Mornings on the berm

The smell of the earth refreshes my senses as the horizon starts to lighten from the oncoming presence of the morning sun. The familiar, yet unknown, sounds of worship echoed from the city made of stone buildings.  

Then a certain and more than familiar feeling these days, a longing for home.  

As I perched on the berm manning my post, I remembered all the mornings I took for granted.  All the mornings I slept in and refused to set an alarm to get up and enjoy the morning hours.  That just wasn’t my thing.  

Now the mornings and that early sunrise were a bit of home that I could rely on to not change on me. It would always be there, calm, cool, and collected. Adjectives that certainly didn’t fit into the daily life of our current reality.

Things Changed in the ICU

Two years ago I woke up in the ICU. Things would never be the same.

Head throbbing, my family and husband at my bedside, surely, I must be dreaming.

It wasn’t a dream.

I knew it was bad. My friends were traveling hours to come see me. My family didn’t want to leave my bedside.

I couldn’t comprehend what was going on and the doctor is discharging me after rambling off “hemorrhage, bleeding between skull and brain, two skull fractions…” what is he saying?

How did this happen? I was about to fight over the remote with my husband at our hotel room WITHOUT kids.

Two long months of recovery. I couldn’t smell or taste. I had to be escorted to the bathroom. I couldn’t handle visual or audio stimulation. I couldn’t ease the intense pain at all. I found myself taking 4-6 scalding hot baths a day just to feel the stinging sensation to all my pores and hope that it would take my focus from the pain in the back of my head.

Things changed Feb. 9th 2020 forever.….BUT not for the worse.

Yes, I suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Yes, I missed being a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding.

Yes, I may never smell again.

Yes, I struggle with memory and other executive functioning skills.

Life goes on. I am ALIVE. I have a beautiful family that loves me and amazing friends.

Yes, the spring of 2020 was one of the worst.

Yes, I got to the darkest places that I hadn’t visited in over a decade since deployment.

BUT I looked myself in the mirror and knew I didn’t want to be in that place and ONLY I could change it.

I found the sweet taste of life again. I FOUND MYSELF.

Within a few months I started to write again and lay my heart down on the paper. A year later, my first book Calmed. Growth After Growth was published.

“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Psalm 91.7

The story goes on because I GO ON STRONGER and far more grateful!!!

Triggered

Fifteen years later. Here we are.

They say things get easier. I think they just get more predictable, not easier. Is it bad to expect that the ball is going to drop. Is that considered negative thinking?

Is it really negative thinking though when you are just being a realist and know that things of the past will end up coming at you and showing their ugly head again.

The memories.

The trauma.

The feelings.

They are always there, so when they are triggered by something, seems to me, it’s best to be prepared. It’s best to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

Fifteen years ago, my husband had a bone graft to rebuild his upper jaw that had been crushed from a roadside bomb.

Strenuous hours for the doctors, for my husband, and his family will always lie in our memories as some of the absolute worst.

The good news is. They “fixed” him. They did what they could to rebuild his jaw and implant metal posts for his new grill to snap into.

Fifteen years later, he wakes up and one of the implanted posts are lose. Literally lose enough to wiggle with his tongue.

He wakes me, “something is really wrong.”

More phone calls, more run around, more triggers.

“I’d rather pay for it ourselves than do this,” he says.

“I know. I get it. But F*CK that! Never AGAIN should you have to pay a penny for the damage done from a combat injury,” I urge.

He doesn’t like it.

He is pissed.

He is triggered.

I am pissed.

I am triggered.

Meanwhile, do you know what this looks like on the home front? Do you know what this looks like fifteen years later, three kids later, as we try to navigate life into a play without allowing the trauma to consume?

Ugly?

Yes….yes…you are absolutely right.

It is ugly. It is disappointing to see a mountain in front of you YET AGAIN fifteen years later.

Things are different this time. This time I lead up the mountain, hollering back to encourage him to keep going. Don’t give up! Do it for yourself. Do it for the next guy!

How hard is saying sorry, really?

Sorry is such a difficult word and frankly, I find the word a bit annoying to me. Bothersome to say the least.

