Monday, January 25, 2016

Capable

This post isn't really PTSD focused but it is important to me nonetheless.

Today, I realized that I was capable of being loved. Stupid, right? I know I have family and friends that love me but for some reason, today's events really showed me that I was capable of being loved.

Today was my daughter's biological father's funeral. My ex boyfriend. Our relationship had been very rough and worsened during my pregnancy with our daughter. We broke up and got back together numerous times.. Each time, things got worse. Eventually, I left with Bella and never looked back. 

I had started dating my now husband when David came to visit us. He had apologized, wanted us to get back together but this time, wanted us to get married. I was tempted but really cares about and loved Michael. Looking back now, part of me wonders if I had went back with him if he would still be here today. 

The next few years were difficult but in the last 2, we have been building a better relationship in the hopes of helping David and Bella build a healthy relationship. We never held back the truth from Bella and wanted to be as honest as we could. We even invited him to Thanksgiving 2016.

Today though, I realized that I was capable of being loved in the way that I have loved. I truly loved David despite the issues we had and the inner demons he was battling. He was the father of my daughter and I wanted our family to be whole. That just wasn't in God's master plan for our lives and I've grown to accept it. Today, someone told me that David told him one of his biggest regrets was losing me and not trying harder. That hurt. I knew in my heart he still loved me and I've always loved him. The difference is that now my love is out of gratitude and care. Before, it was my whole heart and soul that loved him. 

Now before you think "well, what about her husband?!" Let me explain...

This is a picture of me crying on David's father's shoulder telling him how much I loved his son. Michael took this. Michael took almost all the pictures from his services. Michael drove up here to Indiana and plans to drive us back tomorrow. Michael has spent the past 5 days with my ex-boyfriend's family.. Michael looked over David's DD 214 to create a "plaque" displaying David's awards and unit crests. Michael did more for my ex than any man ever would for his spouse's ex. Why?! Because he loves me that much. He has been so understanding and patient through all of this. That's true love. 

Today, I felt an overwhelming sense of love from 2 of the most important men in my life. I am blessed and grateful for the time I had and will have with them. I've felt the most peace and acceptance that I have felt in awhile.. And I praise God for this!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What if?

**Forewarning: This was written on pure emotion and lack of sleep. Pardon any grammatical errors or ramblings that may not make sense.**

But, what if?

The "what if's" can haunt you. My husband struggled with a lot of "what if" moments for awhile. "What if I had took his place on that mission?" Or "What if I had stayed on the phone with him a little longer?" Going through therapy, treatment, and Reboot have helped him leaps and bounds.

Now, it's my turn.

This past weekend, the father of my daughter passed away in a tragic car accident. Oddly enough, I've been consumed in so much grief I don't understand. Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel so bad? Then came the "what if's." "What if I had stayed with him?" And "what if I had done more for him?" Talking with my dad gave me a lot of clarity and helped me understand. There's nothing I could have done to prevent the accident. Had I stayed in our toxic relationship, worse could have happened.. But I can't help the way I feel.

I tried so hard to help him battle his demons. I helped him get started on his VA paperwork. I forgave him constantly for his behavior. I kept going back to him because he made me feel bad.. I didn't want my daughter to come from a broken home. Little did I realize, it was broken before she came into it. 

I had his parental rights terminated so that my husband could adopt our daughter. That decision was made based on the desire to give my daughter only the best and keep her safe. At that time, her bio-dad was not in a good place in his life. He had threatened to commit suicide and also threatened to kidnap my daughter. My husband had been the only dad she knew since she was 6 months. After long, careful consideration, her bio-dad agreed to sign the paperwork. I promised him that I would stay in touch with him, send pictures, and schedule occasional visits.. I kept my word. My husband and I slowly wanted to rebuild a healthy relationship with him so that my sweet girl could get to know her biological father. The last time we had seen him alive was the first week of December 2015. He had confided in me that he was having a rough time. My husband and I did our best to inspire him to do better and invited him to spend Thanksgiving 2016 with us. Prior to that, my husband reached out to him asking me him for forgiveness, forgiving him, and extending his friendship to him. We had such high hopes for him to get better. 

