Tag Archives: caregiver support

The Secret to Marriage

In today’s world, it is extremely rare to have a relationship last as long as ours has. Even in my parents generation, the divorce rate seems to be getting higher. I honestly look up to my parents and hope to reach the same milestones. They’ve been married 47 years so far! I commend any and every couple for their longevity. But I know far too many people who’ve divorced, young and old. And honestly, I think the military/veteran divorce rates are higher than their civilian counterparts.

Over the years of our marriage, we’ve been asked many times, “How did you know?

This is a question that ALWAYS comes up after we tell the story about how we met and how quickly we got married. There’s also another question that comes up after we tell people how long we’ve been married. “How do you do it?

If you’re not familiar with our beginning, have a seat and stay a while. I’m going to talk about my experiences and my opinions. It may not be fact, but it’s based on my observances over the years and what I’ve come to understand in my own relationship.

I was 20. I just got off work from my job at a plant nursery so I wasn’t dressed up or anything. I was kind of dating some other guy. We were on the outs because he had just told me he was still in love with a girl back home. I went to visit a mutual friend who wanted company while her husband went to play pool at the enlisted club on base. I said sure because I knew how the meat factories worked.

He was 20. He just got off a hard day at work. It was unusually bad and he decided to drink some beer. Of course, he was underage. But that doesn’t seem to stop a lot of people, especially on military bases. He’s also not tolerant of beer. He’s Irish blood. The hard stuff is like water to him. Beer, not so much.

I walked into the enlisted club, got my underage armband and went to sit with my friend while her husband played pool. Some guy yelled something out as I walked by. My friend and I talked. Many guys came up and asked me to dance. I’m very shy and dancing is not my thing. So, obviously I said no.

When I walked by, he yelled, “WOW!” He said I turned around and shot him daggers from my eyes, enough to make him sink in his seat and sober right up. Honestly, I don’t remember this at all. I try to block out meat factories and all their goings on. It’s one of the things he remembers quite well.

After watching me for I don’t know how long, he told the waitress to serve me whatever I wanted the rest of the night, on him and that he was sorry. I remember after the waitress brought me my soda, the guy he was with turned around and started talking to me across the tables first. The ice was broken and he joined in the conversation. Eventually, he came over to the table and sat down so we could talk together. Yes, we got out on the dance floor, after 45 minutes of me saying no. A slow song came on and it seemed safe enough. Still, we felt quite uncomfortable. But talking, that came easy. We talked the rest of the night. They had to kick us out of the building when the club closed. So we moved to the curb outside the door. After a while, the MPs had to come and kick us off the premises so the employees could go home. He drove me to my friend’s apartment so I could get my car. I knew I needed to get home. I was under my parents roof. I had a curfew, but I had passed that hours ago. I didn’t want to stop talking with him. I think I finally showed up at home at 4am.

Five days later, he asked me to marry him. A month later, we were married. And it’s been 25 years since.

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So, how did we know? Well, the best way we could come up with explaining this is that it was like meeting an old friend you hadn’t seen in forever and we just had to catch up with everything we missed. That’s how we fell in love. This isn’t something that happens every day. This only happens in movies, right?! Well, even if you don’t have this kind of luck, be aware of how you pick them. Are they your friend? Do you like them? Do you like being around them, talking with them, being silent with them? I think, with our situation, we had a guardian angel looking over us, guiding us, maybe even asking/answering for us. Someone up there knew we were meant to be together.

But that’s only the beginning. More often than not, if someone were to get married so young and so quickly, many probably wouldn’t have seen their first anniversary, or fifth. We count ourselves blessed. We’ve beaten so many odds against us, things that would have torn so many others apart. But our souls are connected, like God made one soul and torn it in two pieces for two different bodies.

What could have possibly torn us apart?

Well, the military for one. I’ve seen so many wives marry, and marry young. Because I was an Air Force BRAT, I knew what I was getting myself into. In fact, I wanted to be a part of that life even as an adult. It was what I knew and understood. The civilian world, that scared me. So I knew the military came first. I knew that he could deploy at any moment. I knew he could come down on orders to move anywhere in the world, with or without me. I knew this. I may not have liked it, but I understood it. A lot of the wives I knew who came from a civilian background, struggled with the fact that they were not the first priority in their husbands’ lives.  He got up at o-dark-thirty and came home at o-dark-thirty. He worked weekends. And they sent him everywhere else but home. I hated it. But I got through it. I knew when he came home, I was number one until the Army called him away again.

