Tag Archives: anxiety

Part VI: A Devil In Disguise

For a time, as I finally chew through the gloom, I will admit that these posts become more and more difficult to write.

It also is not unexpected that writing about the reasons I still struggle with anxiety actually trigger anxiety?

I know that I am blessed with the ability to share this story, which is not necessarily an easy one, but that does not mean it is easy.  Some of you may already know bits and pieces of this story and while my posts are not inclusive of everything that occurred during that dark time in my life, I understand that they are a jumping point.


 

What follows may cause triggers for those who have experienced domestic violence in their life.  If you are concerned the descriptions, even mild ones, of my experiences could cause a trigger for you, I would like to encourage you to skip this post.


 

 

It wouldn’t be long before the Marine got into trouble with his unit.  I still don’t know what caused him to be restricted, only that he was in trouble.
It definitely made life easier and harder at the same time.
Everyday after work for the duration of his restriction go home, make dinner, and then drive it up to the barracks.
It wasn’t long before I began noticing that white car.  It seemed to be waiting for me when I left the back gate, after work, and always behind me.
Sure it was southern Calirfornia and a lot of people drove white cars, but this white car was everywhere.  They were always too close, always pushing me to go faster in the slow lane, and always weaving in and out of traffic to stay behind me every time I changed lanes.
That white car caused a few panic attacks on its own.
On more than one occasion I sped up into the rest stop between my work exit and the San Clemente Road Gate to pull into a crowded lot.
Soon the car was following me further.  All the way to the gate only to turn around when I pulled into the check in.  More than once the guard on duty would comment about the white car and ask if I needed the MPs.
Having mentioned my concerns about the white car to the Marine previously and having him strictly forbidding me from calling the cops or the MPs my answer was always no.
After the Marine was home from restriction, the calls started again and I was once again banned from internet and phone use.
He was excited, almost gleeful.  ‘She’ had gotten a new car.  Specifically a new, <em>white</em>, car.
At that point, I was paranoid about the white car.  It had been parking outside of my place of work for several weeks.  My hours were cut and I was asked to tell my friend to leave the property.
I never approached the car.
And after his response to mentioning the white car following me all the way to base to pick him up, he responded with his hands around my neck.  I was strictly forbidden to call the police.
He was so red and angry his face was burning red and when he let go I caught another backhand.  Screams, things being frozen again including a bottle of vodka, this time clipping me as it hit the wall by the door.
My neighbor, a family in our unit tried to get him out of the house and to leave.
That night, MPs were called.  By the time the arrived all was quiet and I was asleep in the bathroom trying to muffle the screams of the wife across our small patch of grass from our apartment.
My friend who lived next door would later tell me it was one of the most terrifying nights of her life.
I wish the deployment had been my wake up call.  It should have been my wake up and run like hell call.
Convinced I deserved every bit of grief and terror I had experienced I believed I was where I needed to be.
I had my head on strait as possible.  I was taking care of the wives in our unit and I blossomed without him present.
I finally spoke up about what had happened after the Marine was on his way home.  Read his rights in Germany, the world exploded into chaos.
While it was controlled chaos and I fell for him promising to never hurt me again.
Oh the lies I believed.

 


While you can never force someone to get help, you aren’t helpless to watch those you love be hurt over and over again.  Intervention can be frightening for you and a loved one you are confronting.

Don’t watch silently.  Encourage them to have a voice and reach out instead of hiding.

This series will continue in the next few days.  I just can’t dwell on this more today.

Thank you for your support!

 

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Part V: A Knight in Kevlar Plated Armor

What follows may cause triggers for those who have experienced domestic violence in their life.  If you are concerned the descriptions, even mild ones, of my experiences could cause a trigger for you, I would like to encourage you to skip this post.


To give you an idea of the time and place, I can tell you that it was the first January in a post 9/11 world and it dawned with a crisp newness that was washing away the darkness that had followed my heart, including a blanket of freshly fallen snow.

