Category: A Writer’s Life

Reflections on December 31sth

Reflections on December 31sth

My Father’s Birthday

Every year at this time, I can’t help thinking about my father. Today is his birthday and as I reflect on childhood memories, I remember a man who worked hard and in his own way, loved his family.

There is a large gap between the father I had as a child and the father I knew after my 12th birthday. For years, I’ve tried to reconcile the two. The father I knew as a child, though harsh at times, could also show love if you recognized it for what it was. It was always in the little things. We were poor when it came to money, but every year he made sure I got that one Christmas present I picked out of the Sears Christmas Catalog.

And then, there was the year I wanted to learn to ride a horse. Every week he made sure I’d get my fifty cent allowance to take riding lessons down the road from our house. There was also the Saturday that the farms in the local area were doing an Open House for the elementary school kids.

My father had been working that day and had forgotten he said he would take me. So, when he came home, exhausted from working his construction job all week, he drove the miles and miles to take me to an Open House at a horse farm. We were too late for the Open House and everyone was gone, but I wanted so badly to see the horses. So, badly, that my father asked the owners if I could just walk inside the Stables and see them. Reluctantly, they agreed.

When I was eleven, my parents separated and shortly after my twelve birthday, my father remarried. My stepmother and I never got along and what little my father and I had in the way of a relationship, she all but destroyed. For decades, I’ve blamed my father for his betrayal and for always siding with her. But as I sit here writing this I can’t help thinking about my father’s dementia which showed so much in his later years…

Maybe I want so badly to give him the shadow of a doubt, or maybe, I can recall a man so beaten down by his personal demons that this woman, his “Ferny,” became his lifeline, his last chance at the happiness that had evaded him most of his life.

And, maybe, I can even forgive him…

But then, I remember, her reading my diary and my father kicking me in the lower back leaving permanent damage after ordering me to retrieve the diary from the table. And, then, I think, “No, the man who had shown those bright sparks of love would never have done that.”

And so, I sit here with tears streaming down my face and realize I cannot change what happened. I cannot erase the years of abuse. But for my sake, I must forgive my father, and that, for me, is the hardest thing I could ever do. And I will, not for the man who was my father, but for me.

 

Word of the Day – Bereavement

Word of the Day – Bereavement

Everyone will experience loss at some point in life. However, there is a difference between grief and bereavement. Grief describes the response to any type of loss. Bereavement is grief that involves the death of a loved one.
Chance Encounters, Birthday Dates, Fascinating Dreams, and Realizations…

Chance Encounters, Birthday Dates, Fascinating Dreams, and Realizations…

First things first, to the gentleman whose name I never caught last night in the noise, thank you for being such wonderful company, a great conversationalist, and for helping me stumble through new territory as we tried (and succeeded!) in finding my car in Downtown Tucson – and just before closing time – 10 pm.

Last night, was a first for me in more ways than a few – I took myself out on a first date the week of my birthday and the first since the love of my youngish life (I turn 61 this week) died on January 10th, 2023. Also the realization that I have been remiss in not including more about Les on this blog. There are entries (years worth) on Facebook but not here – I will need to remedy that but not in one blog post. No, the most important man, husband, and love I have ever known deserves much more than that.

Back to last night, to be noted, I have never visited the heart of Tucson and certainly not on my own at night – last night was a first. I love jazz – something Les and I shared to an extent but I think he loved me more than the music.  So there had been wine bars celebrating jazz in the early days of our marriage but never an all out celebration of the music itself.

Last night I took myself to the Century Room at Hotel Congress to enjoy the music of The Adam Larson Quartet – great presentation, amazing sound, and captivating performance – and I can honestly say, I am hooked – I will be back! The staff at the Century Room were welcoming and fun but the gentleman I first met and got to spend a memorable evening with really made the event so much nicer. Cheers, my friend 🙂

Following dinner, I had made a reservation at Maynards – sadly, they had run out of Sea Bass so I had to substitute for a sort of hamburger and fries – the burger was good but honestly, not great  –  but I was having too much fun to worry about it. I was chatting away about my first love – writing and more directly, my stories.

Until last night, I had forgotten how much I loved talking about writing and how much it has been focus of my life in brilliant and enlightening ways – and how blessed I am to have the gift of words!

Ah, but there is another part of this narrative I need to mention – a dream, the last before I awoke this morning – it really was a nice change – and one I wish I remembered more of. What it unveiled for me was a need to focus on the things I find fascinating – books, chance encounters with fabulous bookstores, and people in my life to share that love with.

