Tag Archives: fear

When The Fog Burns Off

Several weeks ago, my husband called me while I was at work.
Nothing unusual about that.

However, this time his voice was broken and quiet and he said, “Something happened.”

My mind raced within a microsecond of what could possibly have happened. My throat closed. My stomach flipped.

Before the sobs took hold and the line went dead, he managed to tell me of the memory that the fog had shrouded from him since the incident happened in Kosovo back in 1999.

My own silent panic raged inside of me while I dropped everything at work and sped home. He was no longer answering the phone. The more I tried, the faster I drove. Even if we had someone who could go check on him, I knew he was in no state to answer the door. Had I called 911 and had a sheriff go out, it probably could have made things a thousand times worse. I just had to get home as fast as I could.

I already had a plan in my head if I were to get pulled over by the police for speeding. I would have handed them my driver’s license and told them to meet me at my house because my husband was in full PTSD meltdown and I needed to get there as fast as I could. (Honestly, in hindsight, I probably should have called 911 to let them know what I was doing. Not sure how that would have ended though. Would they have come to the house? Would it have made TheHubs worse?)

Once I got home, I found him huddled under the covers, won’t come out from under them. I called his VA doctor and between me talking with him and the nurse talking with him while I held the phone to his ear, we finally calmed him down.

But that memory of his time in Kosovo, that memory that his brain had protected him from, still lingers.

PTSD never gets better. No amount of therapy or drugs can make it so. I don’t care what the VA says. PTSD is something that will haunt the person for the rest of their lives. They, alone, are the only ones who can manage it. Living with someone who suffers PTSD is not so haunting, but it does affect everyone it touches in some way. Those of us who live with, and love, someone who suffers with these demons has to learn to adjust. And the only way to learn is through communication between everyone involved.

I am blessed that he is comfortable enough, trusts me enough, to share with me his demons. But I am also cursed with the knowledge of those demons and knowing that I will never be able to take them from him.




Related Articles you may like:

Our Story
PTSD or Moral Injury
Anxiety, Depression, and Secondary PTSD

Where Did the Magical Season Go?

So, can this day/week/season hurry up and be over with already?

Every year I hide behind my words – <Insert Holiday Title Here> is nothing but a commercialized guilt trip and we should celebrate love, kindness, thankfulness, gratefulness, family, friends, and whatever else, EVERY day.

Yeah, just words. Sort of.

In all honesty, I have always disliked many holidays. I dislike Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents day, Boss’s Day, Administrative Assistance Day, and any other day you can think of. The truth of it all is, it’s a holiday that people adopt so they can party (like St. Patrick’s Day, or Cinco De Mayo), or it’s a day that all the retailers try to lure you in with “savings” to get your money or guilt trip you into buying something for your love or your child and if you don’t, you suck.

And it seems to be worse around Christmas.

My heart and soul must live in a different time period, especially around Christmas time.  The magic of the season is everything to me. You know what I mean. Old movies like HOLIDAY INN or WHITE CHRISTMAS, or the kind you see in a Thomas Kinkade painting, and all the stories of miracles happening around Christmas. A quaint little neighborhood. A blanket of virgin snow. A single trail down the center of the road that leads to the horse-drawn carriage. Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets and warming the houses. Everyone smiling and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, helping those who needed help, and giving a small gift of friendship in any form. Friends and family circling round the fireplace drinking hot apple cider, singing Christmas carols, and sharing in the warmth of the love. Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

Oh to see the world through my childhood eyes again.

To set the record straight, It’s not just about the lack of presents. With all due respect, presents under the tree is only a tiny part of that ideal Christmas image in my head. With each passing year, though, the magic of the holiday seasons grows more distant and unattainable. Decorations, still packed away in boxes stored in the garage, are left untouched for years. The lack of cold and snow, does nothing to put me in the mood either. I have no motivation. And when I do, I do it all alone. And now, while the desire is there, that little voice inside my head says, “what’s the point?”

I no longer like going out window shopping, just to enjoy the decorations or looking for ideas for my own house. There are way too many people. It would be ok if everyone was happy it was Christmas time. But now, everyone is so rude, and a thousand times worse during this season. It spurs anxiety in both TheHubs and I.

PTSD and Pain have ruined this time of year for me. TheHubs only feels 3 emotions: rage, despair, and nothing. He doesn’t get into decorating, socializing, or celebrating anymore. This, in turn, makes me not want to put in the effort. Maybe it’s the lack of UV light, the drab days, the lack of color all around, that adds to the depressive state. They do talk a lot about this time of year being worse for depression. So maybe that’s part of it. But I also know that seeing your loved one in constant pain, suffering his demons, and hardly ever seeing the smile on his lips and twinkle in his eye, well, you just let it slip through and wish it were all over so you can get back to the everyday life without seeing everyone else’s Christmas cheer.

