Growing up, both my parents were active in our parish and school related activities. They volunteered their services often and they impressed upon us the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive people. There was a time where my Dad listened to positive motivation tapes, sometimes even playing them in the car while we were driving. Having the blinds in our home open and letting the light in was the norm, as was having the windows open to feel the cool, fresh air.
In addition, my husband and I are high school sweethearts. When we met, he was active in baseball and football, a member of our PALS organization, involved with NHS and active in his church. Well loved and adored by many of our peers. He is an Army veteran and definitely embodied the picture of a positive person. He loved sleeping with his windows open, especially in the winter and absolutely loved being outdoors.
So, it was extremely difficult for me, as I watched him closing out the light more and more in our home. It started first with his sunglasses. He refused to take them off when he was outside and at points even wore them into buildings. In our home, I would have all the blinds open when he arrived home from work and he would walk around to close them. Eventually, he even painted one of the rooms in our home gray and black and covered the window with aluminum foil to keep the light out. He said he wanted a “theatre room,” but he rarely emerged from it. Something had triggered these behaviors that would eventually manifest themselves in a vicious cycle that we would see flare up about every 18 months – 2 years for over 10 years. He would slowly emerge, but then sink back even farther, which at times, made for an extremely dark life for he and I and our girls.
Receiving his PTSD diagnosis in August 2016 hit us like a ton of bricks, but it also provided us with a game plan and hope for life to get better. Admittedly, we would have to walk our journeys to healing on our own for nearly 18 months, stopping to check-in with one another at points. Both of us unsure that our marriage would recover, but certain we did not want life to look like it had.
Ironically, during one of the darkest times, just days before I would file for divorce in July 2017, Greg stopped me in the parking lot of our counselors’ office. It was a bright, sunny day. He took off his sunglasses, looked me dead in the eyes, and said “Jen, I hope you know that I would never do anything to you or our daughters. I hope you know that your safety is important to me.” I nodded, halfheartedly believing him, but barely holding myself together long enough to get to the car to fall into a puddle of tears. It had been so long since I had seen his eyes. Really, really seen them. He was letting in the light and I was so scared, so conflicted, but so incredibly grateful.
That day, although I was dealing with one of the hardest, scariest moments in my life, also marked a pivotal turning point in the healing of my husband, myself, and our marriage. He still battles being able to let the light in, but he is learning to recognize it in himself and reaches out to ask for support. And, it is beautiful!
There are times when I wake up to the blinds open, now. He sits in the backyard with me, sunglasses free. And, I have even found him sitting in the rainbows that swirl in the kitchen from the rainbow maker in the window. Sometimes, I just sit and smile at him. Sometimes, we even laugh at how far he has come and wonder how we allowed life to get so dark. One thing is certain, there’s a whole lotta love in our home --- there always has been --- we just had to learn how to let the light in again.
If you are struggling to let the light into your home/heart, we encourage you to reach out to a counselor today. There is hope for a life filled with peace, joy, and love. It will take discipline, trust, and an enormous amount of strength, but the result will leave you smiling and laughing and filled with so much peace.
For a moment, take some time to think about how you can let the light into your day. What does that look like for you? How can you make it happen daily?
If there is someone in your life who seems to have turned out the light, we encourage you to be brave enough to encourage them to seek help, but strong enough to understand if they cannot and take the measures you need to protect yourself. Most importantly, seek healing for yourself.
Have a beautiful day ya'll!
All My Love,
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