A look back at the PTSD post.

In casual conversation today, I referred to the post on PTSD and divorce, which made me take a look back and read through the comments from that day.  Ironically it has been two years since that post was published and today it continues to be the most clicked on this site!

So I thought we should take another look at what started that historical ( in my blog life) day long conversation.  Click to view the original post.  Then take some time to read through the comment thread.  Comments are posted most recent on top so you will have to scroll down to start at the beginning.

On October 24, 2013 at 12:15 am (Eastern Standard Time) Rebecca left the comment that would spark an all day conversation.  I am always very excited to wake up and see a new comment, when I read it though, I wasn’t so happy.  I felt like it was the beginning of an attack on what my purpose of the blog was.  I reptsd1responded quickly at first but then as the day went on and the comments were pouring in from my readers, I decided just to sit back and read what was happening, then process it all later that night.  At which point I would do my research and formulate a brilliant reply, and I think I did just that.

On October 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm (Eastern Standard Time) I politely and gratefully responded to Rebecca and having had done my homework, I felt empowered, smart, witty, and most of all determined to stand up for what I believed was something worth fighting for.

I would love to get another conversation going, as this topic is one that is very close to my heart and I know there are many others out there who could use our help.  Feel free to post comments on this post or the original and know that sharing even just a piece of your story, may help even just one person.  I look forward to the conversation.


Courageous Butterfly


Below you will find Rebecca’s first comment and my last.  Take a peak and take time to read the comments in-between on the Does PTSD after divorce exist page.

The reason more doctors and therapists don’t diagnose divorced folks with PTSD is simple… get a DSM and read the diagnostic criteria. Unless there was physical violence and events involving threatened or actual death, or physical injury, what you all are describing does not meet the criteria. In my 20+ years of practice I can fortunately say I can recall just two women who did meet the criteria due to abuse in the marriage.

Should we psychologists just throw our diagnoses without cause? Would you want your dermatologist to diagnose you with skin cancer when what you have is a 2nd degree burn? There are ethical guidelines to diagnosing conditions.

What you all are describing would certainly meet the criteria for Adjustment Disorder, and surely, I have seen patients who have a depressive disorder or anxiety disorder concurrent. Rarely, I can justify using the diagnosis Acute Stress Disorder, and perhaps you would meet the criteria for this. Please have respect for those who do suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because reading your post and comments here, honestly, it’s insulting, and it’s as as if you would choose to claim you had skin cancer when what you have is a 2nd degree burn. Trust me, ladies, I agree that you have suffered, but I would not wish PTSD upon anyone.

BTW, Rebuilding is an excellent book/workbook!

Hi Rebecca, no worries I am not one who deletes unless it is true spam! My soul purpose for my blog is to put information out there for who ever may be needing it and for any reason. I am grateful for your comments on this post because you have sited several valuable resources that can help my readers and anyone else that happens along the site.

I will not argue that you are correct in the new criteria on the DSM 5, it is clearly stated that in order for one to be diagnosed with PTSD they must meet the specific criteria. I did a little research today and it looks like that change was very recent, possibly this year. I would like to site some references myself that I found, one is from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Under the “Who is at risk?” section of the article it states “Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event.”

What does this mean to me? Well I do not hold a license in counseling or in divorce but what stood out to me is, “abuse” it does not specify physical or emotional it’s just abuse; as well as the part that reads many other serious events, again not specific to physical abuse or the fear of death. I’m not an expert and I don’t argue that if a health professional needs to code PTSD, it must follow the criteria you mentioned. However, I do believe that someone can exhibit all the signs and symptoms of PTSD, no matter how traumatic their event.

You mentioned the ladies in your group and how they were sad for me, and the other survivors that have posted on my site. You stated that one said “If they want PTSD so bad, they can trade lives with me in a heart beat.” I’m going to get very honest with you and tell you that my blog posts are just a snippet into my story, and I’m going to guess that those that have commented on my posts may not be sharing every detail of their experience either. In which case they would not need to trade lives with your group, because they are living their own version.

I only know what is being shared. It is quite possible that one if not all of these people commenting did have a gun pointed to their head, or were beaten or sexually assaulted, and if that is true then they would be medically diagnosed with PTSD. I was surprised that you would leave your comment when you don’t know all the facts. If you could just reflect on the fact that people usually don’t share everything on an online forum, or they can’t. I for instance, leave out certain details in order to protect loved ones. Wagering a guess other’s have done the same. So, maybe the people on this blog and all the many other blogs in the world are the same as the people in your DV group, and should not be made to feel like they are any less than anybody else.

