MAINFRAME OVERRIDE MESSAGE: My PTSD Explained as Best As I Can

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD or Continuous Stress Disorder or C-TSD, C-PTSD Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder

What? Why? Who?

Soldiers? Weak? Symptoms?

These are the same questions that I had once asked about our nation’s heroes returning from Afghanistan. And now I find myself trying to give an answer to those around me about my own current mental health – My PTSD.

Ya know when you open your Netflix app? You often see a message on your screen:

Buffering..

or if a storm completely knocks out your internet?

Connection Lost

These onscreen notifications tell the viewer what is happening internally – in the wiring. PTSD sufferers have a damaged (a wounded) wiring system of sorts, internally. When I personally come undone, I stammer, I stutter, I have to ask “What are we talking about?” mid-conversation, I use the wrong word or can’t think of a desired word. My CONNECTION IS LOST.

I’ve gotten lost driving around in the town I have lived in for over ten years. I’ve been asked my phone number and nothing CONNECTION LOST.. That’s a terrible experience: knowing you are an intelligent adult, have a college degree, and you can’t access the part of the brain storing your phone number…

(not good) SELF-TALK BEGINS: “I mean come on… You’re in your 40’s and you can’t offer the most basic of information… Seriously- you are such an idiot..” [and the vicious cycle of being so flippin’ stressed out that your brain shuts down and you are screaming at yourself in frustration because] – “Come on Suzanne, you are frickin’ smart enough to remember your phone number!”

I am trying to come back online… BUFFERING THROUGH LIFE.

After suffering through another unimaginable set of circumstances with one of my two adopted children, I opted to stay overnight with a friend rather that go home yesterday night. Mi amiga listened kindly to me try to explain how my brain was operating at that moment. While lavishing food love on me – homemade French toast, blueberries, bacon, and O.J. for dinner, she tried to understand the fears, the shaking, the stuttering, … and the danger I faced that she couldn’t see. [Side note: Are there many things better to comfort a person with than breakfast for dinner? I think not. She is the best!].

When attempting to explain to her how I was currently engaging in our conversation … about returning home after drinking the bleach my son had maliciously put in my cup,… I was SIMULTANEOUSLY being bombarded with countless intrusive thoughts and concerns racing through my mind.

[The background or intrusive thoughts clamouring about my head included escaping, safety, scanning my body for physical manifestations of trauma, a voice of someone terrified screamimg a litany of cuss words, noises and the no noticing of noise, self-talk of “pay attention, focus, focus,” I AM GOING TO DIE on repeat, et cetrera- as in there is more]

In seeking to understand what I was going through, my dear friend, Courtney came up with a brilliant analogy.

When you encounter someone triggered by what likely is an innocuous sound or image to most, to the one wounded by trauma, it sets off a MAINFRAME OVERRIDE MESSAGE.

Personally, I have been triggered by a beach ball thrown at my back, logs for sale at Publix to put on camp fire, an unexpected person coming around a corner, ice in a cup, and a Tae Kwon Do demonstration just to name a few.

These triggers either startle my auditory system or visually remind me of something related to the traumas. Oh, and then there’s the triggered state for no apparent reason.

Aaaaaaand the fun begins.

HYPERVIGILANCE kicks in. Every sound is amplified. PTSD sufferers even have better hearing when triggered. The blood flow in the body is rerouted during fight, flight, freeze or fawn. There is increased blood flow to the ears! (I know, pretty cool design by our Creator don’t ya think?!) An overactive startle reflex is in place. Peripheral vision is sharpened. All systems are a go for launch!

My husband can’t even figure out how to enter the room post trauma. If he walks into the space I am in and my back is facing the entrance, when I turn around, his presence makes me catch my breath, heart rate speed up, and fear grip my chest. I just wasn’t expecting anyone.

If he tries to signal me with a noise, that makes me jump as well. And jumping may be a slight underestimation of the response and reality. I am TERRIFIED. Being afraid in your own home is the absolute worst.

I am always planning for an attack with a minimum of two escape routes…

but all this is not evidenced on the homescreen. The home screen, what you see, is the same prior to the injury, the seeing, the experiencing, the trauma(s).

When you walk up to a computer you don’t always know how many other operations are running.

With the bandwidth of a computer maxed out, the front open program is sluggish and everything takes forever!

Completely me! Trying to lock the car door eludes me. I look at the two icons on the electric button- one has a lock in which the curved metal steel touches the squarish bottom part, the other icon has the curved part in an unlatched position. I see this visually, but I got nothing. I question myself, “so if the metal is touching, that means what? And the open latch.. Does that mean the door is open or will open? Do I want to unlock, lock, so frickin’ confusing!

But it literally isn’t.

Then the stress of not thinking straight hounds me, hisses at me, “Stupid, deficient, broken, helpless”. Biblical side note: That hissing is from a serpent, on his belly, lying, hoping I believe all of these labels. In my current state, I believe and beat myself up.

This mostly inactive, lethargic and listless presence of mind responds to commands internally or imputed by others- Unresponsive. Like when you can’t remember the right combination of username and password and the message in red reads Our system doesn’t recognize this information.

Thats exactly it!

I bet you can’t pat your belly and rub your head. Or is it pat your head and rub your belly. I am going with guess #2. Anyways, it is hard to do two tasks that use different systems in the body. Want to run for your life? You will need use of the parasympathetic nervous system. Would you like to find something gluten-free, reasonably priced and not made from cornstarch and sugar my just to get around the whole gluten thing? Believe me, you will need full executive functioning of the frontal lobes in your brain to make it out if the grocery store in under 3 hours.

Without being mentally “online”, actions take tremendous time and effort to accomplish. Actions like ordering your words coherently, deciding what to wear, retelling a story without you listener falling asleep because you have told every contingency and fully disclosed every backstory to “where did you go for lunch yesterday?”

The details seem so important to get your message out. From my research, I think it involves a complicated web of physiological, mental, spiritual, and social motivations. One thing I haven’t read put together by PTSD experts is the wounding messages of

1. I CAN’T TRUST MYSELF BECAUSE I OVERPLAY THE TRAUMAS I EXPERIENCED OR I AM TOO SENSITIVE. Therefore a full fleshed out explanation of a midday meal is warranted.

2. IF OTHERS HAD MORE INFORMATIOM (LIKE I NEEDED TO BE ABLE AVOID MY HURT), THEN LIFE WOULD BE BETTER. So I go on and on about the decision making process between Panera and Outback.

3. I’VE BEEN TOLD I AM MAKING NO SENSE REPEATEDLY AND OFTEN. I think “that aspect may be a little muddled. Let me explain in greater detail.”

Surprisingly, this syrupy roundabout thinking and then responding or reacting may occur years after trauma. It may generate hurt feelings as the murky thought processes are often hog-tied together with self-esteem.

So to you, my sweet friend who has stuck around quite a while in this lengthy blog post, picture the circular arrow you impatiently stare at on your computer screen after trying to pull up a task or operation. You expect a prompt output from said computer. But then you get nothing, nada, zero. (The “beach ball of death” as one of my friends calls it.)

The arrow circles around and around like a dog after its’ own tail – but not near as amusing. In fact, it can be quite irritating or exasperating. I can see that look in your face. I start to understand the social cues but for the flippin’ life of me, I can’t connect.

There are other issues going on in the background that you can’t see.

I could go on and on.

Bahaha.. Laughing at myself. My injuried brain wants to clarify still more.

Pretty sure this behavior came up yesterday telling something to my oldest daughter.

And to you my sweet friend struggling with PTSD, I will keep clarifying until mental health isn’t perceived as a weakness. It’s the most natural response to the things we’ve seen. So go reBoot. Find your equilibrium.

The Death of My Happy Family

Please don’t ask me to stop being me.

We’ve experienced such pain

Both been treated wrongly.

Life has been tough for you and me.

Now, I just want to be treated kindly.

It’s been years of complete insanity.

I’m weary but I am healing in recovery.

Back on 2010 – violently,

An earthquake rumbled beneath the sea.

And devastated the island of Haiti.

Then God whispered to Haylee-

“Can I use your family?”

