The Best Daughter and Sister I Can Be
A veteran's daughter reflects on finding support for herself.
PTSD is not something I ever remember hearing much about as a kid, which is strange growing up in a military town and made it difficult to recognize PTSD. I am not sure if PTSD hid from my dad or if my dad hid from PTSD but for a long time he was “OK”, business as usual, didn’t skip a beat. My dad is a private person, it took him a long time to even talk to his family about work let alone any sort of struggle he experienced. Its confusing and hard to understand, everyone is so different, no two people are the same, nor do they share the exact same experiences or tribulations. The first time my dad felt comfortable enough to talk about some of his experiences I remember feeling relieved, like he had finally opened up and felt comfortable to talk about it, I was relieved because I thought he was relieved. He was not, he was now scared I saw him differently or somehow could be disappointed in him. A quick conversation corrected those thoughts and opened the doors to more conversations. He even shared with me something he wrote for himself, about his experiences and some of his struggles with what he now knows is PTSD.
"Take care of your sister and your mother while I'm gone, and don't forget to take care of yourself also."
I have a teddy bear, a Build-A-Bear that was gifted to me by the Canadian Armed Forces. There is a recorded message inside the bears paw, to me from my dad while he was deployed 15 years ago. When I think of the message I remember the words “take care of your sister and your mother while I’m gone” and I always forget “and don’t forget to take care of yourself also” until I hear it again. I get that from my dad, we take care of everyone so well that we sometimes forget we have needs. When I started to feel like I needed something, maybe someone to talk to or a place to go with people I can relate to I reached out to the MFRC to see if there is anything available for me. I had thought since I am an adult, I have lived off base and away from home for 9 years, and I myself am not in the military there would be nothing for me. I was so very wrong! I reached out and was greeted by an information/resource overload, anything from groups for dad, meet-ups for my mother as a spouse to resources available to me and my sibling too! Its been a really long road for my dad, I have no idea what his road looked like for a few decades but I’m just glad we can all move forward together the rest of the way, and I’m grateful to the MFRC for helping me be the best daughter and sister I can be.