Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Traumatic Therapy

I got three hours of sleep the night before last, and around four fitful hours last night. Yet, I still got up and went to treatment as I should.
The therapist- and she doesn't deserve that title- walked into our group room and started moving chairs, saying she needed to have her back to a wall. While this is nothing surprising, as we all, always sit with our backs to the walls, it was odd for her to mention it out loud. One of the guys told her not to worry, nobody would hurt her with us in there, she was safe. She responded by telling him that our corner of the room needed to be quiet today, and stop "giggling and sharing secrets". Mind you, yesterday we spent much of the day outside because we were fighting anxiety attacks and angry outbursts from comments and discussions going on in group. He then told her he had no problem speaking to her about this privately, and he was very respectful, especially given her hostility, she snapped at him (again) and told him he needed to stop getting people kicked out of group, saying it was her group and she would run her group not him.
We talked to the admin guy she sent to try to get us to come back into group and explained our grievances and issues with what was being said and done in group yesterday. We did not ask him to throw anyone out of our group. We didn't even know what he said when he spoke to two people we all struggled with individually. It is not our job, nor within our abilities to throw anyone out nor to have anyone thrown out of any group.
She was extremely confrontational with all three of us sitting in that corner, and continually told one friend of mine he should just leave, and saying we were disrespecting her and she didn't see anything wrong with what was talked about. When I tried to calmly explain (as I started crying) that the discussion that was brought up early on yesterday was half of the reason I had to talk a certain friend down from going completely suicidal last night, she said that she didn't think what she said was that graphic and it was her group, not ours. My "big brother" asked one of the females with similar background to me to take me outside and calm me down when the crying became uncontrollable. The director got involved, though that therapist doesn't seem to have any repercussions from it all, and decided it was better to separate all of us. I'm being moved to the women's group, which makes sense, and I didn't fight her on it. I simply reminded her that her therapist was completely out of line. 
I know I don't handle confrontation well right now. I shut down and start crying. The klonopin didn't touch my anxiety, and my husband came up to pick me up, as I was afraid to drive in that condition. I am so disgusted and hurt and upset at this therapist it's incredible. She's the same one I've said before is a burnt-out hippie. I didn't trust her before she was our sole therapist, and now I can't stand her. I told the guys before she took over I didn't care for her, and they insisted she was a sweet person. They trust my gut instincts more than ever now, and so do I. I'm so sick of people like this!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pushed Into The Mud

Our group started off today with our burn-out therapist saying she'd watched the movie Restrepo over the weekend and "got" why we're all messed up. She then proceeded to discuss in detail certain gory aspects of war and how she understood why it would mess us up.
Let me remind ya'll- this is a group for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The majority of these guys have been through multiple combat experiences AND a lot of us have childhood abuse backgrounds too. Our therapist is a perma-stoned woman old enough to have grandchildren, and has been divorced from an abusive guy with combat-related PTSD for a couple decades.
And this __________ _________ thinks it's a good idea to start off our Monday by speaking graphically about violent, bloody images and experiences.
Five of us walked out.
Let me explain why the therapist is stuck on this movie- sorry, documentary: we have a female soldier (and I use that term lightly in her case) who insists that was her unit and she went through that with them. I don't have to see a bloody, violent infantry movie to know that females aren't sent to places like that was filmed. The stories she tells have no emotional value- they could be taken from a shrink's notes, rather than real life. She talked about going to court, and, when prompted by the therapist she said- in these words- "I spent the entire time searching for an exit."
Nobody spends two hours "searching for an exit". You know where the blasted exit is, and you might spend a lot of time wanting to blow the joint to bits (let's be honest here) but you KNOW WHERE THE EXIT is.
Anyway, five of us walked out when we couldn't handle it anymore. Five of us might sound a lot, if you know that the most common process group therapy size is excessive at about thirteen people. However, there are more than 20 of us in ONE GROUP right now, which is insane at BEST, so it's really a miracle they even noticed we were gone. They "wrote our names down" (holy second grade batman!) and sent the admin dude out to "negotiate" with us. I went off the second I saw him coming out- I got three hours of sleep last night and had two anxiety attacks yesterday, I was in prime shape- and told him our therapist was unable to keep control of our group and discussing things that were setting us off- though I may have been more graphic and not quite as calm about this explanation. We also went off about the two people in our group who lie constantly and obviously and BS about everything. He pulled them out of group individually and spoke to them, the details of which I don't know.
Tonight, I got a phone call from a good friend from group, and he was crying. He'd already taken the drugs, they hadn't kicked in, and he was in meltdown mode. He described the "time-traveling" I do, trying so hard to hold on to reality, while being drowned in memories he didn't want to remember, feeling like he was barely hanging on. This is one of the toughest, most honest, most unbeatable dudes I know, and he calls me crying! I love this man like a brother- we understand each other so well it's scary, like looking in a mirror sometimes. Someone had made a comment about his service dog, and another had made several comments about violent stuff in front of a lot of children. He asked the guy to stop- more than I'm capable of in similar situations.
I am so angry at this therapist and at all these people allowing my friend, my brother to be hurt like this, to be dragged down in the place that's supposed to help pull him up. I'm so upset that these people put him in this situation.
He's better now, it's been a couple hours since the last part of this went down, but.... can nobody be trusted????

