Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sully, a spirited child, a middle child, sat at the table playing legos.  All was quiet except for the random "tink" of a lego hitting the wood floor.  Each time a lego would fall from the gathering height table, the boy tensed, held still, like a deer in headlights.

After a moment of realizing his hair trigger, intolerant of random noise father was not in the room or bothered by the sound, he'd slump off the chair, collect his rogue brick, and clammer back to his make believe world.

While playing, he heard the door open, he knew his father was returning from outside.

"Hi Daddy!" his sweet little voice warm and expecting.  His father did not respond, incapable of processing the sweet child's greeting.

Sully, seemingly unaffected by the icy lack of return, continued to play, carefully arranging the legos to prevent them from hitting the floor.

"Daddy, I'm a little hungry." But the empty vessel did not respond.  No eye contact, no glance, just lifeless and robotic movement aimlessly around the house.

Hunger always seems to strike this boy down suddenly, and what was a little rumble in his belly, now is a full on flip into survival mode, cave man like mode.

"Daddy!  Eat! Now!"

The legos no longer pacified the boy and the pint size boy was going to have to sing for his supper.

"Dad?  Dad.  Dad.  Daaaaaaaad."

This was enough to awaken the beast.  The usual, sloth-like movements of the father disappeared and in a blink of an eye he towered over the boy.

"WHAT!?" He growled through clenched teeth.  "Sully! WHAT?"

The child rolled into himself, spirit and heart breaking- no words could come.

Tears came, and turned into sobs, sobs that originated from so deep inside this child.

Tears and sobs and sounds that look like spikes in a wavelength make the monster so much more....

Just as the father loomed over the boy- the mother returned from work.  Opening the door, she heard the cries from her blood, her sweet little Solomon.

She flew up the stairs- she saw the posturing- and without even setting her bags down, stepped in to prevent another fight- another death of spirit.

"Sully" she said softly wrapping herself around him, "Sully cries because his heart is hurting".  The sobs ripple away and are replaced with sniffles, the occasional rise and fall of hurt from within.

She turned toward the offender, "GO. AWAY."  She mouthed at him, and he retreated, though she felt him pacing somewhere behind them.

"Sully boy, what do you need?"

His face buried in her chest, he could only shake his head "noooooo".

Angry father chimes in "He wouldn't listen!  He wouldn't answer me!"

"Sullyboy, tell momma please....."  The mother coaxes and begs the boy back to safe feelings.  After a moment, a moment to which he had to work up the courage to leave this safe zone, his mother's arms, this soft landing, he slipped slowly off of her, quietly, almost stealthy, went to the fridge.

A writing exercise from my experience at the WRiters guild

"It's too far, I can't do it".  The overgrown trail stretches for what seems like miles.  Coming into view, the simplistic, yet strong stone building was wearing away.

Stones were missing from front, and some lay scattered around the foundation.  There were no glass window.  Just stone, crumbled mortar, a steeple that once proudly displayed a cross.  The walk was long but seeing the structure, even though it slowly gave way to itself- there remained a sense reverence.  A beauty in its brokenness.

And next a poem:

My Father, The Bastard

Oh lucky Father!

The universe treats you well!

Your misdoings and heavy hand, they earn you big stories and chance meetings.

Go ahead and drink Daddy,

Close the bar down!

Don't worry about the nonbelievers, our cousin is in town!

While he bears witness and you play it cool-

Dave Grohl will come around!

Never mind your lusting daughter, let her sleep, my Father, the bastard.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Not being able to hear.... Validation within a post combat Marriage.

Funny how things play out in life.  You know that little voice in your head or gut that often you hear most clearly laughing and saying, "I told ya so!".... You know what I am talking about?

Well, my inner voice is pretty well developed, I just have behavior problems and often chose to ignore it.  I actually have grown tired of it saying, "Told ya so", and have decided to start changing my *behavior*.

