Ten things I don’t hate about PTSD either.

Fuck. After Brian employed Siobhan to find 10 good things about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she told me about it, and then employed me to do the same.

While she had put time, thought and effort into coming up with her list, I am unable to do that.

My PTSD has me always in the present.

So when people are getting ready to leave a place, I can’t think that I should start my car with the remote I finally have for it to warm it up because I’m too focused on if we are going to hug goodbye and that I have to be ready for it if we are, because I have to make sure you like me and I’m doing this socializing thing correctly.
That literally just happened to me.

Like in my last post, I said it is really hard for me to think ahead because I’m so caught up in that silly old fight or flight nonsense every waking moment of the day. It’s also difficult for me to think back to anything (say, like thinking about Siobhan asking me to think of ways PTSD is good). I wouldn’t dream that was possible, until I read her post.

choose to become

So, I’m giving it a shot. Here goes:

  1. I am always present for my kitties. I know exactly how they are feeling (and if they are about to strike, like my older cat constantly does), and how many dots are on their nose at all times.
  2. I know what is wrong with me at all times. This one’s handy for building up my ability to get my needs met. I always know when I am uncomfortable and should ask for something to be different. Whether I do or not is completely up to me.
  3. I always know that there is not a person hiding in my backseat. I check pretty much every time I get in my vehicle. You know, whenever someone could be hiding back there.
  4. I have a severe empathy for other people. I know what it feels like to be broken, to be lost, to be scared and to feel alone. I can make that space for you and tell you I understand.
  5. am a caretaker to the hurt. I am the friend that will support you, that will cheer you up when you are sad, mad, upset, whatever. I am always aware of every little change in energy, and now, I know that that energy is not always being sent my way, and I can help people out of it.
  6. I have been a survivor for a really long time. I can show you how I got out of that when everything seemed insurmountable and every emotion seemed too hard to feel.
  7. I know who to watch out for. I can tell a change in tone in an instant. I know when someone is about to get loud and aggressive. I do not play that shit, and I do not allow my friends to deal with it either.
  8. I love the shit out of fun. I went through so many years being depressed and laying in bed watching TV. Now, I will go pretty much anywhere for a good time, and I bring the good time with me. It will not be dull around me. As you can see from our first blog post, #nofilter.
  9. I have suffered almost all there is to suffer. I have seen jails, mental institutions and rehabs, and I’ve never been in them. I’ve experienced the loss of both my parents. I have had crippling anxiety and depression and alcoholism and sex addiction and, and, and. My worst circumstances were as a child. There is no stopping me. It is only up from here.
  10. I go to great lengths and have big dreams. I have seen the depths of human emotion. I will stop at nothing to see the brightest of them. I will be a traveling editor. Watch me.
  11. I even have a bonus one! I go hardcore at my spirituality. I never stop growing, learning about myself and how I can become a better human to myself and the people around me. And this might be the best gift I have ever gotten!


Ten things I don’t hate about PTSD

I was officially diagnosed with PTSD a year and a half ago, but for the better part of the last decade that four letter word has been mentioned to me by more than a handful of mental health professionals. Like most people who receive this news I spent a while in denial, after that I was ashamed, and now I split my time between neutral and pissed off. Pissed off at the symptoms that keep me feeling broken.

A few weeks back I was enjoying one of those bad days. It was the first one for some time so this one in particular was kicking my ass. In an attempt to find some solace I spoke to a friend, one of those mentor types, and he had a peculiar suggestion. He empathized with the self-pity cycle surrounding all the downright shitty attributes to my specific mental quirks, going as far as to comment how easy it would be to come up with ten things I HATE about PTSD right off the cuff. Then he inquired if I had ever thought about the positive side to it. Clearly seeing the mixture of confusion and anger growing on my face he elaborated. See he believes, as do I that everything that exists in the material world has a sense of duality to it. Under that logic if there is a negative to something there must be a positive as well. Therein lied my challenge, to come up with ten good things about my PTSD… so here goes.

