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.

Friday, January 4, 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm scared.

Hells bells it is 2013.  Usually I kick off my new year with a healthy list of unattainable goals and ideas.  This year, well, this year was different.

I don't care to lose weight, I have bigger things to worry about, and not swearing this year? Ha. Unlikely.  My usual list of New Year Resolutions have been replaced with one singular goal. 


Spreading it, making it, giving it, taking it.... You get the point.... You've heard the song.

The past year was filled with "teachable moments" for me.  I have grown more in the past year than all my 30 plus years together. 

I have an awesome mentor.  She exudes love.  It sometimes makes me sick.  She can take the darkest night, and create such a wicked warm and loving glow.  She really is a fine example of a human being.  Thank you B.

But this year, I'm a tad fearful.  Advocating for Vet Families and all of the big changes that happened in my world, leave me feeling like I'm walking in flooded foot impressions.  Do you carry on, or do you turn back, knowing that the journey ahead may never end, or in many cases, end well.

I have no choice other than to carry on.  Tonight I found out a fellow advocate is dead.  Dead.  Died on Christmas Eve.  Not aware of why, but I have my suspicions, and I am angered that this young woman spent her last few years on earth trying to piece together her life that was shattered by a combat veteran suicide.

Now if you keep up with my posts, you know I, in my own personal world have my fears of suicide.  Tonight was startling reminder that it could be me, my orphaned children.  So what do I do?  I contact a funeral planning site online "just in case".  Be prepared.  Welcome to Secondary Trauma.  When my husband was extremely ill, and battled his own demons, what did I do?  I took out another life policy.  Because I can't stop this train.  I can just try to buffer the blow.

Now pray.  Pray for me that doesn't happen.

Its an unfortunate and alarming reality.  When the truth is while many women are off doting on their babies, putting them in private schools, bustling around from activity to activity, many of us "WWW" are planning.  We plan for the inevitable, the worst case scenario, the unthinkable.  We scramble for any sort of life preserver we can find.  We start from early morning, and we never stop.  Our day doesn't end at 10 pm.  When the house is quiet we can finally hear ourselves think, that is often when the body may rest, but there is still much to decide, to work out, to process.  It is exhausting. 

Now that we are a little farther out from the "end" of the war in Iraq, I am worried about what is cropping up in our Vet families.  Symptoms not present up randomly and cause panic.  Our Veterans are growing weary of the internal struggle with guilt and shame and self doubt, the suicide rate for Veterans that once, not that long ago, is starting to hit close to home. 

The struggles in these families, the broken-spirit children, the tired caregivers, the frantic mothers.... I see it.  I was naive 2 years ago, to think that these things would never happen to me.  Its true, I thought that.  I was sympathetic to the blogs of other women, and applauded them for sharing their story...but I selfishly praised God that these things would never happen in my home. 

Turns out, I was wrong.  I was not one of the lucky ones.  Turns out, my fight isn't going to be any easier than the next families.  Turns out, my family is no different.  My family is at risk for many things, because of trauma.

I keep thinking of the Israeli studies, the studies of families in the Balkans... What I would give to sit with a woman from either place....or from any of the thousands of warring communities around the world.

I keep telling myself to stay calm, be level, keep loving, never give up.  Don't grow weary.  Often times, me telling myself isn't enough.  That is where I lean on and gain strength from those who have walked in my shoes.  I belong to an amazing underground of women who lift me up, who encourage me, who share with me, who take from me, who remind me, this is worth it.  I am worth it.  They are worth it.

Reading this, if you have not loved a combat veteran with PTSD and TBI, you may be annoyed or even confused.... a fight???? I only can say to you one thing, yes.  I am lacking the want and desire to inform people right now.  Why don't you just know already?!  This has been going on since older wars, and this particular war, for me, has been going on since 2006.  Why do I keep repeating myself!? Why must I continue to explain to you what you will never get.


So thats my fragmented thoughts for the night.  Good night people. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours

Today i spent the afternoon advocating for your family

all the while mine is hurting

today i took my sully with a fistfull of change to the pound to give the animals some pats and some love and watched as clumsy boy hands plunked this change into the donation bucket teaching him to give what he can even if we think it isnt much

all the while smiling while holding back great big tears

today i went to the doctor with my boys and finally told our family doctor that our family is a little broken but can she please  help me put my boys back together again

all the while playing it cool when i wished she could use some magic cure and mend my broken heart with some fancy pill or medical trick....

today i spent worrying about a young  man and woman in despair over the most pain a person should ever endure thinking about god and why he does the things he does

all the while thoughts of my own woven in and under their pain.

today i reached out to one woman seeking help for a friend, through talking it seems she could use the same help too.

all the while i was doing the same, trying to help others while open and bleeding.

