The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Archive for the tag “MST”

“All These Little Rejections, How They Add Up Quickly”

Sometimes it’s an Alanis Morissette day, as she puts into song exactly how I’m feeling. This is one of those days. I’m just incredibly insecure today, and I don’t know why, or what set it off. I wonder, are there always reasons for everything, or do we just sometimes wake up feeling the way we do?

It’s really bad today. The things I used to be able to do or use to help stymie this overwhelming feeling of not being enough to get anyone’s attention, or not even deserving it on multiple levels, aren’t working. Instead, they’re having the reverse effect and making it worse. I’m avoiding several people, websites, things, music, books, and other forms of media. They’re all making it worse. I feel like the people I used to be able to run to, are snubbing me, or verbally backhanding me and affirming this message of “You’re ugly. You’re fat. You’re stupid. You’re worthless. Why do we ever bother with you?”

I feel like when I was 13 again. Having just moved, and not just to another side of town, or another city, or even another state… no, a whole different country. I had to relearn a culture, and it was hard. I was the new girl, but I didn’t dress like them, talk like them, or do a lot of the same things as them. I was different and so was ignored a great deal. Rejected. I know I’m fine. I’m not that different from everyone else, but I still feel that way. I still feel rejected. Not always, but definitely right now.

I don’t even think most of these people know that their behaviors toward me are being taken as rejections. Oh, but they are… I feel so tiny and unimportant, like if I just vanished no one would notice or care. Which is a lie, and I know it. There are some very good, very close and dear to my heart people who would both notice AND care. Head knowledge and heart knowledge are two different things though, and sometimes they contradict each other. I wish sometimes that the people around me could tell when I was feeling like this, and that there was a magic button that I could push that would make it go away. Instead, I just want to curl up into a ball and disappear. I’d say turn invisible, but I fear I’ve already done that. I feel like no one sees me. No one wants to see me.

This whole thing is compounded by another level of insecurity that I CAN name. The one brought on by painful reminders of IK and that night. And maybe both feelings of insecurity are actually one and the same, and the only reason I feel so hurt and wounded is because of the pain and wounds re-opened by the reminders of IK. I feel like I’m constantly in fight or flight mode, and every little slight, imagined or real, is making me flinch when it hasn’t even happened yet. I feel like I did right after the assault, when I’d have to constantly remind myself to brace myself for impact when I’d walk anywhere because I knew I was going to pass by a group of people and they were either going to look at me like I was a whore, or actually say it. Those non-imagined rejections are now fueling my imagined ones and I don’t know how to make it stop. I just want them to stop.

So Unsexy
Alanis Morissette

Oh these little rejections, how they add up quickly
One small sideways look and I feel so ungood
Somewhere along the way, I think I gave you the power to make
Me feel the way I thought only my father could

Oh these little rejections, how they seem so real to me 
One forgotten birthday, I’m all but cooked
How these little abandonments, seem to sting so easily
I’m thirteen again, am I thirteen for good?

I can feel so unsexy, for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring, for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind

Oh, these little protections, how they fail to serve me
One forgotten phone call, and I’m deflated
Oh, these little defenses, how they fail to comfort me
Your hand pulling away, and I’m devastated

I can feel so unsexy, for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring, for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind

When will you stop leaving, baby?
When will I stop deserting, baby?
 When will I start staying with myself?

Oh, these little projections, how they keep springing from me
I jump ship as I take it personally
Oh, these little rejections, how they disappear quickly
The moment I decide not to abandon me

I can feel so unsexy, for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring, for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind. 


Let’s Talk About… Sex!?

I know I just recently did a post, but it wasn’t really related to MST/PTSD, whereas this one will be. I love flirting and teasing, it’s a huge part of who I am, and everyone who knows me, knows that. There is a line though, and I do not understand why or how, men can’t see that. I’m pretty straightforward and blunt about who I am and what I’ve been through. I let interested men know that they have to move slowly with me, because I was raped a few years ago and physical intimacy can be very hard for me. But let’s back up a bit, shall we?

