another step to empowerment is another tattoo. L and I have little matching tattoos on our ring fingers instead of wedding bands, and I was shocked I even did that. *laugh* Now I’m jumping in with both feet because it’s a tattoo that makes me feel incredible and I haven’t even had the consultation yet! One spot that has the least Fibro pain is my inner arm, so I am getting a half sleeve on my inner arm, from my elbow to my wrist. I trolled artist profiles and found someone that makes incredible collage type works of art, and I’m really hoping to get mine done by her. I decided I want to have a reminder to look at whenever it’s a hard day or I’m feeling down on myself, so it’ll have a variety of symbolism that I’m leave to her artistic mind to figure out how to put them together. I’ve always associated myself with Wednesday Addams, since I tend to be as anti-perky as her, and admittedly pretty morbid. In honor, and to make myself grin, I want a bottle of poison. For those of you that don’t have the movies memorized (I admit to not being fully caught up on the original television series, but the movies were part of my youth and I found a teen character I could identify with *grin*), anyway, in one of the movies Wednesday is seen drinking from a bottle of poison, which amuses the tarnation out of me for some reason. It’s also a great way to then give a reason to having a spoon included, to represent being a Spoonie. A random spoon would be weirder than even I am going for with this. *laugh* An apostrophe will also be included, probably close to a set of books, due to the symbolism.

One little symbol says all of that; a reminder through depression and even a great reminder that although our teen adoption path did not work out for us, we have other paths to walk in our journey and other choices. It also reminds me of how many tough times I have all ready had and the strong woman that I am today for surviving it all. One apostrophe says so many things to me and it can stay private or I can raise awareness for depression when asked to explain. As you can tell, I love hidden meanings and am over the moon that these are pieces of my new someday artwork.

I also want to somehow incorporate Phantom’s mask, along with books, since I need to wave my nerd flag at least a bit. *laugh* I kind of envision books at my wrist that open up and bits of my personality are flying up from the pages, in a watercolor or sepia surrounded area. I’d love to incorporate a quote or two that I love, but as L pointed out quite correctly the other day, I’d probably need to do that on the other arm, because I’m probably running out of room with all of my ideas. *grin*

So, it’s a little bit of a bittersweet post, but encouraging, that’s for sure! I’m quite impressed with my progress, for figuring out what I need in order to complete healing for each item, and even going into my mind’s shadows to face an item at a time. For the first time, regardless of what I’ve ever gone through, I actually feel brave. Just like the apostrophe means, I have a lot more of my story to live and write. One step at a time. 🙂

The Clearing

On St. Patrick’s Day a few years ago L and I started our journey side by side down the path of adoption. At first the path was a little rocky and felt like it would take forever. Once we completed our classes, were certified to become parents, and our house passed inspection (not to mention that it was move-in ready), we took our first steps into the forest that the path took us along.

My arms were full with two binders of information about adoption and girls around the US that were available for adoption, and a mind full of random parenting traumatized children facts, while I edged my way through the darkening forest behind him; his automatic tendency to protect me. The ground grew thick with slick moss and spindly tree limbs pulled at us as we kept going. Surely God would reward us for continuing along this horrible path.

So many times I’d think I saw the light for us, but was wrong, and L would have to hold me until the tears passed and try to caution me from letting my heart get involved while we were still in the forest. But I was in love with the idea of finally getting to be a mother, so a bit of my heart broke every time that light was just a trick of the forest.

Finally a very kind woman joined us and helped lead us out of the last bit of the woods, and my heart soared. We made it through the forest, we started the walk with distance between us but had grown closer throughout, and now we could enjoy the sunshine of the clearing, while we awaited our reward for working so hard and diligently. For my loving so much despite the pain.

