((I began working on this post almost a month ago))
Trauma - noun
Deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long term neurosis.
I've had an extremely traumatic past year. Both therapists I've gone to have told me this, yet somehow it still doesn't sink in fully. I can watch the videos I recorded of M during his abusive, out of control tirades. I can remember how it felt to know I was pregnant, only to have that taken away from me two days later. I can re-live times when I feared my life living in the same home as my now ex-husband and the times I grabbed whatever I could and fled as quickly as possible. And obviously, it goes without saying I am still experiencing the trauma of my marriage coming to an end since it's only been 10 days.
I had an appointment with my therapist again today and sadly, it will be the last time I see her for quite sometime. Losing my TRICARE stinks. When I need mental health services the most, I can't have them. I'm considering private insurance but will have to wait until I return from my cruise. I really loved having the blessing of TRIAP as well, the web cam based counseling through the military. Sigh. Welcome to the life. How ironic.
Anyway, not only did I experience my trauma, but I lived my husbands. There is such a thing as Secondary PTSD, which you can read about here. I've been meaning to ask my therapist about it, but every session there is just so much to be talked about I don't get a chance too. This describes me to a tee..."However, if you lived with someone who suffers from PTSD, you may notice yourself beginning to "mirror" some of their behaviors. This transformation is called Secondary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." BINGO!
I remember the first time M had an outburst and I immediately reacted back, mirroring EXACTLY what he had just done. I was never, ever an angry violent person and could not believe I had just retaliated. It was then I picked up the phone, called Military One Source, and started seeking help. RIGHT AWAY. I was stunned. How could this be happening? How could I be turning into someone I'm not? It was frightfully scary.
Today has been a rough day. I am trying with all my might not to get discouraged about this job situation. I am trying to trust God has a plan and everything will work out. But, I have major financial responsibilities. Things that cannot be overlooked. If something doesn't change soon, I'll be sent into a whirlwind of fury and making huge decisions on a whim.
I am exhausted of applying for jobs. I have spent the last 3 days since I found out applying for over 20 positions. I really would love to count on a marketing job or promotions as I used to. It was fun, exciting, paid amazingly well, and made me happy. Unfortunately, it's also changed a great deal. I have been so isolated from interacting with humans on a daily basis, I actually wouldn't mind being in an office setting for a while either. I am hugely qualified for that as I've been an office manager, ran my own businesses, can type extremely fast, and have great customer service skills. Yet, most of the positions I come across are scams. You hold out some hope perhaps this one will work out and then you get a bogus email the next day asking you to take an IQ test or upload your information to a website. As if it's not upsetting and stressful enough people are losing their jobs and wondering where the next meal will come from, then you have to deal with people trying to scam you. It's unreal. It finally sent me over the edge today when I got an email back from IKEA saying they were pursuing other people. I can't even be a CASHIER at IKEA??? WTF?!? It's not that I was dying for that job or anything, but it's the point. Just a few years ago, any job I applied for I landed. Every single time. I remember being 19 and being offered a really big position as a suicide prevention hotline counselor. At 19! Now I can't even ring people's purchases up and give them change. How insulting.
To top it off and revert back to my feelings I might have secondary PTSD...I had a bad bad nightmare today. Normally, I wouldn't share details involving my ex such as these but being that it was just a nightmare and is not true, I will. I will also italicize my dream so folks who stumble across this will know what part is the dream and what is not.
Before I went to bed, I remember thinking about the videos I have of M and his violent outbursts towards me. If you aren't familiar with the situation, I used to turn my webcam on my laptop on and record him when he would go into his tirades. I have only shown them to less than a handful of people because they are so disturbing and quite frankly embarrassing. How I stayed in that environment for so long, I don't know. In one particular incident that wasn't recorded, I really legitimately feared my life was going to end. I knew my husband had been trained to kill and had heard sometimes in a moment of rage, that line can be blurred. I was terrified. That was my last thought before falling asleep last night. They say sometimes whatever you were thinking about last manifests in your dreams. So, I had a very scary dream my ex husband and a friend of his were hunting down my father and I to try to kill us. Yep. I said it. It was not a pleasant way to begin a day. I've hardly been able to get out of bed since. It was very vivid and I remember a bullet hole being in some very thick glass in what was my bedroom and going through the wall. I remember peering out the window and seeing his friend with a rifle. Somehow during the nightmare, I saw my ex and there was some sort of crazy firefight between the two of us. His shots kept missing me and mine did not.
As much as it disturbs me to relay that here, I find myself relieved when I come across other wives of wounded soldiers who share their experiences on their blogs. I probably would have never been aware of secondary PTSD and other things had it not been for a few others who have been sharing moments they've had. I also went through a period of time where I consistently woke up in a panic. Nothing significant had happened. I couldn't remember any dreams or nightmares, but I'd wake up in a complete state of anxiety and panic. I also had a few dreams after M visited me here about being involved in a fire fight in Iraq. I can't remember details but M was also having dreams like that while he was here. He would tell me about men who would pop up out of nowhere and startle him, which would cause him to actually jump out of bed or make startled noises. I hadn't experienced these dreams myself until he visited and I witnessed them.
It amazes me all that our minds encompass. I know in reality M would probably never do what I dreamed. I also know that I will probably never be in a fire fight in Iraq, yet it doesn't make these situations any less disturbing. In fact, it makes it all so much more complicated.
I am thankful to GiveAnHour.org for allowing me to start working with another therapist next week. It can't come soon enough. I wasn't having these issues when I started seeing my regular therapist so I look forward to working through these things with someone new right off the bat. It just goes to show that war has an impact on an entire family and when you are no longer married to a service member, you can still experience trauma resulting from their service. Something I wish more people, including our government would take into consideration.