Quick programming note: I know that not all of us feel the same about the recent election and I have no desire to discuss or debate politics EVER again in my life – and I mean that sincerely. The rancour and divisiveness of the last 4+ years has been more than enough. This is NOT about that!
Here’s what it IS about: For people like me – and I believe the numbers are legion – being bombarded by unrelenting abusive language and actions can be traumatic and eventually debilitating. The key word is “abusive” and I discussed it all in a post last week on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
And finally: This will not be a deep dive into the many-faceted disorder of PTSD but rather, an opinion piece based on my own life experience. Further disclaimers will appear at the end of this post.
Yesterday, I cried.
And, I wondered, in the midst of so much celebration, beautiful music, poetry, renewed energy, hope and majestry…
Why don’t I feel better?
I thought to myself: I should feel better! I expected to feel better!
Here’s the truth: I DO feel better …
… but I’m not out of the woods yet.
Why? Because it TAKES TIME to heal.
And also, to be fair, I’m not convinced the abuser is “gone”… which feels very familiar. Not recent-familiar but long-ago.
During the destruction of my first marriage and subsequent divorce… my (then) husband followed me around A LOT. He’d pop-up in my office, the parking lot at work, a few cars behind me in line at Burger King, or in front of a friend’s house. By then, he’d read my journals. Nothing – and no place – was sacred.
By the time I moved to Canada, we’d done a lot of healing, he and I. Not all... but some. Enough that I could come back for visits the following year and we could eat a meal together with our children, which they super-appreciated.
Even though I had moved thousands of miles away…
Every time I saw a green Ford Explorer like the one he he drove… I jumped.
I usually saw him at some point during visits home to see my family. Each was a step along the path to ultimate healing, which came years later.
Now, I know that a hurt and angry soon-to-be-ex-husband who “stalks” his almost-ex-wife doesn’t sound surprising or even that bad… but if you’ve been reading here for any length of time you’ll know that his behavior wasn’t new. For an overview, see this post. Also, to be honest, I never saw anything he did as *that* abusive, which was discussed to death in therapy. (Also, thankfully, as I’ve mentioned many times, we were able to ask for -and accept- forgiveness before he died. If you and your ex are able to do this, I highly recommend it.)
So, to get back to my original thoughts…
I’m breathing easier, for sure. I don’t feel that boulder in the pit of my stomach, for which I am grateful.
Was there remorse or even a sense of regret from those who would harm us?
They’re still out there. They may pop-up at work, at a friend’s house, or in line at Burger King. Know what I mean?
That’s what PTSD does. It reminds you… like a nagging, little bug bite or a clanging, big cymbal…
Still here… not going anywhere… we are (always were) here, even if you don’t see us…
Always. Always here.
So, that’s what’s standing between me and my ability to just… let go… which is what I *wish* I could do.
Not that simple. If it were, there would be a lot of doctors and therapists out of work.
With that in mind, I should add: If you believe you suffer from any form of PTSD, please see your doctor or therapist. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine.