“Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have.
On What’s right in your world instead of what’s wrong.
On where you’re going instead of what you’ve been through.”
We’ve all been through crap. Everyone has a story they can tell of something bad which has happened to them to explain certain aspects of themselves and/or their behaviour.
But it’s no excuse if those things are hurting others, intended or not.
One thing people don’t like to hear is we are in control of our own actions. At some point, a person has to take responsibility of their actions regardless of the why. It’s not ok to be mean to people just because you have had a horrible life, whether it was for 5 minutes or 50 years. Some reactions are spontaneous, or reactive, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sorry or take action to deal with it.
Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. Some people are just so damaged that no matter what help they get, they will always be incapable of controlling their reactions. PTSD can be very debilitating for anyone who suffers with it for that very reason. However, there are people who suffer PTSD who are conscious enough of their behaviour, they could have things in place to deal with episodes as they happen.
I am one of those people with PTSD who are aware enough that once something is exposed, it can be actioned so it can be less of a problem or eliminated altogether. I am a firm believer that determination is the key factor in any issue which needs addressing.
In my last blog, There’s A Tornado In My Head, I told my readers I had to make a decision which I didn’t really want to make and I was being honest with myself. The problem with that was, I was reacting out of fear – PTSD to be exact. In my head, I was convinced I was being honest with myself. I didn’t recognise the episode. My fear of ending up in another abusive relationship again (already been in 4 such relationships, one which nearly cost me my life) was so overwhelming, I had to get out of there before it could happen. God knows if it was to happen again, I would not live through it, whether it be by someone else’s hands or my own. There’s just no way I could cope. The fear was intense, like something out of scary movie where the actor is warily walking through the dark towards a noise you know could be life threatening. You’re on the edge of your seat just waiting for that moment the danger pounces, they scream and it’s too late.
It’s still no excuse for the hurt I caused. I was unfair and mean out of fear. This poor person was left devastated and confused. And within a few days, when I realised what had happened, I was a mess. I had treated someone who loved me poorly just because I was scared of something happening which had less chance of happening than not. The abuser in this case, was me. I emotionally abused someone and I was not, and still not, proud of that. I let PTSD rule me and steal a person from me whom I since have realised I love much more than I was willing to admit even to myself. Up went the protective walls and the blocking of any emotion which could cause me to have remorse for the person I was being honest with.
Since all this has happened, I have become much more aware of my behaviour leading up to my episode. I sounded logical to my counsellor who agreed if that is how I was then continuing in a relationship was not healthy. It sounded logical in my head. In reality, I was looking for validation for my fear. Sometimes, I think counsellors go along with you instead of recognising you may be acting out of somewhere else other than the present, because that is how I feel about this situation.
But I am smarter now. I have learnt where I went wrong. It was not easy admitting I had made the biggest mistake of my life. Then I had to think of a way of helping myself not do it ever again. This is the aspect of my PTSD which I hate. In the moments following the dawning of truth of what happened, I have hated my past and those who have led me to fighting my own mind and PTSD. I didn’t ask for it, or deserve it but I have to own it and solve it.
This person has had their own hurts over the years, their own insecurities and fears and so proving my seriousness of never doing it again, was difficult. What could I do to express myself and the determination I had within me?
My words were not enough. It had to be more than that. So, I put my pledge in writing and laminated it, one for them, and one for me, to prove to them, and to remind myself, of my seriousness, determination, commitment and the reality of my own feelings. Our minds tend to lie to us a lot of the time. Being able to recognise it is the hard part. Since my PTSD can be so overwhelming, I needed something visual to focus on. And it had to be my own words so it had true power and meaning in it.
In addition to my pledge, I have engaged the help of my mum and sisters to help keep their eyes open for the signs which have come to my attention through hind sight. I am deadest certain I can conquer this, but I can’t do it on my own. I do need outside support and help, which I am lucky enough to have. It’s hard work fighting your mind and fear, but as God is my witness, it will not happen again.
When my third marriage broke down and I was determined to put into action a plan to not allow abuse in my life again, I developed documents to strengthen my resolve. These appear in my book “I Don’t Hate Me Anymore”, practical things you can do from the very first chapter. These had been absent from my view for a while. So, I found them and put them back up around so I can see them every day to remind me of how it is I want to be treated by others, and by myself. To them, I included the pledge to my partner.
The quote at the beginning of this blog, helps to further reinforce my path of healing. Even though I need to learn from my past, I can’t live in it and allow it to determine my present. I have to keep focused on the here and now, what I have and where it is I want to go without forgetting the lessons but dropping the luggage.
We are our greatest enemy, not other people.