Archive for July, 2011

…listen to these words from a guest writer!

July 21, 2011
looking into the face of God by jayfherron
looking into the face of God, a photo by jayfherron on Flickr.

I suggested to Jay a while back that he should consider having some “guest bloggers” share their stories. I think this was when Jay said he was finished, and had no more to say. That was not good news for those of us who follow his blog, and the chronicle of his struggles. Because I know, at least for my husband, it has been immeasurably helpful to know there is someone out there that gets it.

But now it is time to put my offer to the test. And I am realizing just how hard it is to put myself out there. And I am not the MST survivor. I am the wife of a man who was raped violently in the military.

I know the statistics that the divorce rate is astronomical for veterans. I honestly do not think I would still be in my marriage if it were not for my background in mental health counseling. At the very least , I have some tools available to me. Like how to handle it when my guy is disassociating, and does not know who I am, when he screams in the night. Or is hearing men’s voices, or believes someone is in the basement. Or when he attempted suicide. No one has written a manual on how to do this.

Not that I’m a saint , by any stretch of the imagination. I did not sign up for this. I met and married a lovely, kind, gentle man. He was prone to dark, dark moods. He had issues with men in authority. But the good qualities far outweighed the negative. I did not know that this monster issue lay buried within him. He had a cover story, that “something” awful happened in the military. I was not aware of the scope of the trauma, the despair. It took a suicide attempt, and a hospitalization, and lots of added trauma from the VA to even get to the point where he “blurted” out the truth to a psychologist. Then the real fun started. We are now four years into the battle to get this to a point where my husband is functional.

I sound cynical, as I hear the words in my head. I have watched the VA make my husband into a pharmaceutical zombie. I have fought the battles he has not been able to fight. I have been the keeper of information, the chauffeur, the counselor, the babysitter, not often wife. No one tells us wives how to deal with this, how to be in a marriage when the partner does not even feel like a man. I have even been told I now have “secondary PTSD” from living with him. I know there are days I drive him crazy, constantly checking on him. Ah, yes…being hyper vigilant, sleep disturbances, missed work, intrusive thoughts…

But, things are getting better. The symptoms are less disruptive, and I am getting more and more glimpses of the man I married. Or maybe a different version, now that I know the truth of his difficulties. He just got awarded 100% compensation for PTSD. It feels like a little justice, although the fight is not over. That is another story. But, at least some validation from the VA has made my husband feel like he was heard, and wasn’t crazy or making it up. Like anyone would make up what he has been through.

I hope I am not rambling, or not making sense. I do not feel like I can share my husband’s story. It is not mine to tell. I think he will tell his story on this blog someday, as long as I type it for him. For all those who read this wonderful, brave blog that Jay writes, I hope you find peace, justice and love. We are all connected.

Love to you all,

Mel, the wife of a MST survivor

“I am a drunk”

July 16, 2011
right turn by jayfherron
right turn, a photo by jayfherron on Flickr.

There is no special group for us! Bill W., founding the AA has no answer for a fellow like me…AA is for alcoholics,I am a drunk! Okay…this is bound to raise some eye-brows!!

I get asked the question almost every time I visit a doctor!… “Do you drink?” …I answer (honestly) “No,I am a drunk!”

“Oh,so you do drink!”

“No, I just told you I was a drunk!”

“Then…you drink!!”

“Well no…I do not drink,I am not a drinker!! Huh?  I AM A DRUNK!!”

 

I usually explain it this way…I do not like to drink alcohol, as a matter of fact-I don’t even like the way it tastes! It has to be confusing , I am sure! A drinker , in my opinion, is a person who steady has a (since I never drink booze…we are talking about beer here) beer in their hands…every day,day after day! Sure…this may also fall into the category of being an alcoholic, but the fact is by being a drinker the difference comes in that I am not a drinker because I do not feel like having my body feel the agony of being hung over day after day. My body is not requiring me to do that to it! I suffer it on my own inflicting the miserable feeling I have the day after my drunk!

It begins without premeditation! I have no agenda to go and get a six or twelve pack of beer. I might pick up beers at the grocery and they may sit on my kitchen floor collecting dust with no interest from me. I do not drink every day and sometimes go for weeks or longer,no thought of drinking. If I have a beer in my hand then it is sure getting in a drunken state is on my mind-wanting to get life off of my mind.

But something triggers it! My opening my first…

I guess you could say a drinker is also someone who can stop and take a break during the heat of the day and pop open a cold beer for refreshment. And that’s it! Or maybe go to a restaurant for a nice steak dinner and have a beer to wash it down…and that’s it! I do not fit that category either!

Most likely for certain if you see me with a beer you can bet there are ten or more to back that one up! I am in the mode of wanting escape…the beer is the legal drug and fastest concentration of ‘medicine’ that can push the shit out of life and bring out the hap-hazard,I could give a shit attitude…the power and the strength of escape! I know I have escaped when the day after comes and my morning begins but calculating what all is askew and locating the empties and learning how far I went.

I don’t want to do this! I hate it! I hate it all the following day…the greatest curse of it is the feeling so badly lasts longer then the feeling of escape. I just want to escape! To forget! To kill it! To get it away from me!