And the very least we could do was to say YES obediently.

Yet a few years back in 2003,

A young broken Haitian girl felt so lonely.

She lay with a man, longing to be loved desperately.

In two years time, she had delivered two babies.

They all existed in squalor horrifically.

Neglected and abandoned,

In the babies’ first years sadly,

Left them with wounds damaging them permanently.

(And hurt children build massive walks protectively.)

2012, Our opened home, inspected painstakingly,

We prepared to add two more to our happy family.

But the neglect turned into a cry,

Then a howl to be “seen”.

While our other kids’ needs went unmet tragically.

And there began the slow destruction of our “happy family”.

Adoption demands ripped open wounds never seen.

And fear torn at foundations affecting us mentally.

Diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD.

Anger, chaos and fear screamed so loudly –

“Someone please help us!”

Our desperate plea.

…. But not before our biological children began to flee.

The oldest out with friends or at work generally.

The youngest sealing off her once open heart ironically.

And our son didn’t get the chance to live normally.

Vigilant to respond to my cries so quickly.

He was always there to defend and protect my safety.

We have lost and grieved mournfully…

The death of our once happy family.

And you,my husband, have suffered horrendously-

Health issues,

Anger,

And depression you battle sadly.

And I had to move to the garage for safety,

Barely forming sentences because of depression and anxiety.

Years of this battle,

Lies

Violence and

Manipulation resulted in this momma’s PTSD.

When we called DCF for help,

We were charged with abandonment FALSELY.

Adoption and abandonment gas changed us – each separately.

Each just trying to breathe – hopefully.

We have hurts –

And we’ve hurt each other – unfortunately.

No one could have prepared us for this tragedy.

No one.

Loss has become our language – a sad melody.

We sob.

We question.

What happened to our family?

So please understand when I pray and…

Don’t ask me to stop being me.

And I won’t try to tell you how to be.

I Weep..

I WEEP for every soldier who suffers from PTSD.

A leg blown clean off would be better.

Without PTSD- she heals, he recovers, and returns home from the war to a helpful family that can SEE the injured limb…

But for the warriors with an injured BRAIN,  they go home with “just PTSD”…

I WEEP. 

No one knows that there are times when a single sound, or even no sound at all, a sight – something out the corner of her eye, a meaningless word or an any action can send her back into the HELL in which she lost her mind.

No one understands the days, week, months, or years it may take to crawl out from the weight of the trauma that crushes the soldiers ability to think rationally, causes flashbacks played across the screen in his mind and disrupts the relationships America’s hero wants to return to normally.

I WEEP for the soldiers with PTSD. 

 

And I WEEP for every girl who has been  decimated by sexual abuse and develops PTSD…

Her worst nightmare,

the RAPE, doesn’t happen once to her.

It happens in her bruised brain, over and over-

     …in the produce section of the grocery store getting apples for the kids’ lunches,

     …in the restaurant with her children laughing at dad’s dumb jokes,

     …in the parking lot after a fun day of shopping with the girls.

 

Something triggered her…

Maybe it was the man in the royal blue hoodie,

And she was immediately transported back to her HELL again- LOOKING FOR AN ESCAPE ROUTE, LOOKING FOR A WEAPON IF SHE HAS TO FIGHT, trying to find a safe place.

I WEEP for the abused woman with PTSD.

 

And I WEEP for the adoptive moms with PTSD,

She just wanted to be there for a child neglected- a little one who didn’t have a childhood as wonderful as her biological kids did,

     …moms who have stood  between a child with a broken piece of mirror held over head and her other children…

     …moms who choose to get the shit beat out of them while driving so that she can get her brother to his soccer game on time…

     …moms who hear one child shatter a glass window, then hear the heart of their other child shatter because she wanted to go to her friend’s birthday party.  Instead of having a normal childhood, the police and DCF show up all too often and ask her questions about her parents that rob her of her innocence -way too often.  She doesn’t get to eat birthday cake with her good  friends -there.  No she is here, at home, her HELL. 

     …moms whose hardened hearts are broken into a  1,000,000 pieces of rubble because of the violent child’s siblings,

     – the sibling, a son, an older brother, that always sprints from his seat in front of his favorite video game because he fears that mom is in danger. And she usually is.  He too have become hypervigilent.  He hears even the slightest sounds, notices small movements, judges facial expressions and body language. 

I WEEP for the moms with PTSD, who have watched the childhood of their other kids be destroyed.

The trauma that often injures the deepest and hurts the most.

    I have watched one of my children turn to pot to try and escape,

     I have watched one of my kids turn to anger and shut down,

     I have watched another child turn away from the God. 

I WEEP for the mommas,  the women,  the men, the children –  who develop PTSD from wounds and trauma to the brain.

The HELL continues on and on.

They go through it over and over,

Triggered….

     in the grocery store,

     in the restaurant,

     in the parking lot

        TERRIFIED  again and again.

And I WEEP.

I WEEP today because I was terrified again today. 

I was flooded with fear.

I was fighting for survival again.

I was poisoned again. 

I was punched again.

I was in the fight alone again

     -abandoned again.

Feeling like no one can protect you,

But worse- feeling like no one will protect you.

I wept today.

And I WEEP FOR YOU MY FRIENDS,

WITH “JUST” PTSD. 

 

    We suffer alone I the grocery store full of people…

     We suffer alone in the crowded restaurant…

     Alone in the parking lot of our mind. 


I WEEP. 

3 Flat Tires in a Week – Perceived or Real Threats?

Coincidence or not?

I DON’T KNOW!

Seems highly suspicious but there are nails on the roadways, so theoretically you could get THREE FLAT TIRES from nail and screw punctures in a week.
Our 14 year old’s behavior – Threat or not?

I DON’T KNOW!

He does not seem to possess the skills to change his pattern of behavior.  His behaviors are worsening and have been terrifying.  He needs therapy.  We have tried therapy many times from home.  We have tried to find a placement outside of the home where he can work on his life.  We are running into dead ends.  And we are running out of time.

Yet God can do a miracle at any time in anyone’s life.

God can make dry bones arise and breathe.  He can make a donkey speak.

Does God often do these things?  No – God usually works providentially in the natural world of what we see and hear.  Like when God heals someone of cancer through chemo and radiation.  Providence.  The right doctor.  The right course of medicine decided by team of doctors.  The right place.

Sometimes God works supernaturally.  sometimes people are healed from heart issues without prescribed, planned, and executed medical intervention.

At 29, I had symptoms of a heart attack.   Fortunately, it was FARTS — haha — abdominal gas.  Who knew stomach gas  pressure could feel similar to a heart attack?  [Side note: Doctors know.   Haha!]  I was told to go to a cardiologist; just to be sure my heart was okay.  Well, it wasn’t.  And it isn’t.

At 30, my cardiologist recommended I go to the renowned Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida to have surgery to correct the severe MVP – mitral valve prolapse.  On a scale of 1 – 4, 4 being the worst, I have a level 4 MVP.  Go big or go home right?!  There is a significant amount of blood flowing backwards in my heart.  Not good.  This allows too much blood in one area, creating pressure and enlarging the heart.

That is what generally happens. The value in a heart needs to open and close properly to not allow backwards blood flow.  My valves, that should open and close like secure doorways, flap like the Grand Ol’ Flag on a breezy day.  I have seen the ultrasounds, the pictures, the videos.  There is clearly a problem.

At 30, I went to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL.  I was scrubbed in for surgery.  I was placed under anesthesia.  I was told I may be confused or forgetful coming out of anesthesia after surgery.

I was so confused after coming out from under the influence of anesthesia. My husband was there telling me I didn’t have the surgery.  I just looked at him thinking, “Oh, the anesthesia thing.  It sounds like he is saying ‘ya didn’t have surgery’ but that can’t be right!  My mother and sister are here from Tennessee caring for my 3 small children.  I have been planning this surgery for 7 months to be done in the summer when my teacher husband can be home to help in recovery.  I have traveled hundreds of miles to Shands Hospital.  I KNOW I WENT INTO SURGERY!!!!”

Again with the ‘ya did not have surgery thingy’.  ANESTHESIA IS WEIRD.  This is my first time being placed under it.  I don’t know what the heck is going on.