From the sound of it, I did what I felt was best. I tried my hardest not to cause any pain or harm to him while still keeping the welfare and well-being of my daughter a priority. Leaving him was hard but I knew good and well that it needed to stop. I moved on with my life but he thought I was coming back. I didn't. What if I did?

There is no telling what could have happened. Maybe things could have gotten better. Maybe they could have gotten worse. Who knows? Only God.

My thoughts: I don't regret my decisions. It hurts, but I did what I thought was best. The "what if's" can take over you. It is up to you to choose to make the most out of your life.

Prayer: God, help us all to understand the master plan you have for our lives. Help us to accept our decisions and choices. Give us the strength to make it through the tough obstacles in our life. In your name, I pray, amen!
 
 

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Army is all he knows...

The Army is all he knows.

We went from being a part time bagger after school to a weapon toting, security providing  infantryman. Then after that, a comsec communication repairer.. Still in the army. Now he is getting out and he hasn't a clue as to how to interview, develop a resume, etc.

Now don't get me wrong, the army has classes on resume writing and interviewing. If your soldier is anything like mine, he's either stubborn and didn't pay attention or he has a bad memory (could be the TBI) and forgot it all. Either way, I stayed up late last night developing a halfway decent resume for him to use today at a job fair. 

I sometimes worry about how he will handle the transition from military to civilian life. Somedays, I am confident and just know he will do well. Other days, I get anxious and worried. Last night, I was definitely worried. I started rattling off interview questions and pretty much answered them myself because he had a deer-in-the-headlights look about him. I know this is all new to him but I couldn't help but get frustrated. When he started answering the questions, he was a little too candid. I reminded him to keep his answers very matter of fact without sounding full of yourself. When asking him to tell me a little about himself, he almost started from birth. Keep it general. Short and sweet! I'm not a professional interview guru, but I've done my fair share of interviews from both sides of the desk. 

Today will be his first real interview and I have high hopes for him. Not so much that he will get hired on the spot, although, that would rock. My hopes are that he learns from this experience and gets stronger and stronger. I am so proud of him and sometimes I may not convey that pride to him. That is something I need to work on.

My thoughts: it's time to work on humbling my speech and tone and learn how to convey a firm, yet kind and caring tone. Life isn't all gum drops and rainbows.. But it isn't mud and grit either.

Prayer: God, I know you know the intention of my heart. Help me to be slow to anger and frustrate. Be with my dear husband every step of the way in this new journey and chapter of our lives. In your name, I pray, amen!



Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Thank you for your service!"

Thank you for your service!

Michael cringes whenever someone says that to him. He used to hate it. "They don't need to thank me. I'm just doing my job!" Or he's says "I'm not doing anything great. I'm just a soldier." 

What he failed to realize is that the everyday non-military related civilians are grateful for the service members of our country. Part of it is American pride. It's admirable! I know I couldn't do half of the things Michael has done. I've taught him to just humbly accept the thanks and reply with "thank you for your support."

But how are you supporting our troops? Are you aware of the challenges our veterans are going through? How much do you know about PTSD? Do you know what a Gold Star wife is? Have you supported a Veteran-owned business?

My challenge to you: educate yourself and truly support our veterans. Pray for those still overseas. Pray that our leaders make well-thought, rational decisions regarding our military. Write a letter to a deployed service member. Pack or donate goodies for a care package. The mother of a good friend of mine started packing care packages for service members overseas and her efforts have turned into a non-profit organization who has sent hundreds of care packages to service members all over the world. Reach out to a struggling service member or veteran you may know and make a genuine effort to help them. Consider  an outreach project or volunteer your time with an organization that supports vets and service members. Reboot Combat Recovery started when an occupational therapist felt called to heal the soul wounds of our wounded service members and has lead to over 600 graduates completing the 12 week healing course. I, personally, am in charge of hospitality for Reboot's Ft. Campbell location this upcoming Spring. 