This year has been especially hard, making this holiday season a bit worse for wear.  We’ve been through some seriously trying times. Communication is the only way to get through it. And while the PTSD Rage Monster flares bright, I wondered if we’d ever get back to that point. But we did. We both opened up. We both are constantly working on our communication. But while you’re smack in the midst of living the hell, it is hard to see the light. There were several of these times throughout the year. More than we’ve had in a very, very long time.

And then there were all the medical issues.

For me, luckily, this year was pretty simple. Just a few follow-ups with my Psychiatrist and adjustments to my meds–which at this time, I am not going to up them because of the price. It’s like two completely different prescriptions, even though it’s the same medication. One strength dose in the morning, a different one in the evening. But, it’s on a higher tier in the formulary so I have to fork out a bit of money for that. (And don’t even get me started on next year’s medical insurance.)

When TheBoy started school this year, he also started complaining about his feet hurting. It wasn’t until about a week in that it got so bad he called us from the nurses office saying he couldn’t walk anymore. We took him to a podiatrist and that’s when we found out he has incredibly flat feet (like his father) and loose tendons (like his mother). Luckily, the doctor had a quick and permanent fix, giving him an arch and correcting his feet to hopefully not have pain. It would require surgery on both feet. And now was the best time for him to have it since he’s still growing. He’s already had one surgery, and his second is on Dec 8th. (if you want to read about this condition, you can see the pictures here)

And then we found out he needed braces. UGH!

On top of all this, we also have to foot the bill for what the VA doesn’t cover for TheHubs. All his medications, and the neurologist he’s been seeing for a little over 10 years. His Botox injections, and pain medications. He also had surgery in September to help correct his severely deviated septum, which was supposed to help his apnea and we were hoping to alleviate the positional pain that came from sleeping since he would now be able to breath out of his nose while sleeping on his belly. It helped somewhat, but nothing to write home about.

So, our bank account has been pretty much wiped out — of course adding to my already discouragement for this season.

So when TheBoy comes to me, without prompting, and says he would be fine with nothing for his birthday and Christmas, an instant surge of pride is quickly replaced with a great sadness because I know with all these medical and dental bills that are going on I cannot afford to get him something, or anyone else either.

This season is about giving. And I do so love to give, whether it be a present, a smile, a hug, a positive thought. I am happiest when I am giving and helping people. I am happy making others happy. Sometimes, though, I would love if everyone else felt the same way I do.

When I started writing this post, it was so very negative. I couldn’t see the positive, and wondered if I would ever feel any Christmas spirit again. After getting it out, admitting it, I realize that just like being positive in everyday life, being happy on Christmas is a conscious decision. So today, I am making that decision – the decision to try to enjoy the season and not focus on my dreams.

I am going to try to make other people happy. Maybe it will help me get back into the spirit of the season. If I can buy someone’s coffee while I’m out shopping, or find a homeless vet who hangs out on the corner near the mall and give them $20. Or get back to leaving my Positive Post-It Notes around town while we are out and about…*IF* we are out and about. I really want to be able to share the positive and the happy and give someone a smile. The more people who see kindness, maybe it will spread and the rudeness will diminish?

I honestly believe in karma and “what goes around comes around”. I just have to be patient. And patience is not my best quality.

One can only hope, though.

So I am going to ask you to do the same. Maybe it might help you too. Be kind to everyone. You never know what their story is.

Be kind. Smile often. And spread the happiness.


If you’re willing, I would love to hear your stories as well. Let us all feel not so alone, especially during this holiday season so we can have a little bit of light in the PTSD darkness. Love you all.

Related Articles you may like:
Christmas 2014
The Secret to Marriage
Finding the Positives

Present – Part2

In April, I wrote about being present. While I still struggle with the need to fix and make him happy, I am also seeing just how much being there has been a great help to him. It’s a constant struggle. But always, I must remember that single, solitary word when it comes to him…

Last week, I had a very big eye opener. It was quite coincidental when an 18-year-old Australian Model’s story went viral. I was very moved by this article. She had an epiphany and spoke the truth about how she lost herself in social media, how it consumed her identity, and made her so unhappy. It also woke me up to my own problems with social media. But this was only the beginning. My friend, Cheyenne, also posted her response to the model’s article. Like I said, it was coincidental because that same week, TheHubs came to me about how much time I spend on social media and how he feels neglected because of it.

I had to re-evaluate the time I spend on social media.