Ten good things about PTSD…shit:

  1. I always know how many exits there are in any given room and I have probably already visualized multiple different disasters or violent events and which escape route would be the best for each.
  2. I have an incredibly fine tuned gut when it comes to people. I can tell without even having a conversation with someone but by hearing them speak, watching them move across a space, and their facial features as they express different emotions whether or not they are likely to be safe.
  3. That ability to read people has given me a talent in picking out the best people, the gems amongst the coal. With very little difficulty I am able to find these remarkable humans that possess a level of genuine sincerity that is to be admired.
  4. I have about the same information and working knowledge about grounding exercises as most clinical physicians.
  5. This gives me a unique ability for helping people who may be too scared to go to one yet.
  6. It grants me quite a transparent and raw approach to parenthood, I have conversations with my kids that I think most moms would probably be intimidated having. Because my life in run on extremes. When it comes to communicating with other humans it’s either absolute surface or let me show you my soul and see if you understand. There’s not much in between. It allows me a very beautiful relationship with those kids.
  7. I have incredibly fast reflexes. Whether it comes to avoiding car accidents or catching a child moments before their cute little face meets sidewalk; unfortunately the racing heartbeat afterwards is less than enjoyable, but se la vie.
  8. Due to the gratuitous amount of trauma therapy I am painfully aware of the importance of self-care, I have a very in tune relationship with myself. I guess that’s always the upside to being crazy if you’re actually attempting to take care of it, or work on it, or just survive you tend to pay attention to things that other people probably don’t have to. Like actively altering your self-talk to make sure that it’s positive or ensuring that you don’t go longer than a week without taking a shower even if you don’t want to. Like making yourself bubble baths even when the idea of sitting in one sounds awful, but so does everything else. So you draw the bath and you light the candles and you turn on whatever music seems enjoyable or at least the most tolerable and you just sit there trying your best just to sit, even if it’s just for ten minutes.
  9. You are never bored even when you want to be. Your brain is always going, always thinking. Upside of that is with practice and focus you can turn the ever racing thoughts into creative things. Which means even as an adult you have an incredibly powerful imagination.
  10. You’re not alone. Even though you feel that way. When I was diagnosed I was in denial for a really long time. I kept repeating over and over in my head that I didn’t have that traumatic of a life. I didn’t really tell anyone for a while, not even those in my immediate support network. And it wasn’t until I just happened to be driving in the car with this woman I knew, not that well but we were friendly. Out of nowhere she mentions that she has PTSD and like a kid almost giddy I responded with “So do I!” There is something really beautiful about finally being able to talk to some other person about the shadow people who you see on occasion when things get bad. And to not have them look at you with this twisted face of confusion and want to be compassion, but the truth is if you don’t live it, if you haven’t felt it and you don’t know it; you have no idea what it’s like. But when you open yourself up, you realize that you’re not alone. When you finally find other people that do get it, your brain doesn’t have to feel like a cage anymore. All those strange quirks that you have, the ones that you would never want to admit in public just become simple jokes between friends.

How to be organized with PTSD.

I have no idea how to be organized with PTSD.

My memory is shot. It is slowly, slowly getting better, like at a snail’s pace.

This is because my brain wanted to protect me and block out the traumatic things. Greatest aspect of that for me is that it did the absolute opposite. My brain is broken and it decided to remember ONLY the bad parts of my childhood. I can’t remember any actual good memories. Maybe a snipit here and there, all fuzzy and broken up like.

How this translates to my life now is that I can’t remember plans, appointments, things I have to do, like what to buy from the grocery store..

People have been telling me for years, just write it down, put it in your phone, etc.

That would be great if I could remember to do that! 😉 Or remember to then bring the list, notebook, whatever, with me. And then to bring the same notebook every time after I’ve lost them all somewhere in my house. Then I just have 7 different notebooks all with different things to remember and aghh.

It is getting better, but if you have similar issues, here’s some tips I learned.

header-listonic                                 Listonic check mark

Listonic is the best app I’ve found for grocery shopping, or any shopping!
I just put all the items in the list that I need and viola, they stay with me in the store.
Now, this all hinges on whether I remember to open the app while at the store, but it is getting easier to do that each time I use it.

Calendars and Planners.

Again, super helpful when you actually use them! Here’s a link to get free shipping off some great calendars.

CALENDARS.com – The BEST SELECTION of Calendars in the Known Universe. Get Free Shipping Today!

