I decided to start this blog so that I would have a safe space for me and others to tell their stories of the past. I have learned that the more I open up to others outside my comfort zone, it only ends up leading to isolation. I hope that this blog will be able to offer a place of comfort, healing, and support for those that may have had similar experiences or just have never been able to let their voice be heard. The stories in this blog are all real, however names and other identifiers will always purposefully be changed to protect those that were involved. I hope through this blog I am able to bring more awareness to mental health and how it effects us on a daily basis. I hope that those that are seeking comfort or peace are able to find it here, and if there is an untold story that you bear inside you, that you find the strength to one day let it out. I held mine in for decades and I can promise you it did more damage to my physical and emotional states than I would ever like to admit.
I recently befriended another man, although I am a married woman, in an attempt to make a new connection outside of my comfort zone that I thought may understand me. I had a bad feeling about sending my message along with friend request as I did not know him, however there was something inside me that made me just hit the send button after I typed out my message. He accepted my request and told me that I could talk to him about my PTSD so we began chatting. As we continued I began to realize that when I spoke of my past, he never had any reply to my statements. I started to feel uneasy about telling him so much personal information, but I thought, well he is a veteran with PTSD as well, surely he would say if it bothered him. As the week progressed I kept getting the gnawing feeling that he was beginning to distance himself from me. I tried to send him a message this past Friday to find I had been blocked. I thought, this must be a mistake.
I had just told him the previous day that the silent treatment and lying are two of my biggest triggers. We had just spoken a few hours before and it seemed as if things were fine, but he had become unusually quiet. When I went to send him a funny picture and my messenger told me that “This person is not receiving messages from you at this time” I thought maybe my messenger app was messed up. I reset my phone, and tried again, and got the same message. I then tried to go to his profile and it flashed “no content available.” I was shocked, as I had no real indication that things were that bad in our communication at all. I tried to text him to see if what I believed to be true was so. He got a bit accusatory stating that I was basically wrong and he did not have me blocked. I told him my reasons for thinking that I was and then I never heard from him again. I decided I am not going to waste my time opening up to people anymore that do not really want to be a part of my life or commit the time to understanding me and why I do and behave the ways that I do. This brought me to the creation of this blog.
This was the first person I have opened up to outside of my family since leaving the Navy for the most part and this experience has left me horribly triggered but I know its beyond my control. I had friends when I was out of the Navy but they were not knowledgeable about my past. I had attempted to tell my story once before to a friend after a drunken night of liquor and was confronted the next morning with “Leslie, please don’t drink liquor ever again.” I had remembered some of the subjects I had talked about the previous night, but not all. I took it that I needed to keep my mouth shut about it and deal with it in my head, like everyone had always preferred I do before. I shoved it down for several more years until I finally got a DWI a year after my sons birth in 2010.
I did not know who the person I was had become. I had always grown up with the thoughts that I would have children and a family. I finally had that, and I almost threw it all away because I was mad at my fiance about something that doesn’t even matter anymore. I realized there was something very wrong with me and my behaviors but I did not know what it was. I drank on and off for the next two years trying to fight to keep the bad thoughts away and perpetuate my life of denial until I could not handle it anymore. I was enrolled at Arkansas Tech in my last semester of my bachelor’s work and I was triggered by a discussion about learned helplessness and how women use this to get ahead in life, by acting like bimbos, playing down our intelligence, and these were the reasons that we were raped. I went off, and it was the first time I have ever stated to anyone that I had been raped in my life, and not just once.
I sat around for about a month after stewing on that conversation. I got mad about it every day and then I started researching rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and finally I found it, military sexual trauma. When I read the description and symptoms of what the Veteran’s Administration termed MST, I thought immediately, “This is me!” I started therapy at the VA on Halloween of 2012 and have been in various groups and independent therapy as well as marriage counseling since that time. I also decided to obtain my Masters degree in Counseling and I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. My hope is that others will see similarities in my negative behaviors and make positive changes to overcome them, as I try to overcome them myself. I hope you enjoy your time here and learn new ways to connect and heal with one another.