Red flags, knots in my stomach, electric zings up and down my body, sudden flushes of heat, that annoying, nagging, "Something isn't quite right here" in the back of my head.  These are ways my inner self, my already installed security system, this is how it alerts me.

And I love to set it off, and then ignore it.

Here is the latest example.

My husband has had a marked decline in hearing for the past year.  He has always been hard of hearing since Iraq, but the VA only diagnosed it as Tinnitus.

"Now Mr. Peterson, if you are lying, we will know.  You will prosecuted, you could even go to jail", Dr. Peck said.  This was in 2006.  You think after being threatened with jail for HEARING problems this Soldier was going to "complain" about anything else?!  Hell no.

And so he didn't.

But I knew.  I saw.  I watched.  I lived.

My husband is deaf, my little voice would tell me.  There is NO way he could NOT hear me.  And the thing is, his hearing only became more non existent in crowds, busy environments, and cluttered places.  Like sensory overload.

I also watched nurse after nurse, doc after doc, at the VA, tell my husband, "yep, fluid on your ears".  And pass it off as nothing.  No professional ever connected WHAT THE WIFE WAS SAYING, WHAT THE VET WASN'T HEARING, and WHAT THEY THEMSELVES WERE SEEING with my husbands multiple blast exposures.


But I digress.  My husband went to ENT today, and the confirmation was turned into validation for me.  He has moderate to severe hearing loss in BOTH EARS across the BOARD.  


Tell me something I don't know.

It is 7 years of delayed diagnosis and failed treatment AGAIN.  To which I say, BRAVO!  But, such is life (at the VA).  

They are overworked, the system is TOO full, and I know hundreds of Veterans and their stories to prove it.  However, those are not my stories to tell.  And I am okay with that.  My world finally, FINALLY, just got a little clearer.

HEY VA..... CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!!!??????



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Martyr and the Hero

This always happens.  I end up looking like the bitch of the year, the selfish mother, the cold wife, the disrespectful daughter.

It is my oldest child's birthday, and true to PTSD form, any extra *intruders* (though well known family) are about to enter the home, the frequency of our status quo goes from high buzz to high peaks and low valleys, explosive.

We fight.  He slams something, the gate? It shatters.  Along with my heart.

It used to be just him.  But it is both of us now.  Both of our demons feed into this mess and ruin holidays, ruin children, ruin marriages.  I'm beginning to lose my resolve.  I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Enter the Martyr.  My mother.  She comes in, sensing tension, swirls about my kitchen, being perfect.  Its not often she gets to play the queen, scars hidden.  So I let her.  I need the break.  So I, in quiet surrender, go to my room to calm down.
I practice this self love and mindfulness crap I'm trying to learn and let me tell you, this self love shit is in its infancy and I really need to get good at it. NOW.

So I'm in my room tapping my the side, the pad of my hand, then my head, then my face, then my chin, the notch in my collar bone, my side.  "I DEEPLY love myself even though I am feeling powerless". I do it again.  Harder, more intense.  I am pretty sure I bruised my chest.  Fuck this.  Its not working.  At least not fast enough, so I fall over into my bed, and there is my big fat black cat, sleeping off the hell too.

I think I'll join him.

So as I'm petting him, talking to myself "I am really having a hard time"  and all this be your best friend crap I'm REALLY trying to learn, I really WANT to learn....

Enter the Martyr.

"Pull yourself together and get your ass out of bed, for your son's sake" in the coldest, snottiest, holier than thou tone I've heard in a while.

The kids were playing.  Since there were people here, I thought I'd spend a few moments alone.  Jesus Christ MOTHER.  Perfect mom.  HOW many birthdays and celebrations were ruined by her and my father?!  She can't find it in her self to sit down next to me and gently say, "I'm sorry you are having a hard time, lets go celebrate and you can do this later..."  What mother is so fucking icy and cold?????

The Martyr is.  And the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.

Right here right now, I resolve to NOT be her.  I will NOT.  I will comfort, and love, and tend to my children and their emotional needs with compassion and empathy, not pity and self loathing.

