PTSD: When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. –www.nih.gov
I’ve decided that surviving divorce is a sure-fire way to get yourself some PTSD. I have been a nurse practitioner now for almost six years, and have seen countless numbers of patients with PTSD. Each one of them has their own set of triggers. For some, it’s loud noises that trigger reminders of a traumatic or painful event they’ve endured. For others, it’s seeing a car accident, or watching the news, or seeing fireworks. I have even treated patients who are triggered by seemingly benign things such as bright lights on a car, or even the wrong body language.
For me, I’ve decided it’s when everything in my life is going great. That’s when I am reminded of how I once thought this before for the duration of a 10-year marriage, and then everything fell apart. I guess that’s when that “fight or flight” response kicks in, and I feel like I am letting my guard down. And maybe I shouldn’t be? Because what if things fall apart again? Surely the bottom will fall out at some point. And then I get scared, and I feel like rather than risk going through pain and heartbreak all over again which I simply cannot endure for another round, maybe I should just go ahead and prepare myself now for it. You know, keep my heart guarded. Don’t let anyone in. Because I am fine on my own. I can support myself, my girls, and we can live our lives free from risking any further heartbreak.
But deep down, that’s not what I really want. And more importantly, that’s not what God wants for my life.
Several months ago, Graham posted this on my facebook wall (yes, he’s pretty much amazing 🙂 ). This pretty much sums up how divorce has affected me…click the hyperlink below to view 🙂
It’s drawing close to a year since John & I separated. I honestly feel I have done well with the whole transition, and the girls have been amazing 🙂 Those dreaded “bad days” (you who have gone through divorce will probably understand that) are few and far between. I am in a place now, with Graham, and my girls, that I wouldn’t trade for anything. God has been incredibly gracious to me and I am overwhelmed at how much He has given to me that I am so unworthy of.
But….every once in a while, something triggers that whole “this-is-too-good-to-be-true” mindset. That “something-will-happen-and-the-bottom-will-fall-out-just-like-it-did-before” attitude. I firmly believe Satan does not want us to share our joy with others & I think it probably makes him nervous when we give credit for everything to our great God and make His name known. I believe he knows our weaknesses, and right now mine would be fear.
I have no idea how you let go of this (so…any of you other divorcees out there feel free to share!). How do you make yourself 100% vulnerable again? How do you let your guard down without fear that everything will once again fall apart? I am at a place now where I would not change my circumstances. They have made me who I am, and have brought an amazing man into my life. I am thankful my girls have adjusted so well. I am thankful John & I have a good relationship remaining that we can give nothing but the best to our kiddos.
But how do you get rid once and for all of that nagging fear that plagues you at the most inopportune times, telling you that it’s all too good to be true?
This year, I debated strongly on whether I would order Christmas cards. Those of you who know me personally may know I always order personalized Christmas cards–the ones with pictures, and cute sayings, etc. But this year is very different. The holidays have been (& still are!) an adjustment for me. It’s been great so far, but I would be lying if I said there weren’t moments of sadness, reminders that this life is far different than I ever dreamed.
I’d also be lying if I said it wasn’t amazing and that I am thankful it is more than I ever dreamed. Because what I dreamed for myself was small. And this is far bigger than myself.
But then I remembered that we are all on a journey, and we all have a story to tell. And yes, my story sounds a bit unbelievable at times (still planning to write that book one day 😉 ) but it is the one we have been given, and it’s a pretty great one 🙂
So I made Christmas cards, although a little different this year, to outline our story for 2013. I think they’re pretty cool.
And this has become one of my new favorite verses which I also put on the cards…Hebrews 6:19…
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm & secure.”
I love the word anchor. It’s solid. Unmoving. You throw out an anchor to keep your boat from drifting away. To remain unmovable. Even in crazy waters, and heavy wind, you won’t drift away with a good anchor.
I may not know how to totally live without fear on my own. But I can live with hope. Hope that the same God who has walked ahead of me through so many circumstances in my life will continue to carry out His plan to completion. That He hasn’t given me more than I could have ever imagined now just to take it all away and say, “start over again, honey!” So in my moments of fear, of PTSD, when I feel like I am going backward instead of forward, that’s what I hold onto.
Because when it all boils down to it, what else is there?