Why? That is what I try to answer every time, why? I know what it is that I want to get away from. I also know that it does not free me….no matter what kind of support or personal supervisor or meetings will ever fix this! Of course…I know what it is I want to be free from.

Talking about this has been on my mind for a few weeks. I have been seeing a therapist that treats sexual trauma injured folks like us who deals (so it seems so far) in helping us…helping me to determine the joy of love in separation from sexual contact,being that individuals profess ‘love’ to us but we can’t comprehend it because of the distorting way the other half of ‘love’ was presented to us. I have to say I am not sure of how much longer the relationship with the therapist is going to go…I went in the beginning to try to stop myself from being self abusive (self-abuse is not always from drugs or drinking) and the fact that I turn 60 years old in one more week and have been absolutely alone for the past 12 years scares me!

I want to find love. I want to believe in love. But fuck all if it comes to me. I am afraid of it. And yet, I want to feel it for sure for once.

No one is ever going to understand me. And if it is the same for the other many thousands of sexual trauma survivors that we have this same problem,what a state of confusion.

It has always been suggested that when a person dies their whole life replays in the last seconds of life. That is what getting drunk does to me!

I cry so much about what it all has been!….and the confusion it all has created!

I am just telling you the truth about me! I am not a tower of strength as many say I am. It is why I write this…the truth about me! To show the damage of post traumatic stress and from the view of sexual trauma causing it.

A few years ago I attended a conference (I wrote about it here) and heard a woman speak about her own rape. Her experience was something that was so horrid I think about it often! She too has a lifetime of memories, her attacks left her blind. I am not going into the worse of what she endured. I want to find the strength that woman has found to stand up. I am perplexed in how it is managed! How can one rise up and another keep falling?

I apologize…there is not much encouragement here.

Peace…and ending with a poem I wrote in 1981:

 

Quitting again,

open another farewell beer,

and tell this one goodbye

how many is this? this year?

another farewell lie!

you drunken waste!

give me one more drink and lots of time to think!

Think of what? you’ve thought it all, you are trying to forget!

You’ve drunk a bottle miles tall , and have’nt finished yet.

 

 

 

WHAT NEXT?

July 1, 2011
088 by jayfherron
088, a photo by jayfherron on Flickr.

I am at a roadblock!

I have made promises to continue this blog in effort to continue to raise awareness of MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA and that MALES are victims too! Lately I have failed to keep my promise!

It is not that I am moving on…no,but that I am stuck! I have had acquaintances say to me that I have repeated myself…they not understanding that to keep the information current I need to repeat myself! However…I am no longer involved in the legal matters of my own claim/and case and have a total separation clause in my final paperwork from the VA…the VA no longer has jurisdiction over my life or mental health care! Therefore I am not connected in a way that I can be critical of the VA and VA hospitals.

I am still trying to survive myself!

Lasting living facts that will not go away is that there are issues in concern of those survivors of MST that have yet to have ANY justice in their lives as a civilian,a survivor…and a veteran! Pointing at this moment towards “what is being done to help the MST veteran?”

To repeat myself and my past and what had happened when I was told that I should file a disability claim…I went to my local VSO officer (veterans service officer) to describe the events in 1969-70 that changed my life forever. I explained to a male…a male unknown to me,but had all the suggestions of being an advocate…I explain how I was raped! To do this was not easy but was made even worse by the comments the VSO officer made regarding a rape between men as homosexual behavior (and therefore was sexual play) and equally were the comments of racial stereo typical ignorence….the man assumed that my attackers were black men,almost insisting such.

The later visits at the VSO office were not improved. So…how can justice be met in this scenario of ignorant bigotry?

It is no doubt that a change in how the VA meets the needs of an MST veteran must happen! Soon! Because we are negligent to the survivors…very negligent!

I am negligent too! Leading this voice along for several years and then seeming to drop the lead! I am stuck!!

I apologize. (although…apologies seem a dime a dozen anymore!)

There are many of us out there! There are so many who are still silent and the need to support and offer guidance is so important…but there is something else,the need to know the MST survivor veteran is not just ‘one’ alone…there are many!

Through this blog I have come in contact with many! I remain in telephone contact with about a dozen MST survivors! Some of these have decided to open a claim against the VA for post-traumatic injury due to MST incidents. Several have succeeded in seeing the claims to satisfaction where the VA admits the MST took place. That is a huge hurdle to leap for the survivor…the veteran,to at least have acknowledgment that this is a fact!

One of the veterans recently contacted me about wanting to post their own story and experience…and I encourage that idea very much!

It is not my story alone,although for a long time it seemed I was the only one this had ever happened to. I know now that there are many storys to be told.

My e-mail address is jayfherron@yahoo.com

Any survivor of sexual trauma is welcome to post! Any MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA survivor is encouraged to tell their story!

I PROMISE no one will ever have your email contact…as one may know,as one comments on this or any blog,the commentors email address is shown to the blog moderator in a personal part of the site…so,your email address would also be kept in privacy if one was to write me directly…I will copy and paste your words for encouragement to others!

We are clearly seeing more changes in the discussions of MST in the media…but not enough,and change may be happening in teaching that MST exists,but not enough change in how to see the survivor safely and swiftly find justice!

Please tell your story! You may help someone…one of the ‘silent wounded’ find a path worth following!

PEACE