So in the mean time, while I look like the BIGGEST party pooper in the world, a mother ruining a 9 year old birthday....throwing a tantrum like it was MY party and I'll cry if I want to.....

Enter the Hero.

My husband.  He watches the martyr work her magic, and he is well aware of her scars, and her imperfections, after all, he saved me from HER husband.... He is also well aware of his own scars.  Yet, he lets this all fall on me. As usual. He does this with his own blood.  I am the bad guy.  I am so much the bad guy, that I actually feel so much the villain, I instigate with the best of them.

No excuse for me.  No, "I'm sorry, she'll be okay in a bit"..... Like I have done for him a thousand times  before.  Instead, he looks like the good guy.  Combat Petey was just here destroying my personal property, and now, he is replaced by docile, good guy, everyone loves the Hero of the day, J.....

Fuck. This. Shit. This unfair, victimizing, blaming, underhanded, passive aggressive, BS!

So ensues a feverish fight via text because what I really want to do is rip into him, but I can't because of the aforementioned visitors, the birthday, the children etc.   But I get my point across, and I'm done, and I slide my cell phone into the deep recesses of only where I know because I don't want to remember what I just said to him, and with his TBI, he won't fully remember the daggers either....not fully....

I beg him to just excuse me for a few minutes for christ' sake.  Like I have for him.  Except much more profane and I'm sure there was a "I'm not coming out until you do".

There also was the feeling of "YOU GO BACK TO TREATMENT!" in my sentiments laden with sarcasm and seething with hate.  I don't hate my husband, I hate what he has become.  I hate that I am the scapegoat, the bad guy, when all I do is fight fight fight for him.  For us.  For his brothers in arms.  Shit, I don't want to fight anymore.  I want to love myself.  I want to be the mom I was when it was just me and Sim.  Sweet, nurturing, teaching, loving, patient.... proud.

What happened to me?  What happened to us?  Has the martyr and the hero become two of the biggest villains in my head that they are actually turning me into them?  Stay with me here.  Like attracts like.... What we have here is a big ball of negative energy and some unseen competition... Demons from the husbands past long long ago, let downs, being left, those are big things....

My demons, being let down, being left emotionally as a child, assaulted, negated, gaslighted.

But that is not me anymore.  I pulled myself together.  I bid farewell to my mom.  Well, it was a glance, I couldn't even look at her.  And I know why.  She doesn't.  All I want from my Mother is validation.  That is all I have EVER wanted, and that is what I look for now, 32 years later.  I will never get it.  She won't ever understand, nor will I, and it kills me, because right now, sometimes, I just want my damn mom.  "Cut the cord Katie" echoes in my head....her words....not mine.

If I cut the cord Momma, I will go far away, and you will hate it, because you will no longer be "needed" in that way....and that will hurt you.  I know you.  You know me.  It is called co dependence.  And I love you anyway.

As for the Hero.....  I hate hate HATE with all my cells to fight and feel on the verge of leaving him.  And that is what it feels like when we fight.  He is in a constant state of "You can do better, so just go", thus he gets pushy with me.  I am in the constant state of "If you tell me I am going to leave you one more freaking time, I just might....."  But the truth is, we can get to a better place.

GODDAMN I know we can.  We have seen our share of ups and downs, and this is only preparing us for a life long of marriage.  You cannot know good without the bad.  This I know.  But I worry he will give up hope, so it is my job to be super the positive force in his life.  God knows he needs  it.

So this self love and acceptance and emotional freedom technique and EMDR I'm doing....I guess it got me through this evening.... although one thing, is you should not tap so hard you hurt yourself....tapping harder does not make the message stick better.  Lesson learned.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sleeping and Dormant Love

A woman has needs.  I have needs.  And PTSD and TBI and all the circumstance around that robs me of my most private and romantic, or not so much romantic, as sexual needs.

Sometimes it is touch.




Being wanted.  REALLY wanted.