And finally, writing out your day and what you did well for the day at the end of the night. This has literally changed my perspective on myself and my self-esteem so much.

It can be simple things, but they really add up and I feel immediately more accomplished than trying to remember what I did in a day.

Hope these tips help, and please let me know in the comments if you have any special ways you get around the troublesome symptoms of PTSD, or whatever mental ailment you’re rocking!

Follow link at bottom of site.

Orphaned at 26

Hey guys, I’m about to get real again. I know, I hate it too.

We had an overwhelmingly great time with my mom’s cousins and aunt that came in to Niagara Falls from California this weekend. They are beautiful, kind and courageous people, and I am honored to call them family. We had so many generations of incredible Italian people there. From great-grand kids to grand kids, and all the aunts and uncles one could hope for.

But I really miss my mom and saw her in all their eyes. We all have the same beautiful, large brown eyes in the Ruggerio family.

My mom passed away from metastatic breast cancer in September of 2016.

It feels like yesterday, one second ago, and forever that I have not had my mom on this earth, all at the same time. My heart has been broken open and there’s a gaping hole where she used to fit.

When my father passed 4, almost 5 years ago… wow. When my father passed, it was truly not as heart-breaking. I hadn’t really considered him a father for a many number of years before then anyway. But you can never, ever, replace the love of a mother.

There is no one that will ever support me in the endearing, enduring, never-ending loving way that my mommy has.
I have amazing support, between my aunts, my grandmas, don’t even get me started on my sister; along with my sponsor and my Buddhist members and leaders in the organization. I have so much support around me. If only I knew how to reach out and get it.

My father beat my mother and I pretty badly. The physical abuse was nothing compared to the psychologically damaging torture he threw our way with his words. It broke our psyches, our spirits and our self-esteem. We were shells of people living and bumping against one another in painful ways after my parents FINALLY divorced.

We did not know how to give or receive love for a long time.

Until I found the strength from the stars to end my period of not speaking with my mother, and everything suddenly changed. She was no longer the tormentor of my life, she was my frail, beautiful mommy that gave up her own life for her children’s.

I started chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo at the same time that I was seeing her again. Our relationship changed into one where I just wanted to take care of her and be there for her, as best I could.

She even chanted with me. And she was a devout Catholic. (She was studying to be a nun before she met my father.)

I don’t know what the point of this post is. I really just needed to write about my mom. I miss her like crazy, I feel like there is no point to living without her, but I carry her love with me and it keeps me going.

I have to be happy for her. I love you mommy. Goodnight.

Diwali 2017!!

We could not be more humbled than we were last night taking part in our friends Diwali celebration. My friend Julia and I were blown away by their kindness, their welcoming attitude, and the amazing food they made (less spicy just for us)!

It was a truly beautiful experience to be a part of. Everyone their was calm, peaceful, joyful and delightful. There was no alcohol, just vitality and fun. We sang songs, we danced, we ate and we talked. What more could you ask for?

Thank you to: Komal, Shika, Tejal, Purbarag, Vaibhav, Richa, Neha, Susan, Rimjhim, Bheeshma and all the others that made last night so incredible and special! We love you!!

sand artMeLightsKomalDiwali boardmenall of usdessert

First novel to edit!

I am ecstatic. I am a real editor now. I just received my first ever full-length novel to edit!!

It has always been my dream to be an editor, but living the life I have been, with so many doubts about my abilities, it seemed like a pipe-dream. But now, I will be editor for Lori Kircher’s “Something Darker!”

It is a fabulously frightening story of two teenage friends going off into the woods while a serial killer duo of brothers is on the loose. It is a mystery/thriller/romance novel, which I read anyway. I am so blessed that this is the life I am leading today!

Don’t you ever give up. The only thing constant in life is change. And it WILL happen for you!

Love and light sweet ones,
Rebecca A. Dombrowski
Copy Editor for Plurality Press
Honored buddhist 😉

What this blog really is.

Living with PTSD is hard. It warps your mind into negative thinking, it changes your hippocampus so you cannot remember a damn thing you need to, and it melts down your Broca’s area, so even if you had the words to describe the pain you were caused, you would not be able to express it.

