As we get ready to celebrate the winter solstice and all of the holidays around the world like Las Posadas, Saint Stephen’s Day and Holy Innocents day I reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead.
As I look back at 2017, I realize that I have been going through a painful rebirthing, envisioning of who I am, who could I be?
I experienced a ton of change in 2017, after 45 years of smoking cigarettes I am almost 1-year cigarette free. (January 2nd is the anniversary.)
My good friend Blair died earlier this year. He was the road captain on that fateful day when I hit a road boil and crashed and had another bike hit mine from behind.
I am not looking forward to discovery in February. It will bring up the memories of Blair, the sadness I feel at his departure from this side of the grass. It will also bring up the frustration I feel over being sued by someone who hit me from behind, who was following too close.
The frustration I feel over a police officer that did not do his job and never sent me a subpoena so I had no idea what date, time or city court was in. The fact that I have a letter of apology from the RCMP officer offers little comfort, as I now have to relive that day and that whole horrid affair all over again. ARGH….
In May of 2017, PTSD started kicking my ass again, HARD. I did all of the survival things that I know to do to keep it at bay, under control, under wraps, I succeeded most of the time and failed miserably a couple of times.
And that brings me to some people that I am hugely grateful for.
My contractors. Yes, my family too, but today it’s the people who work with me I want to talk about…I am grateful to them and for them for so many reasons.
I have an injury that no one else can see, and sometimes I come across pretty impatient, harsh and intolerant with my tone of voice. Sometimes my volume goes up and the aggression comes out and then the tears start to flow – tears of frustration at not being able to let nice Renee out.
For these people to keep hanging in there with me, through the ups and downs, well a girl can’t feel much more gratitude than I do right now. I have come so close to losing everything I have worked all my life for, including my sanity, thanks to PTSD.
PTSD is hard to explain because no two people truly experience it the same way.
My triggers are someone spitting in my face while they are talking/yelling at me, the color orange when I feel threatened or vulnerable, someone coming at me from behind, unsecured loads, fire…there are a few others but these are the most important, the most hurtful of all of the triggers because they can spiral me into a pit of despair so fast. These are my least controllable triggers.
In May I had a disagreement with someone who reminds me a lot of my mother.
My mother is a huge contributor to my hidden injury called PTSD.
Anyway, the relationship I had with my mother was love/hate.
It was stormy, and at times violent.
This happened on May 4th, the anniversary of Fort Mac, I was already fragile, but I knew if I got away from the TV and radio and all of the accounts and documentaries and threw myself into something I am wildly passionate about I’d be OK.
Once at the monument site, I had this person that was yelling at me about something she knew nothing about, she was doing it in front of a crew of construction workers, many in orange safety vests as she was spitting in my face while yelling. I triggered hard. I was vibrating from head to toe, shaking like a leaf, and I asked this person 3 times to “PLEASE get out of my personal space”. The fourth time I didn’t ask, I yelled at her calling her some very choice, un-lady like names and ran to my car. I drove out of the parking lot too fast, to a safe place about 2 blocks away and stopped the car. The waterworks were just flowing.
My heart was hammering, my mouth was dry, my ears were ringing, and my palms were wet. It took me a good half hour to get a grip on myself. I went back to the job site and thankfully she and her vehicle were gone. The rest of the day went uninterrupted, but I felt my embarrassment and I also felt the embarrassment of these men who were volunteering their time to help me at the monument site, having to witness this altercation, it was truly mortifying.
All summer long I battled the dark thoughts, the self-destruction, the pulling back from life and finally I sought out a business coach I know. With her help, I started re-carving a path forward for my business and me. The PTSD still weighs heavy on my brain, but having her to talk to and guide me, motivate me, understand and support me – WHEW – HUGE. So Holly Sorgen of EmPower Up, thank you for being such a kick assed business coach and holding my feet to the fire to perform and show up.
Susan Healey – for 12 years of the 15 I’ve been running this business, this gal has become my friend, my sister, and my anchor. It’s so funny – this quiet, unassuming human being can whip my ass into shape over my tone or the way I say something or react to something like no one else can. I almost need to be paying her fees for therapy because she sure helps me. I know there are times that if she didn’t need this job she’d have left me, but I am so grateful she’s stuck it out.
Grateful that today we have the kind of relationship where she is helping to prepare me to be a boss, a manager of people. That thought alone used to terrify me, that’s why I had a hard time growing this thing.
Her patience, perseverance and quiet unassuming way coupled with the knowledge that she is always there for me to bounce things off of, to vent to, so that I can think clearer…yes, without Suzie I am not sure where I’d be, but it wouldn’t be as the editor of a newspaper for motorcyclists that’s for sure. I’d have given up a long time ago.
Then there’s Dave T. Dave has been with us three years now and his passion and dedication for helping all of the charity events, big & small across the nation get added to our calendars and promoted on Facebook is nothing short of a blessing.
Dave also has the patience to deal with my invisible injury. He is not afraid to let me know if I cross a line, he’s kind but firm about it!
And last but not least there is Rhonda, my one and only sales rep; Rhonda is the president of RAGE in Saskatchewan and also has PTSD. She was run over by a drunk driver in an SUV and was pinned under that SUV - ON HER MOTORCYCLE. Along side her many physical injuries, PTSD is one of her most painful and challenging to manage injuries too.
Rhonda’s PTSD reacts different from mine – where I knee jerk and generally become hurtful with my mouth, Rhonda turtles, pulls inside her self.
She drives me crazy, challenges the hell out of me, and forces both of us to be more compassionate with one another. Hidden injuries are hard to deal with in others, even when you yourself suffer from a hidden injury. Ask any veteran.
We are a team, as dysfunctional as any family can be, but as tight as any family can be. As I sit back and reflect on a year filled with ups and downs, smiles and tears, I can see the perfect balance these people bring to my life, my business and me.
My only hope is that I bring value to theirs as well.
My team of contractors balances me out; they hold me accountable while understanding that PTSD is not always “controllable”.
Sometimes you have to ride it out.
The fact that they get it makes me feel blessed and special.
I am not sure why I deserve their loyalty and friendship, but I am grateful for it and hope they know I have their six and that they are part of my extended family, and are loved and appreciated even when it doesn’t seem so.
I hope that as you reflect back on your year that you can count many blessings and I’ll bet as you examine all of those blessings, a person is attached to them somewhere!
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours in 2018!
Belt Drive Betty,