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nightmare On My Street

Incredibly rough start to the day today.
I woke up after a restless night of the worst kind of nightmares, to my husband leaning over me. I maintained enough control not to swing at the man three inches from my face. I pushed him away gently and told him I needed a minute. He got upset and went to the bathroom, closing the door behind him. I got angry- instantly. I got dressed, grabbed my service dog's stuff, my keys and wallet, and took off in my truck.
I spent at least an hour driving around, alternately crying and angry.
Matt text me to apologize, and I came back after a while. I had to break it down to him, in true Barney fashion, and we talked. It got better from there, but I've been a train wreck all day.
We went bowling with some friends today, and that went pretty well. Then we got home, watched a show that had a gnarly, violent abortion scene in it that sent me into tears all over again.
I'm struggling to stay present, always feeling on the edge of "time traveling"- something between a flashback and a memory. It can turn into a flashback very, very quickly if not managed, though flashbacks do not always start that way.
I'm starting to feel like the floor is dropping out from beneath my feet. Every little thing sets me off lately, and I'm sure it's because I'm raw from all the wounds I've opened with therapy, and, in the long run, I'm sure it's a positive, but.... I want it to go away.
The new doctor (the one we like, people, keep up!) says the fact that I no longer remember the majority of my nightmares is a positive thing- and doesn't believe I need to remember all the gory details to get better. She also thinks that I'm doing the right thing by fending off the drug-pushers. It's a relief to know that there's a doctor out there that believes drugs are no more than a quick fix as I do, but it's also scary to know that I'm now working with someone who is like-minded. I guess the scariest part of it is feeling like I might be held accountable in some way nobody else has. I'm not sure if I'm afraid she'll tell me it's time to try to face the real world and go back to work (where EVERYTHING is a possible trigger- and I wish that didn't sound like I'm exaggerating, because I'm 99.9% sure I'm not) or if I'm afraid she'll tell me I'm doing the right thing and push me towards trying to accept that I'm as bad as I feel lately. I don't want to believe I have PTSD, need a service dog, need klonopin, need to be in therapy, etc. I can't accept all of this is ME, or real... I want to wake up one day and realize I'm faking it all and that I can stop the act now.
I just want it to stop.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I listened to a guided meditation podcast the other night, and, though it was very vague and open ended, I was still both very happy and surprised  to see where it led me.
The podcast discussed going down somewhere dark- a hole in the ground or a tree trunk, stairs, etc., and seeing a light in front of you, leading to "your sacred place". Once you got there, you found a box with a present for you inside.
This is how mine went:
I'm walking down a hill in Lincoln Park in Tucson, walking toward the forest. The sun is setting behind me, fast and beautiful. The sky is on fire with many colors, even as they slip farther and farther from the opposite horizon. I continue walking down the hill, and slip between trees to find a barely-there path that I know very, very well. Just as the last of the sunlight begins to fade from sight, I see light from a bonfire up ahead.
I am close- I can hear the drums and singing now. As I move still closer, I begin to recognize voices and identify guitars, tambourines and the bells some of the dancers like to wear. I hear hands clapping and feet stomping in time with the music. I'm almost there!
I step out of the trees and into the clearing. I get many nods and smiles of acknowledgment and recognition, but the music continues. I find a box in my usual seat on a boulder- it is a carved, unpainted wooden box with the zia sun symbol on it's lid. Opening it up, I realize the music has paused, as my friends watch me open my gift. It is a pair of beautiful silver earrings, with large silver spirals hanging from french-style hooks. Spirals are considered to be a symbol of life and of the sun, and I understand immediately the message both the box and the earrings are meant to send: This too shall pass, it is neither the beginning nor the end. This is their gift to me, the gift of friendship, love, and a constant reminder that I will never be alone in my trials, nor forgotten in my triumphs.
This place, with it's drums, music, dancing and friends, this is my sacred place. This is my heart.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


