Comparing Battle Scars and Posttraumatic Survival

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He thought it was wonderful that his darkness didn’t affect us. He had to retract that statement because he could see the darkness in my oldest two sisters.  But it didn’t affect me. Not from the bubbly personality he can see. He has a way of saying whatever is on his mind, then bracing for the price and always assuming he could never bounce a word check.  His insecurities are fleeting. He’s Dad and children are meant to be seen and not heard.

I often tell my kids I will screw up and I won’t even see it.  I need their tender sorrows to point out my wrongs because in the flow of caregiving, I can lose the gentle care they need.  I didn’t mean to inject venom in my reply, but it was a sore subject, written out with every destructive jab at this chrysalis.

“You have no idea about the darkness I fought in my early 20’s.  Being able to hide it well doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.” At that point I bit my tongue and felt the sting because I needed a physical reminder of the pain I could inflict.

He pauses before he points out I had never had segregated bathrooms.  I have never been through war. I felt like I was lacking a penis to measure and the fact that it came from my Dad who I always wanted to be more than he’s capable of stung and the pain throbbed in my heart which was swollen with poison.

I took a breath.  I can’t fault him for his ignorance or hubris.  He was never capable of looking beyond himself, and it makes sense I would fall for men just like him.

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“Your grandson suffers from PTSD.  His tormentors in 1st grade and the systematic denial of his concerns by school staff are as fresh as if it happened yesterday.  Trauma is subjective. I will not compare battle scars.”

He agrees that I’m right, and in that moment I again denied him the opportunity to deepen our relationship because I can’t handle the weight of making him feel better about the choices I’ve made and the lashings I let others scar me with. I denied him the knowledge of others controlling my will and my body, and in many ways my freedom.  I allowed what he taught me to accept. He will always be fragile enough that I wouldn’t want to hurt him with that information and in my silence there is both denied access and protection. He looked at me in surprise because every so often, it occurs to him I’m an adult with unique thoughts from his own.

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Every so often, the depth of my perception startles my family because I see things they don’t and I string words together that they couldn’t imagine coming out of me.  It’s the curse of being a younger child or sibling.  Family will always expect you to need their permission to mature. Being less social left me to an imagination that doesn’t require clearance or acceptance from others.

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I can see where denying Dad that step into my valley of demons is also denying me human contact and acceptance.  I made a lateral leap. Today I made a choice to reach out to someone I have been wanting to talk to. It’s an insignificant step, but it was my step.The only thing that needs to come out of it is that I stepped out of my comfort zone and into a healthy risk.  It’s healthy to reach out in vulnerability.  It was a choice to step out of my past and the hang ups I carry and move into the light of possibility.  It was small and innocuous, but it was a choice I wasn’t forced or goaded into.

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