BUT APPARENTLY AT THE LAST MINUTE, DOCTORS DID A TEST AND THEN DID NOT PROCEED WITH THE OPEN HEART SURGERY REPAIR OF MY MVP. 

And now 16 years later,  same heart.  Not enlarging.  This is very atypical of level 4 SEVERE MVP.  Many women have a MVP. Lots.  Not so many women have surgeons tell them on their annual visits:

  1.   Yes, you have severe Mitral Valve Prolapse.
  2.   Yes, you can have surgery at any point  – cuz it is very severe.
  3.   We don’t have any idea why you heart has not enlarged .
  4.   Come look again at the monitor to see what I am talking about.  The blue color represents the backwards blood.  There should not be any.  You have a lot.

Maybe my heart is stretchy..

Oh, good segway back to healing.

My heart has been stretched “emotionally” and my mind has been stretched physically – to a breaking point – in which my brain developed PTSD.  My adopted daughter terrified me with her violent and explosive behavior.  She had to be held often to stop her from jumping out of the car.  She actually jumped out of the car while I was driving at 35 mph.  That is not good.  That signaled some serious problems.  She was kicking through wooden bedroom doors.  She threw mirrors.  The kicked out her window to run away.  She shoved berries into her mouth and asked if they would kill her.  She had an onset of Bipolar Disorder and has also been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, has low than average cognition, PTSD, and RAD – reactive attachment disorder.

I have a medical diagnosis of PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  My war is my adoption journey.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in the summer of 2016.  On my first visit to my therapist, he now states, “I strongly considered taking you to the hospital immediately.  You could barely form a sentence.  You were a hot mess!”  He did not actually call me a hot mess.  I am paraphrasing.

Fast forward to this school year 2017-2018.  Our adopted son is now displaying terrifying behaviors.  He has written many disturbing things like – “I WISH SUZANNE WERE DEAD”  in his closet, in  notes, on his bed frame, on the back of a picture frame.  I am Suzanne.  He put bleach in my drink as he washed the dishes- not with bleach though.  Although, he did tell his 18-year-old brother that the bleach was for “cleaning.”

Turns out the bleach our oldest son had seen *******  with was intended for me!

As we headed out the door,  I said to *******, “Let me go grab my water!”

He watched as I went to the kitchen.

He lied when I screamed WHAT THE [HECK OR BLEEP] – [I could have said either.] IS IN MY DRINK?

I couldn’t fathom bleach was in my drink.  I have been asked, “Didn’t you smell it?”  No, I did not.  I drank a sip to try to determine what ****** had put in my cup.  I assumed it was something gross from the fridge  and I wanted to know what it was.

He stood there.  Passively.  Lying.  “Nothing.”   That was all he would say.

My older son started questioning.  My 16 yr-old  started questioning.

WHAT DID YOU PUT IN MOM’S DRINK?

The wheels started turning in my oldest’s head.  Give me you cup Mom.  [Smells]  He screams ,”How could you?  I know what it is!  Tell everyone what you did.  Tell everyone what you put in mom’s cup!”

Pinned to the floor for my safety, he continued to lie.

I wanted my oldest son to hit ******.

When our oldest finally forced him to admit what he had done.  my mind did not want to process the fact that my adopted son had just put a known deadly chemical in my drink.

My oldest never hit him.   Never hurt him.  Never has.  And frankly, I don’t know why.  We aren’t that kind of family.  We have never hit our kids.

But this was HIT – WORTHY  in my book.

Nope.

I called my husband, shaking.. “What do I do?  We can’t call the police because of our daughter.  I don’t want ****** to affect her chances of reunification after all her hard work in therapy.”  My husband agreed.  We would look for a placement outside of the home and not call the police.

We have looked for a placement.  For months now.

My husband is like a warden watching ****** every minute of the day.  We have locks, alarms, cameras,  … and I generally don’t stay at home anymore.

So is he a threat to our safety?  DEFINITELY A THREAT.

WILL HE DO SOMETHING AGAIN?  I DON’T KNOW.

I AM SCARED EVERYDAY.

I HAVE RAGING PTSD SYMPTOMS that had subsided after years of therapy and prescription meds.

  • I have high blood pressure often.
  • I cry often because I feel abandoned by everyone.
  • I fear everyone hates me – including me family who loves me.
  • I go into flight mode.  I sometimes just bolt out the door and run for miles.  I often get in my car and just drive … away.  Any where but home.
  • I lock myself in my room when I am home.
  • I only use one cup and have it with me at all times.
  • I don’t drink anything from the kitchen.
  • I have horrible intrusive thoughts.
  • I feel like  gun is pressed to the base of my skull.
  • I shake a lot.
  • I often can’t speak correctly.
  • I feel angry because I can’t speak.  I stutter and can’t come up with the words I want to say.
  • I feel angry that this is the mother my biological kids know.
  • I feel sad because our family is ripped apart again. 3 years ago from our daughter and now our son.
  • I don’t cook anymore. I am barely home and the kitchen triggers me.  I used to love  clean kitchen.  Now the clean counters are the trigger because he had cleaned the kitchen and left only my cup  WITH BLEACH IN IT on the counter.

Need help again support system.

We need help.

 

 

 

Our Therapist Called It … “Protective Factors”

What stops an adoptive mom who has lived,  no, – existed, year after year, day after day, and moment by moment in fear, exhaustion, depression, desperation…

  • from just pressing her foot to the floorboard firmly and driving off the nearest bridge,
  • from taking more – way more, perhaps all – of the prescription pills she takes for her PTSD… she developed loving on her adopted kids,
  • from just sitting alone in the car, hiding out from the nightmare that lies behind the closed-door to the house and the closed garage door to the unknowing world, escaping to the places the radio takes her with the car running…

Our therapist called them – those reasons that keep some hurting mommas from committing suicide – “PROTECTIVE FACTORS”.  I nodded and asked her again, “protective factors huh?  That term makes a lot of sense.”  Those two words rolled around the places in my head.

I thought my own recovery.  I thought about my personal PROTECTIVE FACTORS.  I have joked with my husband about how wonderful death seemed compared to the insanely tough adoption journey we are on.  We can joke about suicide because we each have a lot of protective factors.  I have dealt with depression.  I currently take prescription medication for this beast.  Year after year of tooting a horn on December 31st thinking, “this year can’t possibly be as horrific as this last year has been!”, and it being worse than horrific makes for one weary soul.  I specifically remember having this thought in 2015 going into 2016.  I thought the same way on Dec. 31, 2016.  On January 1st, 2018,  I had learned to NOT think in the same manner…  because my circumstances might not get better this year.  Hoping in a good year,  a good day etc.  has set me up for failure on many occasions.  Now I just roll with it and hope only in God.  If I have a good day or week.. BONUS.  But if I don’t have a good day… well, I have been camped out there for quite some time, so I know I am going to be okay.  Funny what repetitive CRAP will do for you!

So what are my personal protective factors?

#1  I have ZERO PROBLEMS ASKING FOR HELP AND SUPPORT.  The moment we took a hard left turn on BIPOLAR DRIVE, I called our adoption support specialist.  She put me in contact with a foster mom mentor.  And if my support system suggested something, I did it.  It certainly couldn’t hurt and might actually help.  As my symptoms related to mental illness worsened,  I went to a doctor for medication and a counselor for therapy.  My husband looked at me and said “You need to see a doctor!”  My response was, “Yeah,  I probably do.”

#2  I have MAINTAINED CONNECTIONS TO SUPPORT SYSTEMS.  I have gone to adoptive parenting classes to learn about how to handle my kids with RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder.  I have stayed in contact with some of those friends on Facebook.  I have made amazing sisterhood relationships with moms of RAD kids.  That is a population of moms who understand each others bizarre life circumstances.  When you are attacked as a “nurturing enemy” because your child’s biological mom completely SUCKED at mommy-ing, you need to hear you aren’t crazy or alone.  RAD adoptive kids push away from really awesome adoptive moms because that kind of relationship had gone horribly wrong at birth.  No one answered their cries.  No one feed them.  The mom who was supposed to be there wasn’t.  So a child with RAD will fight like a Tasmanian devil before she ever lets you get emotionally close to her.  Sabotage,  manipulation, lying and deceit are hallmarks of a RAD kid.  [GET INTO A SUPPORT GROUP IN YOUR AREA OR FIND A GROUP ON FACEBOOK!  SUPPORT GROUPS ARE INVALUABLE.]