For a few weeks it was absolutely incredible. There was a young lady to learn about, to take care of, and to work every day to make her know that she was loved and valuable. She said “I love you” and even called me “Mom”, yet I had to keep from sharing the highs and lows with the world. Until the papers would be signed at official placement, the edges of the clearing filled with shadows of all of the secrets about her that, by law, we were supposed to keep. The shadows of secrets became so thick it was hard to see beyond the clearing anymore, especially after the woman left and most of the time it was just the girl and I. One day I finally looked clearly into her eyes and saw Evil. I had narrowly escaped murder before and knew that look well, and knew deep down that my life of dreams, work, and family was about to collapse.

With the help of a friend who understood that Evil, I was able to tell L that I was scared and he immediately stopped the proceedings. I spent the next three months sitting in that clearing, shadow secrets and trees pulling at me, the sky as dark as ink nearly all of the time. L would come and hold me close, but no one can hold you close enough or be there for long when you live in Depression.

An illness contracted from being around the child, coupled with my weak immune system, left me on bed rest for well over a month, and left me in that shadowy world to think and mourn. (I just saw my world’s-best-doctor who is now treating it and my immune system is no longer under attack! Yay! I may actually get off bed rest soon!) Although I still don’t see a light and don’t know where the path from this place is quite yet, it’s not quite as dark now that I’ve been forced to face my fears and forced to mourn.

We never received the blessings that I expected, but in some ways we came away with different ones. 15 years after our vows and I love him more than I ever did before, plus we went through such horrible times that I’ve never felt closer to someone. I learned that it doesn’t take a child to make us a family – we have four fur babies and another one planned to adopt once the youngest two are out of their terrible twos, and we finally made our house a home. Together we make a family.

I also learned a very painful lesson about myself while being forced to face it all. I never truly mourned miscarrying my daughter from my first tango with Evil and was so caught up in the idea of a pre-teen or teen girl because I wanted to share those moments with her that I never got to share with Sierra. I never got to get a dress and her hair done for a formal dance, never got to take one of those holiday card family photos, or even got to plan out a themed birthday party. I missed those special moments that parents often take for granted. But I was just substituting another for the daughter and her moments that I missed out on. That was a hard pill to swallow and an extremely hard failing to admit to, especially putting it out there in the public. If it helps one person in their journey though, I’m thankful I had the strength to write it.

I felt such sorrow for that child with so many secrets and such pain, that I truly wanted to help that young lady. I was in love with being her mother though, not with her. If she didn’t have the other issues, I know I would have grown to love her, but now I don’t know how much would have been for her alone versus a stand-in for Sierra. I also can now see just how much she was manipulating me with the “I love you” and “Mom”, as well, which I would never have realized. As disappointed as I am in myself for motives I was unaware of, I know realistically that we both had severe failings in our motivations.

In those long hours in the darkness I also realized that I have never mourned the other two children that I lost because of my ex. I didn’t carry them as long and, in a way, it was just easier to not recognize that they had been a part of that horrible phase of my life. I had shoved that pain and knowledge deep into the shadows of my mind, and had done quite the job of keeping that corner sealed off. It’s ironic that it now hurts that I hadn’t mourned or allowed myself to think about them. One was my Angel while two were secrets that my mind tried to hide, because it hurt so much. Yet again I caught sight of that tarnished silver armor when I brought the subject up to L and he said they were just as special, just as much Angels, as Sierra, so I should memorialize them too. They deserved just as much, even if I didn’t get to carry them as long. Forget the roses and poetry for me; this is the type of gift a partner can give that can truly change and improve your life. I have a whole shelf and binders of poetry, but have never read something as touching as what he said that day.

I know I’ll be in the dark clearing for a while longer, but I have Faith that I’ll see the path out once I’m ready. It is sad and hurts that we went through such a long and difficult journey to get to this point, but I’m learning to be thankful. I don’t know that I could have ever realized that it’s us together that all ready makes our family, and I don’t know that I would have ever felt peace in that without this pain. There may (and that’s one mighty big may) be a fork in the road in the future, but I’m not in such a rush to get there now. I have a lot of myself to learn about that I had suppressed, I still need to get over the PTSD and horrific nightmares about my ex that Kiddo triggered, and I want to enjoy this time with L. I never expected to have such a loving and close relationship; we were Blessed after all, just not as we expected. Although part of me would still love to be a mother, I’m very thankful that God has better vision than I do.