My thoughts: when it comes down to it, simply thanking a veteran for their service is a sufficient form of support. Some people may move forward and do amazing things for our veterans while some may be dedicated to praying for our service members. Either way, they appreciate your support and are proud to serve our great country.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the men and women, past and present, who have served our country and fought for our freedom. Lift them and their families up. Heal their ailments and help them to know your goodness, Lord. In your name, I pray, Amen!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Burnt out

I have not been in the holiday spirit this year. I haven't finished Christmas shopping either and probably won't until after it's over. The kids both have enough presents. All our nieces and nephews have a present. Good enough, right?

I shared with a few fellow wives dealing with PTSD spouses that I'm most certain I'm experiencing caregiver burnout. Yes, I am working but I have found peace and joy within my work. I look forward to it and have even picked up additional clients. I even feel relieved when I'm leaving the house to go to work and have felt a little down knowing that it is time to go home. Homeschooling the kids has been tough, but my spirit hasn't been broken by it. The kids are familiar with my expectations and I am actually satisfied with the quality of their work. 

"How could you be burnt out then?" you may ask. Easy. Dealing with my husband's PTSD and TBI related problems are ongoing. They. Never. Stop. Between trying to keep up with his appointments, treatments, medications, events, and trying to enlist his help in everyday life is exhausting. He's had a lot of time off lately but tries to withdraw himself from reality. Nope! Not gonna happen, dude. 

I also have Super Mom Syndrome. I want to take care of everyone and everything while working my butt off. I've had to step back and enlist help from others. Confession: I had a housekeeper for about a month. Thankfully, she got a lot of organization going and we have been doing our best to maintain. Forcing dear husband and sweet children to comply and assist in the maintenance? That takes an act of God. Truth be told, the kids have actually done well with chores and since Michael started his new meds, he has been more active. Unfortunately, I think his active spirit came too late. I've been short and frustrated. With time, it got worse. I've been doing 'this' on my own for the past year and more so while all his issues manifested. Now you want to help?! Ugh!

Don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful at the amount of healing my husband has received. I am grateful that he is becoming a man of God more and more every day! Where is my healing, though? 

My healing is in God. Remaining obedient and steadfast has been so hard and sometimes questionable. Trusting in His plan sometimes seems unreasonable.. But that's part of being obedient. You may not always understand why things are they way they are or why they're even happening. I don't always understand. My comfort comes in knowing that God has something beautiful in store for me after my "storm." Even tithing this month was hard. How on earth are we going to tithe 10% when we could use that money for Christmas?! I could put that money to some relaxing spa treatments for myself! Nope. Off to church it goes. Another act of obedience. 

Having faith is what gets me through the ugly parts of life. I'm burnt out. I'm exhausted.. But I'm alive because of Him. I am still blessed with a husband and beautiful children. We are not homeless. We are not starving. He is with us and always will be. 

My thoughts: if you're experiencing caregiver burnout or even a general burnout, take the time to pray about it. I find it easiest to pray out loud in my car while I am driving to work and back home. I ask for comfort and understanding. I ask for peace within my home and life. I thank Him for blessing me beyond comprehension. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for all our many blessings even if we don't notice them sometimes. Help us to find some calm within our storms of life. Give us comfort and peace knowing that you have such a grand and amazing plan for our lives. Help us to be more obedient to you and lean on you more. In your name, I pray, amen!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Counseling and therapy


Staying with and through the chaos is hard. Giving up is easy. Stand up, grab your belongings, and off you go. Yeah, a divorce and child custody case may be involved but when it's over, that is it.

