As you may be aware, things have been going really well for me in recent months - new job, balanced work/personal lives, personal fulfillment, and more. I went into Memorial Day weekend and I was as happy as I can remember being in years.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up on Sunday that weekend and I felt like weeping. I weight of my sadness and my guilt for feeling happy was oppressive. It was unbearable. I had resolved, before the weekend started, to honor the memories of those that gave their lives in service by spending quality time with my family.
How I felt on Sunday was a kick in the nuts. I couldn't even enjoy the company of my wife and my daughter I was so morose. The following few weeks have been hard. Despite the fact that my duties at work have been incredibly fulfilling, I have not been motivated to do much of anything else and have had a lot of trouble sleeping.
Talk about feeling exceedingly frustrated. Even when things were going right, what happened over in Iraq stole some of that happiness from me. Unbelievable. I've thought a lot about this over the past few days, trying to figure out why the guilt is persisting. It wasn't until earlier today that I finally made a breakthrough.
After recovering from the burnout that was working in retail, I had taken a break from blogging and from advancing the cause of my non-profit. What I discovered was disconcerting - I was fearful of burning myself out again and had been unintentionally shying away from responding to emails, communicating with my board of directors, and even from blogging.
I should have known better. Working to help veterans had become a central tenant of my ability to cope with my PTSD. I also now know that my new job will not overwork me or keep me from being able to administer my non-profit. So here goes. I am going to start blogging again at least twice per week and am going to start moving the non-profit forward again, despite the government tax-exempt status backlog.
So here's to another fresh start. I hope I can finally find the right balance and stay true to myself.
There's been a lot going on with Veterans and the VA in the news recently. The revelation that administrators all over the country have been cooking the books to hide criminally long wait times may have rocked the political and civilian landscape but comes to no surprise to those veterans that have been going to the VA for care for years. None of this is new territory. Over the past few weeks, representatives of the major VSOs have been called before Congress to testify. Among those that testified is a fellow Veteran I served with in Iraq and Deputy Legislative Director of the VFW, Ryan Gallucci. What you may not know is that he is also a member of Support No Stigma's Board of Directors. Gallucci has dedicated his entire professional life advocating for our veterans, at the VFW and at AMVETS before that. There is no one I know who has more integrity. After what happened late this past week, I felt compelled to respond to to Senator Richard Burr (R) of North Carolina. Here is what the Senator wrote in an open letter: (Click Here for Official Release)
To the Nation’s Veterans,
This sparked immediate outrage and response from the leadership at the VFW, PVA and the DAV. Before I say my piece, I want you to read their responses: (Click Here for Official VFW response, Here for the PVA response, and Here for DAV response. The full transcripts are also readable below:
Well, that's a lot to absorb. I was furious earlier today. So angry I could spit. I wanted to throw a rant out on the blog to emasculate Senator Burr, but my better judgement and a cooler head prevailed. I thought a lot about what I would say to him if I had the chance and I decided I could also write an open letter. I choose to take a stand with the VFW, DAV, and PVA and I hope, after reading my letter, you will choose to do the same.
In Response to Senator Burr's Open Letter to Veterans:
I really should be thanking you right now. By publishing your letter, you have removed the scales from my eyes. I see clearly now. Your reprehensible choice of timing on the release of your letter, combined with your choice of targets truly show how small of a man you are. Your self-serving and politically motivated message to our nation's veteran community has not fallen on deaf ears. You've roused a giant from his slumber. Despite your service as the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, you have unequivocally and demonstrably illustrated to veterans everywhere just how out of touch you are with our community.
I have been in the care of the VA since I returned home from Iraq in 2004. When I first received treatment, I was one of the first to return. I could see a therapist as often as needed for an hour at a time, my needs seen to immediately. My disability claim was submitted and decided upon in a few short months. Fast forward to 2014: I wait four to five months to see a therapist for twenty minutes at a time, at the mercy of an underfunded and overwhelmed staff at the local outpatient clinic. Veterans wait so long for decisions on their claims for disability compensation.
Why is this happening?
I hold you and the political establishment at large accountable. Over the past decade, our political process has been hamstrung by political partisanship. While Republicans and Democrats have held due political process hostage with a reprehensible disregard for doing what's right in the name of toeing the party line, they have also clamored to claim that their respective party is the only party that cares about veterans and our plight. What has become abundantly clear is that our veterans are viewed by many in Washington as nothing more than political tools to bolster political agendas, couched as actions being taken on our behalf. This cannot continue. From now on, I will be paying particular attention to the track records of incumbents and how well they have ACTED to care for the veteran community in reality. I know this concept may be lost on many in Washington, but actions do speak louder than words.
