RSS Feed

Tag Archives: PTSD

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.

What Kiddo Left Behind

I have debated writing this for a long time, but decided that maybe I’m being called to write it so that those that need it can stumble across it. Maybe it can help someone not feel alone in the struggles or help someone understand the story underneath what they see or hear.

About a month ago, after everything had been transported and we were to be in the mourning stage of the failed adoption, we realized that there was a lot more going on for me than we were told to expect.

I began to have horrific nightmares and even ones where I relive some of the abusive situations with my ex that I was blessed to have blocked out for so long. I can’t sleep for long, especially when it’s quiet; we set a timer and stream a documentary or such until I can fall asleep, if I can. And I wake as soon as I hear rustling, with my adrenaline spiking in a fight or flight response, usually until I realize the kittens have woken up and are tearing through the house in playful abandonment. No one is creeping through the house or about to attack.

To top it off I’ve been sick with a couple of ailments this whole time that have really attacked my immune system. She had a comfort blanket that apparently carried ringworm spores and due to my immune system issues, it hit me hard. By the third round (after rounds of medications and complete household and pet decontamination, mind you), my immune system has been pretty well decimated, so I’ve fought virus after virus on top of my usual problems.

Then about a week ago we realized that extreme depression and PTSD were hitting pretty strong as well. We’ve had more meaningful conversations since the failed adoption than through our entire marriage, it seems, and finally got to the core of these emotional issues. I wasn’t mourning the child we took into our home. I was mourning what we could have had and what our future lives could have been like if she had been a different child. I stopped loving the girl who said “I love you Mom” the moment she looked at me the same way my ex did. That was a hard realization. Even harder was realizing that I was mourning the life that could have been, and the possibility that we will choose to not pursue parenthood again; that we will never share those milestone moments of a child’s life as a family. And it was exceptionally difficult to know we made the right choice for her and for us when we were told that parenthood is tough. It went so far beyond that. It’s been even harder to let go of the huge amount of guilt that is embedded in each part of our choices.

The worst that she left behind was the unexpected massive trigger of my PTSD. I handled the recovery from my actual abuse so much better that in some ways this is absolutely puzzling. Until we realized that I never actually allowed myself to mourn my ex causing the miscarriage or deal with all of the fear and pain of the abuse. I survived and did the best I could as independently as I could. These feelings are like trying to make my way through a swamp. It feels like I’m going to go under any moment, and so dirty, and so utterly terrifying.

Being so sick covered up some of the mental damage for a bit. We just realized that I am now scared that the next person I encounter, the person walking down the street or doing their shopping, could be Sociopath #3. I survived two of them…what are the odds that I can survive if another ever comes near me again? So I’m scared to step past our deck, even in this sleepy little town. I’d rather not eat if I’m too tired or sick to cook, than go out around people to eat. Thankfully there’s a little blessing in this, because L was the first person that I told about things, way back when, and was the rock that kept me steady, and we’re naturally much closer now, so he’s my safe harbor. When I have a decent day I can get out of the house as long as I know where he is or if he’s in sight. If I sit in the truck while he runs into a store real quick, the panic hits a little after a few, but it’s not as crippling as trying to walk through the store to the pharmacy by myself or such. I hate to sound like some needy girl, but I’m so very thankful that I have a tall, intimidating husband. I’ll admit that.

I know that this is irrational and we’re working hard for me to take my first step into immersion therapy this weekend, into the public without him, but with close family still. I absolutely hate that I have lost power over myself and my fears again; that I’ve given the power to the unknown instead, but I can’t add a pill to my daily regime to make this better. I have to live this and we have to just make it to the other side, this time facing a hell of a lot more than I did the first time.

And I’m absolutely pissed off that a system that’s supposed to help bring families together let a child like this slip through instead of making sure she had the environment that she needs to prevent becoming what she’s possible of. It’s still such a vital system and has such potential, but we need to make sure others aren’t going through such horrible journeys as we have, even without the terrible ending. This system needs an overhaul immediately and it shouldn’t be so hard to take these children in. There’s a good chance that a successful adoption just a few years before could have prevented Kiddo’s behavior according to my psychiatrist. I don’t even know how to handle my anger over such a failure to these children.

Meanwhile I’m trying to learn how to handle the pieces that were left behind. I’m trying not to see that look that they both had every time I close my eyes. I’m so exhausted that I long for normal sleep instead of a short burst filled with horror or a medication induced collapse. I know it’ll simply take time and work to stop thinking that #3 is just waiting for the right moment. It’ll take time to enjoy regular life again and be able to go to the grocery store without it feeling like a significant outing. And it’ll take a long time to stop being angry. Being angry with the system and the PTSD – at least I can do actual actions to begin to feel control. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to stop being angry at myself or to learn to trust my judgment of a person again. Just like the rest of the journey has gone for the past two years…I guess time will tell.