Second, the “other woman.” Yes, there was a time we had a second “woman” in our lives. He became obsessed with computers and computer games. He would come home from work and be on the computer, sometimes not going to sleep before he had to get up and go to PT again. I despised that “other woman” coming between us. I put up with it, secretly seething inside, for about two years. I guess I hoped he’d get bored? I don’t know. In either case, I came to realize that he wouldn’t get bored. So one day, when he had bought pieces to put a new computer together, I decided “It couldn’t be too hard to build a computer. A few screws, some connectors, and power.” I was in the middle of building that computer for him when he came home a little early. I was greeted with a huge smile, and we sat down and built it together. From that moment on, I taught myself how to use a computer and we began our long history of gaming together.

Of course, along the way we’ve had our fair share of arguments. Well, you can’t classify them as arguments, really, because arguments require two sides. For me, I avoid confrontation/arguments at all cost. I clam up in order to keep the peace. Him, well, he’d simmer in his head and not talk to me for days. Being a very emotional critter, I fell into my sad state, my negative voices screaming at me because everything was always my fault. In the end, he would come around and we’d make up. However, the last fight we ever had I can remember I finally stood up for myself. We both don’t know what we were fighting about; but what we remember is that he was holding a flashlight and it slipped out of his hand and crashed into our glass end table. Perception is always the key to everything. And I perceived that he threw it down in anger. So I commenced to say, “You want to be an asshole? Well, I can be an asshole, too.” At the time, we were in Tae Kwon Do and I broke the other end table with a grand ax kick. Staring at what I had just done, flabbergasted, he finally said, “Our shoes were under there.” We broke out in laughter and that was that. Never again did we have fights.

Well, I cannot say never. Throughout the years, though, with chronic pain, PTSD on his side and my own self-confidence and internal issues on top of Secondary PTSD, we have had many, MANY struggles. We didn’t have struggles again until after his accidents, when chronic pain and his demons set in, plus all the medication and doctor trials.

This was the most trying times for us, I think. The ones that would have torn us apart had it not been for our…my persistence. I honestly think he would have given up a long time ago had I not been constantly looking for remedies, answers, help. Even to this day, I feel that I NEED to keep hope alive for him in some manner, even if it’s just reminding him that he needs to keep fighting the VA for what he is owed.

Sometimes, alcohol/drug, verbal and/or physical abuse are involved. If this is part of your life, it is imperative to seek help, for both of you. This is where therapy REALLY comes into play. However, I’ve noticed that many vets don’t want to admit they have a problem. It’s been drilled into their heads from birth, reinforced in the military, to suck it up and charge on. Most of them are men. Emotions mean weakness, something to be ashamed of. And with society’s hush-hush attitude about mental illness, well, that definitely doesn’t help our veterans seek out help. There’s only so much one person can take, no matter how strong you are. Everyone has their breaking point. I think it’s our duty, as caregivers and spouses, to keep at it, to keep offering help to them.

It wasn’t until he went to the VA for help that he finally opened up to me. Little by little his communication channels grew and I felt included again. I began to understand him more and learn the man he changed into and learn to love him better. Because, he was different. He wasn’t the man I married anymore. Or even the one I knew before the accidents. And this…THIS is the hardest thing any spouse caregiver will ever have to overcome. Because this isn’t who they married. They didn’t sign up for this. This isn’t how they envisioned their lives, their marriage, their family to be ten, twenty years down the road. But it is a covenant. One in which we promised to love, honor, and cherish. Through better, for worse. In sickness and in health.

As for us and our lives, there have been medications on top of everything else that affected his mood and his psyche. Most of those earlier times, before we found the right medication cocktail to lessen the pain, before we understood his migraines, before we had a diagnosis of PTSD, I walked on eggshells around him, waiting for the explosion that was inevitably bound to happen. I’m one of the lucky ones where physical violence has never been apart of our lives. But this constant awareness, heightened sense of impending doom, fear of the explosiveness of the situation, it all added up to me sharing in his battles while I battled my own.