Senator, since you have such a skewed sense of reality and seem unable to grasp simple concepts, I am compelled to elucidate a few matters that have led to endless partisan bickering in recent weeks:
I hope this has made things a little clearer for you Senator. Considering your position, you should already know all of this. I shouldn't have to explain all of this, yet I am not surprised that I have to. Veterans are not tools to be used to further a political agenda. Supporting the veterans of this great country should be apolitical. If there's one thing elected officials claim to support, it's our community. We will no longer tolerate political posturing. You do what's right by veterans or you lose our support and our votes. Veterans, as a whole, pay attention to what is going on inside the Beltway. We also have a deeply ingrained sense of honor. Maybe next time you consider spewing vitriol at honorable men and women and the organizations they represent you will think twice. Don't worry, Senator. I'm not holding my breath.
Support No Stigma
My Soldier's Heart
During the American Civil War there was a condition called Soldier’s Heart. Say it out loud and listen to the sound of it. Soldier’s Heart. What a sad but beautiful name for how the horrors of war can affect the human soul. Of course naming it this wasn’t supposed to be poetic. The name came from the apparent heart murmurs many of the combat veterans shared. The medical professionals named it with indifference like they named Legionnaire’s Disease, the Black Lung, or Tennis Elbow, but looking at it now I don’t think there is a better description for what a soldier goes through after combat.
The army sent me home after I was blown up. It took a years or so before the gunshots and mortar impacts faded while sleeping. Every time I jumped up out of bed I stopped for a while and stared into the dark to let the fear drain away, like forgetting a dream. Even today I still check all the doors and windows to make sure they’re locked every time I wake up. It’s been ten years and I have almost complete range of motion, but all my scars and the places where the bones mended ache when it rains and this is a pain in the ass because I live in Portland, Oregon. But that’s okay. I love the rain.
I hate the term PTSD and try to never use it. I hated the term PTSD since first getting home even though my roommate would introduce me at parties as the dead guy, the guy who was blown up in Iraq. People would automatically assume I had it. This would usually get some good-looking girl in her early twenties over to me to hear about the war and pop her gum while staring at me with sympathy in her big eyes. Many times these girls would tell me something like they have a friend with a family member in the war, maybe I knew him. I’d lie and say the name sounded familiar. I let her have what she wanted and I’d talk about the bad stuff in the war. This would last ten minutes or so before she’d cut it short by saying something like all soldiers are heroes, she’d say it’s a shame what we go through when we get back.
She doesn’t know me, or the jerk who stole my one comfortable pair of boots from my trailer while I was out on patrol, or the creep who served in my unit who was arrested in a sting a few months ago in a Taco Bell parking lot for trying to meet underage girls. Is he a hero? Would she still think I was a hero if she knew I was staring at her cleavage every time she looked away during our entire conversation? Would she think I’m a victim if she knew the government paid for most my college and my healthcare? Fighting in the war doesn’t give someone permanent hero status and it doesn’t make us all victims.
Many of the harder soldiers I know don’t believe in PTSD, at least they say they don’t. It doesn’t matter if they have the same symptoms as the guys who do. Some of these hard guys say the people who claim to have PTSD are the ones who are abusing the system and scamming disability money by faking it. Unfortunately they’re not all wrong, this happens. It really does, but that doesn’t mean combat doesn’t affect the soldiers who fought. There’s fraud and abuse in every system, but frustration doesn’t make blanket statements true. I don’t like the term PTSD, but it’s a fact that combat veterans sometimes have difficulty coming back home. It’s been documented since Soldier’s Heart. Greek plays had hoplites throwing their shields in bushes, weary of war.
Okay, so it exists, now here are my problems with the term PTSD. First off, this condition about how the human soul, or whatever it is that makes us who we are, is changed by intense and horrible events, has been reduced to a cold and mechanical acronym. The humanity has been bleached from the condition. We need to deal with human not the disorder.
Secondly, the term is used for everything. If a soldier has nightmares from the dead he or she had seen they have PTSD. Anger issues – PTSD. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, numbness in their fingers, drinking problems, can’t feel safe, wants to go back, all of this equals PTSD. Placing all these problems under one disorder can lead people to believe there is one solution. Not only that but society says PTSD so often it’s lost its meaning. PTSD has now become a blanket some combat veterans can get comfortable in, an excuse not to make the effort to transition back.