I was back in Potsdam and I was making a lot of decisions even though my head was not exactly clear.

I had been talking to a friend of mine, a marine that at that time who had been stationed in Okinawa for several months.  During his post deployment leave he would be coming to New York and it was ‘love’ at first sight for me and obsession at first sight for him.

At this point in my life, with all of my ups and downs and self sabotage, I wanted to simply belong to someone.  That’s right, the girl that ran away from two healthy relationships in a handful of up and down craziness just wanted to belong to someone.  It sounded like a good idea at the time especially in my irrational state.  Belonging to someone meant that I couldn’t run and no matter how I tried to sabotage myself that I would not be able to actually get away.

This time, I wouldn’t be the one doing the sabotaging.  This time, I was in way too deep and way too far gone to know what was happening.  This match made in dysfunctional heaven nearly cost me my life.

It all came down to her.  In the end he married me to get back at her.  I would never be good enough for him because I couldn’t be her.  My identity in our fledgling marriage was dictated by a girl he was in love with and had left behind before joining the marines, a girl that until that point I had never met.

He had no control over her and how she interacted with him in her life.  Instead, he took control of mine.

Still trying to finish the school year, he began to slowly unravel my life from several thousands of miles away.

When I wasn’t in class or working, I was at my computer talking to him or talking to him on the phone.  At first it was great because here I was belonging to someone, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

If he called early and I was not back to my dorm yet, he would get angry.  If I was out of my dorm room doing anything but talking to him, he would get angry.

‘She’ would never miss any of his calls.

‘She’ would never talk back to him.

‘She’ would have left school and came home to him.

So I did.

Originally the trip was just for spring break, but I knew before I got on the plane that I wasn’t coming back.

And I didn’t.

Our housing was available.  There was no reason to go back.  Even through I wanted to finish school and thanks to my newly married to the Marine Corps status was eligible for grants and subsidized loans with grades higher than I had seen since my first semester in school, I stayed.

‘She’ wouldn’t risk loosing time with him in a post 9/11 world where he was preparing to deploy for the Middle East knowing it was possible that he wouldn’t come home.

I didn’t necessarily have to leave.  I could go to school in California once my residency came through and there was no reason to pay higher tuition costs plus campus residential expenses.

So I got a job.  I worked hard at my first real outside of school and retail job.  Things were okay for a time and I was looking at the world in newly wed rose color glasses.

And then he wanted to spend more time with me and there was less talk about ‘her’.  Relieved that he actually wanted time with me without being brought up in conversation was a boon to my confidence.  I believed he chose me!

I still didn’t believe I deserved for anyone to pick me and I didn’t see it coming.

At first it was simple.  “Hey, can you take me up for call and then drive to work? Because of all the training we haven’t been spending a lot of time together.”

I thought it was sweet.

Then it was, “hey, let’s get groceries together and I can help you cook dinner.  No need to waste the extra gas.”

I thought it was nice to have him helping me out around our little apartment.  I readily agreed.  I thought I was blessed to have a thoughtful husband!  Who wouldn’t want a husband that helps with the shopping and cooking?  It was thoughtful and things were going great even though the threat of imminent deployment hung over our heads.

It wasn’t long before the phone calls started and the don’t’s began.

Don’t call home and talk to your family.

Don’t talk to your friends back east.

Don’t talk to the neighbors unless I’m there.

Don’t talk to anyone online unless I’m home.

Don’t use the internet when I’m not home.

And then, “I’m talking to her, go to bed.”

It didn’t matter that it was early afternoon on the weekend when said we needed to spend time together.

And then the yelling because I wasn’t five and didn’t need to take naps or go to bed before dinner.

I hated when he yelled.

Soon he began to drink.  The first bottle of Vodka he through at my head barely missed.  That bottle wasn’t the only thing he threw.  His family crest on a shield, the sword he purchased, a folding chair, dishes, a keyboard, the phone.