By very definition, communication requires a minimum, two people. If one holds back while the other opens up, then there’s no sense in continuing. I held so many secrets, so many thoughts and emotions inside for so very long. I thought that if I expressed myself, spoke my fears and tears aloud to someone else, then they would be real, tangible and I honestly would be a horrible person for feeling and thinking these things. I started my own journey to own my feelings, here on this blog. It started off with the negative feelings. Admitting that I had them did not make me a bad person. I’m human. We are all human and deal with the same emotions when going through these crises. It’s all in how we handle those situations and emotions.

I worked through these negative emotions for a year. Then I needed to look at myself on a deeper level, especially when TheHubs asks some very hard questions of me. After my own counselling sessions, and the fact that I wholeheartedly believe in communication as the key to every relationship, I took a deep breath and opened up a very deep seeded problem that addressed his question, one that I had been holding on to for 25 years.

You would not believe how liberating it was to get that out in the open. I’m learning to love me. I’m accepting the fact that he loves me without fail, beyond comprehension, and unconditionally. I never understood how he could when I was such a horrible person. But that’s my negative voice, the one who breeds insecurities and lies inside my head. I’ve been learning how to squash that voice. And I think I may have conquered a HUGE barrier. Once I spoke the words out loud, to him, the wave of relief and love that washed over me has set me free.

Us On A Good Day

Life changes after they return home. What used to be normal is now missed. We grieve for the life, the love, we once had. There is a new normal we must adjust to. If we cannot admit this, we cannot accept it and move on and learn to live the new normal.

Everyone’s relationships are different but the one fact that remains constant is that communication is the foundation for EVERY relationship. If you don’t have that, you can no longer keep that relationship going.

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Anxiety, Depression, & Secondary PTSD
Grief – Or Mourning Your Loss
Changing Perspective

The End & The Beginning – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 22 May 2015

6thgrade.May2015.2
The end of the school year is fast approaching. TheBoy is going full on with the whole end of school year program. This is a HUGE step for him. With the only Elementary school in the area that goes all the way to 6th grade, he will be transitioning into Junior High School Next year. So here’s what we are celebrating:

  1. The end of another school year, a huge transition. Summer begins on June 3rd.
  2. We’ve received our invitation to the promotion ceremony and BBQ on June 1st. So excited.
  3. His 6th grade field trip is next week.
  4. We’ve had the annual meeting with his teachers and counselor in regards to his gifted program progress and his goals for next year. They always give him raving reviews. I love it!
  5. He had his annual County Math Team Competition and was awarded the silver medal. So very proud.
  6. We also had a meeting with an Accelerated Academy because he was pre-qualified to attend. It is for “the best of the best” of the county. (And I all could hear was Will Smith in MEN IN BLACK saying, “The best of the best of the best. With honors. SIR!” every time that phrase came out of the presenter’s mouth.) The first ever Academy for junior high where 7th and 8th graders can earn high school credits. However, after listening to their sales pitch, well, we just don’t see any difference between what he’s been doing since his 4th grade year with his online virtual school and this Academy except that he will be in a physical school, segregated from the rest of the school – which would open up resentment from the other kids and possible bullying. Plus, he’s already starting some high school classes and he really wants to attend the school he’s zoned for, even though it’s not the best school. I think his supplemental schooling online and with us he will be ok.
  7. And lastly, I am celebrating a 3 day weekend. The first 3 day weekend since the middle of January. It’s ok to take advantage of the sales that are going on, BBQs and parties and fun. But please take a moment of your day and reflect, pay respect, say a prayer, remember all those who have fallen in defense of our freedom. Please do not say “Happy Memorial Day,” as it is nothing to be *happy* about. Veterans Day is the day for celebrating our Veterans. Memorial Day is a day to remember the ultimate sacrifices so many have made for you, me, our families, and our country. Thank you.

MemorialVsVeteransDays

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Health & Happiness
Family Time Outside
Spring & Gardening, Slowly

1st Published Poem

PTSD Or Moral Injury

I’ve been in Veteran Caregiver support groups for a little over a year now. I see a lot of the same thought processes with our veterans, same issues, same emotions. While their experiences might not be identical, they are similar and carry on the same depressive patterns, the same thought patterns.