Because I am a caregiver, I don’t have the luxury of in-real-life friends. My friends live in my computer/phone. It is my connection to others outside of work and my home. I really don’t have friends that I hang out with. Sure I have a few friends at work. But our external interaction is null. So I rely on social media to keep up-to-date and in contact with my friends online. Over the years, we’ve lost all our friends due to his chronic pain, migraines, PTSD, and anxiety. He used to be our friend-maker. I’ve had to learn how. But, since no one understands our situation, his pain, his anxiety and PTSD, well, people only accept so many nos until they stop trying. So, I rely heavily on social media to have friendships.

Being present isn’t just about being physically there for him. It also means being there mentally. Ever since I got a new position at work that requires more responsibility, I’ve not had any down time where I could actually take a break, let alone eat lunch on time, so my social presence has been null while I worked. On one hand, this is good because I am not bored and I am doing my job, despite the drama that stems from those I work with now. On the other, though, I catch up on social media when I get home, I’ve neglected my writing, and now, I find out that he feels neglected, too.

So when we had our discussion about how much time I have my nose in my phone and not paying him attention and after I read that article about the model’s change of heart, and then my friend’s response to it, I knew I needed to take a time out.

It’s been hard to keep that phone off while I sit back and watch something TheHubs loves but I just don’t. It’s hard not to pick up the phone every few minutes to see what has been posted recently on Facebook or Twitter. I’m not 100% there yet, but I think I am doing better. I NEED to do better, for him. I need to be present, in every way possible. Because, when we stop being present, their hope fades, their demons rise, and they start listening to them again.

I’m not gone. I’m just a little less here. 😛
I hope you can remember all this, too.
Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.

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


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.


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

My Greatest Fear


I’m a writer. It’s what I do. It’s how I process. It’s not always about my stories.

Recently, I happened across an article that talked about the fears that motivate our characters. Now we’re not talking about the fear of spiders or heights. I wrote about fear, once. It didn’t go deep enough. We’re talking about fundamental fears, the things that scare us the most, that shape our personalities and our decisions. It has given me insight into my own character – Me. But can I change it? That is a huge question. Well, maybe not change it, but at a minimum try to combat how I react to certain things.

This past week has put me back in my darkness, where I can no longer see hope. But I keep trying to reach out and find something, anything to grasp. Just when I thought I was learning how to better communicate, my whole world is turned upside down and I am forced back into a place where I can no longer get that communication across, either because I failed to say the right thing or because the other side has blocked me out. Either way, I’m lost. Without communication, we cannot progress, we cannot grow, we cannot change, and we cannot expect to have any type of relationship, with anyone.

My heart breaks.

So what is it I fear most?

I am afraid, oh so afraid, of being unloved.

According to David Wisehart, those characters whose greatest fear is of being unloved are called The Helper. He goes on to say,

These characters want most of all to be loved. To achieve this, they give love to others, expecting others to give love back. But no other type is as giving as they are. These generous characters may be disappointed by what they get in return. At times they may be manipulative and vindictive.

Helpers want most of all to be loved. They are people-pleasers. In an effort to get love, they give it first, fully expecting love in return. This bargain remains assumed and unacknowledged until the issue is forced to the surface by the Helper’s growing resentment. No one but another Helper can match their giving nature, so they often feel used, surrounded by a world of heartless takers. This is when their personality can pivot toward vindictiveness.

At their worst, Helpers are possessive, manipulative victims.

At their best, Helpers are generous, caring, and insightful.

I’m still trying to process the why of this fear. Where did it come from? Both my parents love me. I was never neglected. No, so far from that it was just the opposite. So that’s not it. But maybe it has to do with being an only child? Moving around every 4 years and losing touch with every friend I ever made? I think both of those play a major role in the development of this fear.

Being an only child meant I was alone most of my life. I had to learn to play by myself. I had to learn to rely only on me. Most of my friends lived inside books. The ones in real life, well, they came and went. Some friendships lasted 6 months, some a year, and then if I got really lucky, some would last through two duty stations, which meant about 6 years. I’ve never had the luxury of a childhood friend, a best friend, someone who would always be there for me.

So maybe I built defense mechanisms? Since I knew the only one I could count on, ever, is me, I only listened to me. Decisions, problem solving, directions, all were made by me, and me alone. It could very easily be the reason why some friendships didn’t last as long as they could. Because I expected them not to last.

Expectation is not the norm in the issues that have arisen of late. I mean, come on, 25 years and he’s still here. So why can’t I get it through my thick head he isn’t going to leave me? Well, that’s because those mechanisms seem to still be hanging around. That fear is my rock, my foundation. I guess I always knew it; but putting a name to it, validating it with proof, well that’s another thing.

These last two years have been a journey of discovering what makes me tick, as well as what makes him tick. I thought this was all progress. I truly thought we were working better at this whole communication thing. But I guess, he’s been holding so much back about me, letting me make all the decisions, for so long, for whatever fear he has, that he couldn’t take it anymore.

I’m selfish. I’m stupid. I’m inconsiderate. I never think about anyone else but myself.

