Kimberly Williamson, RSW 

Sometimes I wish healing from an Operational Stress Injury of PTSD, would just be simple, care-free and wrapped up neatly with a bow. But alas, it doesn’t work that way and we shouldn’t want it to. In my experience, the best things in life come from the struggle in the dirt, even when it seems impossible at the moment. 

When we first started our First Responder Family healing journey of Operational Stress Injury (PTSD), I made tons of mistakes. I was an overfunctioner and enabler. I did not set boundaries or have core strength. I was taking care of everyone else and neglecting myself. My heart was filled with fear and resentment. 

Yet, through all the twists and turns, it brought our First Responder Family to where we are today and I wouldn’t trade our journey for the world! 

Post Traumatic Growth is amazing but it is not an end game. PTSD still shows up in our home from time to time. Just this week in fact. As my husband settled in to watch an episode of the Vikings, I kissed him good night. Eight hours later, I said good morning to him when I woke up. He was in the exact same position watching another episode of the exact same show. Avoiding sleep is one of the first signs PTSD is visiting our home. 

Perhaps you can relate? 

My heart drops when I see him and my mind fortune tells the eggshells, anxiety and tension that I imagine will now arrive in our home. 

How do you think I greet him? With worry, concern and anxiety. What do you think he needs? Compassion, empathy and love. 

As a First Responder Wife, my trauma response is activated by his trauma response. How do you think this goes? If you guessed not well, ding-ding-ding! You are right!

There has been so much healing over the years, sometimes we think we are done. This is awesome we have gone 3-6-9-12-18 months and then we find ourselves right back in the dirt again. Each time I am reminded, healing is not a linear journey. When we circle back there is something we need to learn in order to grow and heal deeper. The gift is, we recognize when we are in the dirt faster and we have tools to use that we did not have before. I am grateful we accept responsibility for what is ours and take action to heal it. 

Sometimes, I expect Post Traumatic Growth to have an end zone. Like an arrival to a destination. I picture a flag at the finish line of a race and as we cross over the line, we cheer because we made it. We are happy, whole, fully restored and healed. 

What if our human experience is to show up doing the best we can to grow, heal and repair each day? A little bit better than yesterday, if possible. Having grace with ourselves if we can’t and trying again tomorrow. 

If you are in the dirt right now, keep going friend! If you are out of the dirt at this moment, feel free to take this opportunity to inspire someone else to keep going. 

Kimberly Williamson, RSW 

Founder First Responder Family Wellness Center 

Certified Family Trauma Therapist, EMDR Therapist, Trauma Yoga Therapist, First Responder Wife & Mother of Three