The term PTSD has all these problems, but it definitely exists. I had difficulties when I got back, and I still have them today. Part of my solution is to help other veterans. I meet with combat veterans all the time from different deployments and different wars who have either gone through what I went through or they’re going through it: anxiety in public places, difficulty with processing experiences, emotional issues, and so much more.
A few days ago I met with a marine at a pub called Saravesa in NE Portland. We’d never met before except as combat veterans on Facebook. He and his wife recently moved to Portland and he was looking for a sense of community so he reached out and found me. Within minutes we were telling each other about our service, the combat we went through, and the problems we’ve had since coming back. We were digging deep and dealing with some incredibly emotional events in our lives and healing by speaking about it with someone who truly understands, but when the bartender came to ask us if we wanted another round, from her perspective it looked like two big lugs crying their eyes out on a Tuesday afternoon for no apparent reason. She backed away slowly and didn’t return for a while. In fact, I remember a different bartender served us for the rest of the night.
I met another friend at one of my readings a year back who joined the Israeli Defense Force after graduating from high school. He experienced some pretty horrifying events in the Gaza Strip and he told me he isolated himself after getting back. I told him about the week or so I was hole up in my bedroom pissing in gallon jugs, only leaving for more alcohol. This time in my life is embarrassing to bring up, but he understood. Bringing up these uncomfortable and embarrassing moments with other veterans let’s us all know we’re not alone. I talk about how bad it was for me in hopes to show others they can get through it, to show that their problems are just part of a difficult transition and not a permanent state, to show their symptoms are manageable.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has all the passion and meaning the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV can muster, which is to say none. I don’t have a disorder. I have completely understandable issues from experiencing some horrific combat; this is soldier’s heart. Two manly men who fought and bled for our country, who chewed barbwire and pissed napalm, an infantryman and a marine crying over their half-filled pints of good local beer; this is the soldier’s heart. Having an intense longing for doing something incredibly dangerous, for being someone who was undeniably a part of history, this is soldier’s heart. What I’ve gone through and the difficulty I see other combat veterans going through are real. They’re there and documented. They have been at least since the American Civil War. To say these problems don’t exist or to say that they’re only for the weak is just a form of denial, but to lump them all together with an impersonal acronym is just as bad. Leaving the acronym behind and understanding there are multiple difficulties, will put the human back into this equation and give us all a more accurate description of this complicated issue. Say it one more time: Soldier’s Heart.
It's been a long month and an even longer beginning of the year. Granted, the changes that have come fast and furious over the past few months have been positive changes. They were changes, nonetheless. You know what that means, right? Stress. Lots and lots of stress. I know I haven't written nearly as often as I had been in the past. I won't try to make excuses. There are so many things that I have wanted to write about and I just couldn't bring myself to sit down at the keyboard. Too much of everything was too raw. After I stopped taking the meds, it's like every day and every experience has been an open wound and it has taken me a bit of time to adjust. Quite honestly, I'm still adjusting, but at least now I know what I write stems from a position of sound mind and reason - not one held hostage by the anger and the fear that have come close to overwhelming me.
I really wasn't expecting it to be quite this intense, but it has. My new job and my routine are what have brought me back around. I just couldn't bring myself to focus on writing what I was feeling and experiencing when I wasn't even sure myself what my feelings meant. Well, with the passing of this period of upheaval comes respite. I now have the ability to make routines - routines that make time for myself, time for my family, time for coping and writing. I'm learning to cope with my PTSD in a whole new way - a way that not only teaches me about myself but in a manner that will sustain me and give me the strength I need to help others. So during my period of unintentional isolation and reflection, here's what has happened:
Yeah, I think this blog post has been a long time coming. I'm settling into a new lease on life and I am once again ready to share my struggles and my triumphs. So keep your eyes peeled and your inboxes open, 'cuz I'm back and I'm not afraid to 'use my words'...
It all happened about a month ago. February 28th, to be exact. Mike Hawkins, Founder and CEO of Netizen Corporation reached out to me by direct message over Twitter. I had met him a few years back at an event held by the local startup community. He had a problem that he thought I could help him with. It went like this:
Hi there - how have you been? I have a quick question for you: would you be interested in some on-the-side, as needed work helping me...in my new company with some technical proposal writing work? I'm going after a number of federal contracts and am deluged with writing work Figured you have a background in Intel and college degree(s) so you may be able to help me put these things together if interested. Thanks.