When I originally wrote this post it was not to drown myself in my sorrows or tell the world that I am a victim of PTSD, it was the sole purpose of reaching out to even just one person who was feeling the same thing I was and to let them know that they are not alone, they are not going crazy, and that the symptoms they are experiencing may be true symptoms of PTSD.

NIMH lists signs and symptoms of PTSD and I have experienced every single one because of what I went through. The level of my abuse may not even compare to what other’s have suffered but the point of my blog is not to say “Hey I have it worse than you”, it is to say “hey you are not alone”.

I will brag and say that I have been able to help several people who have found my blog and in turn Several have helped me!! That means I have accomplished my goal, which was the reason for my blog. Rebecca, you have added to that with your resources and again I thank you. I also thank you for the work you are doing in helping survivors move on.

Many Many Blessings to you,


Courageous Butterfly

Between You and Me

women_support-1I have come to a realization that the healing process is more complex than I ever thought it was.  Every speed bump that I encounter along my transformation is just a reminder how fragile we can be during this process.  Between you and me, sometimes life just seems like chapters of goodbyes.

An important part of my transformation process is an annulment.  My divorce has been final for two years but there is a part of me that needs to reconcile that part of my life with God.  I’ve known that the process can be very lengthy and somewhat challenging.  For me, completing the initial paper work was not as hard as I thought it was going to be, partly because I have already been writing my story through this blog.  Even though several months have passed since I mailed in the petition , I hadn’t forgotten about it, however it wasn’t constantly on my mind either.

This past week I received a letter stating the process had officially begun and I would be contacted if further information was needed.  When I saw the envelope I knew what was inside and at first I felt happiness.  I was eager to open it up and see what it said knowing that this would soon end another chapter of the pain I had gone through.  The emotion that I was waiting for never came, instead I was immediately thrown into tears.  Just like I discussed in my last two posts, I was reminded of an emotion that left a very big wound.  Opening that envelope and seeing his name on the paper with mine left my mind in a tail spin.  emotional-divorce-300x265

I felt anger, sadness, heart-break, and loss.  Then I was upset with myself because again I thought I was comfortable enough with my divorce that I could handle being reminded of the marriage in this way.  I reached out to a friend who has been through the annulment process and he quickly reminded me that divorce is actually the death of a marriage, and I will never forget.  These emotions will come back off and on and when least expected.    Between you and me, I’m not sure I”m ready for a lifetime of never forgetting.

Because this is something that is very important to me, I will face these emotions  head on and with as much strength as I can muster up.   I know that it is another step in the healing process. I am still mourning my marriage as I would any other death, I just didn’t realize it until now.  I think the hardest part for me will be having the courage to face the tears.  Ya, that’s crazy coming from courageous butterfly I know.  In the beginning it was easy for me to cry, not sure if that makes any sense, crying is crying.  But it is different now because I’ve gone through the death.  It is a closed case, so the tears now are pure emotions, not related to my present life or my future, they are strictly tears of the past.  Between you and me, tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it. –Albert Smith.

When mourning the death of a loved one you are constantly saying goodbye and this is no different.  Each time you view a photograph or have a memory you are reminded of the life you spent with that person, and will be forced to say goodbye over and over again.  I thought I had said my goodbyes in the courtroom two years ago, I had no idea that it would be a lifetime of goodbyes.  Though this is a major goodbye, it won’t be the last.  There will be many situations in life that force us to say goodbye. Whether it be a job, a friend, a lover, a pet, or family member.  Between you and me, Goodbye’s are not easy.

So what does all of this mean at this point in my journey?  As far as I can tell it means that I have to be prepared for emotions that I thought I had already processed.  I will encounter situations that may bring up some old emotional memories and remind me of my scars.  I have to continue to seek advice from other’s who have been on this journey before me, listen to their kind words and learn from their experiences.  Between you and me, this is why I’m sharing with you now.

I hope that the thoughts, feelings and experiences on my survival will encourage other’s going through a similar circumstance to learn to grow from each emotion, memory, feeling and tear.  I am still learning and have a lot more ahead of me.  Within my chrysalis I am growing stronger and when it is time I will emerge the butterfly I am meant to be.  Between you and me, I will embrace it.

Do you have a similar story, can you offer any advice on how to embrace the goodbye?  Respond in the comments.


Courageous Butterfly


Related blogs/links

Here Comes Goodbye, Rascal Flatts

Saying Goodbye, Wonder Blogs

With Every Goodbye You Learn, Luna Starla’s Dreamy Stories

Marriage-Divorce-Annulment by Catholic Answers Live




Emotional Memory

Brain-conceptual-image-puzzleAnyone who has spent time on a fitness program knows that the muscles of our body are equipped with muscle memory.  Meaning that when we work out our muscles grow accustomed to different types of movement, thus turning it into an unconscious learning process for the body.  What would happen if we apply that to our emotions?