I’ve heard many veterans say something along the lines of, “It should have been me,” or “I deserve it all,” or “it’s my fault,” or even “God hates me.” A world of untruths swim through their brains and rarely escape their self-talk. When they do, their spouses/caregivers are left not knowing what to do or how to respond. No amount of “no” or “that’s not true”, or any variation, will sink in to their heart and let them believe that they don’t deserve this punishment, thus compounding their physical pain with emotional.

The things they’ve seen, the things they’ve done, all while in the danger zone could cause them to go against their core values of good and evil. Even though they may have seen some horrible things, or even possibly done some horrible things, it was all done to save lives. But in their heart, they know it’s wrong and it’s damaged their soul so deep that they can’t see any way to atone for that sin. They feel shame so great it consumes them. It’s like they are punishing themselves for everything they saw, everything they did or didn’t do. Punishment, or atoning for their sins. However you look at it, it’s a constant battle raging between logic and emotion. Logically, they know what they saw or did they had to do. Emotionally, they know it was wrong. And as I always say, the logical and the emotional brain never play nice with one another.

People call it Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. But PTSD stems from life-threatening fear. And while there is plenty of fear associated with war, the military, with combat and hazardous zones, that fear can be addressed and become manageable and livable. What I’ve been seeing lately, though, is not necessarily fear, but more guilt and shame. It’s those things that the veteran has bore witness to, failed to prevent, or even committed that can tear their psyche apart.

David Wood says that “moral injury is a violation of what each of us considers right or wrong.”  PTSD has been recognized since the 1980s. Unfortunately, DoD has yet to recognize moral injury as a separate diagnosis. Doctors seem to always treat the wound, but never address the underlying cause, so it continually festers. The wound will sometimes scab over and things will look like they’ve gone back to a normal balance. Without addressing and finding ways to cope with that black spot, finding a way to accept it for what it is, thoughts will always chafe it and the wound begins to ooze, bringing the depression back to the forefront of everything once again.

It’s like putting a band-aide on a severed limb. If you’ve been in the military any length of time you’ll know what I’m talking about. Motrin, the wonder drug. That’s the go-to medication for any pain you go in to sick call or the hospital for. Military or civilian, it doesn’t matter. Motrin will fix it. If it doesn’t then you go back and go back and go back. We’ve been out now for almost 13 years and have been treated at both the VA and civilian doctors. We’ve only experienced one doctor who was baffled at the cause of his migraines. It wasn’t until about a year ago when he ordered a full head and neck MRI that he realized what was causing them. This doctor was the only one who wanted to get to the bottom of the why. Unfortunately, we are still at the same place with that. There’s no real way to fix it. We just try to manage the pain.

Not so easy for what they suffer alone in the darkness, though. It’s not something they want to talk about. It’s not pretty. It’s not politically correct. It makes the veteran uncomfortable. It makes the listener uncomfortable. If we never see or hear about it, it never happened, right? Wrong. Sweeping the undesirable under the rug doesn’t make it go away. It’s always there. For those living it, for those living with it. That truth is a lump under the carpet we try to avoid, but sometimes trip over. The truth is the truth, whether spoken or unspoken. The truth hurts. The truth is ugly. War is ugly. But it’s something that must be done at times and rather than ignore the problems that come from it, we should educated, understand, empathize, and help. Who are we to judge? Who are we to say what warrants this punishment or if it’s distorted? It is what it is and we must treat it. But the world always judges and that’s what keeps them in the dark.

This is going to take a long time to learn how to deal with. All we can do is be present. So, I’m here, always by his side. I am doing my best to help keep his hope alive, to help him see that what he did, or didn’t do, is not his fault, it’s not God punishing him, and that he doesn’t deserve it. I will offer my forgiveness, even though that’s not the forgiveness he needs. I will offer up that God forgives everything, all he has to do is ask. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

It hurts my heart deeply to see the torment TheHubs goes through. I know I will probably never know it all. What I do know is that I will forever be by his side, no matter what. He has to come to terms with it all and believe that he did what he had to do and did it well and honorably. He has to believe that what he couldn’t control is through no fault of his own, and his actions were always honorable even though someone else acted too late. He has to believe that he doesn’t deserve the punishment he’s putting himself through because of the situations he lived through. I cannot make him believe these things. I can only reinforce them and keep telling him, and hope that one day he will believe. Once this happens, he can be at peace, I think. Until then, I will continue my fight for him.