The first time he hit me, he put a phone in my hand and dared me to call 911 and ruin his career.  I grew up with a father who was a Marine.  He may not have been a Marine when I was born, but one thing I knew is that you don’t ruin a Marine or tarnish their unit.

His company was the most decorated in the history of the core.

You do not tarnish the most decorated unit in the core.

I didn’t call 911.

I locked myself in the bathroom sobbing as I cleaned up.  The next day I called into work reporting that I had an ear infection and that I would be back on Monday which if my memory serves me was five days away.

With him on a hike and unable to keep me home, I sought medical care at the base hospital.  I fell.  In all honesty I’m as coordinated as a baby giraffe on roller skates so it was believable.

My x-rays were taken at the base hospital.  One broken rib, a couple bruised, and the associated rainbow on my chest caused trouble, but no one asked any questions.

I was a writer then, just like I am now.  I originally started writing about my tumble down the stairs and in a moment of defiance, I wrote the truth.  The next day comments came in from back east.

I was “making it up” and “seeking attention” because I got myself into a mess and married the wrong man.  I should “stop with the lies” and just “deal with it”.

In a rage I asked if they wanted to see the x-rays and then not only deleted the post, but my online journal as well.

I never felt so alone in my life.  When he came home from the hike, things were better again.  He was sorry I made him scare me and it would never happen again.  No one else could love me like he did and no one else would.

Wouldn’t you know it, I believed him.


While you can never force someone to get help, you aren’t helpless to watch those you love be hurt over and over again.  Intervention can be frightening for you and a loved one you are confronting.

Don’t watch silently.  Encourage them to have a voice and reach out instead of hiding.

This series will continue in the next few days.  I just can’t dwell on this more today.

Thank you for your support!

 

Part IV: Setting the Stage, An Interlude of Sorts

Before I start the next part of this series that delves into why I have anxiety, I need to express my gratitude and love for our armed forces.

The actions of this particular Marine in no way reflect upon the Marine Corps as a whole.  My father was and always will be a Marine and I believe in the Corps and am honored to be a daughter of a Marine.

Despite what went on behind closed doors, my time spent married to the Corps offered blessings for myself and the families that I came to love.  That reminds me, I need to write about the positive things swimming in my brain from that time in the future.

All of that aside, I mentioned that I was primed for some horrible things to happen in my life.  The effects of my combined live experiences to that point had me in a horrible place.

I’ll be the first person to point out that I wasn’t mentally or emotionally unhealthy and defined my sense of self worth or how others felt about me.  When I found myself feeling uncomfortable because things were going too good, I simply freaked out!

I have regrets, but now they’re the healthy kind.  I may have missed out on a different kind of life.  In the long run, without what came next, I never would have been in a place or situation where I would have to face the past and actually live with it.

Am I sorry that I hurt people that I honestly loved?  Yes, but I know I wouldn’t have what I have now if I hadn’t gone through all of the crazy.

Will I ever have a chance to make amends for what happened in the past?  Probably not, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that amends is for me, and not necessarily for the people that got caught up in it all along the way because it could hurt them.

Am I grateful that I survived and have an amazing life now? Honestly, words could not even begin to describe.

Part III: The Friend That Really Wasn’t

Through the troubles I experienced in High school I had a small handful of friends that I counted as actual friends.  One of which that I felt I was particularly close to.

My mom to this day, still asks about her.  ‘What ever happened to…?’

This came up at my wedding and it also came up during my mom and dad’s last visit to Texas.

Another piece of the puzzle regarding my horrible battle with anxiety comes from my freshman year of college and involves this particular friend.

I have to say that the year started out interesting enough.  Away from the advice to kill myself, I struggled at first but actually began to bloom.  I was an honors student, I had some friends and for the first time I didn’t feel as though I was alone in the world.