Empowerment

While the medicine is keeping my symptoms at bay, I’ve decided to write about my latest step toward empowerment. Settle in for a long one. I tried to shorten it as much as I could. 🙂

I saw my disability psychiatrist last week; we’ll call her “H” for being such a huge help my learning to cope with becoming disabled so young, just as my career was truly starting. During some of the sessions we’ve discussed how sometimes the symptoms from Fibro can trigger my PTSD from the abuse I suffered years ago. That’s when I realized that a lot of the things I did over the years was to empower myself, so that he couldn’t have control ever again, and why I’m such a control freak.

Although we don’t discuss my ex that often, I had to go over the main parts of the abuse, over and over again, as part of the adoption process. They want every little detail of your life, which I don’t begrudge them for, since they’re trying to find good homes for these children and to keep them safe. Plus, sometimes an adopting parent that has been abused is like a ticking time bomb for their PTSD to kick in while helping a child cope with their own trauma. Thankfully I’ve learned a lot and will be able to handle it, since I’ve been dealing with PTSD from several life events. I’ve worked hard to understand abuse, so I got my certification in Victim’s Advocacy, and then I worked to never be weak enough to be a victim again, mentally or physically.

At the previous appointment H and I discussed how I can’t allow my illness and disability to define me, and she blew my mind when she pointed out that I’ve been angry for so long. Anger at losing the life I was on track for before my relapse, anger at having physical weaknesses again, and anger that I had to lose my career that would have helped improve our financial situation, so I wouldn’t feel so guilty for L having such a burden on his shoulders. Although I felt it, I never was able to realize that it was anger at my disability that made me frustrated so often. And that I had never truly mourned the losses in order to move on. Losing that life and all of the dreams that went with it; they’ll never be my path and I will have different abilities, choices, and paths that I will take. With the mourning I also need to deal with the associated triggers and work on my PTSD before I can help Kiddo.

So I worked for months to let go and mourn each piece. I still have trouble sometimes with dealing with my inability to visit friends when I want to, or the independence of driving anywhere if I wanted to, not being able to access all of my knowledge at times, and most especially my physical weakness. Mourning my previous life and trying to embrace my new path became very empowering, and when we decided to adopt I decided that I wanted to be a good female role model for her – I want to show her that no matter what she went through, we can take back the control and stop being a survivor or victim. I hope my being empowered will help her to tap into her potential and find her happiness. I don’t want her past traumas to define her life, either, so if I can work through mine, I can help her through hers…I hope and pray.

During last week’s conversation H also asked how I will handle my PTSD being possibly triggered by Kiddo’s traumas, especially if I will have to help her work through the same traumas I suffered. Thankfully I have a great support system of loved ones that can step in, if needed, but I also truly believe a quote I was sent that basically said that I had survived because God had plans ahead where I would use that knowledge and compassion. However, I admit that there are a lot of unexpected triggers and I am slowly working through them. The waiting period triggered a lot of my fears and my greatest fear now is that my ex could come after Kiddo.

I know it will shatter me if he decided to punish me by hurting what I value; it’s the specialty of an abuser, and after seeing me mourn the loss of Sierra, our daughter, he will know that I’d rather die than lose Kiddo. With his twisted justifications, what if my traumatized Kiddo ever gets attacked or raped by him because of me? Until H and J talked about it I didn’t realize how much that fear had taken hold of me. It took a long time for him to stop stalking me; even L didn’t realize that we were stalked during outings in our first couple of years. I don’t know if any other girl ever managed to get away from him, if any other girl ever stood up to him like I did once I had given up…I don’t know if a switch can suddenly flip and make him decide to revisit that hatred and find me again. And now my info is out there after I hid it for so many years; social media has made it difficult to stay in the shadows.

“Know thine enemy”, so I know he moved back into the state and where he currently lives. He isn’t even an hour away. It would be easy to take up the stalking again, especially when I never understood what triggered him to become fixated the first or second time.

Without fully acknowledging where my risk analysis and PTSD trigger had taken me, I became terrified of being the cause for more trauma to Kiddo. When I finally realized it is when H leaned toward me and said I needed to stop giving him that power, if I want to teach Kiddo to learn from her trauma and to grow. I can’t actually teach that to her when I’m giving someone else the power to make me afraid again. And, when it comes down to it, my fear won’t protect Kiddo. I have to focus on letting go of fear and feel strong again, so I can be living proof for Kiddo that the trauma can teach us how to become even stronger. If we can both take away the power of victimizing us from everyone in our pasts, I’ll truly be able to help empower my daughter to mourn her losses and not let life’s challenges define her.

With that frighteningly vulnerable post I am going to turn on Fun’s “Carry On” and snuggle in my favorite blanket. Time to pamper myself a bit. 🙂


If you need help working through your abuse, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (if you live in USA). The Hotline and 911 can and will help you if you are currently being abused. It seems impossible now, but it gets better, I promise, and if you need help working through it, a nerdy stranger on the internet will be there for you if you reach out.

%d bloggers like this: