Three years ago, I couldn’t have imagined where I’d be today. I remain faithful to my calendar, still monitor my activity, and able to get more done even if it’s in inches. A day at a time.
Everything else is accomplished as I’m able. I run and errand, when I’m done, I gauge my energy. Should I try another? Some days I surprise myself and complete many. Other days I stop after one. I no longer worry about what doesn’t get finished. Everything will eventually get done.
I woke this morning with a heart full of gratitude and thoughts about what I’ve gained. As much as PTSD has taken from me, I think about what I’ve achieved and write in my journal.
What Living with PTSD has Taught Me
PTSD has taken a lot from me: Energy, concentration, focus and as a result, the ability to hold a job. It has diminished my capacity to socialize, to trust, to drive any distance. The list goes on. I loved my career. I loved being a strategic planner. I am not there anymore. At sixty-something one might think I don’t need to be. But I envy those who at my age have the capacity to work at their careers and have the option to do so. I still wish to be productive after all.
For all this disorder has taken from me, I’ve learned some things that I wouldn't have without it.
Priorities: I’ve learned in no uncertain terms what my priorities are and the importance of setting them. First and foremost, my kids, their health and happiness.
I’ve learned that not only can’t I do it all, I was never meant to do it all. That crazy whirlwind of a person, the stressed out have-to-get-it-all-done-because-everyone’s-depending-on-me personality is not even a consideration today. First because I can’t do it. But, in my healing I learn I was never meant to. We are meant to choose and choose wisely. Today what I choose I chose with my heart.
Manipulation: PTSD has honed my senses for detecting controlling and manipulating personalities. I can spot them instantly and I call them when I see them—light years away from the person who made excuses for everyone. Phony, insincere, manipulative—they have a similar scent, and my BS meter tweaks off the chart when nearby. Most of the time I simply turn and walk away. I don’t feel a need to explain myself anymore—not to anyone, not even to myself. If I’m unable to walk away I go into passive mode to get through the onslaught of BS, then walk away when I’m able and dust myself off. It’s the times when I doubted myself and made excuses that got me into trouble—charm is a subtle manipulator. You don’t know you're over your head until it’s too late. Today if my meter is tweaking. I trust it. I walk away. It’s that simple.
Finiteness of life: PTSD has given me a sense of urgency about my life, my identity, and my boundaries. It’s all finite. My time and energy are not limitless. They are priceless. I refuse to allow anybody into my space who would suck energy from me or introduce chaos back into my life. If I come across a person who can push my buttons, I see it, and I bring myself back to center. After all I can’t live in a vacuum. If I could I think I would.
Nature: PTSD has given me a greater appreciation of nature. There is so much downtime with this condition and during my downtime I sit and admire nature. I sit outside surrounded by her and I watch her from the windows inside my home. So much so that I’ve become acquainted with her cycles going predictably from one season to another. Spring is rejuvenation. Summer is full bloom. Fall is reflection. Winter is rest. At times she suddenly erupts with a force that is daunting. Kinda like me. But she’s still beautiful.