Hello, Friends!

It is funny – how I don’t write for a week or two and then go back to back.  Sometimes, events trigger me to write more and other times they trigger me to step away.  I can only explain it like this; “After you pull the pin…Mr. Hand Grenade is no longer your friend!”  Same thing with Post Traumatic Stress.  Some days, you just ought to leave the pin in the grenade.

There has been so much going on and I am working on a new project.  I’m not going to talk about it here – because I don’t know the outcome.  However, these sorts of advocacy ideas/projects cause the pin to come out of the grenade…and then I write!  Sometimes it is better to write than to speak out.

This blog is titled – Military Sexual Trauma and the Afterlife.  However, I don’t talk a lot about what my life is like now, on a day to day basis.  Sure, I share the bad days with you and sometimes I share the little victories – but I mainly speak in generalities.  For the readers that aren’t “personally” involved in being a survivor…I thought I would talk a little bit about what life is like.

Receiving my VA ruling was a great day!  My immediate thought was…a little bit of vindication.  My second thought was…”Does this make me a prostitute?”  After all – they get paid for sex as well.  I sometimes can’t help but feel that I earned mine…”The old fashioned way.”  Heck…isn’t that how all of us women earned our stripes, or our positions, or our promotions in the military…on our backs or on our knees.

I sometimes still struggle with this.  I have resisted joining the DAV because I don’t want to hear how I earned my “disability.”  I often have to remind myself that I am being compensated for the Post Traumatic Stress…not for the sex that was forced upon me.

Most days…I like to try to leave the pin in the grenade.  I don’t care to think about it much.  Most of the time I can’t avoid it.  People will ask me, “Why didn’t you serve 20 years?”  I have to make up some story about the kids or about physical injuries.  I have to lie.  Funny – that is what the military accused me of…and now to stay “sanely insane” I have to lie about it.  Getting ready in the morning is the hardest part.  I am alone, in the shower, and it is too early for me to effectively reroute my thoughts.

Some days I live in a perpetual state of rage.  I’m angry at the end of my career.  I’m angry about the fact that I can’t seem to “get over it.”  I’m angry that certain things just terrify the living shit out of me.  I am angered by injustice or by things that I can’t change.  I am angry that my hands are tied.  I can’t even go public with the information.  I can’t just stand up and say…”THIS IS WHAT WAS DONE TO ME!  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!”  Just like in the military I have to sit here and pretend that all is well.

I’m frightened by the fact that I use Ambien to sleep…every night.  I am frightened by the fact that there are days I don’t even want to get out of bed.  I am disturbed by the fact that I don’t want to leave the house alone.  My husband laughs about me being so “damn independent.”  What he doesn’t realize is that I am very dependent on him.  I need him there.  I like the fact that I can slip my hand into his and feel safe in a crowd.  I am frightened that he doesn’t know this…but even more frightened that he might find that out.  I know that I am blessed – but I am sometimes overly frightened by his absense.

I can get very riled up.  I can become almost manic when I am on topic.  I can become very furious with certain work situations when I feel that others aren’t dedicated…or don’t understand.  Then I fear saying the wrong thing and losing my job.  I hate the fact that I repress my own knowledge or leadership skills to fulfill the ego’s of others.  (not those I work closest with – they are terrific!)  I feel like I am right back where I was in the military with some people – always having to bow to the politics of others.

Most of my days are the same.  I get up, shower, go to work (carpool with my husband), work all day, come home (with my husband), eat supper, watch tv…go to bed EARLY!  One great thing about the Ambien…the nightmares aren’t so bad.  Some weekends we go camping.  I LOVE camping!!  I don’t really like being out there alone sometimes…but that is why I have a gun.  It isn’t so bad though, because we go with friends, and I trust the other male.  That is part of why we stay so close to home.  Familiar places and familiar faces.  I want to travel – but I just don’t have the nerve.  Brigid and I keep promising one another that we will take a trip – I intend on keeping that promise…I have never, ever broken a promise to her.  I just keep thinking…someday.

Speaking of Brigid…she is well.  It is sort of funny…when we first met, I was more comfortable being out and about and she was more of a recluse.  I have been so proud of her…the way she is now going out – but the pendulum is swinging the other way for me.  I am becoming more of a recluse.  Not that I don’t enjoy seeing people – I just find myself happier on my own couch!

So what is it like living with this?  For me – it is good days and bad days.  I’m sure everyone else says the same thing.  It is about “not letting the bastards win!”  On the bad days it is about leaning far enough forward that my feet have to move.  Some days it is about just knowing when to pull back and regroup.  I don’t call in sick that often…but when I call in “sick” it is usually about my PTS and less about any sort of viral/bacterial contagious disease.  Still – sick is sick…even if it has an emotional component.  I don’t feel like I am lying because the reality is that I am sick.  These rare days are the days I can sleep all day or watch stupid old TV shows and movies.  I curl up with a cat and forget the day.

This is what the Afterlife is like for me.  Somedays there is shame, anger, depression, anxiety, guilt and some days are pretty okay – like anyone elses life, I suppose.




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One Response to “Afterlife”

  1. Myst Says:

    This post really hit home for me. I can sooo relate to those bad days. And the rage too. Oh yeah boy howdy! I can’t imagine how you do what you do at the VA, except for the parts where you help all of us who come to you for that help. So I thank you for hanging in there and being there for the Vets that come to you, and all the Vets you are able to help. I know the fear thing too, and have the same feeling about sitting with my back to a wall as much as I can and trying not to jump out of my chair when some strange guys sits at the next table.

    Thanks again for doing what you do..

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