I need hard and rough hands all over my body.  I need pain that begs pleasure.  I need sex.  Not the dutiful, "I'm your wife and this is what we should do", but I need lusty, take me to your bedroom sex.

PTSD/TBI begs to differ.  And I *hate* it.  I'm slaying dragons here, and it's killing me.

My husband came home from the Army in 2006, and we were dating weeks later.  He was strong, he was fit, he said "Yes ma'am" and opened doors, and protected me. 

Let me say that last part again.  HE protected ME. 

There was this part of his body, it would melt me to my core when I even thought about it.  From his ear, tracing down the side of neck, into his shoulders.  His wingspan, huge, engulfing, wrapped around me, safe.  His hands were rough and war worn, but his cadence and demeaner made women fall right over themselves.  But he only wanted me. 

He would look at me in this special way.  It was that half moon eyed, slight grin, right up in my face look.  The "I am so in to you" look.  The "I'm about to take you to my room" look.  I was putty.  I wanted him. In the worst way.

When we would go out, if there were any brawl of any sort, he was right there, breaking it up, the peace keeper, the shit stopper.  And people listened.  It would scare me.  To see him so confident, to get right up in there.  I would shake and once I almost lost control of my bladder.  But he'd fix the shit storm, and place him self right by my side.  Never hurt, never hurt anyone else.  "You okay babe?" He'd say that.  And he'd give me the look, and I'd surrender into his arms.  "I hate when you do that...." 

But as time went on, and all night bedroom sessions of passion and talks, and more passion, and more talks....and "Holy Crap the sun is already coming!" turned into distance, and ice, and a divide I just don't know how to make it across. 

The looks became non existent for a long time.  He was so heavily medicated his affect was flat.  He couldn't recall the "look" when I'd beg him for them.  He couldn't understand why this shift, in retrospect, was so unnerving to me, that I started to pull away, too. 

Now we stand miles and miles apart, and I'm broken.  I really am.  Now we have children, and a house, and a dog, and I'm missing the most important piece.  The man.

The universe has this cruel way of stringing people along.  I will spend days, weeks, even months, craving that touch that only a certain type of male can give.  I can spot them a mile away.  My husband knows this, and it makes him crazy.  I have not yet strayed, but I forsee only trouble if I don't navigate us back together again.

So while I am being miserable and full of want and lusty things that are not mine and that simply would ruin my family, I'll see a glimpse. 

It is so quick, it is like the world saying, "Remember this??? You like this?  Fuck you, you can't have it ever again."  I hate it. I hate it with every ounce of red blood in my whore body.

On two occasions this happened as he was in a friend's wedding, and a cousins wedding.  Perhaps it was the booze, or maybe the tux?  Or the night away from the children, in a hotel.... but dancing together, to a slow song, he gave me that lazy, I've loved you all along look.  This look was so endearing, even others commented on it.  One time he played a country song, and he said, "I always think of you when I hear this"...and we danced in the living room while the little boys watched, And for those nights, at the weddings, and in my living room.  He played our song, "I'll be your lover too" by Van Morrison, and he held me and rocked me back and forth... for a moment I felt like a queen.  I felt like he was my King again.

But returning home, back to doctors, back to children, back to work, back to therapies.... It all went away again.  Sleeping and dormant love. 

I never know when it well happen again.  I never know when he will take control and take ME.  I need that.  Badly.   As I suspect all women do.  But in the meantime I feel like I am fighting dragons and I've lost my shield, I dropped my sword.  I can only now feel the heat from the fire PTSD and TBI blasts me with. 

There is no other way to fulfil this desire, it is a most primitive, carnal desire, and I'm only 32 years old.  I'm in my prime.  So as my body is licked and lashed by the fiery agnst of PTSD and TBI, my soul is burning on its own accord.  I wonder if it will just implode.  Imagine all the tiny hearts that would break from selfish indescretions.  No, that would be my cross to bear.  Not his, he cannot help this. 