So, I've finally set a goal for myself, though the details are still being worked out. I am going to begin training to compete in a Warrior Dash [new window] competition. I think this is a great goal, ignoring the fact that I haven't determined date or place yet, because it's going to keep me focused on training for this, and getting in shape for this, as I am being processed out of the Army. It's too easy to give up on your health when you know you will no longer be held strictly accountable for it.  Now, I'm not saying I believe the Army has it all figured out as far as health and wellness go, but giving up on physical well-being are the first things to go when you get depressed and frustrated and, well, stop having to answer to anyone about it.
I'm already a vegetarian, but not a healthy one- I don't exercise lately, and I have been depending far too much on take out and "easy" food. I should be focusing on legumes, fruits and vegetables, not tater tots, pasta and Chinese food.
Anyway, tonight I used a recipe from an amazing recipe book that a friend of mine put together for my husband and I, and contacted a bunch of our friends and family for the recipes to add to the book. It's the most personal, loving cookbook I've ever seen. I made the "grilled corn and shrimp salad", and added orange bell pepper, red onion, a few extra spices and avocado to the mix. We had small bowls of white rice on the side and green tea to drink. Not only was it much healthier than most of the junk we've been eating, but it was REALLY good! My husband cleaned his plate- twice.
I am, however, really hoping my husband is as awesome as he usually is, and decides to do the dishes, because I am a VERY messy cook.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I wasn't anxious, angry or even particularly aware of my symptoms when I woke up this morning.
Then I started focusing on the thoughts about our service dog training session that would happen at the airport this evening, and the anxiety went wayyy up.
Then I got to treatment, and got particularly aggravated by a female soldier who talks about what she insists is PTSD in terms of war movies and text-book-entry-sounding (and ENDLESS) monologues of her "symptoms". Anybody who can sit there and say that she "repeatedly looked for an exit" who doesn't normally sound like a walking dictionary is, in my opinion, full of it.
Judging people is wrong.
I know.
Yet, it's so hard to avoid such sentiments when repeatedly one-upped during group "therapy". Mind you, this group therapy was once nearly life-saving to me. It's incredible how one person can monopolize entire days to the point of ruining it for the majority of the group.
So, anxiety and anger present were en masse.
Usually, anger negates my anxiety- anger allows me to feel in control, while anxiety is an "under attack" sort of feeling.
Today, though, they just seemed to be tag-teaming. I felt like I was fighting the Hardy Boys old-school WWF style.
Once we got to the airport, I was so grateful to have two of my friends from treatment with me. I was on edge already, but hoping I didn't need the "chill pills". I should have taken one.
I almost started crying when a loud buzzer went off to signal the baggage carousel was about to start moving. That wasn't the only time I was fighting back tears.
It's been a long, long, emotional day. We were also informed that our group's therapist is leaving next week. It looks like the lady we'll be getting is the burnt-out hippie that has yet to keep anyone under control. In a group full of combat and rape survivors, all of whom are soldiers, maintaining control over the chaos is VITAL.
Having our trust would help, too.
Sugar did great with training. I'm very proud of her.
I wish I were proud of me, for a change.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Empty Mirror

I am being medically discharged from the US Army.
I am incapable of conceiving children without paying a middle-class fortune ($4,000-$20,000 per cycle depending on the timing and what the doctors decide) to some doctor with medications and big needles.
I am no longer the Soldier I was, let alone ever having become the Soldier I hoped to become.
I am not the mother I wanted to be, and there is no light at the end of that tunnel, either.