I also have support from my family, a few close friends, my church and God.  I know God well.  And He is my most important PROTECTIVE FACTOR.  He says I am loved, I am worthy,  I am special,  and I am safe in His arms.  Thank God! Literally!

My daughters, Kylee and Haylee, are helpful.  And by that, I mean that they are MEAN.  Like, if you don’t understand what happens to a developing young lady around the age of 15, fair warning folks, it gets ugly.  I have been told my chewing on a carrot makes my daughter want to die.  Also eating cereal is a justifiable reason for screaming death threats at me.  Don’t eat cereal in front of my  16-year-old daughter.  It is a bad idea.  My 19-year-old is at college and is quite blunt.  When she calls home,  she does NOT want to talk about how I am doing.  So when she asks, “So, how’s it going, Mom?”,  she doesn’t really care at the moment (because she isn’t here and can’t help –  she says) what my actual state of “how’s it going” is, she wants to exchange pleasantries and talk about her life.  But their meanness has been a protective factor.  They don’t let me fall to pieces and hold me.  Most of the time.  They tell me to suck it up.  Most of the time.  [Side note: You can not ‘suck up’ PTSD.  It is an injury that needs healing and often needs help.]  So their meanness pushes me to exercise great emotional fortitude and strength and use my coping skills.

My husband’s love, grace, acceptance, and time are the bandages to my brain injury.  Just like Jesus,  Kyle extends to me gifts that I don’t deserve.  He gives them freely and unconditionally.  Some “Christians” struggle to give what has been freely given to them.  Some Christians have loved me conditionally.  Some friends – who are Christians – have abandoned me when the crap hit the fan… (it is definitely shit that hits the fan but I don’t want to offend those judgmental ‘Christians’ previously mentioned.)  This has been true of my family members too.  Some people just can’t handle the messiness of my life.  And I totally get it.  Because I can not handle the messiness of my life.  But if you have a messy life,  I know how you hurt.  And I offer you love, grace, acceptance, time and my heart that I hope you can hear and feel as you read my blog.  Just like my hubbie.  He is awesome.

My 19-year-old son’s steadiness helps.  My son is like a golden retriever.  He is reliable.  He is protective.  He is available.  He is present.  He always has my back.  But this personality type isn’t without flaws.  He has extended himself as the strong, unbreakable man who is exhausted from always being the strong, I GOT THIS guy.  He struggles with stress but he doesn’t show that much.

Celebrate Recovery – a 12-step Christian support program – similar to AA but not just for addicts – has changed my life.  Celebrate Recovery is for anyone with hurts, habits, or hang-ups.  I got hurts.  So I am in like Flynn.  (Who’s Flynn?)  I do not have addictive behaviors.  Doesn’t make me better – just isn’t my struggle.  For me, alcohol costs a lot of fricking money.  So I don’t buy it.  Therefore, I have not developed an addition to alcohol.  But I 100% understand why people get addicted to drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, do risky things, etc.  THEY HURT.  IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.  I have been hurt so deeply that I have come to identify with all sorts – the other hurting people, the crazy, the angry, the alcoholic, the anything to avoid this pain person.  When someone talks about the crazy lady at Wal-Mart walking around the store singing, my thoughts are:  “Hey don’t bash her.  That could SO EASILY BE ME!”

If you haven’t noticed the name of this blog – it is CRAZY IS MY COPING SKILL.  I use fun and finding humor to get through life.  I will wear a llama costume to my son’s soccer practice to make him laugh.  And others.  And me!  It is a win-win in my book.  So don’t be surprised if I rewire my riding lawn mower’s whole electrical system by watching a 14-year-old do it on YouTube (because rewiring a riding lawn mower will distract me from the stealing of everything my 13-year-old can get his hands on if not watched on a baby monitor).   And if I am going to rewire the whole thing,  I should pimp this metal ride out.  And paint the riding lawn mower camo green with bright pink polka dots.  And name her Patricia (AKA Patty – actually my 16-year-old looked at the mower and said HER name was Patricia).  Patricia the Polka Dotted Beast.  And to make the maiden voyage of Patricia the Polka Dotted Beast insanelier bizarre (and funnier in a twisted way),  she killed a rabbit.  I know INSANELIER is not a word but I am using it here.  The acre of grass around my home had grown while I rewired the mower.  And bunnies had been born.  The bunnies in my neighborhood,  known as Jupiter Farms,  are delivered in a tall clump of grass.  That described my whole yard when I started mowing.  I had actually already rescued another tiny bunny from the chicken wire under the shed that I tried to escape through.  As I gently tried to get him out of his predicament (he couldn’t get through the opening in the chicken wire),  he made a squeal like a pig.  Who knew a rabbit could squeal like that?  I feared a giant momma rabbit bounding up behind me and exercising motherly protection of her helpless babe by ferociously attacking me.  I am not making any of this story up.  This totally just happened.  Me and Patty were just cruising along when a small bunny exited the lawn mower’s blade deck stage right.  It wasn’t her fault.  She is a BEAST.  It wasn’t my fault.  I couldn’t see it and wouldn’t kill a bunny.  But life in the Farms has taught me the circle of life.  We have had chickens killed by predators and who knows whate else so often that the innocent death of said bunny did bother me enough to make some one else pick him up but also make me laugh at the irony of this convoluted story.  Yep  CRAZY IS MY COPING SKILL.  LAUGH OR DIE.  Also a protective factor because I choose to laugh.

I run or exercise really hard when I am triggered.  PROTECTIVE FACTOR.  It completes the cycle of the FIGHT – FLIGHT – OR FREEZE MODE.   The chemicals dumped into my brain during a triggered response are there to protect me.  The survival mode kicks in and involves cortisol and adrenaline.  Until the chemicals are exercised out and I feel safe again,  I will be stuck struggling with PTSD symptoms:

  • countless intrusive thoughts
  • blood pressure elevated
  • sweating or feeling hot and flushed
  • manic thinking and talking
  • escape plan making
  • desiring to hide, run, fight…
  • shaking feeling all over – esp. teeth and hands
  • feeling like a bomb is strapped to my lower back
  • or feeling like a gun is pressed to the back of the base of my head.

I listen to the Bible on an app that reads the word of God to me.  The app is called Daily Audio Bible and it is free.  Lord knows I can’t read His word when scared to death.  I listen to my Spotify called Encouragement in Sadmess.  That was totally an accident in typing and M instead of an N but I think sadmess fits better than sadness in my situation.

I write also.  I scribble more often in a journal or notebook than on this blog.  I write sloppy and furious to record the things my brain does these days.  It is partly humorous.  It is partly sad.  But I want to record what I am going through.  I think that if I can tell one person that they are not alone, it will be worth the effort.

We adopted hoping to help.  I now write hoping to help.  And as another side note:  We are doing everything we can to help our adopted and biological kids.  It has meant that some of our kids do not live at home sometimes.  We all deserve to feel safe.  When that safety is destroyed,  I have learned to put up HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.   Our adopted kids will always be a part of our family if they choose.  But we may choose to have them live elsewhere to protect our safety foremost – and sanity secondly.

-Which is a losing battle I fear.  [sarcasm mixed with truth]  Sanity straddles a fine line between crazy and coping.  I blur the line sometimes!

SO I LIVE BY GETTING HELP AND SUPPORT, STAYING CONNECTED TO SUPPORT, KEEPING AN AGENDA, TEACHING KIDS IN CHINA ONLINE, BEING SILLY AND COPING”

1 day at a time-

WITH  2 years in recovery from hurts-

and 3 years of ‘every-flippin’ day” HELL-

and 7 years of our adoption journey-

and 13 years of trouble-free parenthood-

and 25 years of marriage-

and 30 years of BELONGING to Him.. Committed our lives to Jesus-

and 46 years of HIS BEST in my life!