As for being inconsiderate and never thinking about anyone other than myself. Well, that is so far from the truth. Everything I do is to please everyone else. That’s my downfall. Logically, I know you can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all the people all the time. Still, my heart tries so hard to do the latter. Everything I do, I do out of love. Some of these decisions may be centered around me and I’m blinded to that fact, but in the end I don’t do it thinking solely of me. Yes, I’m stubborn. If I get an idea in my head I run head strong with it. I’m bull-headed. Always been told so. When something ticks me off, say a car that has broken down over and over and over again that we put so much money into I get fed up and just go out and buy a new car. I ask for input. I guess over the years with these major decisions, he’s given me less and less input. I get so frustrated at the “whatever” responses I get. So I just do. And that probably gets me in trouble, too.

I have told myself I am stupid countless times since I was young. Now, though, I know this is not true. I am doing my best to stop thinking this way about myself. Sometimes it’s hard when consequences of my actions, or words, rear up and show themselves. Yes, I’ve made some stupid decisions. Yes, I’ve said some stupid things. Haven’t we all? It doesn’t make us entirely stupid. Right?

As for selfish? That’s a whole lot harder to push down. I wrote about only some of the things I feel selfish about, before. Only child syndrome, I guess. I can’t recognize it when I’m doing it, so I wish someone would point it out to me. Yes, I might get upset, at first. But I need it. I need to know in order to change.

So why did he bottle it all up and never confront me? Maybe he didn’t want to upset me. But how will I know what needs to change? How can we compromise? How can I learn to recognize these behaviors and work on changing them? First off, acknowledging them, even here on the blog, helps. They become tangible, real. Rather than something fleeting in my mind. They always say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? So I hope I can change for the better.

What is his greatest fear?

What’s yours?

Related Articles you may like:
9 Character Types That Will Improve Your Story


PS: In light of this weeks issues, I am foregoing a post dedicated to Celebrate the Small Things. Please forgive me. It’s been a very, VERY rough week. I’m processing and recovering. However, I will say that I am celebrating peace returning. But there is a new challenge that we must deal with. We will get through it, together!


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.


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.


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:
Anxiety, Depression, And Secondary PTSD
You Are Not Alone
Present Part 2
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces


The Sins Of The Father

I’ve never pretended to know everything that he thinks, everything that he’s been through, everything he blames himself for. I think it is a part of depression, PTSD, or whatever label you want to place on it. No matter how much they trust you, they will never give themselves over to you, completely.

I accept that.

This is where faith comes in. I’m learning more about God in my own way than I ever did sitting at Mass every Sunday with my mom for 17 years of my life. CCD, or Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School never really went into more than the popular stories everyone knows and reads from childhood. I have had to do my own research as my trials came to me in order to understand how The Bible addresses them. The problem I still have with it all is the dichotomy within The Bible itself.

It is my understanding that God is a loving god. He loves all His creations. He only asks that you come to Him with your burdens. He knows you will sin. He knows your pain. He knows the evil in the world and He cannot stop the free will He has given His children. He patiently waits for you to come to Him, ask for help, ask for forgiveness. He will wipe away your tears and pain. If only you ask.

The Old Testament is full of stories about a wrathful, vengeful, jealous God. I think He was learning how to parent us with the whole free-will thing. When controlling us through fear wouldn’t work, He decided it was time to step back and let what will happen, happen. He did give us a path back to Him, through his Son, and let our free will decide how we will live, think, and do. While our choices make Him sad sometimes, and all he ever craves is for us to ask for His help. He sits and waits. He is the most patient being.

I do not understand how He can endure the pain of watching our failures and waiting for us to as for His help. This is where I sit, at the moment. Watching my husband beat himself up, simmering in his murky darkness, listening to him berate himself, watching him self-destruct.

My heart hurts so much for him. I do my best to show him positives, to keep his hopes up. I can understand because he suffers all day, every day, the pain. I come home and see it on his face. But what he shrouds behind his eyes, I cannot fathom. He’s only told me bits and pieces. I used to believe that everything was my fault. His pain, his suffering, his lack of love of life. It was my fault I couldn’t love him enough to fix him.

That was my guilt. I still struggle with it today, even though I know it is not my fault. But, as I always say, my emotional heart and my logical brain NEVER play nice with one another.

My therapist calls me a fixer. I want peace and harmony in everything I do. I want everyone to like me and no one to be mad or upset. Conflict is the bane of my existence. It’s my job to create peace, harmony, and love. And if it’s not working, I have to fix it. If I can’t, that’s when the guilt manifests.

I want to fix my husband, but I know I can’t. I know he’s the only one who can fix himself, and the first step is to WANT to be fixed. He’s taking the steps, but I don’t know if it’s because I begged him, nagged him, or what. But he’s going to my therapist.