Well, we met at a local diner a few days later and he explained to me what he was looking for. He explained that even though I didn't have technical writing experience, he thought that my military background and my degree positioned me well for this kind of work. He also said that it was obvious from my blog (yep, he reads this blog) that I have a very solid command of the English language. He really wanted to give me the opportunity to try my hand at it. He offered me part-time contract work at a very competitive hourly rate with the strong potential for it to turn into full-time work with benefits.
Talk about a no-brainer. I took him up on his offer, incredibly grateful that someone, after seven years of holding a degree, saw my potential and was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. I recently asked Mike via email if he minded me writing about all of this in my blog and he said he had no problem with it at all.
MIKE: ...companies that aren't hiring veterans because of the stereotypes or a lack of understanding are missing out. There is massive untapped resource pool of highly disciplined, educated and motivated vets in this country and those companies which are willing to reach out and give them a chance are going to come out ahead by finding themselves some of the most loyal, dedicated people to work with. It isn't a charity thing, either - it's genuinely smart business to hire veterans who, many times, are unfortunately not able to find work befitting their potential because of the stereotypes of PTSD and military service.
Today was a special day for me. We submitted the first proposal that I effectively wrote. That's no small thing, either. These proposals are what garner contracts for the company. If Mike wouldn't have gone out of his way to provide me this opportunity...Well, I'd still be working full-time in retail, not using my degree and losing confidence in myself with every passing day.
Thanks, Mike, for taking that chance. You have my loyalty and dedication. I look forward to working with you to make what happened to me a common occurrence for veterans everywhere.
It's been a bit of a crazy few weeks. A lot has happened and, for once, some of what happened was actually good! That being said, some aspects of what happened these past few weeks were stressful and exhausting.
You all know that I have returned to work on a part-time basis. That has actually been really good for me. I have a relatively set routine and it has been particularly good for me. For a few weeks, I didn't have any issues - and then last week happened. I had been working an average of about 30 hours per week and that seemed to work out pretty well for me. Then I decided to pick up and extra shift, work six days out of seven and I paid the price. My anxiety shot through the roof. I started staying up later and later and getting less and less sleep. This past week, I had nightmares, serious nightmares, for the first time in weeks. Things were a little frayed around the edges and I truly felt at wit's end. Seriously? I try to work 40 hours and I start bugging out?
Well, before I started down the well-trodden path to depression and self-recrimination, I asked myself a question: Is It You or Is It the Work? That one stopped me dead in my tracks. Could it really be that simple? Could it really just be that Retail and I are like oil and water? We may have appeared to be mixed at first, but over a longer period of time, it becomes readily apparent that no matter how hard I try to make it work for the sake of financial stability and peace of mind for my family, Retail Work and I don't get along.
For many, the focus on learning to cope with PTSD is on the mind. I know I was guilty of this for a long time. It wasn't until recently, when I started training in MMA that I noticed how profound the effects were on my body and my state of mind. As a result, I cannot stress enough how taking good care of your body and your physical health and positively impact your ability to cope with PTSD. If you are not getting up and being active, here's some positive motivators that will change your mind (I hope).
More Restful Sleep:
No, I don't mean you will sleep through the night. If you are a fitful sleeper, you will still be a fitful sleeper. I know I am. What I mean is that when you are asleep, you will find that you wake up more refreshed the following day. Between random noises and my three year old daughter, undisturbed sleep is not something I'm accustomed to. What I can say is that I am sleeping the same number of hours as before but getting more out of it. I don't know the physiological reasons behind this - my assertion is observation based. All I can tell you for sure is that my mind is more rested the next day. I'm better able to cope with the triggers that I encounter on a daily basis. If you're like me, that's huge.
Less Time to Brood, Less Time to Procrastinate:
This one may seem odd, but it's important to me. When I don't have a full (not overloaded) daily schedule, I have a tendency to be much more sedentary and I think about things I shouldn't a whole lot more. There is a difference between setting aside time to reflect and spending time brooding because your day has no direction or purpose. If you're married, you'll even find that it improves your relationship with your wife because you are more active around the house and helping out more. Why? Because with a full schedule, you don't have time to put off doing the laundry or making dinner. It's done wonders for my wife and I. To boot, I'm not as withdrawn from what is going on around me because I don't have the time to brood. I cannot overstate how important this is.