 

[and our family therapist Crystal’s guidance…court ordered when our daughter went into state custody so she could get the help she needs and we could be safe from her out of control behaviors. She has given us many very helpful tools like EVEN THOUGH… THINKING while TAPPING,  HULA HOOPING,  BOX BREATHING,  and GUIDED MEDITATION.  Thanks Crystal.  We weren’t excited to have court ordered counseling by a highly dysfunctional Department of Children and Families.  We do love you and your therapy!  Flow!]

What I want to Remember About: Jennie Allen's book "Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts"

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Romans 2:2 This means it is possible.

All the things she researched and wrote about dealing with brain science:

  • Brain plasticity
  • thought patterns go from EMOTION to THOUGHT to BEHAVIOR to RELATIONSHIP SHAPING to a CONSEQUENCE….. and the spiral begins again with the emotion.

BUT WHAT IF… we just took one thought captive.

The LIES we believe about ourselves boil down to one of 3 possibilities: I am worthless. I am helpless. I am unlovable. And these are all rooted in what we believe about God.

If God is exalted, a thousand minor problems will be solved at once.

A.Z. Tozer

There is a real DEFEATED devil that has demons working for him now and the battle is for our hearts and souls and minds AT THIS VERY MOMENT.

Beth Moore says there are 3 kids of pits: the kind we jump into, the kind we slip into accidentally and the kind we are thrown in.

The danger of toxic thinking is it produces an alternate reality, on e which distorted reasoning actually seems to make sense.

Psalm 139 the where can I go psalm.

….. the moment when you have a wake-up call, snap out of it, come to Jesus moment, “mom up” challenge and you finally realize I have let Satan beat me up for far too long. And you declare war. Go to battle. FIGHT LIKE HELL. Take back the territory lost to the enemy and RECLAIM your life.

REBOOT.

I gonna see a victory, for the battle belongs to You, Lord. No weapon formed against me will prosper. Gonna worship my way through this battle. You take what the enemy meant for evil and You turn it for good.

Elevation Worship son, See a Victory

Girl Interrupted: the interrupting thought is I have a choice. To have the mind of Christ. To go one of 2 directions. Romans 8:5 refers to those who love according to the flesh… and those who SET THEIR MINDS ON THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT. so Practice the art of interruption. [slight edge]

Work needs to be done. Hard work. Reboot of the mind stuck. Frozen. Glitching. Mindshifts need to made. {me personally – from Will Smith recording: We aren’t in real danger until our toes are on the edge of the helicopter’s open door. WE must see the patterns in our thought lives. We must recognize the enemy and barriers: the devil, our wounds, our sin.

Change is a big task. Thankfully for us: big God. And there are resources He created for our good – community, service and gratitude are HUGE IN RECOVERY. Deut 20 Today you are drawing near for battle.. for the Lord you God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you the victory.

Busyness – why emotion of DISCONTENT and insecurity course corrected by the interrupting thought — I choose to be still. Lots of co-dependence on OTHER things being right in the world vs. God-dependence.

[Negative emotion] because [reason]. So and so did this, my circumstances my own poor choices I wont stop. OR..

[Negative emotion] AND [reason] so I will [CHOICE].

Isolation – why emotion of SHAME Phil 2:1-2 Col 3:12-16 is course corrected by squad, tribe, posse, COMMUNITY. so father your team, seek out healthy people, feel awkward and ASK anyways, say yes to invitations. Be all of you. You can choose to be fake, class it up for the audience, OR i CAN RELISH MY WHOLEHEARTED MESS OF A SELF WITH A GOOD BIT OF SELF-DEPRECATION AND LAUGHTER AND BE AT PEACE, JUST BEING ME. Be the friend you wish others would be for you.

For family healing, work on togetherness having a good vibe and make connections that are life-giving to the family and members.

The Last 2% the card you hold closest to your heart. PLAY IT. Be vulnerable. Transparent. Authenticity. When we don’t play our last cards, the devil has us in our secrets. SAY IT OUTLOUD AND SEE THE POWER OF SECRECY BE BROKEN

FEAR OF A REAL OF PERCEIVED THREAT is course corrected when SURRENDER TO HIS CONTROL happens. Behavior resulting is submission to God’s AUTHORITY. – then we are present and open and it ends UNAFRAID. Afraid living leads to not trusting, hypervigilance, looking out for number one, controlling as much as we can, manipulation more and ends in CONSTANT ANXIETY. This earth is not MY home. Heaven is my home and IT IS SECURE. Name the lies. Belt up skirt up. Let’s go beetches.

CYNICISM attitude resulting from HURTS people can not be trusted or interrupting thought GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY and will in the end, work all things out, leads to believing the best in others, and moving towards TRUST.

Major coping skill – GRATITUDE TRANSFORMATION Glenis Hargreaves Beauty and awe awakens us and restarts our hearts. There is a world beyond this UGLY GROSS VILE PLACE I FIND MYSELF IN.

LOOK AT seashells, flowers, ferns and clouds. Such intention, craftsmanship, incredible functionality, beauty and proof of God. The heavens declare the glory of God Psalm

SELFISHNESS uses displays itself in ANGER – but ends in being unknown and feeling unloved but the INTERRUPTING THOUGHT – I have a choice to serve God and others. and the flower of HUMILITY GROWS THERE.

VICTIM SELF-PITY seeking purpose in the pain, for the pain, gifts we didn’t ask for interrupting thought – I CHOOSE TO BE GRATEFUL. think: My circumstances are an opportunity to experience God, then I will give thanks in the mess, be forgiving in relationships and end up JOYFUL instead of complaining and grumbling through life, looking to place blame, and consistently UNhappy.

Complacent? Choose to seek the good of others over my own comfort. or other alternative. Bad place :Starts with STRESS to i can do whatever i want to pursuing self-indulgence to self-serving relationships and end up BORED.

Contagious minds. Healthy thinking spread because the proof is in the pudding. Be patient with others around you who don’t recognize the negative patterns they are stuck in and they spiral in stress, emotionally unstable, co-dependent on all the things being easy and tidy. Let God be God. You can not fix them Suzanne. but take the slight edge. every second is a choice – poor judgment or achieving your goals or the purpose God has for you life and accepting the path to get there.

In Court Again. Case No: 50-2020-CO-00643-AXXX-NB

I am getting so good at this uh- ‘law’ stuff. I’ve got a good bit of law lingo now under my belt. Defendant (that’s me, Suzanne H. Gero), judge, police officer, courtroom, plaintiff (who am I kidding – I don’t know what this means), bailiff (also a word I ‘think’ I know but like “tarmac’- what actually is the bailiff and a tarmac? I know what they are associated with but if you tested me with close but not actual examples or pictures of the previously mentioned words, I don’t know if I would get these correct. Like, where does the tarmac start and end? It is somewhere at an airport, but can it be the area around a plane NOT at an airport? Is it associated with the aircraft per se or the airport? I actually have googled searched this word because it drives me bananas to hear the word used in the news and not know the accurate definition. And still confused on that one. Please email the clearest definition of tarmac. The interwebs are lacking in clarity. Or maybe that’s me. Any who.

Back to today’s Pre-Trial Hearing before the County Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Palm Beach County, Florida – Criminal Division:

In the State of Florida vs. Defendant: Suzanne H Gero, after a tedious three minutes of interrogation by Judge Frank S Castor, in which answers were sought to the confuddlement of ‘what happened?’, ‘how long was the improper confinement?’, and ‘did you realize your dog was missing?’…

…the facts given to this grueling courtroom drama were as follows:

My dog got out while we were moving out of a condo and ran 600 feet to the beach.

The duration of the entire incident (in my head, I wanted to add “in question” but kept my answers short and direct for fear of laughing and mocking the absurdity in which I found myself today) was 20-25 minutes.

Yes, we all realized Amber was missing. At about minute 15, I walked 15 feet to Carlin Park, called out to park joggers “Has anyone seen a white shepherd?”, and was told, “Yeah, the lifeguards have her at the beach.” 600 feet – 15 feet from our door making her 585 feet away.

