Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mid Summers Night Dream....

Today is August 9th and we are more than half way through summer. The next week is the busiest week of the year for us, followed by things slowing down rapidly and as I reflect on the past few months I think of the highs, lows and how I have been feeling. I lay awake at night and play out scenarios on how to deal with situations, then eventually, I roll over and fall back to sleep. Over all life is good, I am happy, content and so grateful for what I have, where I am and those close to me.

Me - learning to like myself
I try to be authentic, real and true to myself, but there are times where I just feel like I am never going to fit in with those around me. All of my life I have been a bit of an outsider, at church, at school, in my group of friends and even within my extended family. It hurts me deeply when I believe I have said the wrong thing or offended someone and when grudges are held. It saddens me as a parent to know that when  I make a mistake based on poor judgement or lack of thought or expressing myself poorly, that it affects my children and spouse. These are things I berate myself for and struggle with. I have absolute complete recall - sound, words, actions - of those times where I have screwed up and I hate reliving them. One thing I have recently done, in my effort to not "offend anyone" is that on Facebook I have discovered I do not have to "unfriend" people but I can "unfollow" them - this helps reduce my emotional pain while balancing my "need to be liked."

As much as I am in the best point ever in my life, there are times that the anxiety, depression and fear build up in me and make it hard to move on, sleep, or forgive myself. Some of this is post traumatic stress disorder. With PTSD I set myself up for failure, I remove my ability to be successful and I create illness in my own body. It is less frequent, but it still happens. I wonder why I put things off that I need to do, why I ignore pressing issues and why I let that knot build up inside of me that prevents me from creating harmony in my life.

The last couple of years have been devastating to some of the families I have met since moving and I have witnessed others go through trauma and loss. I commented to my family the other day on how I see a difference in how people move through their grief, stories and experiences. I thought about how we express ourselves in our lives and I also wonder what I would have done differently if social media had been around when my life fell apart. 

We all do our best and we are different but the common thread is the suddenness of how quickly our lives can change and how we deal with it. I want to say to those families, it will get better, it will never be "OK" but you will find a way to continue and move forward. Some days it will come back and haunt you and other days you will get to the end of the day and feel bad because you didn't think about it that day. It will become a part of your "before life" and your "after life." This is your "new normal."

Most often I feel good now and except when I realize how the circumstances of the past affects my children to this day, I can "forget for awhile." What others may not realize, is that trauma is hard for anyone but to a young child or person who is still developing, it changes them. When they told me almost 11 years ago that PTSD would come back at different age levels for a child and they may have difficulty with certain milestones or hormonal changes, I thought OK, no big deal. However, when I see how certain life lessons have been so much harder on my girls than they need to be; when I watch them have trouble relating to people they way that others think they should react; that is hard. The anxiety and depression that they live with, is their normal. I get it though, life experiences affects us all individually and we may find it hard to share ourselves with others, open up, express our emotions, or may OVER share and tell to much; both scenarios can alienate those around us. Some people will accept this about us, others will not be so kind or forgiving.

I watch as we all find ways to fit people into our lives, try to learn what is and is not acceptable to us for our own health and well being. I cry and feel empty inside as we sometimes have to leave behind people who either don't get it or who won't believe our truth, won't offer understanding and friendship or love. Sometimes these are old friends, sometimes extended family, sometimes complete strangers. We can't let everyone in, we - people in general - need to insulate ourselves with a safe network around us or we have to isolate ourselves from those who don't understand, don't care or hold grudges.

One of the biggest things I have learned is that I can't make everyone happy. I tried for many years and because it isn't possible, I gave away pieces of myself until I wasn't me anymore. I have found that I can now, mostly, separate the memories of truth, positive moments and allow myself to forgive myself for what wasn't my fault in life. As a parent I will probably never forgive myself for not keeping my kids safe or protecting them from grief and trauma. I can however provide many learning moments for us to discover together where we are now, what we went through and how to move forward.

It is hard for me to tell my kids they have to let some people go in life but, as Robin Williams said "I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone." So, even if we love someone we sometimes have to leave them. Being alone is NOT the worst thing, being made to feel that you are always doing the wrong thing or are never good enough, is much worse. 

As I now finish the first 50 years of my life I realize that we never stop learning. We always have to try to do better. We must continue to grow. My family is smaller and my circle of trust is very small but that is all right. I don't say anything to anyone that I don't want shared elsewhere, I don't ever lend money that I need back, I don't go a day without saying "I love you" to my husband or children and I value each breath I take, even when I have a PTSD moment that makes me want to ignore the big stuff. 

So as summer starts to close, as the final weeks and warm days begin to come to an end, I hope that we come through the next week successfully; and that I start to reward myself vs. berate myself. I  hope I can impart a little understanding to others on the ongoing long term affects of PTSD. It is different for everyone and whether  a person created the trauma, worked through it or was simply a victim, we all do our best. As the old Native American saying goes "I may not criticize my neighbour until I have walked a mile in his moccasins."

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