Boosting Self-Esteem and Feeling Motivated:
I'm losing weight and I feel healthier. My psoriasis is under better control and I don't feel like a leper. I'm lighter on my feet and I feel stronger, more vital. For the first time in a long time, I don't feel negative when I look in the mirror. I may not like how I look, but I feel motivated because I look better than I did. It's even improved my posture and my outward confidence. This can also be a great thing for your relationship. I guarantee your partner will find it sexy that you are feeling confident in yourself again. I know that for me, and for a lot of us, everything that we've been through has really dinged our confidence and self-esteem. Exercising and taking better care of your body can have the most profound impact on your outlook. It has on mine.
So there you have it. As a result of committing to taking better care of my physical health, I'm better rested and able to cope with triggers, I'm less withdrawn and more active, I've improved my relationship with my wife because I am more active and helpful around the house, I feel better about myself and I'm regaining my confidence in who I am and what I want. All in all, I'd say that's one hell of a positive laundry list. If you are a veteran who is struggling to motivate yourself to take better care of your physical health, take it from me - It's more than worth it. Granted, everyone is different, but I think we can all agree that taking better care of ourselves physically can only have an upside. Don't just take my word for it. Get up and do something about it. When you've made that change and see the results, I'd love to hear from you. So enough reading - go out and DO something!
We are getting absolutely pounded with heavy snow right now. So, with nothing else going on, it seemed like a perfect time to catch you all up a bit on everything that's been going on. There has been some concern expressed by family, friends and readers that recent posts have expressed a lot of anger. Yep, they sure have. I'm less angry than I am frustrated, but that's just part of the story.
I'm 35 years old and I have had no luck starting a meaningful career since 2007 when I graduated (Magna Cum Laude, I might add) from college. I have continually been told that I'm 'overqualified'. Well, now I'm seen as too old and too experienced for entry level work, but I don't know the requisite computer applications that seems to be required for mid-level management (seriously? It's a computer application - I could learn a stupid computer program in a day or two). I've also come to the realization that I really don't play very well with others. I'm demanding and exacting and hold people to the standards I hold myself to and that seems to cause me a lot of problems in the workplace. It's made me realize that the education and skill set I currently have isn't doing me any favors. As a result, I'm exploring whether VA's Vocational Rehabilitation program could help me get the training I need to go into business for myself (or at least on a contract basis).
So, that's the work side of life. Things on the personal side are settling down substantially. I go to train MMA as often as I am able to get out to the gym. I am learning to deal with my emotions better (anger and frustration still need a lot of work). I've been off the medication for about two months now and I feel a whole hell of a lot better. My psoriasis is much more manageable, I have stopped having constant stress headaches, and my asthma is almost non-existent. My instinct that the medication was having an adverse impact on my physical health definitely appears to be right on the money so far. I feel more energetic, motivated. I've still got a lot to work through and think through, but I feel like I'm finally headed in the right direction.
As for the non-profit, well...The backlog on 501(c)3 Tax Exempt status is so big, we won't gain our tax-exempt status until 2015 at the earliest. It has made getting the non-profit off the ground exceptionally time-consuming and frustrating. As a result, I've had to change the short-term focus and just get down to the basics. The crowdfunding rewards are finally done and in hand - sort of. The company that made affortable static window clings went under. The other companies charge more for a single window cling than I paid to purchase and print a t-shirt. Same goes for the 550 cord key chains. As a result, I've decided to send all supporters a silicone bracelet and a t-shirt. So keep an eye out for the email I'm sending out to confirm mailing addresses. The silicone bracelets I got for a song - the website I purchased them through gave me 200 free when I bought 100 debossed two-tone bracelets. At least I'll be able to make a little money for the non-profit by selling them and the extra t-shirts.
So there you have it. That's pretty much everything going on right now. I've been much better about recognizing my limitations and am finally making the lifestyle and professional changes I need to so that I can live a less stressful and better balanced life. I won't lie and say that things have been easy as I have worked on making this transition. It's been stressful as hell, but I finally feel like I'm thinking long-term and making the changes I need to provide for long-term stability. I'll keep you posted as things progress. Thanks to all of my readers for your continued support and readership!
For the longest time, I have struggled to consistently go to the gym. There was something unrewarding about going to the gym, working out by myself and not getting a workout high. Granted, some of the lethargy may have been attributable to the meds, but I just didn't enjoy it at all. I enjoy working out WITH people. Pushing myself to get better in comparison to the people I exercise with has always been a strong motivator for me. I think that's why I always worked out so hard in the military.