Temptations are a powerful thing.  Selfish motives are yet another force.  Yet we are all human.  And these things we fight, in life after combat, are bigger than all of us.  These are giantic, scary, fire breathing dragons. Sometimes we are a fully united front, sometimes we have to fend for ourselves, but the bottom line, is that we promised, we made a deal, that no matter what, we'd always find our way back to eachother.

I can't tame this forever.

Image may be subject to copyright laws, courtesy of Culturewarclasswar.
Music credited to Van Morrison, I'll be your lover too. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

My old husband....

If you read, Bossing the Therapist, over at, and if you have read Mac McClelland's piece on PTSD in Mother Jones, you will have come to affectionately call me "The olive garden meltdown girl".  That's okay.  I'm okay with that. 

After sharing my insight with my husband tonight about my Monday with the therapist, he, true to the good ole' husband he is, went and picked up Olive Garden, to go. 

What a sweet, thoughtful, meltdown quelling husband have I.

Zuppa Toscana, Mushrooms, and pasta.... My soul is happy.

See?  That wasn't so bad now was it, he pats my head.  And I say I love you James Peterson.

We help eachother.  It works.

When getting my head checked....

I posted tonight about my experience with secondary PTSD and therapy.  Here is the link to the original article. 

Read, and enjoy, and be glad it isn't you?  Or Welcome, if it is :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

So I'm the olive garden meltdown....

If you have not yet read, or listened to Mac McClelland read her own article, please, take a moment to do so now:

My most beloved mentor Brannan, and her mentor, Danna, amongst others, including myslef, reveal intimate details about living with PTSD. 

It is an akward thing, reading about yourself, in a magazine, and then online.  It is the ultimate surrender.  Here, I can dictate what I say and I can paint you the picture I am wanting you to see.  To give your story to another person, you spend a lot of time praying.  Praying for a lot of things.  I was happy to read the magazine when it came to my door.  Mac did a wonderful job.  She poured herself into this and it shows.  She did her research.  She did right by us.  She was able to get the real point across.  BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM.  And we see the good in them.  There is so much good.  Anyone who knows my husband can attest to that.  In fact, I often think there is more good in him then me, as my uncle told me once, "You know, you think you are saving him, but he, Katie, he saved you."  And with that he got into his entirely way to hip car and drove to the pet spa to pick up his Bassett. 

I stood there, jaw agape, wanting to cry, wanting to spit nails, wanting to say "Yes, I do believe you are right." 

I recently posted on Facebook about trauma, and how his trauma is bringing up some really deeply buried pains of my own.  A sexual assault in 2001 in a basement of some guys house.  I thought I had tucked them away fairly securely, but not so.  His trauma is highlighting mine.  So my post was about being sure to not layer your trauma.  Humans cannot get through this life unscathed, and it is imperative to not bury it, and then add more trauma later.  Work on your demons. 

It is unfortunate that I did not.  However, there are some mighty fine angels on this earth who donate time, energy, resources, to people like me.  People through Give an Hour, and Not Alone.  Another woman who has her own practice south of me.  Angels. 

I never had the time to lick my wounds from that assault, and now that I really look, I see they are still there, still weeping.  And so it is through my husbands trauma, that I realize, I am still broken.  I don't go to the basement of my house, and I never could figure out why until recently.  We had our bedroom down there for a brief time, and let me tell you, that was the least amount of sleep I had ever gotten.  I was extremely hypervigiliant.  Every bump, every voice, every creak, I was wide awake. 

I sleep better now.  But we'll talk about sleep and ptsd another time.

It is through his struggle, his memories, his flashbacks, that I remember my own.  I don't exactly understand why that is, but it is what it is.  I have no choice now, but to walk through this. 

I have been kissed by the universe on the top of my head, almost like the world is saying, Its okay now, to talk about it.  It doesn't make it easy, and I can assure you I'm not in my basement right now, but I am much more aware.