🙂

PTSD is a long road

The incorrect diagnosis of our potential child, and the subsequent danger from her, has unpacked a lot of the PTSD from my ex that I thought was long ago packed away in foot lockers in the recesses of my brain, with just a few touches from it still evident in my personality. It’s rather amazing how much your mind can help hide when needed, but packs one helluva wallop when the shadows come to light.

For a long time I blocked that I knew where my ex was planning to dump my body after the attempted murder. Sadly I find myself in those fields, just off the highway going around Lawrence, in my nightmares at least once a week. I don’t know now which one of them is who triggers my brain to send me crashing through the thick weeds and brush, falling over my battered body. I can see the necklace of bruises along my pale throat, dark fingerprints contrasting sharply even in the limited light. I remember seeing them in the mirror all those years ago and trying to cover them up. Sometimes, after any of the nightmares, I can see the necklace again for a few minutes when I look in the mirror after splashing water on my face to wash away the tears. I’m thankful that the image fades quickly and the memory slides back away for a while, but honestly don’t know which is harder to cope with – my mind playing tricks during current time and seeing them in the mirror again or stumbling over my dead body in my dreams. At least in my nightmares a little part of me knows that this is the would-have-been version of me and didn’t happen.

Most of my other nightmares feature her in some way, usually ending with that predatory look in her eye and the inky black aura slipping along the floor toward me. I’m slowly learning to mourn the loss of the dream of adopting our preteen daughter and those hopes for that life, but the coping of how things turned out has been impossible so far, because that look and her suddenly violent aura always cling to each effort.

Pre-adoption is filled with so many secrets bound by the confidentiality statements signed, too, so few can even fathom how things went so very wrong so suddenly. It’s sad that after a lifetime of trying to be a good person, worthy of this happy family dreamed about, that others question our character and blame us for things not working out. In some ways I think that hurts more than all of the loss, and it brings back the shame of the PTSD caused by being a victim of abuse. In a very painful way it brings back the feelings of guilt, shame, and regret of domestic violence. It doesn’t have to make sense; it just is what it is and is there to deal with, all over again. Someone I trusted and loved deeply texted to me that we deserved for the adoption to fail, because of our poor character, when they didn’t even stop and try to learn the circumstances. For all this time I thought rape was the ultimate violation of my being, but I’m realizing that it’s actually the questioning of my character. Like proving it wasn’t my fault that he raped me or wanted to kill me. I’m now expected to prove that the adoption was stopped by us, for reasons so very far out of our control, and I’m finding it hard again to trust anyone beyond the select few that gave immediate, unwavering support without asking for that proof first. My practical side realizes this is being strongly swayed by my PTSD from before, but it’s almost impossible to step beyond that right now. And it scares me that now it’s snowballed into a much bigger issue that even with my Victim Advocacy and TIPS-MAPP training I am ill-prepared to handle.

I know that this is going to be a long and difficult journey, and that I have some incredible people to be there when I need a hand to hold along the way, but at least there’s one good part of the frequent mental attacks. I have finally realized that I am worthy of being treated right. I won’t be thankful for the scraps of love and attention from some, as I have been in the past. I am me and proved my character, and worth, a long time ago, and I can finally see that. L has tried to show me for so many years, but for some reason I could never see my worth or even why I’d be worthy of love. Thankfully he stayed around despite the baggage, despite the poor self esteem, and despite my belief in his ability to love me. No matter how these shadows from the abuse and the child change me, nothing will ever be able to take away my knew knowledge that I am worthy of true loving and kind behavior, and that I don’t have to be okay with being manipulated or strung along with tiny bits of attention in order to feel loved. And I know now, without a doubt, that I have good character that I have shown through my actions over the years, so I don’t need to prove myself to anyone ever again. Although coping with the PTSD will be a long and hard road, at least I can close some old baggage and am growing stronger with each lesson this journey teaches me.

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