I finally got fed up with the lack of motivation. I started looking for other ways to get back into shape. I've always like the martial arts - Tae Kwon Do as a kid, and Nin Jutsu when I got older. There was also a crew of us who got together when I was in the military and sparred using various styles varying from Kung Fu to Muy Thai to Brazilian Ju Jutsu. I looked to see if there were any good Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) schools in the area. To my surprise, I found a top notch gym - Hammer Training and Fitness. I went out to tour the school and talked with the owner, Rodney Guignet. I was very impressed with the facilities and the school in general. I knew, right away, that I wanted to train there.
That was about a month ago. I have been training there every since and it has been a life-changing experience for me. With MMA, you only get out of it what you put in. I leave every class soaked in sweat and practically gasping for breath. My core strength has improved drastically and I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long time. The best part: I leave the gym feeling calm and emotionally balanced. As I push myself, I am able to train for longer and longer stretches, but I won't lie - when I first started training, my body hated me with a passion. I didn't care. I continue to push through it and feel so much better for it. I have even met another veteran who trains there.
I can't say enough about Hammer Training and Fitness. They have been a pleasant surprise, providing me with a safe place to work out my emotions and PTSD angst. They are also very supportive of veterans. So far I know of one other veteran who trains seriously there and I am sure I will meet more. It's a safe environment for me to socialize as well. I didn't realize how much I needed a safe, judgement free place to exercise and make friends until I experienced it at Hammer.
I'll keep you posted as things progress. When I started there, I weighed 292 pounds. I'm currently at 284 and am carrying a lot more muscle on my frame than I was a month ago. I wonder where I'll be by my birthday in May!!
You are growing so fast and daddy is so proud of you. Every day you grow - every day you find ways to amaze me. I love you with all of my heart and now that you are getting old enough to understand, it's time daddy sat you down and talked to you about his companion: PTSD.
I've been thinking about this day for along time, what to tell you, how to say it. I want to start with this:
Come What May, Daddy Will Always Love You With Total Devotion.
There are times where Daddy, because of what he has gone through and what he is feeling, may not be able to show it. I may seem distant, aloof. Never, ever think it is because I love you less. Never think it is your fault. Because it never is and never will be.
I'm New At This, Too.
I've never been a father before and I am learning as I go. I know I will make mistakes - every parent does. What I do know is that I will talk to you about my PTSD and how I am feeling every step of the way. I don't ever want you to feel lost or confused. I promise I will do everything I can to make sure you don't lose your way because of me.
Mommy And Daddy Are A Team.
Caley, I know you already know this, but Mommy and Daddy are a team. Daddy isn't going through this alone. Mommy and Daddy will talk about what to tell you and how. We will shelter you from harm and ensure that you grow up knowing, unequivocally, that we love you above all else. It may not always seem like it, but we believe strongly in consequences, good and bad, for every action you take.
I Strive To Be The Best Father And Role Model I Can.
More than anything, Caley, I want to be your Daddy, the man you look to act as a role model - to teach you what is important in life. As much as I want this, I also want you to know that sometimes the way Daddy has to do things isn't always the best way. Because of everything I have been through, I have a code I have to follow - a set of rules the guide me, keep me focused and steadfast. This code is rigid and unforgiving, both to others and to me, but I know no other way. I need you to know the difference between striving for ideals and hurting yourself by standing by them. I wish I knew how to be more flexible, but I don't. There will be times where you will not understand why Daddy can't be flexible, can't find common ground. When you see this remember what I have told you here and talk to me about it.
It Is MY PTSD - Mommy And Daddy Will Do Anything To Protect You From It.
The only way I know how to do this, especially now that you are getting older and starting to understand things better, is to communicate openly with you about this every step of the way, in the most age-appropriate manner I can think of and devise with Mommy. If there's one thing I know, with absolute certainty, is that I would never forgive myself for hurting you emotionally or physically. Caley, you have been empathetic and kind-hearted from the moment you were born. I know I have scared you on occasion - Thanksgiving, 2012 still haunts me. It scares me too. But that fear won't hold me back from showing you and telling you every day that I love you.
I say this now and with full intent, Caley. Here is my promise to you:
I wish I knew how to say this in perfect prose, perfectly worded to show you what you mean to me. I could pore over what I have written here and know that there is always something I could say differently. I chose to speak plainly because that is what forms a foundation of trust and compassion. Everything else is just noise.
I love you, Caley, and will live every day filled with my love for you.
Yours Unreservedly and Forever,
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.