Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Momism: Reverse Flashbacks

Flashbacks are a big part of PTSD. We have witnessed them in our family a few times. A dream where he thinks his brother and sister are in the Humvee with the Tigris River on one side, innocent Iraqis on the other and insurgents in front coming towards them. A taillight out and understandably, an officer pulling him over only he takes off when he sees the lights because he has to get his people to safety. Never even had a traffic ticket up to that point. We now know the lights set off an epileptic seizure due to a TBI. Thus began our journey into the world of PTSD and TBIs.

Sometimes, though, we see reverse flashbacks. A football game, a Rangers baseball game, a TV show, a conversation. Some can be painful but when they allow us to see the person he was before combat, it makes us stronger. It makes ME stronger.

Another thing that helps me deal with PTSD in my family is writing in journals and scrapbooking. I have a journalistic scrapbook I am putting together for my grandson about his father as a child and a teen, about 9/11 and how it changed not only our country but our family and what being a combat soldier is really all about.

As I put this project together, I again see reverse flashbacks. I see them in pictures of a young boy, whether he is playing at home or at a sporting event. I see a young man with children in a war zone. These children are clustered around the soldier with smiles on their faces. It brings back memories of a phone call where he told me walked a little girl into a school for the first time in her life. I see and understand why he came home so protective of his little sister, why he and so many of our veterans can not sit in a public restaurant unless they are facing the exits.

I have stated before that if I could have talked my oldest child out of going into the Army, if I could have kidnapped him the day he left for the Middle East, I gladly would have. While I do not regret having the precious grandson I have, I do wish he could know ALL of his dad, the past as well as the present and future. Through this project I am working on, I hope to give him some of my own reverse flashbacks.

If you have a grandchild, or even a child of a veteran in your home, I would encourage you to do the same. It would be a precious and priceless gift for that child and, as I have discovered, it could be quite therapeutic for you. It can help to reconcile the courage and strength of the soldier who went to war with the veteran who now suffers from PTSD and possibly a brain injury.

We don't always understand war. December 7 just passed and many of us were not born yet when Pearl Harbor was attacked. We are now living our own moments in history and our children/grandchildren are living with the outcome of September 11, many of whom were not born yet, either. We are finding out firsthand that they aren't only historical events or good movie plots, they are active life-changing situations hitting right in our own homes.

Reverse flashbacks. They can be quite healing if we allow them to be. They can also be priceless gifts to the newest generations in our lives.

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