Active Duty

Active Duty

The first thing that I remembered was crawling on my hands and knees into the backseat of the police car and being surprised that it was so hard and cold.  Never the less, I felt safe and I laid down and closed my eyes. I didn’t think about my little dog Mo who had been in the car with me, where I was, where I was going, or why.

The next clear image I had was a day or two later, when I was standing in my sister’s kitchen with my bags packed and Mo by my side.  Patti looked up calmly and asked,  “Where do you think you are going?”  I mumbled something about having to get home, but she really didn’t care what I had said.  She just told me to turn around and go back upstairs to bed and I did.

A couple of days later Patti and I talked about what had happened to me as we read the police and the hospital report together.  She told me that the police found me driving slowly down some unfamiliar street, my car repeatedly bumping up against curb. They said that I was crying hysterically about losing my children.  The police took me to the nearest hospital where Patti and her husband, Patrick were waiting.  The emergency personnel were baffled about my condition because they couldn’t find any indications of physical injury, drugs or alcohol.  Eventually, Patti and Patrick took Mo and I to their home and cared of us until I was feeling good enough to make the 2 hour drive back home.

In an emergency appointment, my psychiatrist quite unconcerned about my temporary lapse of consciousness, began to explain what had happened to me.  Dr. Strong said that he had seen “this type of thing” all the time as a medic in the Sand wars.  “People call it combat shock or battle fatigue,” Dr. Strong said.  “It was fairly common to find soldiers wondering around the battlefield, oblivious to the fact that they were in a war zone.  The treatment for battle fatigue or combat shock was simply, care.  We would guide the soldiers back behind the fighting lines, give then some warm food and stay with them until they felt safe and secure.  Sometimes, we would play soothing music.   In a few days their consciousness would return and we would send then back to the fighting.”

I listened to Dr. Strong’s explanation and it actually made sense to me because I was a targeted parent.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had been on a psychological battlefield for years as my narcissistic ex-husband persistently but subtly assaulted my mind and spirit.  All I knew was that I was getting to the end of my rope emotionally and I was helpless to escape from whatever it was that continued to chip away at the person I used to be only a short time ago.  I was in a constant state of terror that I was losing my mind, my home, and my children. Apparently, like soldiers who had experienced too much atrocity, terror and helplessness, I let go of the end of my rope and took a break from the stark raving madness of my reality.

Whether you are a soldier trying to protect yourself and your unit, or a parent trying to protect your children; trauma is a matter of life and death.  Even the bravest and strongest combat soldiers can be psychologically overwhelmed by immersion in an environment that threatens their life or the lives of those who they love.  Psychological trauma is not something that can be muscled through or that anyone can just get over.  

When we consider that trained soldiers and seasoned parents can become completely disabled by the toxic stress of psychological trauma, it gives us a horribly clear picture of what trauma can do to children.  The truth is that abusive and neglectful narcissistic (borderline) parents are more harmful to their children than combat is to soldiers.  And while our country boasts of nationwide campaigns to help combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder, America ignores millions of her abused and neglected children who never feel the safety or security of getting away from the enemy lines. Even worse is that parents, who children love and trust to protect them are their enemies on the developmental battlefield.