What is left of me?
I'm not a soldier.
I'm not a mother.
Most days, I'm not even much of a wife.

I am a walking void.
Men traditionally hold down the jobs: I was proud to be able to support myself and not need anyone else.
I've lost that.
Women traditionally bear children, raise them, and keep house. I'm not capable of any of the above- I can't even manage grocery shopping.


Two Days Of Me

It's Monday evening, and the first day of the workweek has drawn to a close.
It's been a mostly positive weekend, though full of overwhelming stimuli. We went to a movie Friday night- my first time in a theater since I got my service dog about a month and a half ago. It went very well, though she won't be sitting/lying on the floor next time, as she likes eating the icky popcorn off the ground. We went to see the Harlem Globetrotters on Saturday night. I was sure I'd lost my mind even trying that, but, between a service dog, medication, my husband, a good friend and his girlfriend, we made it through it fairly well. It was my third time seeing their show, but it was almost as funny as the very first time. My husband and our friends loved it, and it was their first time- overall, it was worth the effort, and I didn't completely lose my mind.

And, now there's this......
Getting out of the Army has been something I've generally viewed as a positive the last couple months, maybe more. It's been a big part of who I am for the last few years, and it never really occurred to me that it would ever hurt to lose that...
Until I read this.
The military is opening up THOUSANDS more jobs to women.
You know, all those jobs I wanted to be able to do, but couldn't, because I'm  a "girl".... yeah, I could do them now, if only I wasn't broken beyond repair.
My heart is breaking in a way I didn't know it could.
Being part of the division colorguard, being aid station NCOIC and standing up a non-existent aid station as a SPC with three years in the Army, the 270 PT score and hopes for a 300....
That woman is dead.... No, that SOLDIER is dead.... And she's never coming back.
My heart is breaking.
There's nothing I can do about it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I'm working hard to return to who I am.
I have been reading quite a few blogs and articles today and general subjects I'm interested in, as well as watching indie movies and documentaries.
I'm not a Soldier anymore, and that part of who I was is no longer- I need to accept that, and to let that part of me go. I am still my very hippie, nature-loving, self. I am still a vegetarian, still a wife, still someone who needs ink, and words and the outdoors. I'm still someone who needs to improve my life to better blend it with the natural world.
Today, my husband told me to stay home and relax- a few days of my very negative, depressed emotion has taken it's toll on both of us. I took his advice, and am feeling better. I need to work harder at remembering to take my supplements, because the fish oil, vitamin b complex and cranberry extract all seem to do wonders for my emotional state- far more than the medications the doctor keeps trying to prescribe have done.
Anyway, my husband remembered the reusable grocery bags I'd bought him off of Amazon to keep in his truck- and, finally, because of this one small detail, I remembered I was having some sort of impact on the world around me somehow.
With that said, I could buy things more locally, and not order from Amazon. We do our grocery shopping at smaller, at least local chains, if we must shop at chains. I don't like Wal-Mart, either for the crowds or the consumerist BS that accompanies it. If something doesn't sell as well as Wal-Mart expects, they simply throw them out- it's no skin off their very large, high-income nose. Smaller grocers and stores do not have that luxury. They lose money for things that are not bought, and they feel it, so they try not to buy more than will be purchased and, one would assume, used.
So, why do I buy things online? The only gas used in the transportation of my purchase is as much as is required for exactly what I intend to use. There's not a truckload of goods coming for each thing I purchase, the rest of which may or may not be used.
It's not much, but it's a start.
I hope this is the start of my upward motion- I certainly feel better than I have in days.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Who are you when you are no longer capable of anything that used to make you happy?
I feel so alone, so lost and so.... dead.
What's left of me?


