So I moved back to North Carolina! Yeah! And sorry for the swear word in the title, but it was the shortest choice as “super amazing totally awesome completely friggin’ rad” didn’t fit.
And I’ve found myself in the position of being Googled as I go on dates with new people, apply for jobs (both “real” and freelance), and begin my life in a new place. And as I’ve written about it, it’s pretty darn public. And I did something I never thought I would do, I took down the page for my Voices of PTSD Quilt because I was ashamed and embarrassed for anyone to find it. Because as we all know, that’s like instant death to whatever opportunity may come your way, because the other person to hire and date doesn’t have that mark against them. So there goes your résumé in the trash or your profile unmessaged.
But you know what? Because I have PTSD does not make me some live wire about to blow. Or some liability. Because once I was diagnosed, I had to walk through fire in order to deal with something that most people haven’t (and should never have to) deal with. Treatment entails diving into trauma and working through it, instead of avoiding it. And because of that, I am a damn good horse to bet on. And so is anyone else who stands up and fights to win over their demons, no matter what they be: alcoholism, PTSD, childhood trauma, or whathaveyou.
But the media likes to make you think that we’re all walking grenades ready to unbolster your safe, sweet life. However, the truth is we’re probably just like you, except that something that some of you have nightmares about has actually happened to us. And we came out the other side. Veterans have it the worst, because there are some people out there waiting for them to go all Rambo, when, in fact, I know from loving and growing up with some of them, that no one wants peace more than a soldier. Peace for this planet. Peace from being asked what they have done or seen. Peace from people thinking that they are “crazy.”
So, in order to counteract that “crazy” label, here are 5 things that people who have been treated for PTSD (for those that haven’t been treated, get thee to therapy, so you, too, can be a badass!) are great at:
1. SUPER HELLA AMAZING IN A CRISIS: Because bad things have happened to us, we are weirdly good when not-so-good things happen. We may need a little time to properly process it all afterwards, but who doesn’t?
2. WE -for reals- DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: Because unless a crisis is actually happening, everything is either fixable or workthroughable. Therefore, we don’t tend to complain over dumb stuff that really doesn’t matter like a rip in our jeans or the weatherman being wrong or traffic. Why? Because it’s not a crisis. Everyone is safe. Therefore, there is literally no reason to complain.
3. WE DON’T TAKE THINGS FOR GRANTED: Because we’ve seen shit go down, while others have just worried about it going down. So all the good things? They are literally little miracles happening before us every minute! A hand to hold, a sunny day, a diner cup of coffee- they’re all outstanding. In fact, you may even be amazed at all the things you take for granted when you hang out with us. Don’t be surprised if your attitude changes after being around us for a little while, for the better.
4. WE ARE SAFE SPACES FOR YOUR PAIN: Because we may have seen bad things, we won’t tell you to eat/ignore/run away from your pain. We will sit with you while you cry. We will hug you with giant bear hugs. We will not tell anyone your secrets. And we will not judge you for what you’ve been through or how you reacted to it. We will be there for you both in your darkness and when you come back from it- no matter it that takes 10 minutes or 10 years. We will be there no matter what.
5. WE KNOW HOW TO LOVE YOU FULLY: Because we have seen what happens when love isn’t all around us. It may take us longer to show our true selves, but we will show up like few have shown up before. We will fight for you and make you laugh and not being afraid to hold your hand, because of all the reason above. The only drawback? Is that some of you who haven’t seen bad things may not be able to understand why we are so open. But since we have truly seen the dark, we know without a doubt that the flipside is real, too. And therefore, we know that each moment is to be cherished, taken stock of, and marveled at.
For the 5 people that have read this far… Thank you. I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day because even though I am single, my heart is still full. Because my heart is open and ready and present. And can’t wait to meet more hearts that are the same. So if you know someone who is scared because they have been through a trauma or have PTSD or something else kinda terrifying, please show them this. This list of things that will make them more aware of goodness and love than most people.
Instead of thinking that I am unlucky, I choose to think that I am one of the luckiest. Because I’ve walked through fire and come out the other side with my heart still open and ready for all the good the world has to bring. And that, that is a triumph, instead of a drawback. So if you’ve Googled me and thought the other person is a safer bet, fine.
But, in not picking me, you’ll miss out on all I bring to the table. And that’s your choice, that’s okay. I’ll just keep trying until my people find me, because I know damn well that when they do, we’re going to live the heck of our time together no matter what the relationship. And that’s worth waiting for. And even though I won’t be waiting and twiddling my thumbs for you, I’ll be living full steam and super excited when you get here to join the journey.