I grew into myself and even though bad things did happen in college, I was taking it all in stride.

It was amazing to have a life away from locker notes.  And in the evenings, on days when things weren’t so crazy, I would be in my dorm room, watching T.V. and chatting online with friends.

Something to keep in mind is that while I was less anxious and living more instead of just existing, despite this I was very fragile.  My sense of self was just beginning to grow and I wasn’t afraid of having friends.

It was during the first world series game with the Yankees playing, Jeeter was up to bat when everything came crashing down.

My friend, a Yankees fan, delivered a sucker punch that I never saw coming.

‘Everything that has ever gone wrong in my life went wrong because of you.’

Everything changed again.

I was shattered.  Here’s someone that I trusted, one of the few friends I had survived high school with and it was all a lie.

That conversation ripped me in two.

One of the constants in my life was gone.The most horrible part for me was that not only did I second guess myself, for a long time I irrationally believed that she was right.

Thrown back into a time and place where I believed I didn’t deserve anything good or an ounce of happiness.  Worse, I started deep sixing relationships when people got to close.

I couldn’t recognize healthy relationships.  I didn’t understand then, but now I know that even though some of those relationships were healthy and flourishing, I 100% would find myself uncomfortable and anxious until I would completely shut down.

Looking back, part of me wonders if I  should have asked what happened since something must have occurred to trigger the conversation we had.  These days, I no longer longer look back and wonder what was actually happening, but what I can say is that the situation in addition to the locker notes that I had kept to myself until now all primed me for what happened next, and then kept happening again and again and again.

Part II: Locker Notes

While it may seem like it was a lifetime ago, this all starts back in middle school of all places, the time and place where locker notes became a thing.

I don’t remember why I left my friend a note in her locker, I think it was some sort of apology, but there was only ever one note from me.

For me, a note in a locker was a good plan.  I am social akward and have always had horrible trouble reading social queues.  I was, in all honesty, painfully shy and put up a front wearing a mask in order to find friendship.  So when words failed, it felt right to pour out my heart in a note and leave it.

For a few days things were better.  I still believe I did the right thing.  But for my friend, because one person left a note in her locker, I guess kids being kids, they decided to leave notes in her locker.

I don’t know who or why they targeted my friend, but before long, she wasn’t my friend anymore.  Even during math class she moved to sit away from me in class and said that there were just some things that her mother didn’t allow her to do.  Yup, I remember that.  I still don’t know why.  All I know was that she was angry and said I was the only one who ever put notes in her locker.  Part of me wonders if what was left in her locker was anything like what would be coming in my future.

This story isn’t about my friend, who I honestly do pray has all of the happiness in the world.

This story is about what happened after I got my feet back under me and began to heal in high school.  I moved on, accepted that I had lost an amazing friend, and started growing up.

I had my first real boyfriend and I was actually pretty happy.  While my friends were upperclassman and I was for the most part getting along as best I could with everyone around me.

I won’t say I didn’t struggle and I won’t say that it was easy, but I got by.  I talked with my mom a few times about the teasing, but what I learned from my mom was that I shouldn’t let other people know how much it hurt.

In my head, that eventually turned into ‘it isn’t important what other people think, so it’s stupid to hurt over it.’

When the notes started appearing, I ignored them.  I was happy as I could be at that age.  People telling me via a note left in my locker that I was a loser because I had a boyfriend and was happy didn’t bother me.  They didn’t even phase me and were simply ignored and tossed aside.

Those notes changed.  And this is where writing, even thinking about the past begins to get hard for me even though it was in the past.

Soon, the notes told me how worthless I was.

How horrible it was that my family had a kid like me.

That my boyfriend actually hated me and was with me as part of a dare.

That I didn’t deserve to have friends.

I was ruining my boyfriends life.

And slowly, those horrible things got worse.

That is when I changed.  I started to withdraw and began to wonder and question.  My mysterious note writer took a turn toward viciousness, not that the previous notes had not been.

