Growing up in a small town in upstate South Carolina, I was living the perfect southern dream when I found a handsome young man who fell head over heels for me. It wasn’t long after I moved to Asheville, North Carolina that we decided to get married. We knew we were young, but we were in love and life seemed like it was one long happy summer as we took our first steps into the world as adults together.
For 25 years we lived that dream together. We had two beautiful daughters and built successful businesses together. We had everything anyone could want – a big house, good friends, and a nice family. I still can’t believe how fast all of that changed.
As his parents got older and needed more help, I took on the role of a caregiver. I would spend hours every day making sure that his mother and father were clean and fed and had their medicine. They had both been my parents for 25 years too! I wanted to make sure his mother was comfortable and taken care of as she lay dying from a tumor in her brain. That’s where my mind was. That’s how I was spending my days. I had no idea that my husband had different ideas going through his mind.
This is where the story of my PTSD starts. In one night, I lost my entire world – my family, my friends, my home and everything I’d worked for. But worst of all, I lost my children.
Even now, when I think back to that night, it feels so surreal. When he came home for dinner that evening, I wasn’t greeted with a kiss or warm conversation. No. Instead, I was pulled from my home and shoved into the back of a police cruiser. My husband, the man I had loved and supported for most of my life, had turned on me. He told the police that I was crazy, that I was abusive, that I was a danger. And so they took me to a hospital to be evaluated.
Of course, I was released – there was nothing wrong with me. But by that time my husband had already put his plan into action. He had filed a restraining order, preventing me from seeing him or my children, from going to any of my businesses I had helped build, and from getting my personal belongings. I was homeless, penniless, on the street, and I had no one to turn to. Shortly after the separation, he moved a new woman into my home and they were engaged. As soon as the divorce was final, he married her. I was left with nothing but the shirt on my back.
My reputation was ruined too. He told everyone that I was a raging alcoholic. For over two years now, I have been screened twice a week for alcohol use – and I’ve passed every single test. But how can I tell people that when I have been banned from my own community?
It’s now been over two years since my life was taken from me. Over two years, and I still haven’t been able to defend myself in court. In the months that followed that horrible night, I knew something wasn’t right. I could never shake the constant anxiety and depression. Finally, it was the nightmares that forced me to get help. I would wake up at the same time every night, screaming in terror as I relived the ordeal of being taken away in a police car. It was just too much.
When I saw the doctor, he diagnosed me with PTSD from the trauma of my husband’s manipulative and abusive behavior. It’s been a terrible journey, but I really feel that I could handle it if I could just see my children.
I refuse to give up. I know that my story is terrible. I also know I’m not the only one out there suffering from trauma and PTSD. The only way we will get through this is to stand together. So now, I want to give back and help others get through their suffering.
I am a fighter. I am a warrior. And I will not be defeated. I offer this blog as a resource and a community for others who are struggling each and every day with PTSD and trauma. Together we will overcome!