Right after the assault, I went through a phase where I had a lot of sex. Usually this was one night stands with strangers or men that I knew, but would never be interested in having a relationship with. Really, I just wanted to be able to close my eyes and not see IK on top of me. I thought that maybe I could fuck his image away, but I was wrong. Once I realized that wasn’t possible, I closed myself off sexually from the world at large. I lost all interest in sex, and in the connection I felt with a partner.

Then I met JW. We hit it off immediately, though his sister was against it. Not because she didn’t like me, but because she knew he’d drive me nuts and wanted to save me the trouble. Too late. Sparks flew and the fires were roaring. We didn’t have sex the first time we met, but we did the second. For the first time ever, I knew the difference between fucking and making love. It was incredible. This man was loving me, and showering affection on me. I didn’t achieve orgasm, but it wasn’t necessary. I was loved. To date, he is the only man I’ve slept with, who has made me feel that way, but now that I know it’s possible, it’s something I crave. I want to be fucked too, but I really want to be made love to. I want to be adored, caressed, and made to feel beautiful. I want to be held afterwards, so I never forget that I am adored by the man I just made love with. Before JW, I had no idea these sensations existed, or that I was even worthy of them. That’s how messed up I was. JW ruined me for all the assholes who just wanted some wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and never wanted to take the time to love me. I will always be grateful to him, for waking up my soul and body to this awareness.

To be fair, RM tried to make love to me, but it was so soon after the assault, I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t be receptive to his messages or his intent, and sadly it was wasted on me. RM gave me the next best thing, though I’m not ready to talk about that in this entry. That’s for another day. JW made me feel like a woman, and I had never felt so much like an actual woman during sex, than I did with him. I wasn’t an object. That’s important.

Other lovers that had their place in my history between JW and now, have no place in this particular entry, so they’re being skipped over. Suffice it to say, they have all had their place and reason for being in my life, and I truly believe I am a better person because of them. Now, at the end of the year 2011, I finally feel like I’m open to being loved. I think this has reflected itself in the way I treat myself and others. I have been flirting with a few men, and have even gone on a few dates recently, and I feel amazing. I feel beautiful, even without the attention, and I almost have a sense of wholeness again. I love it. One of the men I’ve been talking to, we’ll call him PLS, has particularly been aggressive in pursuing me. I’ve told him my history as it relates to the assault, and explained to him that not only do I have to move slow physically, that I am very sensitive to stuff related to my assault. Last night he was texting me and flirting and things moved into the sexual territory in our messages, which was fine. But then he said something that just… it ruined everything we had been building between us. He was trying to show me how sexy he thought I was, but there is nothing… NOTHING sexy about telling a woman, especially a woman who has been raped, that if you were there with her, you’d rape her. What.The.Fuck. That is NOT okay.

Not only does it show you’re insensitive, it makes her an object. Not a person. I refuse to be an object to a man I thought I was interested in. JW has shown me that I don’t have to be an object, unless I want to allow a man to see me as such. I do not. I will not allow it. I am so much more than an object. I have feelings, passions, dreams, goals, and so much to offer that a mere object can not. I was appalled. I immediately sent him a message back telling him that I knew he did not just say that to me, and I haven’t heard back from him. To be honest, I don’t think I want to hear back from him. Any man who has been told my history and still thinks it’s okay to tell me something as derogatory and cruel as that, is not a man I want to associate with, much less date. I deserve better than that, and thanks to men like JW, I know men who are better than that are out there.

Sex is an intimate act. You’re incredibly vulnerable in your nakedness and the shared vulnerability is beautiful. I can not ever go back to being seen as an object, meant solely for fucking, and I don’t think any woman or man should. I think the lesson here is to respect one another, and if you say you like someone, show them that through the way you treat them. Actions speak so much louder than words. PLS had told me he would support me and go slow to help ensure that I didn’t go into panic mode, because he was interested in pursuing a relationship. Telling me he would rape me, even in some sick, twisted version of a jest, was an action that spoke completely opposite of what he had said. I no longer feel comfortable around him, or safe. I could never be naked around him. On the plus side, one loser down, and the potential to meet an amazing man and give him my attention has increased.

