I go back and forth between feeling ready to face the world and wanting to hide myself away in my house forever.
That's what PTSD does. Just when you think you're doing really well and feel things are going to be ok, a simple thought, smell, song, taste or sound sets you off and puts you right back into panic mode.
I usually do most of my blog writing and painting when I'm too afraid to leave my house. In all honesty, I'm usually too afraid to even leave my bedroom. I will stay in there all day as long as I have nothing pressing to do. Work and my children are the only things that make me want to leave.
I feel safe in my room. The blinds are drawn, the room is dark and quiet. No stimulation means no flashbacks. No outside world means no people to deal with. I don't even watch television anymore as I find it too stimulating and overwhelming. I just prefer to exist in the quiet, listening to the gentle rings of the wind chime on my back porch.
I sit in my comfort zone in the corner of my room, green Bible in hand. It's the place I immediately go to when panic sets in and when I feel the anxiety coming on. Why the corner? I don't know, except it is surrounded by furniture and feels somewhat like a small fort. I sit in the fetal position or get on my hands and knees, holding my Bible near my chest, often reading it, and stay there until the feeling passes. Sometimes it passes in a few minutes, other times it takes hours. Sometimes even days.
I have literally spent three days solid not leaving my room, sitting on the floor. Not even getting up to go to the kitchen to get a drink. My symptoms have been that bad.
Hiding makes me feel secure. It gives me some aspect of control and also helps me to stay close to the Lord in prayer. It limits the possibility for rejection or for people to hurt me. It helps me to achieve what the negative thoughts in my head tell me so many feel about me... that they hope I will disappear. No one notices when I vanish.
Since my ex-husband moved, I have been completely and utterly overwhelmed with PTSD symptoms. Everything, and I mean everything is coming back to me in huge waves. Persistent feelings of unworthiness, feeling unloved and unwanted, feeling ugly and not good enough are poured out of my brain every second of every day. My ex-husband's voice constantly berating me internally. Flashbacks of events as far back as our honeymoon resurfacing at random times.
Completely opposite of the relief I was desperately hoping for.
I have beaten myself to a pulp emotionally and am becoming numb. My counselor is helping me work through this, but man! I wish there were a fix-it-now button because I'm flat-out exhausted and sometimes feel like giving up. Daily spoken positive affirmations, hugging and loving on my children, being involved in their lives, writing, painting and prayer are the only things keeping me grounded.
I had to shut down my social media accounts because so many people were messaging me about my ex-husband leaving, their innocent inquiries setting me off in a tailspin of emotional turmoil all over again. Their unwanted reports on what he's doing shredding my heart into even smaller pieces.
I have been making an effort to go out to dinner and to socialize with friends more often since he left. I was doing fairly well, but a well-timed interrogative text message sent by him one evening indicated he was watching me or having me watched. I started feeling paranoid as if I were doing something wrong because he brainwashed me to feel guilty and bad for doing anything fun for myself. Doing things like that when we were married was a huge no-no.
Was I actually doing something wrong by going to dinner with some close friends? Of course not. But the anxiety induced by his text that evening had me visually sweeping the restaurant over and over looking for the spy. Every person with a phone in his or her hand became a possible mole. In today's phone-obsessed world, that meant almost every person in the restaurant. Not a great way to spend an evening.
I drove by his apartment the next day to give myself closure that he was gone. I wanted to see it empty. To know he was thousands of miles away in the arms of his new victim and that he was not spying on me. That my paranoia was unfounded and he would no longer be able to abuse me. Through the window, I could see his apartment was still full of his belongings.
He's messing with me.
So here I am, hiding yet again. A prisoner of my anxiety and a prisoner to a warden that now lives across the country. A warden who still tries to control my every move through intimidation and fear-inducing tactics. But now, I'm getting angry.
I keep praying and hoping for relief from this. I just want him to leave me alone and to go about his business. I permanently want to be ready to face the world. Excited for the next chapter. Excited for the blessings God has ready for my children and I.
Unfortunately, individuals with Cluster B personality disorders never go away. Especially those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It's just the nature of the beast and one that I will most likely deal with for the rest of my life. But, I've educated myself and am aware now. I know the game and am prepared to weather most of what my ex-husband throws at me.
While I hope he will stay away forever, I know in my heart that it's only a matter of time before he sucks his new victim dry and ends up back here to hoover me and our children yet again. He's a serial abuser. The list just keeps getting longer. He will never stop.
The court system has now given him extended summer visitation. The judge favors him and does not believe he has abused his children or myself. He's an amazing actor. My children, who fear him greatly, will be alone with him and his new victim for two months, thousands of miles away.
I question how the Lord could let this happen.
I am angry, I am terrified, I am saddened, and am so full of uncertainty, but I absolutely refuse to let my ex-husband destroy me. I am strong. Broken, but strong. I will fight, persevere and do whatever I need to do to survive this to the bitter end. To protect my children and myself from his abuse.
I have realized that this part of my journey is the part where God pulls me closer to Him than I've ever been. He's not going to let me go. Even though the court has made a very bad decision, even though I am still fearful of my ex-husband, God has His arms around me and WILL watch over me. He WILL watch over my children. He hears my prayers, and a mother's prayers are powerful!
He has been too good to us and has walked with us every step of this journey thus far. My pastor said something that resonated with me last Sunday. He said, "God doesn't say he will prevent bad things from happening to you, but He does say He will walk with you through the bad things."
I believe this with all my heart.
While my life may seem to be getting more complicated, I am comforted by the fact that God is in complete control. He already knows the outcome. His plan is good. He loves me. He doesn't want me to hide. I am a treasure to Him and He has given me so many gifts to share with others, gifts that glorify Him. There are people out there waiting for and needing to hear my testimony.
I firmly believe He will walk with me as I overcome PTSD and anxiety. Every step. Every day. I need only grab His hand and listen to His voice. I have no reason to stay hidden. I am His. He is protecting me. He is using me to help others and to share His love and grace. He created me in His image because He thought that the world needed one of me. I have a purpose.
That in itself is enough reason to come out of hiding.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4