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Present
You Are Not Alone
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces
Moral Injury: The Grunts
Moral Injury: Healing

Health and Happiness – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 15 May 2015

mostimportant-decision

Last week was pretty rough around our house, and apparently around the town. TheBoy brought home his sickness and gave it to me. Then I, in turn, gave it to TheHubs. TheBoy was pretty much over it in a day. Oh to have that immune system! I think he gets that from TheHubs because he can get over the cold or the flu in a few days. There have been, however, several years in our marriage where he just couldn’t overcome it that quickly. This year is that type of year. So last week we were all sick and trying to get over it. Plus, TheHubs took a serious tumble off the porch, tore up his knee, and cranked his neck – which doesn’t help his chronic neck issues. On the positive side, we’re getting through it all! 🙂

So today, I am celebrating:

  1. Health. We are all getting over the ick.
  2. We celebrated another anniversary on the 12th. Our 25th Wedding Anniversary (married in the eyes of the Lord). We’ve been married 25 years, 4 months, and 20 days. We were married by the JOP in December (married in the eyes of the law), and in mid-January he deployed for a training exercise in Korea. It was only supposed to have been 45 days. It ended up being 4 months and some days. I was planning our church wedding the whole time he was away. I was starting to get nervous we would miss it but he made it -6 days before our wedding date.
  3. We went out to eat for our anniversary dinner and decided to share our happiness with the waiter and gave him a really nice tip. I doubt he saw it before we left. Oh to be a fly on the wall when he did finally see it. 🙂
  4. This morning, I made breakfast for everyone and we all sat at the table and ate it. This doesn’t happen very often at all. And I felt very blessed for it today.

I love my family so much! And I love making other people happy! But most of all, I am so blessed to be happy myself!

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

 

Related Articles you may like:
Family Time Outside
Spring & Gardening, Slowly

1st Published Poem
There Are Always Positives

Family Time Outside – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 1 May 2015

Last week we had a family outing, The Neon Vibe 5k Fun Run. We didn’t run. We walked. Took us 2 hours, but we made it! And we had fun! ❤

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What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Spring & Gardening, Slowly
1st Published Poem
Florida Caverns
There Are Always Positives

Small Glimpses & Processing – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 17 April 2015

I'm allowed to cry
Another meh week. But there’s always positives to be found.

  1. I had a rough Sunday. I think it was hormones. I quickly recovered and didn’t wallow. Monday was better, emotionally, for me. This is good because I recognized it. I allowed myself some time to processes it. And then I said, no more. I’m done. Let’s move on!
  2. Despite the weather fluctuations and his massive Spring pain, TheHubs has given me small glimpses of his past self. A small smile here. A ticklefest there. Snuggles!
  3. TheBoy is not worried about his assessment tests he had this week. When he started doing them a few years back, he would be nervous. But he’s so smart, we keep telling him he’s got this. And this week proved to pay off. I told him not to worry about his tests as he got out of the car the other day at the bus stop and he responded with, “I’m not.” And this year, passing these tests mean that he can advance to the 7th grade. So, there is more stress on this year’s tests.
  4. Despite the sun barely peeking through the clouds this week, my flowers are getting much-needed water from all this rain. Our sprinkler system is on the fritz and TheHubs hasn’t contacted someone to fix it. I’ve given him two weeks, I guess when the rain stops I’ll be contacting them and setting up the appointment.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Spring & Gardening, Slowly
1st Published Poem
Florida Caverns
There Are Always Positives

Spring & Gardening, Slowly – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 10 April 2015

Spring has been in full swing here for at least a month. Allergies notwithstanding. But it’s still my favorite time of year. I love seeing the life and color come from the muted tones of the earth. It is promise being fulfilled. A time when life springs from death. Color pops through the dull. Hope shines through the dreary. And I get to witness it’s rebirth!

I cannot go out in the flower bed and work as much as I like anymore. I don’t have the help of TheHubs because of his photo-phobia, pain, and fear levels. So, I’ve been taking it slow. I need to weed. I need to trim. And I need to clean up after all that’s done. It’s a real struggle when I am the one who does it all. I work full-time and come home to everything that involves running a family and the home. And then, there’s fibromyalgia. It puts a HUGE damper on what I can do and for how long.

