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.