All of that in addition to the flashbacks every time you pass your old house (which is pretty frequent for me as I live in the same small neighborhood I grew up in). The flashbacks come every time you are talking to your sister about the childhood you knew and the childhood she knew. They come when you see a happy father and daughter pair walking the streets, doing something wonderfully simple together, like going to the post office, or even worse, walking into a cafe holding hands. They come when you hear anyone talking about their parents and how lucky they are to have been shaped by such wonderful people, with their values and principles and disciplines (something you know nothing about).

See, I’ve lived my entire life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or at least as far back as I can remember, which isn’t much because of that good old hippocampus damage I referred to earlier. The only reason I know there is another way to live is because as an introverted extrovert with a broken Broca’s area, I often have nothing to say, so I watch people, intently. I observe the way they do simple tasks that are a struggle for me. I see the ease of ordering at a restaurant, the lack of difficulty finding their way in the world. And I do not mean their dreams or passions. I mean simply remembering what their boss told them to do without asking 3 times. I mean understanding what their boss told them to do without asking 3 times. I mean not having to feel the shame of not knowing what their boss said and trying to figure it out without asking 3 times.

Info about hippocampus and Broca’s area damage and PTSD from “The Body Keeps Score” by Bessel van der Kolk

I have often felt jealousy watching other people do all these menial tasks without so much as a thought to them. I have often been envious of Siobhan, for she seems to do things in such a natural way, life just being a snap for her. That is, until I knew better.
I am blessed to have her as a friend, because PTSD is not something you just realize you have and accept it right away. I don’t want to tell too much of her story because I am intrigued to see what she will come up with on this topic, but I will say that I can see the difference between someone born with PTSD, and someone who acquired this morbid malfunction later in life. And I am grateful for that. I thought my whole life that there was just something wrong with me. Part of that was my unrelenting standards I have learned about through Schema Therapy, but a major part of that was I really did struggle to make the connections in my head that come naturally and easily to others.

It is heart-breaking to feel as though you have nothing to contribute to life. And to not know what the fuck is wrong with you is even worse. I remember being so lost, so hurt, so scared. Could I ever be capable at anything?

I thought I just had negative thought patterns, and that if I tried really hard, I could overcome my difficulties and be “normal.” That was my goal anyway.

I began teaching toddlers in a very upper-class childcare center. I was terrified of speaking because my words would always come out jumbled up. I was anti-social and did the least amount of speaking as I could, which is hard when you’re working with a lead and a co-teacher, and the parents want to know how their child’s day was. I was in hell. My only saving grace was that I loved the heck out of those children, as they reminded me about how simple life can be.

I just let my faith carry me each day, and I have had many exciting adventures throughout my short life. I am grateful to be alive today, and to have so many people in my life who support, love and help me through this journey.

Each day, I learn more of what it means to have PTSD, and more of how to overcome and accept those things in order to live a happy, whole life.

I am living my dreams today, and no one can stop me! (Past, present or future!)

My friend and I climbing a mountain in South Australia.

Children suck now.

I adore children, I love (some of them) instantly. I had been a day care teacher for six years. Until I just couldn’t anymore. Because children are dicks now! And watching home movies with my Babci (grandma in Polish) and my older sister tonight just proved that all the more.

My sister was making Easter eggs with my sister when she was one and my Babci dropped an egg in the bowl on accident. No one said a word. My sister and I, simply watching the movie said, “Oh NO!” and were more worried about it than they were in that moment.

We noticed a lot of other situations like this, where the whole bath tub fell to the floor and everyone remained calm and were even laughing about the situation. These days, moms would be in a panic and be riddled with self-doubt about their parenting skills.

And my sister hit the nail on the head. It is because we live with the world, with all it’s calamities and crises, at the snap of a finger.

My Babci said they didn’t have words like “hyper,” “anxious,” or “stressed” back then. They just weren’t.

So parents have anxieties and they want to give their kids everything. Kids are entitled, and they are going too quickly. They are growing up wayy too fast. Why does your toddler need to know how to use your smart phone? Back in my day, we just had silly little airplanes that you pulled and the propeller moved. That was some hot shit right there.

Back in my day, we got milk drunk and hung out on plastic play houses.

Becca Playhouse

Back in my day, we washed cars and went to church.

