My husband and I have a very special guest coming for Christmas this year; we’re going to call him Jack for privacy purposes.
I met Jack just over fifteen years ago on a holiday in Jamaica and we’ve been fast (as in steadfast) friends ever since. We were both there with our families for weddings and something just clicked between us. Not like lovers but the bond of a deep friendship.
He lives in England and I live in Canada and we talk on the phone at least once a month. We’ve travelled back and forth, me more than him, as well as meet-up in Jamaica with our spouses for a holiday.
When Jack and I first met, neither of us had any idea that we shared the same mental illness ...but then things really changed for me. My second husband left me for another woman, and then I got held up at work.
My life was shattered. My workplace injury caused my PTSD to come to the forefront and Jack seemed to be the only person that understood my life would never be the same again.
Jack and I hadn’t talked much about PTSD prior to me being held up; we had no idea this was something we shared. He thought it was something he had because of the war and figured it was nothing to talk to a civilian about. Me ...I always thought my hyper-vigilance, anxiety and nightmares were normal; that everybody had the same feelings.
After I was (finally) diagnosed with PTSD, Jack asked me to visit so “we could talk.” It was so hard for me to get on that plane but I did it and I’m so glad I did, because it was absolutely incredible! Jack ‘got’ me and it seemed, at the time, that nobody else did. Everybody else just kept telling me how disappointed they were with me; that I needed to ‘get over it’ and get on with my life!
With Jack, I didn’t need to explain anything because he’d fought in the Gulf War and he ‘got’ it. The fear I felt on a day-to-day basis, as well as the symptoms of this horrible disease, were something Jack had been living with for years. His triggers are completely different than mine but the symptoms are exactly the same; for the first time since my held up, I felt a little hope.
Now it’s years later and the tables are turned. It’s my turn to give that hope. Unfortunately, Jack is going through the same thing I went through shortly after we met. After almost twenty years, Jack’s wife decided that living with someone with PTSD was too much for her. That the limits they had around their lives because of Jack’s anxiety weren’t enough to keep her in love with him and she chose infidelity.
Needless to say, Jack is facing his first Christmas without the woman he loved for decades, and Gary and I just couldn’t let him do it alone. We offered Jack our spare room for the Christmas holidays and he said yes! Tomorrow evening, my (adopted) little brother is going to be arriving in Canada for a holiday.
I’m so proud of him because I know it’s going to be rough and that he’s going through a lot of anxiety, but he keeps telling me that the hug at the end of the plane ride will absolutely make it worthwhile - and I have to agree!
Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.