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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Frnka

Building A Better Boat!

As I begin my final draft, I sit with a cup of hot tea in my husband’s chair at his computer. It’s where I find the most comfort when I am putting the final touches on my writing, especially my pieces on PTSD. My eyes fill with tears as I think about how far we have come. Individually and as a couple. In 2016, I was preparing to live my life as a single mom. Yet, here we are stronger and more determined than ever to continue our voyage together, as well as, to help other people build a better boat.

A better boat? I am glad you asked.

--- there’s a song by Kenney Chesney that goes “I smile more despite the pain. I breathe in, I breathe out. Got friends to call who let me talk about what ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’. All the things I feel like cussin’ out… I hate waiting, ain’t no patience in these hands… I think I’m stronger than I was, I let God do what he does… I’m learnin’ how to build a better boat.”

2019 provided us with an amazing year of healing and I am looking forward to a soft breeze, gentle waves and smooth sailing in 2020. Definitely ready to soak in the sunshine and rainbows. You know, the kind of rainbows that come when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. That’s the fun-loving side of me, the real side of me knows there will still be some rocky waves, but we are getting better at surfing these days and waiting for the right wave to catch. And, if we happen to wash out – welp, there’s always whiskey. 😉

Before we sail away though, I want to share one more story about my journey with Mr. PTSD (I smile and wink when I say that. I hope he laughs).

We met him in a store in Colorado. Long gray hair neatly pulled back. Thin in stature and well kept. He spotted my husband’s limp; I think before we even hit the entrance to the store. He began to talk with him. I heard him mention something about PTSD and heard my husband say, “I am managing, but only because of her.” And, he motioned towards me. I was on the other side of the store and quickly made myself busy looking at the knick-knacks there. The man came over and shook my hand “It’s an honor to shake your hand ma’am. I’ve lost 4 wives to this. Living with PTSD ain’t easy.” Then he showed me the scars on his wrists. He owns a souvenir store and medical marijuana business where he works to help people with PTSD.

We met her not far from home. Tall and strong. Beautiful dress, long hair neatly framing her face. We shared with her that my husband had a sign crafted for me for Get Strong with Jen! and I explained that I was writing a blog to help provide families with the tools and resources they needed to live with PTSD. Her eyes filled with tears as she said “Oh my. I have PTSD. I cannot believe this. You were meant to be in my life today.” She talked about her battle with drugs and getting clean. She wants to start a non-profit organization for teens who were abused.

There are others with similar stories, but we have heard a similar phrase mentioned in each story. Someone in their life has told them something similar to this: “I didn’t know which version of you I was going to get.”

And, each time our eyes fill with tears and we nod in agreement because we understand and know exactly what that means.

There’s a song called Fire Away by Chris Stapleton that very closely mimics the relationship my husband and I had. It seems to coincide with the relationships others with PTSD have experienced, as well. The video even more so. The lyrics “choose the words that cut like a razor an all that I’ll say is fire away. Take your best shot show me what you got. Honey I’m not afraid” almost became my mantra.

In the video, you see a woman who appears to be fighting substance abuse. Throughout the video you see a happy moment shattered at the flip of a switch. You see moments of what appear to be innocent childlike behaviors turn into tantrums. You see glimpses of suicide attempts and drowning. You see a loved one spinning out of control with no way to help. You see a man hurting, taking a slow drink of whiskey --- not ever getting drunk – just needing to take the edge off.

That life hurts --- like throat swells up, sandpaper feeling when you swallow, kind of hurt --- like deep pain in your chest, I don’t think I will ever catch my breath, when someone deals you a heavy blow kind of hurt --- like tears streaming down your face, can’t open your eyelids kind of pain.

We are the lucky ones. Fortunately, my husband never battled a drug or alcohol addiction, but he certainly had at least three different personalities. It’s basically over now ---- and there are somedays --- somedays I cannot believe I am even married to the same person. There are still moments --- yes, there are still --- but they are not at the level that they once were. They are not as painful, and they do not send me into a whirlwind of feeling like I need to change or do something different. Instead, I am equipped with the questions to ask and better understand when he is triggered. More so though, he is usually open and receptive to the help. Together we work each day to maintain our boat.

In spite of the hurt

In spite of the pain

We are moving on without the rain.

The boat is boarded up and closed

For all the world to see

We are building a better you and me.

Life isn’t perfect

That’s the way it’s meant to be.

But it’s all over now

We are building a better you and me.

The waters once rushed around us

But now It’s not the same.

Now we just watch it fall

Into a pool where there is not blame.

Some waves we catch and others we watch touch the shore.

Either way we continue to soar

Above the clouds

Where all we can see are the rainbows

All around.

We are building a better you and me.

We hope 2019 was a wonderful year and look forward to spending 2020 with you! We invite you to join us, over the next 9 weeks as we continue to work to build a better you and me and Get on Fire For Life!

Have a beautiful New Year!

All My Love,


For More Sunshine and Whiskey with Jen click here.


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