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.
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.