I wonder if people typically labeled as "shy" have a lot of anxiety?
I've danced on bars before, completely sober and, yes, completely clothed, thanks for asking.
Now, things have changed.
This past Saturday, I broke down in tears in the truck on the way to run errands- because people could see me. Seriously, that was my new trigger.
Needless to say, I've never experienced anything like this. I have always been outgoing, outspoken and strong-willed. Now, I can't even seem to get out of my own way, let alone the house.
My service dog's training sessions (which you can read more information on here- new window) seem to be the only time I'm able to get out comfortably. I used to go to one particular bar, no lie, four to five nights a week. I didn't drink then, and there's never a cover charge for women at this particular bar, and I knew all the regulars, bouncers, bartenders, the owner and the dj. I just danced, talked, and had fun- and the crowds didn't really bother me much.
I miss being able to do that.
Occasionally going to a restaurant is the best I seem to be able to do lately, and I can't tell you how much that bothers me. This "shy", anxious, high-strung person is not who I know myself as. I have always liked people. Now, I actively avoid them, as individuals and groups. I do alright in a hoard of service-dog-having folks, but, even with my husband, I just cease to function.
I miss me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

An Open Letter To My Abusive Mother

Dear Mom-
                  As my husband and I begin to plan our family, I thought it would be practical for me to let you know why you will never meet nor speak to your oldest daughter's children. I would love to say it's nothing personal, but it is very, very personal. When you told the doctors I was suicidal at eleven years old, and had me put on prozac, it was personal. When you allowed me to eat an entire bag of pixie stix, then took me to the emergency room and told them I was having a manic episode, it was personal. When you had me put on lithium at eleven years old, when you had me diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, then borderline personality disorder, then some sort of seizure disorder, and all those other things... When you had me put on thirty-seven different medications in a period of less than a decade, that was personal, "mom". When you told me I would never be able to keep a job, that no man would be able to handle me, that was personal. When you told me I'd have to be under your care for the rest of my life, that was personal. When you told me I'd never be able to drive a car, or keep a husband, or care for myself let alone children of my own- THAT WAS PERSONAL, MOM.
                   That's not all, either. Every time you drove drunk with my sister and I in the car, it was personal. Every time you hit one of us or threw something or laid in the middle of the living room without doing anything for days on end, it was personal. When you told us to flat-out lie to our father and grandparents so they would send you money, that was personal. When you tried to stand in the way of me getting married at 19, then threatened my husband repeatedly, it was damn sure personal. When you pushed me to get my tubes tied at eighteen years old, just like when you called me a whore after losing my virginity to a rape at fourteen, yes it was PERSONAL.
                    And you know what? Now that I'm starting to realize that you did all these things for your own benefit, not just because of some illness or alcoholism you refuse to admit to having, now that I realize you tried to get money out of my "diseases", now I know you're not worth my forgiveness nor my prayers. You have done the unforgivable, Mom. I will never be able to get pregnant naturally because of your bullshit. But we will have kids- because we are two loving, stable, at least reasonably sane people who want children, not for our own personal gain, but to love them and raise them to be good, functional, intelligent and loving members of society.
                    When you get angry because you've never met your grandchildren, remember- they will never even know your name--- because it's personal.
Your Daughter.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Family is an interesting concept, isn't it?
I imagine there was a long period of time where family was everything- biological family, specifically in this sense. Now, though, it's amazing the gaps that can grow between siblings or even parents and children.
I haven't spoken to my mother in over three years now- probably closer to four. The more I learn about the person she is, was and has been, the more I know that I want to keep my life entirely separate from hers. My husband and I will be going to the OB/GYN clinic tomorrow to discuss me having surgery to reverse my tubal ligation, so that I may be able to have children. My children will never meet their maternal grandmother, and I honestly have no regrets about that. In all honesty, they will probably have very limited contact with my sister, as well, as she is so much like my mother it's painful.
My sister flew into town tonight to spend a week with my father, who's health is deteriorating. My husband was able to point out habits of hers that are dysfunctional, but so much a part of her very personality at this point I had failed to even notice them. She looks more like my mother each year. I fear her behavior may follow suit.