I do believe, and call me a martyr if you must but I know what needs to be fixed, as I see damage to our families daily. You know, Mother T? A martyr. You know, Dietrich B? Also a martyr. I could only DREAM of being as at peace with the TRUTH as they were/are.  Bless us all.  We need it.

Oh Big Brother, so sweet, so misled

I should really take a picture of my face to accurately capture the expression tonight.  You see, I worked 5 years for our sweet Big Brother, and well, I think he may be sniffing around for no good reason other than to cover up some major transgression committed, or some greivous act he commited that I don't even know about. 

I wonder just how unethical it is for Big Brother's administrative staff to come dicking around my life under the guise of concern.  I wonder how damaging this is to the tender thread of trust that hangs us, to send our two favorite and most trusted "siblings" to check on us????  I wonder what that will look like 10 years from now, to someone completely removed and unbiased.  Maybe it will look like nothing at all, maybe it will look like sincere concern, or maybe, it will look seedy and underhanded.  I guess it all depends.

Regardless, I'm not going to stop writing.  I refuse to stop telling my story.  You see, 18 months ago, as I frantically searched for validation and "the others" who I knew in my heart were out there, it was through their story telling that I found my peace.  That I found my place.  That I was validated, welcomed, and never let go. 

I do have some seriously disturbing stories about what it is like to live this life after combat, and I never mean to "scare" anyone, I simply mean to continue my mission of wearing my heart on my sleeve.  I do so because I know that there are many many more families just like mine, who are feeling stranded, who are drowning, who are searching for signs of life.  I continue to write, as if a light in the darkness. 

So it was to my great dismay, and disgust, and (dramatically) horror, when I learned that Big Brother's assistant was keeping tabs, and concerned about a recent blog post I had written.  I thought my Brother would be happy when I left, as it was clear to me that while I was there, I was often a bother, needy, and irritable.  But, He continues to follow me around, and I'm just not sure why.  Surely, this will be printed, and put in a file, and stored away.... 

I find it completely nonsensical that the lack of transperancy is being played off as concern.  If anyone in our world was afraid, concerned, or questioned safety or any of the above, they would have the authorization, permission, and actually the DUTY to contact me directly.  However, the coward hid behind Big Brother's little bitch.  And she wasn't giving any answers.  Furthermore, the concerned party (aka Big Brother's assistant) should have contacted me directly.  Not messy up the trail by delegating to the minions.  The ones, by the way, we trusted.  I will never trust again.  I've been burned by my tortorous Big Bro enough, I'm not interested in childish games.  Big Brother will either hand out his punishment, or go away.  I left, now, why won't he leave me alone?

It is a harrassing phone call in the middle of an already busy day, to clarify "concerns over a blog post."   Dearest Brother, I have been writing for a long time now, and your concern is just now?  Our life has not changed (only gotten worse), my writing has not changed for 18 months (aside from being able to call you out on a bigger platform.)  But that is not my intention.

My intention is to keep my husband alive.  My intention is to create some sort of living situation on this earth for him to not just live in on autopilot, but actually enjoy it! 

Do not be afraid, do not be worried.  My writing is incredibly intense, and sometimes alarmingly revealing.  That is how I cope.   Well, writing and cigs.  No drugs, not alcohol, no slutting around.  

Don't be deceptive (haha Brother, I know right? C'est Impossible)No one even told me WHICH post it was, only that it was on the FOV website...And I am assuming it was posted on Nov 19th, so it took Big Brother 10 days to become concerned for us..... Lucky for us we've been living this shit for so long, that we often know how to (painfully) navigate these storms.  We were treading water, as ususal.  Here is the post that caused panic in my nosy, but often well meaning Big Brother

So.  There it is.  Sue me.  I'm entitled to my feelings of intermittent PISSED OFFEDNESS.  Get off me already.  Has anyone thought, ANYONE, anyone at all, thought, that maybe once in awhile, I do a little grieving and suffering of my own????  That this is how I deal?  That this is how I HELP?!

I just want to leave with the reader, Big Brother, Senior Staff of the house of Big Brother, that you may sit down, read my blog, peer into a little life doing what it is just trying to do (survive in case you couldn't gather that).... enjoy that it is MY family, not YOURS that you read about, gossip about, use as fodder.   

Vid on secondary

A nice little glimpse into secondary ptsd...

enjoy friends:

Its real. Its raw. Its me.  Heart on my sleeve and all that jazz.


Questions? Please spare the chaos, contact me directly or
No need to bother husbands team of need to pilfer this vid and gossip at my old work about it.  This IS your job people.  This IS what it looks like here.  Get on with your self and find some SOLUTIONS. Love you all.