The other night, he told me that the therapist had something profound to say. “Only you know when to stop tormenting yourself.” I asked him if he will ever stop. His response was, “I don’t know. There’s a lot I need to pay penance for.” I also mentioned that he’s not just punishing himself. He’s punishing his son and I. Maybe if I opened his eyes about that, I thought it might start him thinking that maybe he needed to change. But his immediate response scared the hell out of me.

“The sins of the father.”

That stopped me in the tracks. How could he believe in that. What did it really mean. It couldn’t mean what everyone thinks it means. Could it?

I did tell him that I don’t believe, no, I CAN’T believe that God will punish a child for sins the father did well before the idea of the child was ever conceived? Children are innocent in His eyes. This is another issue I struggle with about the Catholic religion. Children go to Hell if they are not baptized; therefore, the Catholics baptize the child as soon as possible. How can they make the conscious choice to follow God’s Word? But I digress…

So, with that weighing heavily on my mind, I began to research the meaning of “The sins of the father.” I’ve read The Bible a few times. Once as literature for a college course and once for my own purpose. However, I find it quite difficult to understand the language and the meanings of the words. I struggle with “lost in translation” because, how many times has The Bible been translated over the years? I know that meanings of words change with the times. I know that there are certain words that you can get the jist of the meaning, but the direct translations usually fail. It’s just not quite right. Or the meaning is completely lost. Maybe I over-analyze?


So here I am, looking at the words in Exodus.

Exodus 20:5 “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”

Exodus 34:6-7 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Four generations of God’s wrath? Really? This is how I read the words. That God punishes the children for the sins the father committed, and will continue to punish them through the fourth generations. Why? Why would he do that? I kept trying to understand those words. But all I could see was the negative in it.

I am of the mind that God is all loving. Ever since he gave His son to us, He has removed His vengeance and wrath. He loves. Exodus is in The Old Testament, before Christ. So maybe that’s why He punished the person through four generations.

I brought this all up to my therapist. He’s a Christian therapist and knows a lot more about The Bible than I. And he brought me to another understanding in the Exodus passages. That the Lord will punish the one who hates Him, and their generations. Not just anyone who sins.  I need to show this to TheHubs and let him see the context.  No one quotes the whole passage, it seems, and that’s where I get so confused.

Ezekiel-18-21A few other passages my therapist brought to my attention, regarding the sins of the father, is found in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel.

Deuteronomy 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

Ezekiel 18:3-4  As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.

Both of these books are in the Old Testament as well. The dichotomy of The Bible still holds. However, I was not reading Exodus properly. And, as I said earlier, the quote is always half-quoted. Now that I can see that the sins of the father are “of those who hate me,” I can better understand the meaning. I hope this will show my husband the same things I now see.


The challenge I face now, is showing this to TheHubs and allowing him to process it and come to his own conclusions. My challenge, is patience. I am not God. I am not perfect. I cannot fix things. I want to be my husband’s guide, showing him positives and hope, and showing him the path to getting better. I pray, now, for the Lord to show him its OK to let it go, to forgive himself. I pray the Lord to give me the patience and strength I will need as I watch my husband walk his own path to getting better.




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Anxiety, Depression and Secondary PTSD

When Going Outside Hurts


It comes and goes.

I notice it.

But I don’t say anything because I don’t know how to address it. Or even, what to say.

He sits in the house all day and all night. He does not come with me to family outings or even the simplest of errands.

For me, it starts off ok and I don’t notice it much because when I come home from work, I just don’t have the energy to go out anymore (fibromyalgia is kicking in full-time now). I just want to stay home and do nothing. But he’s been doing that all day every day when I’m at work and TheBoy is at school. I know he needs to get out and do something. So when he’s in the mood to go out, I suck it up and charge on.

Then I start noticing that he stops going with me to the grocery store, or when he says we need to go get the supplies so we can take care of the yard (or anything we ‘need’ to do) it gets pushed back. I always see him sitting on the couch with that pained look on his face and feel so horrible. Guilt because I want him to go with me; but I know that he’s in pain so I let it slide.

Then, when he can’t get out of bed to take our son to the bus stop, I start to wonder. Is it really this bad? His pain levels increase in cycles I’ve noticed. I wonder if the depression feeds the pain, or the pain feeds the depression. But then, I rationalize it. He’s receiving Botox every 3 months and we are in the latter part of his last set of injections and it always wears off before the 3 month appointment for his next round. So, I deduce that this is part of his pain, that every morning it’s harder and harder for him to get out of bed and I may have to take our son to the bus stop for school sometimes.

The next thing I notice is that I come home from work and he hasn’t gone outside to get the mail in 2 weeks. I can still see the pain behind his eyes. But is it physical pain? Or is it the emotional kind? Probably both.

