About ten minutes after she left, it hit my like a ton of bricks. Holy shit, my daughter's birth is the root of all of this. As I thought about it more, I realized that this was the first time in my experience that intense POSITIVE EMOTION triggered my PTSD. That realization turned everything on it's head. So let's explore what I mean in more depth:
- The moment I held my daughter for the first time, I was filled with unbridled joy, love and devotion - my daughter was everything I ever dreamed she would be. Beautiful, healthy...I sat there staring at her in wonder.
- Then an insidious thought sneaked in: If Anything Ever Happened To Her...
- Raising a child is an exercise in uncertainty. Every devoted parent I have ever known has had that thought cross their mind and they expressed a healthy fear of anything happening to their child. With the PTSD in the mix, I went down a different road.
- I obsessed. I was certain that something horrible was going to happen to my perfect little bundle of everything good in life. So I obsessed and brooded over every possible scenario: Not being able to afford a stable income led to workaholism. Fear of my PTSD being triggered and lashing out at my daughter led to withdrawing emotionally from interaction with her and my wife.
- Everything started to unravel at the seams. All because of the intensity of the positive emotions I feel for my daughter.
Finally realizing this has given me some element of power over it and control over my fears. It has been and exhausting journey, but I am hopeful that things will improve as I move forward. It's hard to cope with fears when you aren't aware of what they are. For the first time, I feel like I have a little better control over my anger again. Here's to hoping that things continue to get better.
To My Wonderful Daughter Caley: When you are older and you discover this blog, I want you to know I love you more than words could ever hope to express. Don't ever, even for a second, think that this was your fault. Know that it is the intensity of my feelings for you that make this healing possible. I love you widget, don't ever forget it.