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Ask Ms. Vicki: Under Pressure

Ask Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am tormented due to an affair I had 20 years ago. I did not love him and only became involved with him because my self-esteem was so low. I was the reason he and his wife split and I have never been able to forgive myself. I know God has forgiven me but I can't seem to get past it. How can I successfully let this go? 

Sincerely,
Forever Tormented

Dear Tormented,

If only we could go back in time and re-do one thing or re-consider one decision... perhaps even change one mistake we made. I wonder what would I re-do,or what mistake would I change? I now realize doing so would prevent me from knowing my own human-ness and coming to grips with my own human frailties. I have many --we all do. Here's the deal: we can't keep beating ourselves up about decisions, choices and even mistakes we've made. Think about it this way: our rear view mirrors are small for a reason. If we try do drive forward looking in the rear view mirror we will surely have a collision, and very quickly.

You had an affair, and from the tone of your letter it goes against your value system, something you're not proud of. You even feel like the affair caused the divorce of the other person, but maybe the affair was just another symptom of an even bigger problem in this marriage. After all, some marriages survive infidelity, right? In other words, there could be many other reasons his marriage ended in divorce, so don't continue to beat yourself up about the part you played. You did not do this single-handedly. On the other hand, I'm glad you are taking responsibility for your actions, which is a big part of healing. I'm on your side, and it’s time for you to stop looking in your rear view mirror... move forward.

Continue to spend time with family and friends who love you. Feel free to use me as a sounding board any time. Stay in touch!

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and I am seeing a specialist but bringing the past back up has really caused me some serious problems. I'm having nightmares about the rape [I experienced] and I thought I saw the guy, but of course it wasn't him. Now, I think everyone is going to hurt me and there's nowhere I can hide. I stay in a room in my house in the basement thinking if I don't go out I will be protected, but I have to go to work and I'm very jumpy and paranoid. When I'm at work I think that someone will come up behind me and rape me, so I'm constantly looking back while sitting in my cubicle. When my boss walks up behind me, I'm always jumping and staring at him as though he's going to hurt me. I can't continue like this, I'm so very tired of living my life in fear that he's coming back, and I'm getting raped every night while I sleep because I'm constantly reliving this nightmare. How do I go on like this? Since I've been in counseling the nightmares have increased and I'm hearing voices. Why would it get worse?

Sincerely,
Desperately Seeking Peace

Dear Peace,

Thank you so much for writing and for sharing. Please know that I am thinking of you and that I know what you experienced is traumatic and difficult. Moreover, what you are feeling and experiencing right now is very normal given your experience. Keep in mind that PTSD is an anxiety disorder. This is the reason you are nervous, jumpy and even having some feelings of paranoia. Your story shows that anyone can have PTSD, not just combat veterans. You can get better. I wish I could tell you exactly when, but I can’t. Your care should include many resources, not just therapy. Other changes may help too -- for example, if you are living alone, it may help to live with a close family member or a close friend. This may help you feel safer. Did you report the crime to the police and was a victim’s advocate assigned to you? The advocate could also provide other resources like group support, legal resources, etc. Below, I have listed some resources that I believe will be very helpful to you.

Rape Abuse Incest National Network RAINN: 1-800-656-HOPE
Visit their website for tons of resource information that will be very helpful to you: www.rainn.org

The Department of Defense has a Safe Helpline too for victims who prefer to get help by phone. Call 877-995-5247 to speak with staff for personalized advice and support.

Make sure you are working with a clinician who is skilled at working with anxiety disorders, PTSD and trauma. The professional would also know which treatment method is best. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. I am hoping for the best.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Dear Ms. Vicki,

I need some advice. My husband is a 1st sgt in the marines, a grunt to boot. He has bad nightmares; his mood swings are violent and very scary. One minute he is great the next he wants to kill everyone in the room. What do I do? He is always thinking someone is plotting against him, me and my kids. He has pushed me down to the floor and I'm afraid that it might get worse. The only time he smiles is when he cleans his gun. He has bad PTSD, he knows he has it, and has been to see his PCM. They sent him to a shrink on base who can't even get him a pill or anything. He has told his shrink he thinks he has it and has also told him he can't sleep. He's nervous and paranoid all the time, and he gets angry at nothing at all. He is drinking all the time. What do we need to do we need help.

Sincerely,
Very Scared

 

Dear Scared,

Thank you for writing to me. I am very concerned for your safety and well-being. I think you should contact Marine and Family Services IMMEDIATELY. You should speak to a social worker/counselor there. You can walk in and speak to someone any time during normal business hours. There is help available for your husband, but somewhere there appears to be a loose connection between him and behavioral health. Is he still working? I'm wondering about his job performance and what his unit commanders/leadership is noticing regarding his behavior. Well, at this point that's secondary because you will have to be the one who gets the ball rolling. MFS will definitely help you. The behavior you are describing is very serious. Please take my swift advice and contact them. If you don't live near a base then contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. You can contact them 24/7. Please write me back and let me know how you are doing.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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A reader responds to "Combat Stress or PTSD?" Dear Ms. Vicki,

Just read the PTSD article. Great general information but, not realistic if you are still in the military suffering w/those symptoms. You can't be totally truthful with your PCM while still Active Duty. I know this 1st hand! No way can you get help for anything in the mental health area/traumatic Brain Injury without it affecting your job/position in the military! You have to wait until you are w/in the window to retire to get military help. I wish more people that don't have these problems realized this! Thank you for your article but, the real nitty gritty needs to be told. Thanks.

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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