In my last post I talked about PTSD after divorce and this topic goes right along with it.  Recently I have suffered from effects of both PTSD and what I believe is emotional memory.  It has taken me by complete surprise.  I was even reluctant to publish the post thinking that it wasn’t really relevant to those suffering a divorce, but I was quickly put to ease when I started researching it.  I’m glad I decided to talk about it because it is a real problem and there are many of us suffering from it.  With support and the ability to share our stories, we can all learn how to get past this current emotional state.

At this point on my journey I was convinced that I was past all of that.  I had dealt with what I thought were all of my emotions during my divorce and for the first year afterwards.  Like I said in the previous post, I had forgiven and moved on.  I am finding out now that the journey of healing is a longer road than I thought.  I have reached a pretty high mountain and it was no where on my radar screen, it just appeared.

Take a second and pretend you are a  little kid again and have  just entered an amusement park….I bet right now you are feeling excited and happy and it feels just the same as it did all those years ago.  That is emotional memory.  We don’t think about it when it is something that makes us happy, we just accept the feeling because it is a good one.  It affects us in a totally different way when it is an emotion that caused us pain or sadness.

I was recently in a brief relationship with someone and just before it ended I could sense that something was a little off.  My intuition, which I finally am in tune with, was telling me that something was different.  When we had the conversation and ended things I felt exactly the same as I did when I received the email telling me my marriage was over.  I was overcome with emotions that I should not have been feeling because they were left over from the divorce.  It made no sense to me because you could not even compare the pain of my divorce to this current event.  However, since both situations ended in a loss, that was the trigger.  Even though they had very different outcomes the same emotional memory response was felt.  When this happened I started out being very angry with myself.  I was upset because I was spending more time with these emotions that I had already dealt with two years ago.  I was feeling very frustrated with the fact that maybe I’m crying now because I was too strong when I should have been weak, and really taken the time to face those feelings.  I quickly realized that is not the case.  No matter how much time I took dealing with those emotions as they were happening, my brain was busy storing them up.  It took this event to bring them back to the front of my memory, thus filling me with the exact emotional response. emotional memory

I will admit that all of this has been pretty scary.  I’m now faced with the fact that anything in life may produce these memory responses, and that they can happen at any time.   The hardest part will be allowing myself to live life and experience situations where some of these feelings may resurface.  I was under the impression that only the divorce itself could produce those emotions, and that since the divorce was over, I should never feel like that again….I was wrong.

I know now that my journey of healing is still very much in progress and I am thankful for the recent relationship.  Not only because it brought joy and happiness back into my life, but also because it took losing it to know that I still have a lot of work to do!  It is a blessing to me that I had enough courage to put myself back out there.  I am also grateful that it has happened now rather than ten years down the road.   Because right now I am still in battle mode and I will use the strength that I gained from having survived the divorce to learn how to handle this new stage of the healing and transformation process..  When it comes up again, which it will, I will be ready and know how to respond.  I’m slowly getting past the anger of it all and realizing that only I can choose how I handle this.  I am the only one living it, therefore I am the only one who can move me past it.   In a recent conversation with someone who means the world to me, I was reminded of an old song that speaks volumes for how I am currently feeling.  In the voice styling  of Joe Cocker  and Jennifer Warnes:  the road is long and there are mountains in our way, but we could climb a step every day….love lift us up where we belong!  I like to replace the word  love with they’ll, because as I climb each step of  any painful mountain, they’ll bring me closer to being fully healed.

I’ve begun keeping a dream journal to help me see what other subconscious emotions may be brewing inside this little brain of mine.  Talking it out with close friends and my counselor has also been beneficial.   I think it’s a little early for me to offer any concrete advice but I would like to suggest that if you are going through this, do not try to suppress it.  Let it out!  It will be very hard to feel all of the painful emotions again but it is the only way to heal through it.  If we keep suppressing them our emotional memory responses will never learn how to properly process them so that when they are brought out they are less painful each time.

I had several comments on the post relating to PTSD and I hope that there are other’s who will share their stories relating to that topic as well as this one.  Your comments and advice are welcome below!


Courageous Butterfly


Related Links/Blogs

Unconscious Emotion, Current Directions in Psychological Science

Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings, Psychology Today

What Comes Out When Squeezed, Missy Tree

What It Means To Be Human, anonymoUSly obvioUS