Sunday, August 09, 2015

PTSD Letter for Dad

In January of 2014 my dad had an opportunity to enter into some treatment through the VA because of his time in Vietnam. My brothers and sisters were asked to write a letter for him.  Below is mine. 

I have hesitated to write this letter of "recommendation" for several weeks knowing that it will be more a letter of recollection than recommendation.  My own personal experiences with psychotherapy over the past couple years also tells me that you really don't need this letter to diagnose my dad with PTSD or a similar diagnosis, there are tests like the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory that will tell you as much. 

So, I am not going to try to convince you of any of that. 

What I will gladly share with you though is the truth that I miss my dad. 

And it's a bit weird to say that I miss him, because I really didn't know him or have a deep connection with him as a child, but that is where the missing feeling comes from, I know my life was supposed to be different.  I know my dad was suppose to play catch with me, and teach me things like how to fish, shave, drive and the most important thing, how to love a woman. 

But he didn't, not really. 

There are only a few things I recall from way back that I treasure in my heart. 

One is a story of catching a legal size bass the night before bass season opened. I remember my dads surprise at the size of the bass and his excitement.  We didn't keep the fish, but I remember that night at the gravel pits. 

The other story I treasure is even more simple.  When my dad did the bills and reconciled the checkbook, he always wanted to be alone so he could concentrate. Except for one time.  One time, he let me in the office area and explained everything he was doing. 

I treasure these stories because I felt blessed by my father.  In these times, I was good enough. 

I am sure there are other stories like these that are in the black hole of my memory, but it is because of the other stories that many of them don't shine and are blocked to me. 

I have far too many memories of my dad responding to "noise" (us) and being very harsh. Flying off the handle would be an appropriate description. 

As I've pursued my own personal healing, I've looked at the differences of my father.  The stories that I treasure tell me this man was capable of deep love but within the dark memories, well, that man disappeared. 

With a bit of understanding about my own emotions, I see that my dad brought darkness instead of giving blessings because he carries a great wound inside him.  I believe it is a wound so great that he needed to isolate himself from all emotions in order to survive. 

What could cause a wound so great, I believe that answer lies within a topic he avoids more than anything is his life, his time in the Army. 

Here we are 18 months after I wrote this letter.  My dad has begun a journey of healing which in turn has been a journey of healing for our family as well. My stepmom has been awesome through this as well.  God has more healing in store, but that is true for all of us. 

When I wrote this, Deb asked me if I even loved my dad.  I answered yes, but am so thankful that my love for my dad has grown and that it is easier for us to have a relationship than ever before. 

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