Lifeguards had called Animal Care and Control to scan her, found her microchipped and called me as I walked- I mean trudged, the taxing, laborious, and punishing distance between me and my bitch – /biCH/ noun. 1. a female dog, wolf, fox or otter. You know, in judicial preceedings, it is important, no, vital, to uses precise language or jargon.

Since the alleged incident on December 31, 2019, I have been to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League on 3200 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL 33409, to vaccinate and license canine felon Amber (This is probably not the accurate use of aforementioned criminal vocab but I am using poetic ‘license’ here in conjunction with and due to the nature of the crime – lack of ‘license’.)

I have also traveled to the Division of Animal Care and Control, Palm Beach County Department of Public Safety, 7100 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33411-3306 to obtain a License and Rabies Vaccination Certificate… though not for Breeding.

Tertiary, (that’s defined as ‘third in order or level’) I rode my yellow beach cruiser to the Courthouse, North Branch, 3188 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 TWICE to schedule a court date.

I don’t really know, all they told me was that I was suppose to do this next “In order to avoid to avoid additional citations that will increase in fines ranging up to $750.00 dollars or more not including court cost.” County Ordinance 98-22: Chapter 4 Section 10.

Wait, hold up here just a minute… I just re-typed what was mailed to me in a correspondence on 01/16/2020. On one hand, the middle of the sentence asserts ‘fines ranging up to…’ (cash amount) followed by the phrase ‘or more’. So, which is it compliance po-po? Is there a cap on the fines I could potentially face as an offending party as stated by ‘up to’ OR (dun,dun, duuun) is there ‘or more’ amount in the punitive aspect of the law here? People, I think, I have stumbled onto grounds for dismissal. (Sadly, I am writing this post-dismissal of said Case No: 50-2020-CO-000643-AXXX-NB. We will never know if the conundrum uncovered here in legal documents would have been successfully litigated by me, proceeding pro se litigant, which in modern law means to argue on one’s behalf in a legal proceeding as a defendant or plaintiff in civil cases or as a defendant in criminal cases, mine being the later as this is a criminal case. I think I would have prevailed!)

Back to the timeline of MY LIFE/ GOD’S BELLY LAUGH, the first time at the Clerk of the Courts office to schedule hearing date, the attendant/ receptionist could not pull up the citation. She said, “Check back in a week or two.” Second trip on bike to courthouse, I remembered to leave my hot pink tazer at home because first trip left me hiding my tazer in the cup holder of my bicycle under a Publix receipt when they would not allow me entrance into government building with the hot pink tazer. People, it was a simple mistake we all could have made. Also on this second trip to the Clerk of the Courts on 2/11/2020, I was able to secure a Pre-Trial Hearing at 10:00 AM 2/20/2020.

I keep thinking there is a lot to be unpacked here about 20/20. Like a life lesson hidden here on ‘Hindsight is 2020’ or maybe ‘2020 Vision’ or ‘Have Your Eyes Checked?’ (I can revisit this later.)

Today’s events unfolded as follows: Hubbie woke me up as he prepared for work. I made myself a concoction of Zipfizz and water. I signed onto Spotify to see today’s bible reading as outlined in The Bible Recap podcast and to listen to Contemporary Christian music. I read the prescribed chapters in Leviticus 22-23… and because in Leviticus 23:33 it describes the Festival of Booths or Sukkot, I wondered if some Jews still live outside in little shelters for seven days today. Sure enough, some do. As seen on YouTube. Which led to watching another YouTube video about the close proximity of the three faith groups that occupy The Old City section in Jerusalem. Then I googled a current map of the Old City section of Jerusalem to see the close proximity of Jews, Christians, and Muslims living in that 1 square mile today. Some say ‘Squirrel!’… I say curious and slightly distractible researcher.

I closely watched the time because I know my shortcomings of being late or altogether forgetting about an event or my expected appearance at an event that I had previously spoken about less that 4 hours prior. At 9:15 AM, 2/20/2020, I considered, “What does one wear to Court to represent their dog and self?” I immediately threw out the idea of wearing my most common apparel for my lower half, shorts, and grabbed the pants I wore to Bible Study last night. There I had donned a pink V-neck t-shirt and flip flops matching my pants. I found flip flops to be irreverent (true and actual thoughts) of my destination so I changed my top and put on closed-toed mauve pointy toe flats. Just the facts. I then removed the hot pink tazer from my purse. At 9:21 AM, I departed my designated parking spot. I arrived at the Courthouse two minutes later. I successfully navigated security (sans weapon/s) and entered the courtroom at 9:27. There was small talk with a police officer inside the courtroom who I am assuming is the bailiff. He, as do I, found the reason for my day in court, amusing and rather odd.

At 9:43, the judge entered the courtroom and someone actually said, “Court is now in session.” I wasn’t looking up to see who. At 9:44, I was escorted to the area in between the attorney’s desks and in front of the judge where a music stand and a microphone was positioned by a uniformed policeman AKA Bailiff. Looking back, I should have sung.

The judge then stated that there were three Counts against me. That is when the shiz got real. The judge just said, I, Suzanne Gero, had 3 Counts against me. (Is that anything close to baseball? Three strikes and you are out. I don’t know.) Also, I never read the fine print on the Notice of Hearing that reads: “For Criminal Charges: Failure to Appear will result in a Bond Forfeiture of own recognizance (O.R.) and a Capias/ Warrant being issued for your arrest. until NOW upon typing this. Also, what the heck kinda mess have I ended up in? And what is Bond Forfeiture of own recognizance (O.R.)? Not sure what a bond is except a savings bond which I don’t have. To forfeit is to not show up for a soccer game. That doesn’t apply here at all. and ‘my own recognizance’ – folks, I got nothing. No idea what any of this means but a few more words past something called Capias (I have seen a capybara at the zoo – large member of the rodent family – probably not related.) it says warrant for your arrest. That sounds bad and scary.

Another day in the life of Suzanne on The Truman Show. This is a reference to a Jim Carey movie in which he lives his life as the central character on a reality show in a world of actors thinking his life is real but actually there is a false sky, his wife auditioned for the role, and everything is scripted.

Today I am trying to get to the moment where I touch the screen at the edge of the movie lot and realize my life is also one big prank. Specifically, the last decade. 2010-2020. This is other-level crazy. It’s all because our dog got out for a few minutes while my family was busy moving boxes. The time wasted in government man hours over this foolishness is preposterous… as well as all-together HYSTERICAL.

On a related side-note, I spent part of my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, A QUARTER OF A CENTURY, in a courtroom. That is right folks. You read it here. In the also preposterous court case in which I was a defendant being charged with abandonment of a child, I often searched for hidden cameras and microphones on the people involved in the case/actors. It has to be a reality show I am living. It makes no sense to sit shoulder-to- shoulder with men in orange jumpsuits and shackles, guarded by 2 policemen, half-clothed shorts and camisole wearing mommas, meth addicts, etc. and NONE of them were married. So on November 21, 2017, to the Department of Children and Family staffers, lawyers, bailiff, and guardium ad litem, I boldly asked the room, before the judge arrived, “Did anyone bring us flowers because it is our 25th wedding anniversary today?” Silence. Yes, I actually asked this out loud in the courtroom.

One time, I went to court with a stack two foot high of the 20+ books I owned on parenting kids from hard places, items not usually found in the homes of child abandoners to give reasonable doubt to the baffoons arguing against us. But I never found the court case of child abandonment wholly laughable. It was terrifying. The only way I made it through without being committed to a mental facility was prayer, reciting Scriptures in and on the way to court, and being just a little bit humored by every hand grenade Satan has lobbed my way. After all, crazy is my coping skill. And it is the name of this site.

And once again, back to the Court case of 2/20/2020. The judge asked a few other questions like, “Does your dog routinely get out?” Simple answer. No, Sir. And closing comments said by judge to courtroom staff and me, “I don’t get it. Usually these cases are when a dog regularly bothers joggers or runs away a lot… DISMISSED.”

I left after receiving a Court Event Form that has the START TIME: 9:44 AM and the END TIME: 9:47 AM. And that was all before the NOTICE OF HEARING TIME 10:00 AM.