Who did I have to turn to at this point?  My mother would have told me to grow a tougher skin and who would believe me that I was getting things like this left for me.

Call me gullible, I started to believe them.

And then it happened.

It was folded like a football with the spiral bound fringe left on it.

Taking it with me to read on my walk home, what was inside was the same scrambled hand writing detailing how I should kill myself.  Where I should kill myself, and that if I did it in the right place, how I wouldn’t be found and that no one would miss me.

They told me how worthless I was and how I should do everyone a favor and just end it.

With my parents working late every day and trying to keep my schedule filled with activities even though the people around me weren’t fond of me, I trudged on.

The notes told me he would be better off without me.  And after weeks of being told how to end my life, I finally ended my relationship with my boyfriend.  A note slipped in his pocket after a friend of mine and I (for different reasons and her not knowing the entire story) had agreed it was the best thing for me and him.

I chose a note.  A hated note.  That was my gutless way out.

The note the next day told me that they were surprised I had the guts to break my boyfriends heart.  I was applauded for my courage and then told that I was still a coward because I was alive.

I’d like to say that I told someone about the locker notes.

I’d like to look back with rose colored glasses and pretend that I had the courage to stand up for myself.

Instead, I continued to pretend everything was okay.

I would read a note on the walk home almost daily and while I didn’t end my life, my sense of self worth and identity was destroyed.  I had no faith, no one to turn to.

I can’t even pretend it didn’t for all four years.  I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if I told someone.  Maybe things would have gotten better.  Maybe I could have leaned on best friend Nick, or my other best friend, at least, who I thought was my friend.

But I didn’t.  I became a people pleaser instead.

 Part I: Anxiety and Me

 Part III: The Friend That Really Wasn’t

Anxiety and Me

I didn’t always struggle with anxiety.  I dislike that word.  Struggle.  So lets just uhh.. cross it out.

Who doesn’t worry about something in their lives.  Maybe there was a turning point where you loose your grounding and faith in yourself and the, even after finding something to believe in and believing in yourself again, you just can’t shake that feeling of doom and gloom that terrifies  you when it creeps up on you out of no where.

It shouts in your face with putrid breath while gripping your heart in your chest:  You can’t succeed.  You won’t succeed.  You aren’t worth succeeding.

And sometimes the voices and their foulness leave you so shaken that you just can’t function.  You vomit in your mouth.  You experience ‘nervous tummy’ as I like to call it and all you want to do is run away and hide in the deepest darkest corner that you can find.

Now that, my friends, is a panic attack.  We had some not happy things happen last week that left my stuck in that place of darkness and panic.

Yay for anxiety.  It’s still here.  I’m still … trying.  It’s hard to face the things that leave you shaking inside, even if they’re in your ancient past.  There are days when your ancient past comes crashing down and you feel like you’re trapped in it again, even though you are as far from it as you possibly can.

In the long run, it takes a lot to inventory your life and all of your experiences to find the root cause of something so controlling as anxiety.

During a step study group through Celebrate recovery, where I was facing my past, the losses, and the pains that followed domestic violence, I had the opportunity to do just that in a safe, confidential environment.

Unfortunately for me, the root cause of my anxiety primed me for events that I would face in adulthood and at one point even leave me running for my life.

what follows is the first part in a series on Revival Girl’s Anxiety Story.  In a lot of ways it isn’t for you.

It’s for me.

It’s part of my healing process and maybe through sharing it may help others face similar problems like this one in their own lives.

I preface this series of posts with these words:

It doesn’t matter if you are the target or the cause.  in the end, it hurts you.

And if after sharing, those that were involved actually stumble on this posting, know now that you were forgiven long ago.  The after effects of what occurred in my life are my burden to bare, me, my amazing husband who brings the Priesthood into my family, and my faith to survive.

Part II: Locker Notes

Part III: The Friend That Really Wasn’t