When You Feel Alone
****I want to preface this post by saying that our family and friends are nothing short of amazing. We are blessed to have a huge support system that would and are there for us at the drop of a hat. But sometimes, you just want to find someone who can truly relate to the words and feelings you are experiencing.****
There are probably few things worse than going through a trauma and feeling alone. The thing is, for the longest time, I didn't acknowledge that I had been through a trauma. My husband had been through the trauma and I was the spouse. But it wasn't my trauma. Except it was. And it is. It's just that it wasn't the same trauma.
When the first couple weeks of living in that protective bubble that our family surrounded us with slowly faded as people got back to their normal pace of life, I started to look for resources and support through blogs, articles, social media accounts, podcasts...basically anywhere. I was so desperate to find a story like mine. I was desperate for hope, advice, familiarity. But unfortunately, I didn't really find any.
So much of the information "out there" when it comes to PTSD has to do with military and policing. It was very hard to find anything specifically relating to corrections officers, let alone something for the spouses of said corrections officers. And it wasn't that it HAD to be from the corrections point of view. It just seemed like everything that I was finding didn't relate to me.
I had found a couple groups on Facebook that were for spouses of those with PTSD. They were filled with (mostly) women all looking for support and to support one another. They seemed like really great online communities. The only problem was that all of their stories seemed to be the same. Their spouses were in dark depressions. Their spouses were withdrawn. Their spouses were angry drunks who refused to get help. Their stories were the same. But they weren't my story.
That wasn't what was happening with us at all. But was that where we were heading? I had no idea. But I knew that I couldn't keep hanging around these forums because they were making me feel more alone and more fearful. Alone because I still wasn't finding someone I had found a commonality with. And fearful because I didn't want to end up having similarities with these other spouses.
It would be over a year of having this hidden feeling of loneliness until I found "my people". My husband and I had the honour of being invited to attend a conference called Helping The Helpers (which I will discuss in a later post) and it was there that I would meet two women who would change me forever. These women were both spouses of first responders, one an RCMP officer and one a police officer, who had both been through significant traumas. Over the course of 48 hours, we were able to bond, share, cry, and laugh together. And thankfully, our husbands were able to do the same. We knew at the end of that weekend that although we were all from different parts of the country, we would be forever connected.
After heading home, I felt a small sense of fear. Fear that I would have to go so long without feeling that connection again. But thanks to good old Facebook, we have managed to stay in touch. And while we continue to lead our busy lives, I know that Melissa and Sara will always be only a message away.
I hope that if you are a spouse and experiencing feelings of loneliness, you know that you are no longer alone. I am your people now!