I managed to take my time this year. I trimmed 4 lantanas one day, 5 the next. And so on, until they were done. I even made TheBoy come out and help me with the cleanup. I’ve never required this of him before. For me, it’s a struggle to ask for help. Always has been. I learned this a few years ago when a co-worker pointed it out to me about how I work. Now I can see it in the home as well. And since TheBoy is old enough to help out now, it should be a responsibility for him. It’s still hard to ask him, though. I managed, and for that I am proud of myself.

He did it. It took him a few days but he cleaned my mess up. Complaining all the way. But, he’s 12. I thank him every time he’s done, though. To make sure he gets the praise and sense of accomplishment. I also make sure to tell him that it really helps me out because I can’t do it all by myself anymore.

He seems to be choosing the wrong words now, which frustrates me. I am doing my best not to get upset with him when he says, “So is fibromyalgia going to be your excuse for everything, now?” He’s still a boy. He’s young. I am trying to show him better words to use because that really hurts me. I hope he can see that. And I hope he realizes it and LEARNS from it. Because mine is a new diagnosis. But with his father, does he think that the pain is always an “excuse”?

Raising a child is trying enough; but raising one in the home of a disabled veteran, well, we have even more trials to deal with.

Regardless, I’ve got him out there helping me clean up the mess. He always has enjoyed helping me trim my roses. It’s the cleanup part that he is complaining about now. I still have a little bit of trimming and weeding to do around my roses. Plus I ordered a couple more plants to add to the flower bed. But I’ve got my lantanas looking nice, with room to grow, and my roses about to bloom.

I hope you enjoy Spring and the promise of hope it brings, as much as I do. Enjoy my Spring pictures 🙂

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What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

Related Articles you may like:
1st Published Poem
Florida Caverns
There Are Always Positives

LadyJai

Present

I am a fixer.

That’s what my therapist calls me.

I like to make sure everything runs smoothly. If something is wrong, it is my responsibility to make it right. I tend to keep order and peace amongst everyone in the house. If I cannot keep things going as planned, if I can’t keep everyone happy, if I can’t calm the anger or ease the depression, it’s always been my fault. In my eyes, I am guilty – guilty of creating the mess, guilty of being unable to fix the mess. I hold a perfect standard to myself, and no one else. And I’ve burdened myself with the weight of the world.

Not only do I resemble Atlas; I also torture myself like Sisyphus. It’s a never-ending battle of burden. Powering through the rough times, pushing the darkness away, carrying the load for everyone up hill only to have it all come crashing around me again. But what do I do? I don’t give up. I find my hope and keep going. And the cycle continues.

In my research of this Fixer-type personality, I ran across these words: “Most Fixers believe deep inside that they will only be loved for what they do, not for the person they are.” This is so me! Re-learning how I view myself is one of the hardest things I have ever attempted to do. Seeing his pain, his torment, our situation as “NOT MY FAULT” is one I must work on daily. I think I’ve gotten better over the last year; but I do falter every now and again. I’m learning to recognize those words, analyse the situation, and truly see that maybe it really isn’t my fault. Man is it hard!

This seems to be a common theme in my group of caregiver friends. We all seem to desire to “fix” our veteran. We feel so helpless when they get angry, when they get depressed, when they refuse our positive words of hope, when they push away any opportunity or kindness, when they seem to have given up. We seem to think it is always our responsibility to lift them up, to turn their anger to calm, their depression to happiness, their bleakness to hope. When they refuse us, we consider ourselves a failure.

Why can’t we love them enough to make everything better? If loving someone was enough to cure what ails, we could do away with the VA! Or even hospitals, doctors, nurses, therapists. But, alas, this is never, EVER going to be the case. My logical brain knows that love is no cure for anything. My heart always says otherwise. They never play nice. Pitting one against the other. For me, the heart always wins out. I am an emotional critter, wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Because the situation, his pain, his depression is not my fault, I’m learning to quiet the emotion and listen to logic. I doubt I will rid myself of my nature, but I can learn to listen, learn to hear the logic. It is something I confront daily. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not my fault. Sometimes out loud, even.

There is a single word my therapist says to me when I start trying to over control everything, when I start my “fixing,” when I start worrying that everything isn’t going as planned, or I can’t help TheHubs enough. One word that I have to remember, repeat, and believe.