Staying may require therapy or marital counseling. I personally recommend counseling. Counseling gives you a third party perspective that maybe you and your spouse have overlooked. We had experienced counseling twice. Initially, it was through an on-post resource. She helped us some in helping us realize the error of our ways in certain situations. The second experience was through a previous pastor. He helped us to realize we needed to form our own "ways" of doing things together rather than basing our actions of off things we had witnessed through other marriages. It also helped us to recognize what Godly and worldly advice looked like and who gave what kind of advice. An example of worldly advice would be "Don't let him/her get away with it!" whereas Godly advice would be "Think about how you are going to approach the situation, pray about it, and let your actions reflect His will." We now know who can give us the Godly advice.

Now don't get me wrong! There's nothing wrong with worldly advice. Sometimes the worldly advice may seem practical or realistic. Ultimately, people will do what they want. I personally have found the Godly advice to be more practical though. I mean, He does know what the outcome will be! 

When my parents got divorced, I went through therapy as a child. I later went to therapy as an adult for problems I was having with my life at that current moment in time. My husband went to therapy a few times, some of which were mandatory. Sometimes working on yourself as an individual will help. You have to build yourself up before you can successfully build up others. 

My thoughts: if you don't have it already, you need to download the bible app, YouVersion, onto your smart devices! It's not just the bible. They have reading plans and devotionals you can follow. I assign myself multiple devotionals at a time so that I can find the inspiration and word when I have time. If you have time to tweet, YouTube and Facebook, you can certainly spend 5 minutes in YouVersion!

Prayer: God, help us to seek your will for our lives. Help us to be able to help ourselves. Build us up in a way that would be pleasing to you. In your name, we pray, Amen!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My husband, my hero.

First and foremost, Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans past and present.
 
Let me tell you about a special someone in my life.

Michael knew he was going to grow up and become a soldier since childhood. Both his grandfather and father served and he was going to uphold that tradition. His oldest sister, Casey, also went on to become a soldier and served for 6 years.

Michael participated in JROTC in high school and as soon as he graduated high school, he enlisted. His first day was July 1, 2004. He went to Fort Benning, GA for basic training and AIT as an 11B, an infantryman. He also went on to airborne school. He has 17 logged jumps but has done more than that.  His first duty station was Fort Bragg, NC with the 82nd Airborne Infantry.

 Michael's first deployment was around the end of 2005. He did 2 tours and served for 4 years as an infantryman before he changed his MOS to a Comsec Communication Repairer. In his time in the infantry, he experienced the loss of his fellow battle buddies and witnessed situations that I wouldn't wish upon my worse enemy. He had been shot numerous times and has a scar on his chest from where a round had grazed his skin. The first 3 shots broke through his chest plate and the 4th one almost succeeded in penetrating his chest. God was definitely with him. He also endured various explosions that have lead to his hearing loss and TBI, traumatic brain injury.  A series of terrifying events contributed to the development of PTSD and he reclassed because he could no longer hold a combat MOS.




Michael had his second AIT at Fort Gordon, GA. After he completed his training, he went on to Fort Campbell, KY, where we currently are stationed. He then completed 6 more deployments totaling 31 months of time overseas in OIF and OEF.



We got married in February of 2011 and I have experienced 4 deployments as his wife and one as a fiancée. He's missed his share of holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. The kids and I have learned to accept this life and do our best to support him while taking care of each other.


I give so much credit to our kids for being so resilient and strong. They have leaned on their faith and have prayed their way through these deployments. I would struggle to keep from crying my eyes out each time we dropped him off at the hangar. Jr. would tell me that "God will keep step-daddy safe." and give me the comfort I needed in those moments.



Today and everyday, I appreciate and honor my husband, my hero. He has been through so much and is struggling through a lot right now, yet he does not fail to provide and be the head of our home. Words can't begin to express how grateful the kids and I are for him. He has grown into a man of God and a true warrior in the battle against PTSD and veteran suicide. He is so supportive and a true friend.






Michael, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done and continue to do for our country and family. You are truly my hero and my knight in shining armor. I am humbled to be your wife and appreciate how supportive you are of my desires and dreams. God has blessed me with an amazing husband and I look forward to being by your side for the rest of our lives.