Sharing Toothbrushes

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I have suspected for about a week now that my husband and I are using the same toothbrush. We share a bed, a car, children, and at times we share the same food and drink. But, while I am only slightly bothered by it, I have a feeling my husband would be horrified. I think I’ll keep it to myself and try to quietly find a way to differentiate the toothbrushes. I think I’ll also keep to myself that my son likes to flip the toothbrushes upside down, because no matter how well and how often I clean the cup, the water at the bottom always seems to reek. That’s worse than sharing toothbrushes any day.

Speaking of children, my 4 year old is finally adjusting to being a big brother… finally. He had his sister laughing so hard last night that when it was time for bed, she started tantruming. Usually, she settles right into my arms. My son is also reading very well and enjoys doing math everyday. Right now, he’s putting together a 300 piece puzzle by pulling the pieces out of the box one at a time. He’s only put it together once before, and he’s memorized each piece so he knows what to look for as he’s digging through the box. He is so much like his daddy, with his humor, his intelligence, and his quick wit.

My dear 14 month old prefers to eat paper over food, and is more stubborn than my firstborn… by far. She can thrown a tantrum to bring down the house and will refuse to eat for days before she’ll go into a full day of eating like a grown man. She knows many signs but refuses to use them. However, she is the best snuggler in the whole world, and her laugh fills my heart with joy.

Right now, my life consists of taking care of these two characters at home most of the day, while answering phone calls for my husband’s business. I am over halfway through my pregnancy, and have started waking up for snacks in the middle of the night. We have a very small apartment and have been busy rearranging furniture to make room for the new baby, and I think we’ve finally started to get used to the idea of having three children.

I am also busy going through a discipleship book with someone I reached out to for something trivial, and she sensed I needed more. Through the unconditional love of the Lord, my husband, my son, my daughter, and my trusted friend, I feel I am moving forward. I will probably have PTSD for my entire life, and will probably fight with many of its symptoms for life, but I have a new outlook most days. My attacks do not last as long, and although it seems they are just as debilitating, I only completely freeze or lose time every couple of weeks. I’m able to endure the overwhelming feelings without dissociating most times, very much because I am able to cry when I need to. My feelings have been manifesting themselves through anger, and I am working as hard as I can to control it.

I have been on a major blogging hiatus, but I am beginning to feel creative and well again. I pray each and every one of you are doing well and I look forward to starting to read your blogs again regularly.

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Therapist Clearances And Happy Memories

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I am in the middle of filling out one of my three required clearances for work, and it happens to be the most grueling of them all. It’s the child abuse history clearance, and I have to fill out every address I’ve lived at in my entire life, including who I lived with and their present age. WHAT?! I have previously counted 16 homes before the age of 18, and then a move every year for the duration of my schooling. Total, I have lived in 27 different homes (not including co-parenting or summers)…. and I am only 28!! Thankfully, I’m keeping this document saved (it only took me like 4 renewals to do this!) so I can pull it up next time this clearance is due.

What a wave of memories!!!! Like taking my pregnancy tests for all three babies. When I was a live-in nanny to a beautiful family for the summer before grad school. Or when my roommate and I went to see a scary movie and were afraid so we watched Free Willy afterward and laughed about the bad acting. And when I spent a semester in London and went to the store one day; I bought tampons and was delighted to see an American chocolate bar (Hershey’s) so I bought the large, 1 LB bar…. the clerk said, “Wow, it must be a rough week for you!” I remember watching my body go through puberty. I remember drawing the skeleton in middle school and memorizing the names of the bones for a contest (I can still recite them for you too!), and deciding I wanted to be a doctor. Realizing I shouldn’t be a doctor several years later when I spent time in a cadaver lab and was nauseated for weeks afterward… and then nearly failing every pre-med class anyway. My roommate drilling me on simple biology like mitosis and meiosis so I would pass. Studying psychology and human development, and realizing my passion for mental health. And then I remember walking with my husband into our first apartment for the first time; and in the same place when we first brought my son home from the hospital. Making up dances with my friends during my elementary years. Learning to use tampons in high school because I had a cheerleading competition the next day and didn’t want anyone to see my pad (what a learning curve that I’m sure most women can later laugh about!). My mom tucking me into bed each night into my high school years. Or when I was about 12, I got bored and drew on my leg with nail polish… it took the pigment out of my skin and I had a smiley face on my leg for months!!! My very first kiss. And my first kiss with my (would-be) husband!!!!! 🙂

I think that when we have PTSD, we tend to focus on the bad memories (and why wouldn’t we, they are forced into the forefront of our minds with the slightest of triggers!) and forget or ignore that we probably have many happy memories in there somewhere.

Here’s a reminder to remember the good times too. What are some of your best memories??

Photo credit: http://www.stonerdays.com/memories-of-a-first-toke/

I’ve Come Full Circle

Over the past few weeks, I have begun to return to normal… Or how I felt before I started actively having flashbacks. I was highly anxious, but I was not falling apart. I was functioning. I was earning a Master’s Degree, planning my PhD route, serving in church, being normal. And that’s how I have been lately. Anxious, but able to overall live and enjoy living. I cleaned my house (which is now a disaster because I took Mother’s Day off of cleaning). I started running again for the first time since my PTSD took over. I am playing with my kids. And I’m polishing my novel in order to attempt publication. Isn’t this what I wanted???

A. Big. Fat. NO! I originally went into therapy to decrease my anxiety, not to take me through hell and land me right back where I started. Trudging through the depths of hell that looks an awful lot like a carpeted basement was supposed to make me come out farther along in the end. Help me make better relationship choices. Decrease my anxiety. Improve my relationship with my parents. Nope. I’m right back where I started.

I was spending time with my husband the other night and thinking, “Wow it’s nice to enjoy his company with no PTSD symptoms!” And then all of a sudden I was hit with this brick of overwhelming anxiety. The same anxiety from 1.5 years ago. I recognized it instantly and my stomach has been in knots since.

Is this really where I’m supposed to be? Am I really going to have to manage symptoms for the rest of my life? This might be better than being curled up in a ball with my ears covered, but I do not want to live with this anxiety the rest of my life. This is not MY anxiety, this was done to me; this is other peoples’ shame. I did not cause my mind and body to react like this to the smallest of triggers!

Since then, I have gone running twice. I have decided to bring music both times. Usually I run without music to clear my head. But I turned on Christian radio. As i ran I would hear phrases about God’s sovereignty over my life, Him making the best choices for me, and how important it is to trust Him. And I realized that the only difference between now and 1.5 years ago is my feeling of betrayal towards God. My faith used to be strong. But now I question His character. Maybe He wants me to suffer like this for the rest of my life. And to make the best of it. My phone was stuck in the case and I couldn’t shut the music off so with every phrase I could feel my throat closing harder; I could feel my tears welling up; I could feel my chest becoming heavier. Finally I let out a sob. I wanted to fall to my hands and knees and begin crying but I kept running. I needed to get this feeling out and maybe I could run harder than my pain.

This feeling is still in my chest. The “What in the f*ing hell do you have for me, God?!” feeling. But I am not ready for it to escape. I am not ready to fall apart on my hands and knees. I am not ready to look like a child who is tantruming and begging her Heavenly Father for reprieve.

So if you are on the trail and see a woman collapsed and sobbing, it’s probably me. Sit by me. Hold my hand. Hug me. Tell me it’s going to be okay. Tell me I will not be fighting these demons for the rest of my life. After all, they are not even my demons to fight.