After reading books like The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz, and The Shack by WP Young, I find myself wondering how I can still be hurting.  Look at what others have had to endure, why am I so weak?  For a while, the books made me feel much better about things, almost as if my situation really wasn't that bad after all, and I was being silly, a self entitled little brat.  But the wounds, they are still there.  You can't compare your trauma to someone else's, and you certainly can't compare barefoot trekking through Siberia to rape. 

So I stop trying to make sense of it all.  What I know is that my husband and I, though each with our imperfections, though each with our demons, love eachother, and no matter how imperfect that love is, we always keep together.  Perhaps we are unknowingly saving eachother.  Little does he know, he doesn't need saving.  He really is that good of a guy. He is amazing.  He is the door holding, yes ma'am, type of a guy through and through. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Go to your happy place.....

Overlooking headstones at SJU

It turns out, I've been doing this all wrong.  This life.  It's hard.  Not impossible, but definitely trying.  What I've learned is that you must have a happy place.

Oddly enough, my "happy" place, is a plot of dead men. A cemetery.  Don't call me crazy (just yet), just call me a woman who seeks out the utterly quiet in a chaotic life.

I had just found out that a fellow wounded warrior wife (actually fiance) had died on Christmas Eve.  I'm not here to speculate how she died, the fact that she's gone is quite enough.  The fact that her fiance died not much before her, heart wrenching. 

Suicide, overdoses, affairs, bankruptcy, addictions.... These are big battles.  For some reason, these battles didn't take me down like she did.  I guess it was because there was always a healthy distance between the other fights and myself.  This time, this was close.  There was not one tiny iota of difference between her and I.  So, why her?  Why not me? My family? 

I tried to pull myself together long enough to run out to my parents to celebrate an after Christmas Christmas.  The tears, the random sobs, the hurt stuck in the back of my throat.... I could not swallow it down.  I sent the husband out before me.  I needed solitude.  I needed to not be needed for just a few minutes, to reflect, to repent, to pray to God it will never hit my family.

When I felt I was well enough to go, I got in my car.  I drove around in circles for a few minutes, but after that, I felt the strong urge to drive to St. John's.  It really is a beautiful campus, and one that means more to me than I will ever be able to say.

At the top of the ramp, turning into the campus, it was not clear to me until that moment.  I was going to see the "Guys".  The old Priests whom my mother has spent years caring for, some of whom I had the pleasure of caring for in my tenure there. 

Taking a right, up the side road to the headstones, I pulled up haphazardly.  I looked over the stones, and with a half smile, I said aloud, "Hi guys...." and then the tears came.  The ones who I had come for, there stones stood ice covered and protected by snow right in front.  Waiting for me. 

I got out of the car and went straight to Father Silvan.  Out of all my years, my ups and downs, he always was level and warm, and it mattered not to him that while I cared for him, I carried a child out of wedlock. 

Standing over him, my heart poured out, and I know he was listening.  I immediately felt a heavy burden taken off my already worn shoulders.  It was then I laughed.... A memory laced my pain...

"Mischievous"  That is what he always called me.  Even on the eve of his dying day.  We'd argue about how to pronounce it.  He said "Mischeeee vous" and I said, "Mischee VI ous".  He always laughed at my challenges....never once telling me to look it up.  It was the day he died I looked it up and found that he was right. 

I laid a kiss on his headstone and moved on, and it was like a happy family reunion.  Recognizing names I haven't heard of in years, names I remember from my childhood that my Mother would mention, names that meant great things to her, too.

I took some amazing pictures of the cemetery, of all the wise men I knew, and bid them farewell.  It was all I needed to move to my next destination. 

So all these years, especially these last few, I realize, I have been doing this life all wrong.  You must ALWAYS find a place that evokes these peaceful emotions.  Places that you can go and leave your baggage with old sentry's minding it for you.

I wish I would have remembered this sacred place sooner, but perhaps now, it is even greater in meaning. 

So with that, please, find your place in this crazy world.  Seek it out, and seek it often.

Thanks Guys +


In loving memory of J.M. and M. D. may God keep you.