Saturday, September 8, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Isn't So Nice...

When you have PTSD!

The kids are back to school, Starbucks has their Pumpkin Spice Latte out and I can feel the PTSD of holidays past creeping in on me. While I like Halloween, Christmas and celebrating the New Year. I've never been a fan of Thanksgiving. Not because I'm some ungrateful momster. Because I am grateful and have so many things to be thankful for! 
It's just that Thanksgiving growing up, was always a hit or miss at our house. I remember one year having Burger King because my very Stubborn Latin Grandma was fighting with my Aunts and Uncles and decided to boycott and since we lived with her at that time, my Mom had to follow suit. Don't worry by Christmas all was forgiven and a big feast was had. 
I also remember the first Thanksgiving my Mom cooked in our new house. It was just me my sister and her. We ate pie for breakfast, snacked on stuffing had mashed potatoes for lunch and finally turkey for dinner! Basically, as it became ready we ate it! Haha
I could attribute my distaste for the holiday to the fact that it's an American tradition and one we really didn't know how to celebrate. But when I was married we would go to my inlaws house surrounded by lots of family and great food just like you see in the movies! Still, it felt foreign to me.  Then after the divorce, I just worked the holiday so the kids could go to their Dads and have those feel-good memories and so I wouldn't feel guilty for not wanting to celebrate.  
Now fast forward to the past three years, I started a new tradition where my mom comes over to make tamales with the kids in the morning, while I drink mimosas and watch Harry Potter and then they go to Dads. It's no Thanksgiving feast but its something we really look forward to!!
I know a lot of people get depressed around the holidays and in my experience, I think it comes from unfulfilled expectations. It was for me at least.
So what changed? How was I able to let go of my expectations? PTSD! 
Yep, that's right. When you have PTSD you really can't expect anything. Someday's you wake up and go about your day just fine. And other days you hear a balloon pop or a car screeches down the St. and even though you're in your house it takes you back and all of a sudden you can't help that feeling of helplessness and you panick. Thankfully that happens less and less but three years later I can tell you I still get triggered. 
I talked about "the accident" in a previous post called "Pictures on the wall." I told you it changed me. And I wanted to share how it changed me for the better. 
Expectation vs Reality. 
The reality of the situation was that even though my daughter was physically "ok" emotionally none of us were. It can be hard for family and friends to understand why you stop coming around. Why you just want to stay home or why you won't do this or that. Hell, it was hard for me to understand it! 
I had to let go of friendships, I broke up with my boyfriend of four years... And not because they were pressuring me to do anything or telling me to get over it already. But because I was! 
I was expecting my reality to go back to the way it was before the accident and when it didn't I didn't know how to handle it. Most of the time I was on autopilot just getting done what needed doing but the rest of the time I would get overwhelmed and cry over the smallest things. It was frustrating. 
One day about 8 months after, I was having a mini-meltdown in front of my mom. She told me that was the first time she had seen me cry and ask for help since the accident and she felt so relieved. I thought what an odd thing to say! What I realized that day was that nobody was expecting me to be strong. Nobody was expecting me to do everything alone. Nobody but ME! That's  also when I realized I had to change my expectations and accept that this was my new reality. Once I was able to let go of how I thought things were supposed to play out, I started to heal.  

Life is messy no matter what it throws at you and trying to control it will drive you mad. Stop expecting and start accepting!
If you're suffering from PTSD know you're not alone, talk to people, ask for help or feel free to email me if you just need to chat with a stranger.
I hope everyone has a wonderful and messy weekend!


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