PRESENT

All that is required when you love someone with PTSD, depression, chronic pain, is being present. I love him. He knows that. I want to make him feel better. He knows that. But me berating myself because I can’t make him feel better is not helping him in the least. All I can do is sit by his side, holding his hand, and loving him. THAT is what makes him feel better, even if it doesn’t take away the physical or emotional pain. My love for him is what gets him through each day. It is his guiding light through his never-ending darkness. It is what keeps him here, that I am the reason he lived. He has told me all of this countless times.

Why is it so hard for me to understand the depth of his love for me? Why can I not accept that he loves me so deeply? Why is it that I hold myself to such a high standard, a level so high that it is impossible to obtain, and always feel crushed when I cannot reach it? I am learning to step back, take a breath, close my eyes and evaluate myself. Am I placing too much blame on me? Am I carrying too much of the burden that is not mine? Am I lying to myself, creating false guilt with false evidence? Am I being too harsh, bullying myself into submission? Am I seeing things inaccurately, through the lens of my own high standards?

I keep saying “I am learning to…” and I really am. I am learning a lot of things about me through this blog, through my therapist, and through my actions. I’m learning to reshape my thinking. I don’t foresee an end to my learning or practicing. If I can make this a habit, I won’t let it overwhelm me to the breaking point, like I did last time.

Being positive is the hardest thing to do…ever. But even more so when you can’t see any light in that dark tunnel. Now, here’s something to consider. What is ever easy that is worth it? Do your treasure something that was easily obtained? Or do you pride yourself in all that you have overcome? Each day is a struggle and a choice. Some days are harder than others. When you are faced with that darkness and you feel it smothering you, I am here to be your beacon.

Going through all of this and coming out on the other side of darkness has given me the strength to help others again. Giving advice is so easy, now, though I still feel like a hypocrite because I fall down from time to time, not listening to my own advice.

I need to remember the single, solitary word when it comes to him.

PRESENT

All I can be is present. Be there for him. That is enough. I cannot make him get out of his funk. I cannot make him get better. It’s not my fault he feels the way he feels. It’s not my fault he’s not getting better. HE has to be willing to get there himself. All I can do it be present.

I hope you can remember all this, too. Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.

Related Articles you may like:
Guilt
Unworthy
Overwhelmed
Anxiety, Depression, And Secondary PTSD
You Are Not Alone
Present Part 2
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces

LadyJai

1st Published Poem – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 3 April 2015

This week, I’m celebrating the publication of my first poem. I started out writing poetry as a teenager. You know, teenage angsty words. I never thought any one of them would see the light of day. Yet, here we are, my first one published for all the world to see. My soul bared. My heart anxious. I hope you enjoy it.

TheHubs says it’s dark. I say it’s raw. I can see the hope at the end, but for someone stuck in that abyss it’s hard to find the light I guess. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Let me know what you all think. If you like it, please share. The more my name gets out there, the better. I thank you in advance.

You can read my poem at O Dark Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. Just click here or on the picture to the left.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

 

Related Articles you may like:
You Are Not Alone
Anxiety, Depression, And Secondary PTSD

LadyJai

The Florida Caverns – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 27 March 2015

Waiting for our tour selfie2

Last week we were at The Florida Caverns State Park so I couldn’t write a post for Celebrate the Small Things. But this week, I have so many pictures to show you! I hope you enjoy them.

A few weeks back I wrote about “When Going Outside Hurts” and then TheHubs decided to get out and do something. I planned this little trip in the hopes everyone would love it. TheBoy loves science and getting out and doing things. TheHubs, well, he just shrugs and goes along with whatever I come up with. Me, I have dreams, a bucket list, places I want to go and things I want to see. But, one day… For this trip, though, I wanted to spend the night so I could explore Marianna a bit more, then go to The Gulf the next day. The only time I’ve been to the Gulf side is when I visited Tampa, but I never made it to the beach. However, with this being his first outing in about 6 months, I opted for little baby steps. Plus I found out that it was also spring break for ‘Bama and I didn’t want subject him to such a crowd. We’ll get to it again some other time.

So without further adieu, here’s some pictures for you.

caverns3 caverns4 caverns1 caverns2

And if you wish to see the entire album, please feel free to visit my Facebook: here.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

 

Related Articles you may like:
When Going Outside Hurts
There Are Always Positives

LadyJai