I mean, sorry can be utilized and perceived in so make different ways. From sarcastic to sincere regret, sorry doesn’t usually feel good.

Seems to me, when you really would appreciate a sincere apology, you can’t get it. It’s so hard for some people to just spit it out. Own it! Speak it aloud. I promise, it won’t kill you.

Hey how about this. How about we get real crazy and you start owning your mistakes? Sounds great right?!

Some people will remain stuck where they are. Their actions, decisions, and choice of words will sound self-absorbed and suck the energy right out of you.

Be wise and identify who or what does that in your life. What keeps you from your goals? Who makes you feel lame and has no regrets when they hurt you? Figure out what it is and who it is, then…pray for them.

What else is there to do? 🤷‍♀️

It’s fine! I’M FINE!

Do you ever get to that breaking point when finally so much of what you tried to hold in just comes out like word vomit? If you answered no, I think you may need to do a bit of self-reflection and find it ok to be honest with yourself. 😘

Too often times we are misunderstood at those breaking points because people don’t expect you to act or speak like that. The same people that weren’t listening to you during the build up prior to the breaking point. Instead they want to look at you and almost place blame on you.

Hellllllooooooooooooooo!🤯😤

Here’s an 💡 idea! Let’s try to be more empathetic humans. Let’s do our best to not live so selfishly, and self-centered. Let’s strive to listen more and be more attentive. Be selfless, be kinder, smile more, laugh often, and love deep!

#YOLO #soulwriter

# badmomstatus

We have all felt this. This feeling of not being the mom or parent you envision you are supposed to be….it’s a lie. Do you think you are doing a good job? The answer may be no. But really who is it that judging you? Oh yeah, ha, that’s right a lot of people.

Judgment is one of those elements in our life that can be so twisted. We all know this. Some judgment can result in benefits if you use it productively for the ones you love. But even then it’s not judgment. It’s love. It’s insight and a different perspective.

Hot Mess Express: PTSD Style

In the army they use to say, “drive on soldier”. This was a term to basically tell you to get over it and get back to work. “Drink water, change your socks.” Although a funny and memorable saying, totally unreasonable. A term we could very well integrate into our everyday lives. But who really does that? Get over it? Well sure, maybe after some reflection or worse, destruction. Destruction of yourself, health, job, or relationships.

Integration back into “normal” life after a combat zone can be a struggle. Ha! Who am I kidding? Can we say “understatement” much? Integration can be harder than a combat zone itself in my opinion.

Ever heard the term, “a solder experiences a war when they return”, or “a family experiences their own war during their soldier’s deployment and return”? This is not an exaggeration. The trauma caused from various types of military experiences can shake your whole being and the dynamic of your family or relationships with your closest friends.

For years, I, like many of my battle buddies, turned to destruction most of the time, rather than reflection. What I’m referring to is basically treating the symptoms with pills, alcohol, food, excessive spending, and other substance abuse or just a disregard to our lives responsibilities.

Most soldiers know what it feels like to appreciate the smaller things in life. In my case, I will always be grateful for showers without wearing shower shoes. However, you can become complacent. I would be willing to go on record and say that this most likely happens to majority of us at some point in our return to “real life”. You get wrapped up in life’s expectations, temptations, and all the things that can keep you from living your optimal life.

Fifteen years…almost half of my life, I have spent trying to self-medicate rather than self-regulate. A term I recently heard in a book I’m reading called Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma by Ken Falke & Josh Goldberg. This is hard for me to even say aloud to my loved ones, let alone anyone outside of my support system. Hot mess express has been my status for the majority of the past fifteen years. Of course, I didn’t really think that throughout most of the years. Sure, I knew some years I wasn’t my best self, but until you learn to thrive, you really have no idea what your best self is. This is a harsh truth! I’m just so glad I have finally figured it out! PRAISE GOD!

Personal growth doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it and really want something more. You will come to realize that the work you do today, will bring you what you long for tomorrow. If you fall short and give in to anything or any feelings that hinder your progress, you take two steps back and the regret sets in. The regret and feelings similar to the ones that caused you to live a life where you were just surviving, rather than thriving.

Enough is enough! Good bye to the hot mess express!

Much love,

J Buff