Friday, March 13, 2015

Caution: For Mature Audience Only

I share this only to make a point, nothing more. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Nor do I seek pity. What I'm about to share is actually true with no names changed to protect anyone. This is my story. 

When I was a kid I was pretty thin. I mean I was built like a stick figure. I could hide in front of a window by turning sideways. I was abused in many ways when I wasn't neglected to the point I was left alone a week at a time at age 7. To make it worse we were poor. Not just poor but "white trash" poor. I'm not sure how we did it but at one point I remember we got kicked out of the projects. (That's called the "ghetto" these days).
To make things worse, my legal name is Butch. Seriously. I was named after the bully on "The Little Rascals". Clearly my biological mother, with whom I lived until I was 12, had a drug problem. I used to say she had been to "one too many Grateful Dead concerts if catch my drift". The weeks when she did actually make it home there was a new guy with her. Many of them felt I needed a "father figure" and an occasional beating. 
Fortunately for me, my dad was in the military and the benefits he provided (part of the divorce/child support agreement) paid for the multiple "mental facility" stays my estranged "mother" used as a means to be rid of me periodically. 
These visits were because her step dad had twisted ideas of what little boys and little girls were useful for. Well, that and the fights I got into with the kids in the neighborhood who picked on the skinny kid with "a dog's name" whose "mother" was a drug addicted part-time prostitute. Yet I was the one that was labeled as "troubled". 

Flash forward half a decade knowing that this cycle remained this way until I was 12. At that point my dad was back stateside from a European tour. He agreed to take me in because he's my dad and he loves me. That and he hadn't been informed of why I was getting into fights or that nasty sexual misconduct mentioned earlier. Well of course I was welcome to move in with him. For the low low price of $3,000 the mother I'd come to know and hate struck a deal wherein she sold me. Excellent. 
Imagine, if you will, a 12 year old who has practically raised himself suddenly going to live with a military family. That was a recipe for disaster. They didn't know what they were in store for or how to deal with it. Have you ever LITERALLY been forced to eat a bar of soap? I'm talking bite, chew and swallow. No? I have. Many times. Had your eye cut open with a belt buckle? Turns out it leaves a scar. If we ever meet up I'll show it to you. Half a bottle of dishwashing liquid squeezed down your throat while your gasping from having the wind knocked out of you can cause you to miss school for 2 days from vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes simultaneously which is very unpleasant by the way). 
While we are viewing the highlight reel, I should mention that also got to go to Germany with my new, loving family. During our stay I got the opportunity to work on post when I was 16. That was pretty fun. I worked at the Audio/Photo center on base. One of the perks was I got great seats at an air show that year. It was called Flugtag. The only real drawback was when 3 jets collided and one crash landed in the crowd. I promise you will never forget the smell of human flesh burning. There were at least 8 people whose screams of agony I'll always remember as they stumbled around on fire. 
There were other events in my life. I'd be happy to share if you really want to know. I'm pretty open, obviously. What was my point in all of this you may wonder. Simply this...I coped. I still wake up every day. Do I have "PTSD"? No. I wasn't in a war zone. What I experienced is called "life". 

I hear more and more people talking about how they have PTSD because they had a rough life. Or they got picked on. Or they were different. So now they claim PTSD. What you have is a condition called "life". Learn to cope and let go of the "oh, poor me" crutch. We all undergo adversity, does that mean everyone on the planet has PTSD? Hell, from what I understand, child birth is pretty traumatic for all parties involved. Does the affliction start there?Soldiers who see battle, yes, I can certainly understand them having PTSD. Police, firefighters, paramedics who see traumatic stuff, anyone who puts their life on the line for others, yes. Ironically, the number of PTSD claims is rising among just ordinary people with ordinary lives. Don't devalue what they went through just because you're ill equipped to cope with reality. 
Where does the blame start? In my opinion it starts with us removing our kids' ability to cope with the harsh reality of living. Instead we have parents that make our kids unable to cope. Why? Because someone said punishing your kids is bad. "Spank them and you'll damage their self esteem." "Life Coaches" who give us advice. Well if there's a coach then surely life is a game, right? Then you end up with things like Columbine. That was no game. That was life and kids unable to cope with it. Afterwards we blame guns, video games and TV when the real blame starts at home and with campaigns designed to weaken our future generations' psyche. These "awareness campaigns", all they do is teach us it's not socially acceptable to publicly voice our opinions and it's better to just post anonymously behind people's backs. Congratulations, you're removing one group's ability to cope with adversity while teaching censorship and dishonesty. Maybe, just maybe "bullies" aren't the real problem here. PTSD is just being overused in society.

Truly traumatic events...that's one thing. But the ridiculous shit people are claiming these days? Seriously? 
Unless you're born in a bubble and live in that bubble there's going to be events one can call traumatic. But this "I have PTSD because I wanted Malibu Barbie and didn't get it" stuff is getting out of hand.
You got teased in school? Welcome to reality. Picked on by other kids? Here's your membership jacket, welcome to the club. 
You had a rough flight? Take the bus. Ever try sleeping on a bus?! Now THAT could be traumatic. 
Did your "traumatic" event involve being violated or nearly dying? Witnessed or experienced truly traumatic events? No? Then you don't have PTSD. You have a handy "cop out" for "I am not equipped to cope with real life."
I understand "trauma" is subjective. I was upset when kool aid got rid of my favorite flavor but I didn't need to make sure everyone understood my "struggle" with finding a new favorite flavor. I got counseling and learned how to deal with the disappointment and stress it caused. Problem solved. 

Here's a woman claiming PTSD from a flight that experienced turbulence but didn't crash and landed safely. Ironically, she says her PTSD cost her a promotion at work. She worked for Emergency Management. Really?! You work in Emergency Management and got PTSD from a flight that landed safely?! Yeah, I wouldn't want you working in that field either. Was she not able to check the weather before she got on the plane? See, the way it works is, weather affects how smoothly a plane flies. Twit. I mean, had there been an ACTUAL emergency how much more traumatic would it have been? Time to switch to something you're more suited to. Librarian maybe? 


Here we are trying to set a precedent for even more PTSD claims. I can remember what I got for Christmas when I was 3. I can draw the floor plan for where I lived at the time, and have for my dad because he thought I was bullshitting that I could. I don't remember my circumcision nor am I traumatized by it. These guys must be superhuman. 

We see it all too often. Kids cutting themselves, kids killing themselves because they can't cope. School shootings because they can't cope. Kids becoming adolescents and escaping into drugs and alcohol because they need to escape reality. We need to teach coping skills instead of setting them up for failure. Our society is declining right in front of us while we laugh at it over our morning coffee. Or we whisper about it afraid to speak up because to do so isn't "socially acceptable". Guess what, our society isn't acceptable. Speak up people, let our voices be heard.