DID THIS EVEN HAPPEN?

Yes, I am a Gero and this totally just happened. Story of my life Chapter 851.

Valentines 2020

It just so happens that the holiday to celebrate the love of me and my husband of 27 years falls on a Friday.

Great night for restaurants and business catering to a date night vibe but horrible for a woman with complex post traumatic stress disorder who has to transport the reason why she has C-PTSD on Fridays. Fridays at 1:00 pm because my husband is teaching at the local middle school, I am forced to drive to the weekday home of our adopted son, High Ridge Family Center, and pick him up for the weekend.

Friday is NOT anticipated with joy and end-of-the-work-week relief. At our home, it is dreaded. It is like driving to a prison, picking up a deranged homicidal teenager and bringing him for any number of crimes to be committed against you. WAIT… That is exactly what I have to do every weekend.

I tried to get through my morning without thinking about my lunch date with horror. But with distractions of Christian music, prepped for the day’s battle by spending over an hour in His Word, and a task of decorating a cake for the 1950’s themed Sock Hop themed auction of the gluten kind, my body still knows the day, the upcoming hour.

I am incredibly tense. My hands shake. But today, the worst symptom of my trauma-inflicted condition is the invisible hands choking the air I try to find. It seems like there should be oxygen to satisfy my need to breathe. What I need to properly operate the brain I would like to use today is in short supply in my part of the universe. I just want air.

As I drive to pick up my son, I dig out my hot pink tazer from the bottom of my purse and make the little red light of safety glow. I drive with the weapon poised in my grip in case I am attacked physically. More than likely, I will not exchange a word with my son. I enter the facility for “struggling” teens in Palm Beach County, I will sign out the med bottles andI will walk out with my child. Age 15 now. My son since age 7.

Eight years. 1000’s of lies, thefts, and manipulated circumstances that make sane people lose their minds.

8-11% of the population develop PTSD after a traumatic situation. This is the data but there is a ton of undocumented and undiagnosed cases. I happen to be in that special group. Not weaker, not less intelligent, not less anything other than maybe less resilient. Some can bounce back after some kind of hell called trauma.

I don’t bounce well.

I break . I broke. Shattered. And I will never be the same.

My life will never be same.

My husband’s and my kid’s lives will never be the same.

And this Valentine’s Day was affected by my brokenness and my circumstances. I picked up our son. I did not speak to him. I drove him to his father’s work. Our contact was about 17 minutes total. But that 17 minutes wrecked my day. I was struggling more today than other Fridays. No real idea of why. This Friday routine has been regular and less bothersome other days. Not today.

That’s PTSD. When and why a free-falling fear freak-out occurs is a mystery. Some Fridays I fare better. But not this February 14th. Maybe that’s it. Maybe the heightened love fest planned by Hallmark made me feel acutely more aware of the love loss my adopted kids feel toward me.

The resulting episode today was escalated by my feeling like a failure after hearing my husband’s complaint about leaving my location 15 minutes later than he would have liked. He wanted us to leave different starting points in order to arrive at the Vespa repair shop at close to the same time. In my rushed reconstruction of the decorative cake topper the cat toppled from the counter, the one that took me 5 hours to make, I had half the time to do the rest of the actual cake decorating. Close to the time I was asked to leave my home, I began the securing of my property. I put the padlocks on the fridge, the freezer, the pantry, and my bedroom door. The knives were removed from the kitchen and stored in the underwear drawer.

Normal, no??

Well, it is my normal.

Every Friday. Even on Valentine’s Day.

My husband was very frustrated after a long week of work and did not like the fact that he arrived 20 minutes ahead of me. And as soon as I heard the disappointment, the sound I never want anyone to feel toward me, I crumpled. I couldn’t get the traffic to cooperate. And I couldn’t get my heart to stop panicking. And I couldn’t get my heart to stop hurting, the squeezing I feel under acute stress.

When I finally connected with my husband, he had walked a good distance from the Vespa repair shop toward my oncoming route to pick him up. I was even later than I wanted because of the executive function shut down due to my free-falling fearful freak-out. I got off at the wrong exit. The ramp to Belvedere Road and the ramp to the airport were separated by about a football field. So to confirm my failure as a human once again, I couldn’t even exit the interstate properly. I sobbed and apologized as I tried to explain my anxiety attack and heart pains.

It was just too much today. All of it. Life. Breathing. Finding the oxygen.

Resentful of another day that involved his wife’s PTSD when he would rather do normal, he struggled to offer support and I struggled to find a foothold, a hand hold to climb out of my pit of despair. As I cried because of the pain of being misunderstood, I felt like the climb to get out of my hole involved a rope around my neck with a black baby grand piano tied to the end. I would have to crawl upwards by another route than the one with the support of my Valentine.

Surveying the pit, one side was steeper and without any places to get any help. So I visualized how I would get to a place of stability. It would be me and Jesus. That route seemed to have much more places to get a footing. It is the way I must go. Sometimes my husband is not resentful and reaches out a hand, a hug. Sometimes in his imperfection, in his humanity, he is not able to offer the support I most want.

I want to feel I didn’t disappoint him, anyone, again because I feel like a big disappointment.

I want to feel like I am capable of helping and making someone feel like they benefitted by being in relationship with me.

I want to feel like the way I am, WITH PTSD, isn’t what he hates. My Valentine.

I feel like a failure. I have been rejected too many times. So at the bottom of the pit, I experience rejection again. And my human form is resented.

I can’t separate the resentment my husband feels this Friday Feb 14 and what that says about my value. I can’t dodge those fiery darts.

But tomorrow is a new day. A chance to cope better. After sleep and being with my favorite woman’s soccer player, I hope tomorrow goes better.

Monday is coming. Praise God, Monday is coming. And my abuser/ adopted son returns to a program designed to help struggling teens. I will be safe then. Safe from the what-ifs that plague my mind and the constant breaches of security that play out in our home.

I am not…

Not going to engage in counseling that seeks to level the playing field of mom, dad and son to equal contributors to trauma in our home.

Not going to participate in Freddie’s twisted disordered reality that …

ASKS FOR POINTS instead if APOLOGIZING FOR PAIN.

Not going to care if he gets 5 million points or 5. Not going to point out what he knows he should do.

Not going to live with urine smells. Depends diapers it is. His bladder issues are behavioral issues. Want time stop peeing son? Stop lying.

Not going to be in a relationship with a self-centered liar. The lies are everyday multiple times a day. I speak with honesty. I expect the same from others. Deal breaker.. Lying.

Not going time trust Freddues words until they match the behaviors that  those match the truth.

Not going to worry that Freddie doesn’t attend church with me. He has access to read Gods word. He has denied believing in God first over 5 months. He has put himself in the situation at High Ridge and at home. He continues to make poor choices.

YOU GET WHAT YOU GOT WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU DID.

Not going to engage with the abusive and the un-human act of setting poison or his urine on the counter and watching me drink and/ or setting cup of pure hell as a evil form of abuse in kitchen purposefully left to greatly disturb me… Me ,”Mom”.

Not going to be bothered that I act different to kids which have protected me and loved me without threats to my safety versus how I act to kids who violate my sense of security,

Not going to allow Mom to be used as a title from someobe who hurts me. I will be Mom to those who are not characterized by stealing and lying but ARE trustworthy.

Not going to stop being a great person.  I care more about others, gave up my old easy life  to adopt … To offer to neglected kids what their parents didn’t give them. Instead if working on their selves, they birth returned our family’s love and traumatized us.

Not going to.

Done.

No more.

I am going to continue to grow … In wisdom by studying God’s word, applying scripture and not being vengeful. I will continue to grow in courage and bravery as I face the evil realities in this present park world. I will grow in my mental health. By reading God’s word, listening to podcasts, attending CR, listening to my community of believers, going to therapist, prayer, and USE of coping skills, I will see victory daily. I will grow physically stronger by caring for this temporary tent my soul abides in. I will grow in creativity by using my giftings to reflect my Creator. I will grow in knowledge as I care about being equipped to help and bless others -learning Spanish to honor Latin people, studying and caring about racial reconciliation with people of color, praying for condo neighbors and opportunity to preach the Gospel.