He starts cancelling appointments (or won’t make the calls to make the appointments at all), next. This is the frustrating part. I work full-time so I cannot be there 24/7 for him, to make him go, to drive him all the time. His fear is that if I take off work every time he has to go, that I will lose my job. He doesn’t want that. Neither do I. But, I am his caregiver. My boss knows this and is ok with it. It’s just not comforting to him enough to allow me to leave work every time he needs me to drive him. He usually can do local, but even that now has gotten too much.

He feels the guilt. He feels like a burden.

And now he tells me that he doesn’t want to go outside anymore. It hurts. He panics. Just going to the mailbox now throws him into a full on panic attack. Driving makes him panic. It’s not so bad when I’m with him, but it’s getting worse. And if he drives with me and TheBoy in the car, it is insanely worse, especially over water. And we have a lot of water around here. He used to be ok if he took his anti-anxiety medication before we left. That doesn’t seem to be working anymore.

So now what do I do?

He’s told me he doesn’t want to go out of the house anymore because it causes him undue anxiety. Has he developed agoraphobia; I guess because of his pain and lack of social interaction? Or is there something deeper going on? I know that this is another symptom of PTSD, along with anxiety, obsessive compulsion, and paranoia.

I cannot help him. I cannot fix him. I can only be there for him. 

I’ve at least got him to agree to therapy again. He’s been through two different sessions with two different therapists through the VA over the years. He was not too keen on them. And they pretty much got to a point where they could no longer help him with his mental issues until he got his pain under control. How can they get his pain under control? It’s been 15 years and it just gets worse! He sees a VA Psychiatrist, whom he likes a lot, but only once every 3 months. The VA has offered him another therapy session, but they want him to go 3 times a week. It’s an hour and a half drive one way. He’s definitely not up for that drive three times a week. And he doesn’t want me to take off work for it, either. And if they schedule him for a time frame that interferes with get TheBoy to and from school, it is an inconvenience for sure. So, he has declined the VA’s help with that.

There are a lot of things I know I don’t know that’s going on in his brain. He’s told me that when he goes to talk he doesn’t want me to go with him because there are things he doesn’t want me to hear. He’s told me he doesn’t want to make me worse so he keeps it all to himself. But then my brain kicks in and I start wondering if it’s me that’s causing all this depression. If I can’t love him enough, then I’m failing. This is my brain. I ruminate. I start listening to those negative voices, my self-doubt, my insecurities, which then brings me down. I’m doing all I can to combat them, squash them, and put them in their place so I can focus on a more positive outlook, and inlook.

I know he’s protecting me from his demons. He feels guilty for not working, for not helping around the house, for not being a better husband and father, for not doing anything. He feels like he’s a burden and that he is the reason why I have to see a therapist now. I keep telling him that my vows said, “For Richer and poorer, through sickness and in health.” I love him with every part of my being and I will do everything I can to comfort and bring him some joy. I know I can’t take the pain away. NOW I know I’m not the cause of his pain, either.

I wonder, if sometimes, he punishes himself for the things he feels guilty over. And that he is keeping himself in a place of darkness as that punishment. He doesn’t realize that the more he hides from those demons, the more they eat him up. The more I see them chomping away, not knowing what they are, and not being successful in helping him see some light, the more he gets sucked in and I fear I will one day lose him completely.

Which would be worse? Becoming a statistic? One of the 22 veterans a day to lose their battle with their demons? Or to lose all sense life, the want and will to live and love, while all those around you watch your soul shrivel inside your shadowed shell? I think it would be easier for the one going through the torment of PTSD to end it all. Those left behind would be the ones who had to deal with their own demons forever after.

And then the question arises, which would be better for those left behind? To have your loved one physically gone forever? Or mentally?

I cannot answer this.

Nor do I want to.

I’ve been going to my own therapist locally since January. I’ve enjoyed him very much. He understands the military life. He understands PTSD. He understands my caregiver stress. It is very rare to find a therapist who can relate like that. I’ve been to a few before and none have been very helpful in that aspect. Ever since I started with him, I’ve been talking about him with TheHubs and reinforcing the fact that I think he would enjoy talking with this guy. My therapist has also been trying to get me to get my husband in to see him. After constant probing, and with the admittance to me that he no longer wants to leave the house anymore, I think I’ve finally got him to agree to go to my therapist. I’m now just waiting on a call back from the organization who will be setting it up and paying for it. (They’ve been under snowstorms all last week.)