I no longer associate myself with religion, but one of the things I have taken from my former belief system is a passage from 1 Corinthians 13. I think it’s beautiful and applicable no matter your belief system, especially when it comes to relationships:

Love is patient, love is kind… It does not dishonor others. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
-1 Corinthians 13, verses 4a, 5a, and 7. NIV.

Why Does Pain Have to Equal Weakness?

Today started off poorly, I think due to a lack of sleep. Thought about calling in to work, which is something I just about never do. Only done it once, actually. I just didn’t want to be around people today, plus I was having a hard time smiling. Smiling is actually mandatory for my workplace. I ended up going in, which was a good thing. Schedule was completely messed up due to two people calling in today. Yuck. Oh I didn’t want to be there though! I was so angry, so pissed off that I had to be there. In my eyes, every customer was an idiot, an annoyance. The ones that wanted a price check annoyed me because the price check machine was literally 6 feet away with a huge blue sign indicating its existence, but no. They had to come bother me. The man who wanted to make a payment irked me, because I felt he gave me attitude when I told him I could help him on the other register. The customers who made me have to work annoyed me, because I didn’t want to be there. And smiling? That didn’t happen.

Then, a miracle happened. At some point around 7pm, I smiled. At a customer. And it was genuine. From that point on, my day brightened and the customers didn’t bother me. I was able to chat and laugh, and it felt good. Got off work, came home, still feeling good. Saw a letter/card for me from a friend in Illinois, so am now feeling amazing! Then I got online. I should have logged off when I originally thought of it, but I didn’t.

I love my friends, but there are times I really can’t handle talking to them about certain things. One friend in particular seems to struggle with depression and self-loathing. Normally, I’m very supportive and would want to help him in any way I could. Not tonight. Tonight every statement he made caused me to revolt. It was just instinct, and I fought vehemently against what he said. I found the thoughts he spewed to be repulsive, but in particular the one about pain being a sign of weakness. I suppose because for many a year, I felt the same way about it. However, tonight I felt like every thing I’d strived for, my being, was at stake if I just accepted his thoughts and didn’t say anything. So I fought.

I know this is common thinking, the majority of us live by a double standard where other people can have pain, but we can’t. Why though? Why do we associate pain with weakness? Pain is an inevitable part of life. I don’t care who you are, at some point you WILL be hurt. It’s not weakness. It’s not. Pain can make you stronger, more compassionate, more alive. How is that weakness? I think you’ll find that it’s not. Stop giving in to societal archetypes. Accept the pain for what it is, and learn to move on.


Another Sleepless Night/Cultivating Mindfulness

Almost 5am, and I still can’t sleep. I think I’ll consider tonight a success still if I can fall asleep by 8am. I also think that the next thing I read from my appointment yesterday, will be the trick to fall asleep. I was silly enough to think that since the appointment happened, I’d be able to sleep. Haha joke’s on me.

Anyways, I read this handout about meditation, being that I’m very much into meditation. I have noticed positive effects when I incorporate meditation into my daily routine. The handout is called “Cultivating Mindfulness: Beginning or Deepening a Personal Meditation Practice”. Pretty much it’s a list of 20 pointers. It’s from the people at Here’s the list:
1) The real meditation is how you live your life.
2) In order to live life fully, you have to be present for it.
3) To be present, it helps to purposefully bring awareness to your moments – otherwise you may miss many of them.
4) You do that by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to whatever is arising inwardly and outwardly.
5) This requires a great deal of kindness toward yourself, which you deserve.
6) It helps to keep in mind that good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, the present moment is the only time any of us are alive. Therefore, it’s the only time to learn, grow, see what is really going on, find some degree of balance, feel and express emotions such as love and appreciation, and do what we need to do to take care of ourselves – in other words, embody our intrinsic strength and beauty and wisdom – even in the face of pain and suffering.
7) So a gentle love affair with the present moment is important.
8.) We do that through learning to rest in awareness of what is happening inwardly and outwardly moment by moment by moment – it is more a “being”  than a “doing”.
9) Formal and informal meditation practices are specific ways in which you can ground, deepen, and accelerate this process, so it is useful to carve out some time for formal practice on a regular daily basis – maybe waking up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier than you ordinarily would to catch some time for ourselves.
10) We bring awareness to our moments only as best we can.
11) We are not trying to create a special feeling or experience – simply to realize that this moment is already very special – because you are alive and awake in it.
12) This is hard, but well worth it.
13) It takes a lot of practice.
14) Lots of practice.
15) But you have a lot of moments – and we can treat each one as a new beginning.
16) So there are always new moments to open up if we miss one.
17) We do all this with a huge amount of self-compassion.
18)  And remember, you are not your thoughts or opinions, your likes or dislikes. They are more like weather patterns in your mind that you can be aware of – like clouds moving across the sky, – and so don’t have to be imprisoned by.
19) Befriending yourself in this way is the adventure of a lifetime, and hugely empowering.
20) Try it for a few weeks – it grows on you.

