Hello Dear Readers!
I’ve tried to write this introduction a dozen times, in a myriad of ways, attempting to sound like myself. You know, light, carefree, sort of sarcastic. But the thing is- this isn’t light or carefree or sarcastic at all. Very few things have impacted my life as dramatically as this journey has, and all I can say is that I’m profoundly grateful.
So I’ll aim for honest.
Several years ago some bad things happened to me. At first I denied I was affected, played it off. After all, I’ve always been the *strong* one. What could possibly have the power to hurt me?
And so I lived my life, doing whatever I wanted, never questioning the choices I was making or the reasons behind them. I went a dozen different places on a whim, simply living for the day, experiencing more things in a year than more people experience in a lifetime.
I was happy.
And then I met someone. And we were happy. He loved to travel too, and we spent our time traversing the world, eating, drinking, living.
And then about a year ago, he gave me an ultimatum. You see, he knew me, better than I knew me, and saw so clearly what I could not.
I was hurting. More than that, I was a fractured person, held together by mere willpower and denial.
I had to get help. So I did. I began seeing someone, learning very quickly that my normal was not normal. Every week I would speak to her, unleashing all the poison inside, letting her into the whirling nightmares that were my thoughts.
Oh what a difference it made! She helped me re-frame my thoughts, put ration to the irrational, give voice to the pain inside.
There was still so much hatred. For myself, for who I was, for the choices I’ve made and the things that I’ve done.
I stumbled across This Able Veteran while looking up service dogs, knowing how much my own dogs have helped me, wondering if there was more help out there.
I applied, not daring to believe that I’d be chosen for a dog. I’ve always been a loser, you see.
So when I received a call from the organization’s founder, Behesha, telling me that I’d been picked, I broke down.
I arrived in Illinois just after Thanksgiving, worried out of my mind. Am I good enough for this? Do I deserve help? Am I really broken, or am I just manipulating the system for a free dog?
The stream of my thoughts continued, each more vicious than the last, until I was certain I was the worst person alive.
That’s the problem with PTSD, you see. It eats you alive, invisibly, so that on the outside you appear perfectly fine and on the inside you’ve been left with nothing but the blackness of your self-loathing.
Meeting Brit was just the first step. There followed a three week course on trauma resiliency, focused on understanding our thoughts and healing from the damage we’d inflicted, and continued to inflict, on ourselves.
Am I cured? No, I’m a long way from that. And frankly, I don’t think I ever will be. But I’m healing.
So to those who’ve been there for me along the way, thank you. For every thoughtless action I’ve taken you’ve held on, believing in me, supporting me, being there for me when I couldn’t be there for myself. To This Able Veteran, who gave me the power to love myself again, thank you.
And to you, Dear Readers, who’ve followed along as I’ve traveled, cheering me from afar, thank you. Your guys’ support has kept me writing, kept me grounded, kept me sane.
I’ll see you all later.