Because I’m learning how to deal with the ebb and flow of things, trying to understand him better and possibly help my emotional health out as well as teach this all to TheBoy, I’m doing my best not to get back to the rumination I always seem to fall back on. Yes, I worry. Yes, my brain thinks of all the things that could be wrong, could go wrong. But I am doing my best to see the hope that is there, too. That he really does mean he will NEVER go back to that place where he wanted to kill himself again. But living in constant pain, fear of everything around, and the depression that ensues because of all this, he still tells me he doesn’t want to live anymore, that he’s a burden, that he’s useless.

My heart aches so much when he says this. My heart aches so much when he says nothing. Because that speaks volumes over words. I don’t know how to help. He has to want to change the way he thinks in order to stop listening to those negative voices. And I really hope we are on that path right now.


Happy Lung Leavin’ Day 2015 – The Mesothelioma Story

A week and a half ago, I was approached by someone on my blog asking me to email him because he had something to ask me.

I’m paranoid by trade and by upbringing. Not only was I a BRAT and an Army wife, where we are raised to understand OPSEC and how to become a hard target; I also work as an IT Security Consultant where I am extremely aware of spam, phishing, vulnerabilities, identity theft, and cyber bullying. Heck, I’ve had to track down and contact a couple of people who were using my email address to set up accounts in their name with their personal identifying information, to include a credit card. Had I been a bad person, I could very easily have ruined a few people’s lives. But I’m not. (you can read about this here, in my article called Am I A Victim? – Reverse Social Engineering).

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m naturally paranoid when something like this comes my way. I googled his name and email address. I looked him up on Facebook. Everything pointed to a legitimate plea. Even my first impression of his request gave me a hint to legitimacy due to the way it was written. But, I always err on the side of caution. I asked TheHubs. I asked a friend. It took me all day to weigh the odds. I even set up a secondary email address, just for this blog before I emailed him.

What I had found out about Mr. Von Saint James was accurate. And it was a legitimate email with a request for help. He told me what he wanted and I agreed. It was a no-brainer.

Lung Leavin’ Day is a nickname given to the day that Heather had her lung removed.  While LungLeavin’ Day is technically February 2nd, her husband wants to spread awareness throughout the month of February. Here’s a little about her story:

1Nine years ago, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She had just had a baby and was given 15 months to live. After surgery to remove her left lung, Lung Leavin’ Day was born.

Heather continues to survive. This is her 9th LungLeavin’ Day celebration! The purpose of this holiday is to encourage others to face their fears. Each year, they gather around a fire in our backyard with their friends and family, write their biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. They celebrate for those who are no longer with them, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, they celebrate life!

You can see Heather’s interactive page mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday that tells the full story of their special day.

After reading their story, so many fears came flooding back. This, THIS is one of our biggest fears. Mesothelioma is not pretty. And usually, it’s a death sentence. TheHubs was a heavy-wheeled mechanic in the Army for 13.5 years. The first nine were spent in an asbestos insulated motor pool changing out asbestos breaks on military vehicles. Normally, a tour in the Army lasts 3 to 4 years. Unfortunately, the way the paperwork went for him during Team Spirit, The First Gulf War, Somalia, and a couple of cancelled PCS moves, he ended up staying in the same unit, at the same post, in the same motor pool for 9 years. This is unheard of. He watched three or four rotations of personnel while he stayed.

The thought of cancer from asbestos always tickled the back of our minds, but it was what it was and there was nothing we could do about it. It wasn’t until the Army contracted a company to survey the motor pool, remove the asbestos from the building, and then document all the personnel into some national database somewhere (they never told us where) did we start to figure it was serious. There was a problem with the contract, too. They only removed the asbestos from the walls. The ceiling remained untouched. TheHubs remembers having the insulation falling from the ceiling every day but nothing was ever done, even after the “renovation.” At least, not while he was there.

We moved on. The Army stopped using so much asbestos in their brake parts. They renovated the old buildings. But honestly, I don’t trust much of the “renovations” anymore after the motor pool fiasco, and after so many contracts I’ve worked on over the years with the government. I have seen and experienced so many things, how can I trust the government?

Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen so many lawyer ads on the TV about Mesothelioma that it’s constantly in our face. We know that it can take between 25-50 years to manifest, IF it manifests. Well, we are now at the 25 year mark from his first exposure. And now we learn that you can contract this through second-hand exposure. That means, even MY chances of contracting Mesothelioma are great because he would come home and I would snuggle up with him while he was still in uniform, and I washed his clothes. Not only that, now that I look back, I’ve lived and worked in government buildings since the day I was born.

Even today I wonder if about the place I’ve worked for the last 12 years. My co-worker dried her hardest to have a fish tank here. Everything died. Even when she used distilled water, everything died. She took it home and the fish thrive. Makes you wonder. I mean it is an old WWI building. It was even considered a Fallout Shelter once. The sign has since gone missing. I always wonder about sick office syndrome because of all this. But now, I wonder about asbestos in all those other military buildings I lived and worked in. Only time will tell. We just keep praying that it will not bless us on top of everything else that bless our lives.