Now, I've been going through treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a while now, and have fallen in with a group of gentlemen that I feel truly safe around. Let me stress this: being a double rape survivor in the midst of the deepest parts of therapy and symptoms, finding an entire group of men that I feel safe with borders on the miraculous.
I shot a text message off to one of the guys from our little group tonight, as I was feeling stressed out and anxious about seeing my sister for the first time in years- and I am, by far, in the worst condition I've been in since she's been alive, emotionally speaking. She'd never met my service dog, and she'd never met my husband before tonight. When I mentioned the appointment I had tomorrow, this friend of mine stated, quite plainly, that he wanted to be the godfather, or at least an uncle. While, from some people, this would have upset me and come across as pushy, from this friend made me smile. I truly believe in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. This man is one of several I truly and completely would love to see my children grow up around. This group is very diverse, but the ethics and morals that comprise these people's personalities are incredibly comforting and reaffirming. I could be in the middle of a bar fight that I started, on the losing end of a dozen people or better, and I know that any of these guys would do whatever it took to get me out of that situation safely. This is what I think of when I think of family. Biology has nothing to do with family to me, not after the things I've seen. There are people I'm biologically related to that I would be proud to know if they weren't relatives, but the opposite is also true, clearly.
My husband's family is far different than mine. They appear to be very close, and are nearly always warm and friendly to one another. Except they don't ever really open up to one another. Ever. It's so nice to see a family that gets along, but it's startling to see that things that wouldn't phase me about my husband would make him incredibly uncomfortable in his family's home. He doesn't walk around without being fully clothed in his father's home, and he's just so... tethered. Does that make sense?
My family has never really hidden their feelings from one another, but there's been a lot of hidden motives and intentions behind what feelings were shared. We were open, but our family's definition of honest is open for speculation. Trust wasn't ever something we had with one another. Nothing was sacred. My mother called me a whore after losing my virginity to a rape as easily as some parents tell their children to eat their broccoli.
Are these the only options? Are there no other kinds of families? I can only hope that the hippie-dippie families of TV Land aren't so unrealistic. I have talked to my husband a great deal about how I would like our family to deal with one another, and he agrees. We don't expect unquestioned authority, and we don't expect it to be without it's problems, but we do expect honesty and loyalty, both between parent and child and between siblings. I will never do anything to betray my child's trust- I may make some choices about their lives they don't appreciate, but I will not do it behind their back. I don't expect them to follow my ideals blindly, nor do I expect them to practice a religion because it's mine. I simply expect them to be respectful of my ideals and beliefs, and not to choose the ease of ignorance over treating others as equals.
I'm thinking a lot about godparents today. I know my husband's best married friend (he has two best friends that are both amazing people) seems like the obvious choice for godparents for our children, but they seem pretty unsure about having children of their own. His other best friend, who is quite single, is an absolutely awesome guy, as well, and comes from the type of family I hope to build. Because of his "single" status, he seems like the less obvious choice, but my gut instinct tells me that he would be the one to take to the job of being a true godparent, should the need arise for someone else to take care of our children.
I know this will all be sorted out in time...

Friday, February 3, 2012


So, I have a number of projects I am working on right now, on top of the usual stuff.
I am working to help get the word out about Service Dogs- reasons to have them, laws regarding them and, most importantly, how to behave towards one. The more encounters I have with ignorant people in regards to my dog, the more I am determined to educate people about them.
On a girly/personal note, I'm working on weeding out/improving my wardrobe, as I am currently avoiding wearing jeans, and my tomboy phase seems to be leaking completely out of my ears. I've been wanting some nice sleep wear and a robe that was actually pretty, and found just what I was looking for over at Pink Girl Vintage.
I also spent a small to medium size fortune on my beautiful truck today. The rear differential had to be replaced and, after quite a bit of run around from a few shops, we finally took her to the local dealership. Well over a thousand bucks and three discussions about finances later, I have my truck back, though it will still need a few smaller repairs to be as good as new. Hubby and I will be taking care of the air filter and windshield wipers ourselves to save money, though. I don't need to be paying for four hours of labor to have my wipers replaced.