Strong Blue Line Women, We Need You

“You should have asked her if she wanted peanut butter and jelly instead of ham and cheese!” It was another silly argument. Sure, I could have asked, but I FINALLY remembered to actually make her school lunch the night before so I’m not scrambling to make it the next morning in the midst of getting three kids ready for school, getting myself ready, making sure the dogs are fed, baseball equipment is in the car and we aren’t 10 minutes late. So the fact that it was ham and cheese and she really wanted peanut butter and jelly was very low on my priority list. I’m in a better place. I realize now that this is an argument about peanut butter and jelly and NOT that he doesn’t love me, that I’m not worth it, that I’m a horrible mom or that he’s going to leave me. That was me a year ago.

PTSD is a tricky criminal

Let’s go back a little bit. I met my husband in 2010, six years after a horrible divorce from an abusive husband. I thought my PTSD was gone, but I was wrong, way wrong. Drew and I met in 2010 through Match.com. It was a whirlwind of getting married, getting pregnant, selling two homes, transferring his job and buying a new home all in the next year! Another pregnancy soon after our first was born left us with a loss of a twin and a beautiful baby girl. We tried and we struggled for the next three years to get pregnant again. Finally, in 2015 we were pregnant and again with twins! Unfortunately, three months later we lost both of them. It was heart-crushing. The pain was so unbearable it made my chest feel like it was caving in…..and then it happened. One sunny day, just like that it happened. One small silly argument about who knows what sent me into a downward tailspin. I got in my car and left. Crying, driving with all those horrible thoughts in my head. He hates me, I can’t do anything right, I’m worthless to him, I’m a horrible mom. Thankfully, a phone call to a friend and three hours later of sipping coffee, crying and talking I was on the mend. But, I never really got 100% better, even though I thought I was.

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Skip ahead four months later, and my husband calls me from the Sheriff’s office; “It’s Steve (Sandberg), he’s been shot….and he’s dead.” Again, that pain. Heart-crushing, chest-caving pain. I felt guilty for thinking "Thank God it wasn’t Drew.” The next few months were up and down with emotion and trying to understand each other and when we needed space and when we needed love from each other. Many silly arguments occurred. Small downward spirals each time. Then it happened again. Mother’s Day weekend 2016, another silly argument. But again, the thoughts, the feelings came rushing back. “I shouldn’t be thinking this. I have a beautiful family, wonderful husband, my dream house and a great job. Why am I so unthankful? Again, in my car, key in the ignition…but I couldn’t leave. I knew if I turned that key and left I probably wouldn’t see my family again. The steering wheel would find itself turning off the road and into a tree. I stopped, I felt weak, I felt out of control. I called the suicide helpline.

A turning point

After 20 minutes of talking I handed the phone over to my husband. “You know I should be taking you in right?!" For the first time in our marriage I don’t think he knew the answer. He didn’t know how to help me. I didn’t know how to help me. I made an appointment to see a counselor. She continued to see me as I met with a therapist who would soon help me through the process of EMDR therapy. Four sessions later, 300mg of depression medication and I’m finally the person who was lost so long ago. 

By July of 2016 I was in Hawaii with my husband and with my true self. Someone I hadn’t been since before I met my ex-husband. PTSD is a tricky criminal. It comes, it goes. There are triggers. I had re-triggered PTSD symptoms by being in a happy, trusting marriage. His career and my miscarriages had triggered past memories that had been blocked by PTSD. Emotions, memories, triggers exploded into a deep traumatic PTSD depression. I had to finally accept that I needed help to tackle this problem. The EMDR sessions were nothing less than miraculous. Each session instantly fixed any emotions that were tied to past traumatic memories. I remembered what it felt like to be TRULY happy. Those silly arguments are now just that, silly. I shake my head, walk the other way and move on. No more horrible feelings. No more negative thoughts. I’m free. Free to be happy. Free to enjoy my marriage, my family, my job and this beautiful life we have built.

You are not weak if you need to ask for help

What does this all have to do with a Blue Line marriage? I wanted some of you to reflect on the ‘silly arguments’ that you have with your spouses. Don’t let the ‘silly’ arguments be more than just that, silly. If you can’t shake it off, walk away and move on don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are strong women and our husbands need us to be strong for them and for our families. Take care of yourself. You are not weak if you need to ask for help. Only the strong realize when they need to ask for help. So please, help each other, be there for each other and take care of yourself. Your kid needs you to make the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or the ham and cheese, whatever.