Your Words Shook My PTSD Brain And I Faked It

by Sherry Riter in Health,PTSD,Self-Development  


“Your words don’t go in one ear and out the next
until after they have grabbed onto my brain
and shook it a few times first.”
~The Redhead Riter

There simply is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to accomplish, but I try and that means I set unrealistic expectations for myself and ultimately fail.

Being totally responsible for a child is in many ways a daunting task – emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. I always take my motherhood seriously and I also want to provide a nice life for my daughter. I never want her to be a target for mean-spirited remarks as a result of my failure as a mother.

So I have worked hard and stretched myself sometimes to the breaking point trying to be the perfect mother. Of course, there is no such thing as a “perfect” anything and that includes the role of a mother. The fact that perfection was impossible didn’t deter me from having that unrealistic “perfect” goal.

Unfortunately, I have felt the same way about being a daughter, sister, friend, wife, girlfriend, aunt, employee, student, homemaker, blogger, Twitterer and the list just goes on and on. Trying to be perfect in all those roles at different periods of my life has often proven to be extremely difficult.

It Happened On My Birthday

Some of the traits of being “perfect” are to remain positive, upbeat, accomplished and happy especially if it is your birthday. The big kicker in this whole perfect thing is that I am still trying to cope with some of the effects of PTSD.

Part of my healing requires that I change a few things about myself. One of the changes necessary is to stop trying to be perfect especially since I never require anyone else to be perfect. That sounds a whole lot easier than it really is and actually, it is a bit terrifying. The fine line between “being perfect” and “being the best I can be” is almost non-existent. Because I have such a hard time with the perfection thing, I have caused myself much unhappiness.

At midnight on my birthday, my mother and Aunt Barbara called minutes apart and sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Every year they call and sing and every year I feel a rush of emotions – thankful, happy, child-like, excited, special and “good enough”. The effect of their singing lasts for days and sometimes weeks, but not this year.

By the time I got to work on the morning of my birthday, I was feeling the effects of my PTSD. I had been looking forward to a happy birthday, so I pasted a smile on my face to fake exuberance. Upon booting my computer, I was met with a birthday wish and a beautiful Happy Birthday photo that I immediately made my desktop wallpaper.

Throughout the day, the hanging, thick black dread of my PTSD kept bombarding me, so I kept looking at my wallpaper. While I lingered on the beautiful photo, I told myself things like, “I am a talented woman with much to offer. I have always been able to accomplish just about anything I set my mind to doing, so I do add value to my employer, family, friends and world. I may have two failed marriages, but I am lovable and gave much to those relationships. I have raised a wonderful daughter who loves me back.”

Eventually my work day ended and it was time to go to physical therapy for my foot and then home to my first birthday Twitter party. My foot started throbbing an hour after I got home. Sitting alone and hurting in front of the computer waiting for the appointed party time had me feeling old and lonely. The Twitter birthday party, however, went without a hitch.

After the party, I started reading all the happy birthday messages left by my Twitter friends. I am sure that I have never been wished “happy birthday” that many times my whole life. I’m not a “perfect” Twitter friend and follower, but I try my best to thank everyone for their kindnesses. Before I had even finished getting everyone thanked so that I could hop over and do the same thing on my Facebook, I was engulfed in the PTSD gloom.

Let me just say that PTSD is not fun especially when I had to try so hard just to have a happy birthday. I shouldn’t have to fake it on my birthday! It is a day that is meant to celebrate my life, not be overshadowed by the effects of a traumatic event that happened two years ago. Get over it and get on with life.

Listening “Perfectly”

I find it very easy to listen to people when they speak to me, however, I usually do not stop what I am doing and look at them. Obviously, I’m not a perfect listener. I understand the importance of eye contact, but when I am cooking or on the computer, I can keep “working” and still listen. I know it doesn’t look like I can do both tasks well, but I can accomplish both.

Since being diagnosed with PTSD, I lost a lot of my ability to multi-task. It wasn’t until recently that I could actually do more than one thing at a time again. I finally can listen to music and usually have it playing the whole time I am at the computer. I once again find the melodies rather soothing and often invigorating.

During the past two years, PTSD has robbed me of so many things in my every day life. It is such a relief to know that I continue to improve and that I never have to go back to that horrible place I once experienced.

One thing that I have recognized about my multitasking is that I absorb and feel the written word more fully. I also find that while listening to someone talk to me, the variations in the pitch and enunciation of their words is intriguing and soothing. Sometimes when I appear to be concentrating on something other than the conversation or am too quiet, the person will say, “Are you listening?” or “Are you there?” Believe me, your words enter my ears and grab hold of my brain like a terrified child on a roller coaster. Then the words and your intended message shakes my PTSD brain until I totally understand and comprehend what you are telling me.

It may take me a bit longer to respond during a conversation, but that is only because I am also more careful now. I value living, life and other people’s feelings. The whole sticks, stones and broken bones quote just isn’t true. Words can devastate and destroy. Being a good listener is important. After all, we are all connecting on this planet because we just want to be accepted, loved and happy.

Hmm…being loved and happy.

Yeah, well, that is way too much to discuss now. It is sufficient to say, being loved definitely brings about happiness and I don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Even with all my interspersed gloom yesterday, I know that I am slowly conquering my PTSD symptoms. That is definitely enough of a reason to celebrate.


The Redhead Riter


This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skip_D January 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Yes, definitely cause for celebration!


2 TJ January 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Mom will be first , I am sorry your birthday was a gloomy one. I hope we can take another day and celebrate. I love you and of all those in your life I know you are not perfect and I have always loved you. We none are perfect and if we were no one would want to be with us for we would only make them miserable reminding them of their short comings. Your life has had much sorrow but I promise the Lord will replace it with that much or more happiness. So hold your pretty head up, see the sun shine, let it shine on your face and live one day at a time. We none are perfect, none can be here, and the Lord loves us, that really is all we need to survive.



3 Pammy pam January 19, 2012 at 4:55 am

happy belated birthday to one of the most beautiful people i know. your tweets ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make me smile and i tear up for you right now thinking about how PTSD affects you. Please remember that you are loved by more people than you can ever know.

my world would be dark if it didnt have RED in it.


4 Bev January 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Believing that you will be healed of the PTSD soon. You are a great, talented and super duper lady. Hugs!


5 Joan January 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I have always marveled at how you can multitask! Are you listening or are you there? I said, "I have always marveled at how you can multitask!" I wish I could multitask like you do! :o)


6 Making Our Life Matter January 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I can't imagine what it must be like for you, but just know that I appreciate you and what you do for all us bloggers. What you do matters.


7 Amber Mae January 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I'm new to your blog, but I truly hope you find happiness and peace. I've never experienced PTSD, but when I witnessed my mother's grand mal seizure I was very jumpy – I was a senior in high school and everything scared me for a while. My parents woke me up one night to tell me I had won a scholarship and I started yelling at everyone to remain calm and get out of the house – somehow I was convinced that we had a CO2 leak. There were a few incidents like that. With how hard it was, I can't imagine how hard what your going through is. God be with you.


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