In the dream I was surrounded by family, yes, and new friends – with strange dogs…but hey, I’m a  writer so there has to be something strange in my dream, right? LOL

Anyway, I digress – what I found more than anything was that my trip to downtown opened my mind to a world I never knew existed (largely in part to a wonderful tour guide) and a desire to learn more about that world. And, to be noted, I have been wanting to go back to college, and what better way than to find myself immersed in heart of Tucson.

Date Night with Ingrid Foster – celebrating my impending birthday and having fun!

 

PTSD – Having a Happier Holiday

PTSD – Having a Happier Holiday

Good morning and Merry Christmas!! It occurred to me this morning that sharing a bit of how the trauma brain works might be helpful, especially for families gathering together during the Christmas holiday.
So here goes .. As a trauma survivor I remember every traumatic event in my life with equal clarity (and even more so) than most any positive event. For instance, I remember the acute feelings of abandonment when my mother left me and her car at a sitter’s when I was four with more clarity than the movie Les and I watched last night.
No reason to feel sad for me, it’s just the way the trauma brain works. And, it’s not just traumatic events. It’s like every major event in my life has been recorded as an easily retrieved 8 mm video. So, if your Great Aunt Cecilia seems preoccupied with something awful that happened to her when she was six, remember, to her that event is as clear and detailed as if it happened yesterday.
I hope that helps you and yours make the most of your time together. Cheers to making new and happier memories! …oh, and we watched three movies last night – the Christmas Rom about the German Shepherd was the best 😃
What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

From MayoClinic.Org:

Overview

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

From my perspective:

The worst part of experiencing an event so traumatic is that it literally impacts and changes your entire life from the moment of that event. Everything after that is determined by how much that trauma has changed you. For a child still in development, trauma changes everything, how you grow emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically, and even how you relate to everyone in your life and everyone thereafter and the worst part, you have no idea how someone without trauma is supposed to act, think, or be.

One of the first things I said to my therapist was that having been a toddler, I know have no idea who I was before or who I was going to be, before. And if your life is faced with more than one trauma, every traumatic event changes you even more. My first trauma – toddler, my second trauma -3, my third trauma – 5, and so on until I was well into adulthood.

How common is PTSD?

Well, how common is abuse? How common is child abandonment? How common is rape? If you think about, everyone who has gone through these personal traumas not to mention war and murder, all of these are capable of causing trauma to the psyche of the victim.

What are the symptoms or signs of PTSD?

From MayoClinic.Org:

Symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:

  • Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
  • Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event

Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

My Best Friend

My Best Friend

aka This Shit Just Got Real

Maybe I should add a warning, Graphic Language, some nudity (just kidding, maybe) and this is my reality so be prepared.

My Best Friend, Lover, Confident, and truly the only person in the world who knows my demons, my scars, my skeletons all hanging in a closet in chronological order, and hasn’t run away screaming. Okay, maybe a little bit of a screaming but as he’s gotten older he’s more of a sitter than a runner.

But, anyway, he has severe Bronchiectasis (it’s a lung disease that prevents bronchial tubes distorted by infection to return to their normal size/condition when the infection is healed.) And because of this, he is more prone to infection and his lung capacity has been greatly reduced over time. There is no cure.

 

Coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Three years –

It was was three years ago that I realized I had PTSD and that it occurred my first night of my first duty assignment while in the Air Force. Later, I would realized that that was the beginning of my adult PTSD but that I’d been living with my childhood PTSD for far longer. My first traumatic childhood event – when I was toddler.

I’m 60 years old and I realized I had PTSD three years ago, why am I posting this now?

Because this past year has been a time of significant change and healing for me and I want to share all of this with the hope that it will help someone else. I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through and this is the most pragmatic way I can think of to help.

The Fairy Princess

The Fairy Princess

The blonde fairy princess glides across the room

Ever searching for what precious, unclaimed gems may be spotted

Olivia, her mother calls, time for bed

Olivia smiles but stays on her hunt, there is much to discover tonight

And it’s too early for bed.

Copyright 2007

Longing

Longing

I do not handle well

My life in constant motion

No ground beneath my tired wings

I so yearn for steely foundation

And dust covered shelves marking stay

Yes I yearn for a home, a permanent residence

Our name upon the mailbox

But I am not so foolish as to sell my soul to wayward sand

Or long-term borrowed residence.

Copyright 2010

Jumpstart

Jumpstart

Oh to fall in love again

To write with passionate prose

The verses dancing in my head

Their beauty to expose

I exist, short for words

Where once so awe-inspired

My poetic soul now on the mend

Emotions…false-start, FIRE!

Still struggling with each breath

Digging to find depth

I free my passion deep within

My captivity at an end

Once locked behind a steadfast door

The words I feared were no more

Are syllables racing down my pen

And I, I am in love once again!

 Original Copyright 2007