I feel like this should be titled, “PTSD Chronicles Part 2…of many.”
A few hours ago, I walked from my office to the post office to mail the OMB educational packets. Now that my ex-in-laws live in my town, I have anxiety about walking around downtown. My anxious thoughts crept in as I walked and I pushed them aside. I was in a good place and gave myself a pep talk along the way that went something like this, “STOP letting these people hold space in your head. This is your town. Stop living in fear….this is not healthy.” I reminded myself of the quote, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” I have so much anger towards them and I struggle with it daily.
I got to the post office and took a photo of the educational packets to post on Facebook. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her red hair. Before I knew it, she was three feet away from me looking hurried. She glanced my way but didn’t focus on me. I began to tremble. It’s one thing to see her from a distance in a coffee shop or in a car but it’s another thing to be face to face with her. I moved toward the door and she took a step forward still unaware that it was me. We were now facing each other with less than two feet of space dividing us. My mind was racing yet blank at the same time. “I can’t believe you show your face in this town,” I said staring at her in disbelief.
I spent the next two hours shaking…barely functional. Leaving the post office, I walked right into traffic.. completely unaware of my own surroundings. I quickly found a bench and sat down because I felt as though my legs were about to fail me. My PTSD was so bad that my husband immediately jumped in his car and drove downtown to be with me. I was a mess.
I have SO much anger and animosity towards this woman. To me, my ex-husband seems insignificant and pathetic. He is so disordered that I expect nothing from him. My ex-mother-in-law on the other hand is extremely calculated. She knew about how dysfunctional and disordered her sons were and she made the conscious decision to place my daughters in harm’s way time and time again. She needed to make her family photos so polished and perfect that she sacrificed my daughters to accomplish her goal.
I write to process.
I write to purge.
I write to heal.
I write to be transparent because my guess is that you, like many, feel alone in this battle. You aren’t alone.
PTSD is real.
Here is the good news: one year ago, this incident would have taken me out for a day (or two) but here I am…sitting at my desk, trying to reclaim my day and my power. I am proud of myself because I appreciate the progress I’ve made. I look forward to the day when I can look at my ex-mother-in-law and have ZERO emotions because that is the level of my energy she deserves.
Thank you for reading and allowing me to heal through my writing. <3
I am thankful for my village of Lemonade Warriors. -Tina
Tina Swithin is an author (Divorcing a Narcissist series and The Narc Decoder: Understanding the Language of the Narcissist) and founder of One Mom’s Battle, an organization dedicated to providing support to survivors and educating the family court professionals on Cluster B personality disorders. Tina has dedicated her life to empowering those on the battlefield of the family court system through her many resources such as her books, The Lemonade Club, her annual retreats, and her coaching practice.