We’ve already had to deal with lung cancer in our family. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer on September 11, 2001, the same day the Towers Fell. It was not due to his smoking, but it scared him enough to quit (for a little while, anyway). My father was exposed to Agent Orange during Vietnam. That’s what caused his cancer.

This experience changed my image of my father for me. He was my indestructible strong man. My Superman. To see him mortal, laying in the hospital room, he looked so small and frail.   But I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t break down in front of my mom. I had to be her strength. I had to be my dad’s strength. (and I am still trying to find out why I have always put that on me.)

He’s been cancer free since his surgery. We’ve been very lucky with that. I admire Heather and her family. They beat the odds and they came out the other side with a glorious outlook. I admire their dedication and willingness to help others. Their story is inspiring. I hope you will take the time to check it out. And if you need resources or reference material for Mesothelioma, please see below:

Here is a video where Heather goes into detail of her experiences as well: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/

There’s always hope in the face of darkness. I will always hold on to these stories. They will get me through if ever we are blessed with Mesothelioma.

God Bless you The Von St. James’

Heather and Family


Changing Perspective

I wrote about how I changed my outlook on life and dealing with my husband’s deployment a few weeks back, here.  Now, I’d like to share with you how I am continuing my removal of the negative.

Why did it take another 15 years, from that pivital moment when I needed to surround myself with positive in order to get through the deployment, why did it take me so long to realize that I needed to evict the negative within myself? At the beginning of this year, I started this blog to work through my own emotions as a caregiver. I always told people to find the positives in every situation, no matter how small. I tried to live this myself. But I never realized until I fell into that deep, dark, pit of despair last year that I was listening to those negative voices in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t pretty, that I didn’t deserve anything good. The ones that stuck around, hidden in the shadows, since I was a young girl. They were really ugly to me during my teenage years. After I got married, they’d come and go. My self-image has always been negative, especially when I came down with a really bad case of adult acne. I tried all the stuff from the doctor, and never had any success. TheHubs has been with me almost 25 years now and he’s shown me so much love and understanding. He’s made me stronger and helped me learn to be confident. But there’s always that nagging little voice in the back of my head that says, “How could he love me?” And, last year everything got so overwhelming with the whole caregiver stress, exhaustion, and depression the voices screamed so loud I just couldn’t stop crying.

This year has been a journey of healing. Hopefully I’ve managed to squash those negative voices under my shoe. So far, they’ve only whispered every now and again. I know they’re there. I think they always will be. But I don’t have to listen to them. When they come around, I try to do something for others, to make someone smile and feel good. I write. So far, it’s been frustrating because my fiction writing has fallen by the wayside. But I still write. I write to heal. I write to share my experiences to help others who may think that no one would ever understand, who think they’re alone, to show them they are most certainly NOT ALONE. And I try to remember to breathe.

I’ve noticed a movement getting off the ground, gaining more momentum this year. Or, maybe I’m just a little late to the party. In either case, I am so happy to see this movement that is trying to raise our girls up and learn to love who they are. I only wish this had happened in my teenage years, so I wouldn’t be 45 years old still worried about my looks, still comparing myself to others, still thinking I’m not good enough. Now that I’m getting older, a mother, and putting on some weight, my self-image has gone to pot again.

I fell in love with Colbie Caillat’s Try Video because I’ve never been one to wear a lot of makeup, if at all. I’ve gone years and years without putting anything on my face, especially when I was hit with adult acne. I found Operation Beautiful and began leaving post-it notes around the town when I’m out and about. Also, check out The Mrs. Band who put together an experiment to help people see their beauty in a mall in Texas.

I’m on a crusade to change my perspective. And you should be too. Don’t let the media and Hollywood dictate to you what beauty is. Stand up and tell them what they are doing is detrimental to our health! That we are ALL beautiful, IN SPITE of our flaws. 

What is Beauty? Beauty is intelligence, confidence, honesty, and compassion. Your heart is what makes you beautiful! Pretty isn’t beauty. Pretty is how you look. Beauty is who you are! Pretty is in the face and body. Beauty is in the mind, heart, and soul. Pretty fades. Beauty grows. If you let your heart and soul shine each day, you will be beautiful!

Meghan Trainer’s All About That Bass is the perfect message to retrain your brain. Tell your babies, tell yourself, don’t worry about your size, you’re perfect from your bottom to your top! Make sure you see the beauty within you. Check out my 30 days where I reflected the positive within myself. It was hard at first. REALLY HARD. But each day it got easier. And today, I found #IAmBraveAndBeautiful!

I  hope you will join me.  Share the love and the positive to everyone you see.

 Keep smiling! You’re beautiful!



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