So much more.

Just getting started.

Huge PTSD Trigger: Going To Court

PRIMARY TRIGGER: Anything that relates to danger: perceived or actual.

So that ‘s a lot of triggers for me because anything can become a threat when you have PTSD.

  • A log at Publix (a grocery store in the southern part of the US) -because the log reminds you of the fire and burning bodies you saw that just happened to be aflame as you drove by after picking up your daughter from church,
  • A raised voice from your family member – regardless of whether or not they’re just plain exhausted from the drama in your home because of our adopted kids trauma… Trauma drama. It’s real!,
  • A man walks into a room – (not the beginning of a joke) but it is so startling that you jump like you were held up at gunpoint. But the man is your husband and he is holding a banana,
  • A “look” – that last time you saw was right before your daughter shoved you and ran out the door, police came and you now dealt with Baker Act number ??? #losttrack.,
  • The same “look” – because you have zero idea what will set your child off sending her running in a bipolar rage, #tickingtimebomb,
  • Someone approaching from behind – because you have been attacked from behind. (The worst is being attacked from behind while driving yet being determined to get the other child in the car to his soccer game.) So you become particularly un-fond of any activity behind you,
  • Going to Civil Court for proceedings related to your daughter’s dependency case- because you have been falsely accused by DCF and failed by the justice system,
  • A drive down PGA Blvd. – because you are physically reminded that in that Starbucks plaza, your husband was driving through the parking lot with his chai tea during the botched sale of a vehicle, saw the silver truck with the doors open that ended in an active shooter situation and minutes later you were both evacuating a field with hundreds of scared soccer moms, soccer players, soccer siblings etc
  • Also on PGA Blvd, the former home of that girl who plotted a cyber bullying attack on your daughter so graphic and threatening that you reported it to the police – your daughter’s offense: Telling “friend” that she needed space from the drama but encouraged friend living off PGA that the girl “was going to do amazing things.”
  • I could go on…

Triggers are the sights,smells, sounds, feelings, or thoughts that send the brain into FIGHT FLIGHT or FREEZE MODE. We were designed to survive and thrive. The response of the body’s parasympathetic system..is to release large amounts of protective chemicals into bloodstream or brain to ensure safety for the brain’s host. The senses pick up information from the environment and the properly functioning brain determines if the info is a real threat.

The PTSD brain often overreacts to sensory info. The PTSD brain reacts to surroundings like there is an imminent catastrophe at hand…. WAY TOO OFTEN.

And when survival mode kicks in, all manner of logical thinking is effectively shut down. By design, blood flow is re-routed to essential life-sustaining functions like hearing and sight, smells and perception. I find that wildly interesting. The heightened sense of hearing that makes one hypervigilant in a PTSD response-to-trigger is the same brilliant-by-design gift that saves our lives in dangerous situations. Being able to acutely hear an intruder or a mountain lion is wildly helpfulwhen under attack, not at a zoo. Thank you God. Brilliant design. Good on you God. (He is very wise.)

Buuuuut… If thou art triggered and not actually in danger, the state of hpervigilance is extremely exhausting and not so good for say, attending court or living in a house where trauma-driven children daily make very poor, sometimes, unsafe decisions that could hurt you or your other children. Years of living in a state of hypervigilance as you straddle the gap of protecting your other children and trying your hardest to love mentally unhealthy kida creates quite a challenge. For me, it was the perfect storm to spawn the hurricane of my PTSD.

AND NOW … Life with triggers that lead to executive functions of the brain shuttung down…

Sucks.

I found your parents…

Dear F and M-

I found them. And yes, your mom is alive. I honestly thought by this time … 14 years since she was pregnant with you F… And hearing of her health and weight issues – I did not expect her to be alive. And I REALLY didn’t expect them to live in walking distance from the courthouse where they so frequently didn’t bother to visit you. They had a reunification plan created by their own attorneys. And the state’s. The plan was monthly visits at a building close to the courthouse… And very close to their home.

They are not married but have stayed together. Maybe. They love each other the best they can or know how.

It is not a nice place to live. It isn’t a nice neighborhood. Your grandma’s house looks unliveable. Yet someone else, also in dire straits – a Hispanic man- lives in a tiny back section of the house requiring a blue tarpover top of the shack. So it must leak. I wonder if Nelda and Franki visit. I wonder how she is doing in that deplorable structure.

Your grandpa Arnel died 11 years ago at age 56. And you have 2 aunts and an uncle. One aunt lives in Ft. Lauderdale, one in the same neighborhood of Ft. Pierce as your mom and dad. And a young uncle, Stanley- 22- lives in Kansas.

After doing a driveby about 34 times and hoping to see the people who hurt you, neglected you, scarred the hearts of you both so severely that you won’t let me be your mom, I ended up at the beach near by. I opened my car door and a tiny girl’s sandal was abandoned right where I stepped. I held up the small shoe and wondered what you looked like Melinda, as a toddler. I wondered if I had raised you from ittle- bitty, would you still have rejected your adoptive family’s love and care? I grieved the loss of your childhood, not knowing you then, not protecting you then.

I was in Ft. Pierce during the summer of 2018, running from…

You, Freddie. You had recently begun to fill the role of trauma maker. You weren’t big, loud and frightening as your sister had been but sneaky, lying, scarier in a way I couldn’t be at home at home. So I would get up early, teach kids in China at 5 am, stay busy behind a computer screen with headphones for several hours and then leave.

Just go.

State parks. Beaches. Museums. Benches on sidewalks. Safe public places. Sometimes unsafe public places. Like above mentioned state parks but alone hours from home, no one are of where I was. THAT seemed safer than home. I was threatened and poisoned by you at home Freddie.

Yes, I know where your wounding and wounded parents live. It is all so very sad. Lots of trauma. And we now suffer from the effects of their neglect. They suffer from neglect as well. Your mom was also removed from her parent’s care by DCF. Records state your dad was thrown in a fire by family. I can’t make this stuff up.

And some would say I shouldn’t share your story.

But it in MY story too.

It’s mine to share in hopes that utter transparency drives people to love deeper with greater compassion.

For the hurt and neglected children.

For adoptive families.

You are so loved Freddie and Melinda.

By you heavenly Father.

By your adoptive mother.

I’ve found your Mom.

I am here.

I have boundaries now.

But I will never stop loving the two little humans that came into our hearts at age 5 and 6.

Ya’ll are now 14 and 15.

Wow!

I pray you find your way home one day.

I’ve Got A  Fail proof Plan to Avoid Rejection and Abandonment

Go to sleep at 5 pm when the family gets home from school and work.

Wake up at 4 am when no one is around and enjoy the quiet.

Do your life at opposite hours of the people in your life.

This is a legit way to avoid conflict. By avoiding humans, you can effectively avoid reactions, comments, disappointment, submitting to others agendas, and all manner of hurts. If they aren’t awake, they can’t rain on your parade.

One big problem: You are alone. Except… you weren’t meant to do life apart from others. Community is a saving grace. Family, of all sorts – biological, church, other women, friends, work, ministry, charity – are for your benefit.

Listen, IF God is good AND He created the institution of family at the time of creating this universe, THEN family – again, of all sorts, must be good.

Don’t get me wrong. Family can be bad. Really bad. There is sexual abuse inside the walls of your neighbors house. And sometimes there it is. Inside your spaces. The ones thst should be safe. I am angry that girls get used and even blamed for the gross sin of others.

But it ISN’T the construct of family that is bad.  It IS the destruction of family that’s destructive.  We were created in perfection and set in a family to be loved, protected, nurtured, and safe. And these should happen when a momma and daddy live out their God-given calling to steward the gift of their children well.

In the other sorts of families, like church families, you find older women mothering all kinds of daughters. Clean up in the kitchen after a church event and you will likely rub shoulders with some dear saints. Open up a conversation with them. And then just shut up. I say that in the most trying-to-be-helpful of ways. Lean in to hear their stories and wisdom. Ahh, family! Good, good stuff there.

Go, find your family. Go on. Get!