Becca Peter washing carBecca Mom Church

Back in my day, we had stupid outfits and wore huge ass glasses.

Becca both parentd

Children now have no patience, no awareness of how grand a bubble can be after the age of two. Life is fast-paced, parents are overworked and over stressed. Children are hyper and parents are anxious.

Is technology really helping us, or is it making us sick? Our quality of life is suffering because everything is too easy now. And I know this is nothing original, but I just had to share these brilliant 90s pictures with you, and to maybe get someone to see that nature and a box is all you need to make your kid happy. And even before that, what they need is to be taught to RESPECT people.

Back in my day, we would never DREAM of hitting an elder. They were our caretakers, they were our protectors, they were not our friends or our gossip buddies.
They did not owe us anything, but gave us everything we needed.
And while I did not have the most stable home life, coming from seeing and experiencing domestic violence growing up because of my father’s mental illness, I still envy that time over this, at times.

Now, I have all the freedom in the world to be me because I don’t have my dictator father looking over my shoulder, but I do not have the freedom to believe I can make it in this world as an editor. I have two college degrees and I am jobless.
Everyone wants the best, the fastest, the brightest.

There is no room for mediocre in this world anymore.

But the trouble is, not everyone can be Sally Ride (the first American woman in space) or Jordan Belfort (fast-talking, slimey business man).

I do not have the brains of a scientist. I do not have the bravery of a Wall-Street “accountant.” I have PTSD. I am lucky if I have a reply to “good morning” to my downstairs neighbor on some days. My brain cells are not firing as they should because they are too busy trying to survive. I coward around affluent or intimidating (a.k.a. people who seemingly have their shit together whatsoever) people because I did not have trust in my father, my protector, not to hurt me, so how can I trust anyone else?

Yet, still, times were simpler back then.

My mother got her master’s degree in Library school hoping to make a decent living for her family. It was reasonable to believe she could. (And you could tell she was a librarian, just check out those glasses).

But fast forward to 2007 and people with only a high school education are making thousands more than her a year.

How are we supposed to hope and dream for our future when professions that are accessible to all are being closed down or are paid minimally at best?

How about we slow down and give kids the only things they need; books and manners?

Kid fashion

World, Meet Penelope!

I got a kitten!!! A Lynx/Siamese beautiful little girl kitten, and I named her Penelope. Penny for short 🙂

She is the sweetest, most playful, lovable kitten EVER. And I fucking deserve her after having a cat that’s a fucking dick for 10+ years. Seriously, Oliver attacks me whenever he feels like it. He scratches up my couch, he hides from other people and animals, and he bites me to let me know anything (because he can’t talk, because he’s a cat). He’s a scaredy cat and a jerk all at once. And I LOVE him because he’s mine and he’s been with me through it all. But I have said for years, he’s a fucking asshole of a cat.

Oliver 10 years old

So I should have been on cloud 9 getting this adorable, sweet little girl. But fucking Craigslist.

I got this kitten from a Burger King parking lot in South Buffalo (the shady part where all the drunks and people who wear pajamas to Tops live) from a Puerto Rican. Well, actually her daughter, who was 45 minutes late.
It was raining and so we made the switch quickly.
It wasn’t until I was driving away that I realized SHE. HAD. FLEAS!!!

How inconsiderate could you be?!?

I am not a bug person. Never have had fleas. I was NOT happy. And she was fucking covered!
They were all over her neck, in her fur, crawling on her eyeballs. I felt so terribly for the little angel. But that didn’t stop me from locking her in the bathroom for the night so my bed and cat wouldn’t get infested with them.

In 24 hours I gave that kitten two different types of baths, put two different types of medicines on her, and by the next morning, I combed through her hair and the fleas were gone. *Magic trick is rubbing alcohol and dish soap.

And I was able to hold my sweet angel and really grow that bond with her. She slept on my chest that night, and I knew I loved her.
I am so overjoyed and blessed and grateful to have her playful little self in my life. She has the sweetest little squeak of a meow and the softest little kitten fur with the warmest body. I am so glad I get to take care of her in the way she deserves, and that she can call me mommy.