All wording was the original wording and thoughts of the author, with the only additions being I bolded certain parts for emphasis. The things I put in bold are the ideas that resonate with me. “You have to be present for it; which you deserve; do what we need to take care of ourselves; we can treat each one as a new beginning; self-compassion; don’t have to be imprisoned”- these are all things that I think are incredibly important and oh so very difficult to put into practice. I am my own worst critic. I am so severe on myself, and I know it. I blame myself for a lot of things, even things that logically, I know I had no control over, to include my assault. I told the woman I saw yesterday that the very first counselor the military sent me to, was a male military counselor. He very calmly, while sitting in his chair behind his desk, told me that my assault was partially my fault, since I wore a short skirt and was drunk at a beach party. Anger rose, and I refused to see him again. To be truthful though, there have been many, many times when I felt the same damn thing: that it was partially my fault for being drunk and unable to take control of the situation. I’ve shouldered that self-blame in silence for over 6 years. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it wasn’t my fault, yet I can’t help it.

A few months after my assault, I had a miscarriage. I shouldered that blame too. Somehow, it was my fault, my inferiority, my failure as a parent, that Angel didn’t make it to full-term. My body killed her, thus I was obviously to blame. Self-compassion. Something I truly struggle with. How do you show yourself compassion? I show others compassion, but can’t seem to do the same for myself. How do I connect the sides of my brain where one says “It’s not your fault, let it go”, with the other that says “You failure. First you fucked up and got assaulted, now you’ve gone and let your child die. Good job.”? How do I reconcile with myself and move the fuck on?

That’s what I want to know. That’s where I am. I hope all of you who read this, have had a much better night than I have. Maybe I’ll go meditate now.


New! New! New!

I have no idea why I decided to title this entry the way I did. Anyways, this is my introductory post for this blog. This blog is specifically to discuss PTSD and the unique challenges that I face in my everyday life because of it. I welcome anyone else who lives with someone who has PTSD, or who has PTSD themselves to interact with me. Maybe we can laugh, cry, and learn together.

Well, let’s get straight to the nitty-gritty, eh? My PTSD is a direct cause from MST (Military Sexual Trauma, for those not acquainted with that acronym) during my first year in the military. The assault took place September 4, 2006, and I was formally diagnosed with PTSD at some point in January of 2008. I’ve had several downs and a few ups, but I continue to learn how to live with this unwanted life-partner. My current symptoms that are bothering me at the moment are my lack of feeling connecting to anything and anyone, sleep problems, panic attacks, and depression. I finally had my first appointment here since I got out of the military at the VA’s mental health clinic, and this prompted me to start this blog.

She gave me a lot of literature she wants me to read, and I plan on it. I also plan on sharing it here with you. I know over the years I have been greatly helped by reading things and seeing things online from various people. I think it’s time I gave back. Maybe something you read here can help you better understand what someone else is going through, or what you’re going through yourself. Life with PTSD can suck, but it doesn’t always have to. We still have a lot of life to live, we just have to learn how to live again.

I will warn you now, I do not hold back. I’m not going to have a filter in this blog. If this bothers you, stop reading. If not, here’s to a rocky road ahead of us all.

Always hold onto Hope.


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