Suicidal toddlers

By Siobhan-

Killer Toddler.jpg

At this point in my life, I have been a mother for the last 8 years -which boggles my mind in and of itself. My first born came ripping through me a month and a half after my 18th birthday. So, essentially I have had kids my entire adulthood. In that time I have picked up some wisdom, I have begun to gray far too young, and I have developed an incredibly dark viewpoint on motherhood. The first two are unavoidable in my opinion while working the ultimate “learn-on-the-job” gig. But the last one is how I keep my sanity intact amongst the chaos that is actively not killing the three mini-overlords that call me mom. Only by laughing (sometimes literally) in the face of danger am I able to avoid a trip to the psych ward. Especially when it comes to toddlerdom.

Now, before you think this is another one of those mom rants on the terror that is a two year old, just hold on. Don’t get me wrong mood swings at two are tough, but so are meltdowns at three and four and five and you get the picture.

My biggest issue with my current beautiful bundle turned dictator is that he’s constantly trying to kill himself, albeit in new and creative methods. Experience tells me that this is not unique to my youngest. Both of his older siblings went through a similar seemingly accidental suicidal stage at this age as well. To help illustrate this phenomenon, let me paint you a word picture. Imagine a beautifully warm mid-summer afternoon, a friend of mine offers an extra set of hands to aid in taking my middle child, a kind-hearted seven-year-old girl, and my youngest, the aforementioned suicidal rambunctious two year old boy, to a day at the pool. To set the scene, we are at an immaculately-maintained resort pool that we were not guests of, nor did we pay for day passes. My friend Nick, who happens to be a large intimidating-looking tattooed man, and myself, with all (well most) of my tattoos showing, along with long, pointed black nails and my oversized black and white sun hat looking like a vintage gothic goddess.

Needless to say, amongst the J.Crew catalogue families along the poolside, we stuck out. As we made our approach, Nick leaned in to whisper, “They’re gonna smell the poor on us.” A concept that has never kept me from living it up boujee style. There I am, being not so subtlety gawked at by four tan blonde housewives, perched on the side of the kiddie pool as two thirds of my reasons for living are gleefully splashing amidst Western New York’s well-to-do. Seamus, the youngest of my brood, was shrieking (rather loudly) with delight at one of the waterfalls in the splash pool. Yes, you read that correctly, there was not one, but two waterfalls in the kiddie pool at this place! His laughter is one of those magical kid sounds that blots out the nastiness of this world. As I watched him play, poised on the edge of the pool, I was having a conversation with Nick. Not about anything in particular, just some random bullshit. And multiple times, Seamus would just be standing there, playing with the waterfall, my attention in that way that only moms know how to do. Where I can be fully engulfed in conversation with an adult, and somehow, seemingly without even looking at my child, know the exact moment when that beautiful little face decides to go plunging, freefall style, into the water. And makes no attempt at standing. No attempt to pull his face from said water.

Kid in water

As he is actively trying to drown his tiny, little two-year-old body, without even skipping a beat in conversation, I loop my hand under his armpit and stand him back up. Without even turning my gaze to his precious cough-face, I give him a few loving taps on the back and go back to whatever meaningless subject my friend and I were discussing. This happens, I kid you not, at least ten times, in succession. At this point, Nick’s face has that twisted, horrified look that all non-parents get when they begin to realize that all those fanciful dreams of having children someday are insane. He keeps looking back and forth, his eyes darting from small creature attempting suicide to tranquil mother attempting to have her talk. Something I desperately search for, because adult conversations are so rare when you are this outnumbered. We’re at three to one —a child to parent ratio that should never exist for one’s sanity. And so, you graciously hold onto any grown-up conversation you can get. Even as the youngest of your offspring is doing his best to off himself. Actively trying to end his short life before he has even enjoyed the breaths of it. Breaths of which he is liberally taking underwater. It’s moments such as these that I cease wondering why there isn’t some sort of screening process, some type of licensing procedure before a person is allowed to procreate. Because honestly, who would pass? Only the off kilter have what it takes for this undertaking. Only the beautifully ill-informed willing march towards this, the most thankless of jobs. So here’s to you, sweatpants-clad wonder woman. To successfully thwarting yet another endeavor made by our tiny tyrants to kill themselves. And more impressive still, for not taking care of the deed for them.