When you are a child trying to understand the meaning life, you have no idea if you are getting it. All you know is when you are obedient and stay out of trouble, your parents will not spank you. My life was very simple. I was born into a family consisting of three brothers and me, the second child born to my parents and the only daughter my parents had. It appeared we had no reason to be unhappy because we were fed, clothed and we had a name. We were Jackie and Curtis’ children.

For quite some time I felt like I was one of the children out of four who enjoyed playing with my brothers. But one night, my life changed forever. My parents had separated eventually the beatings my father put on my mother became unbearable for her. She demanded he stopped or she was going to have him arrested. Because he was a bully and a controller, he found a way to put her out of our home and she was not allowed to come back. We had no ideal our mother would not be coming back and we dared to ask questions. Singlehandedly, our father attempted to take care of us alone. But something was missing for him not that his wife was gone. One night, I learned what that was.
At the age of four, I was lifted up out of my bed in the middle of the night while sleeping. The house was very dark so dark it seemed my eyes was still closed as my limped body was transferred from my bed to mommy and daddy’s bed. It was there, my life changed forever. Thinking I had peed in their bed I feared a spanking was about to happen. Instead, I was held so gently and rocked back to sleep. Daddy comforted me after hearing me cry because a pain had shot through my body so strongly causing it to shake in great agony. I didn’t know why it was so painful between my legs I just know it caused daddy to comfort me.

The next morning I was back in my bed with fresh and clean pajamas on. Ever since that night, I do not remember who I was before it happened. Looking back, I see a little girl confused about how to be a sister, daughter, and a friend even a relative. It was as though I was living in a fog or another dimension. I remember people wondering why I was so quiet and why was I not playing with other children. It seemed I didn’t know how to move my body properly or normally. It was an effort to tell my body what to do.
When I was about eight years old, my teacher asked to talk with my parents because she was concerned to why I was so withdrawn and unhappy at such a young age. My father was now with a woman who became our stepmother they met my teacher and pretty much told her I was always a shy child. During this time, I was struggling with understanding why I kept having dreams of the night I thought I peed in my parents’ bed. Often my days were filled with trying to understand the throbbing and often times overwhelming pushing inside my body. It seemed like it was trying to kill me. How do you explain something like this to someone? People thought I was inactive because I didn’t want to play or have fun. They had no ideal I was exhausted from trying to control this unseen force inside of me.

On the outside, I appeared shy and gentle but on the inside I was a walking time bomb. To keep people from questioning me, I would mimic others to blend in so people would leave me alone. But every chance I got, I would go into hiding. Now a teenager, I am looking at the world exhausted inside and very defensive because now I realize the night I thought I peed in my parents’ bed was the night I lost my virginity. That reality was an extremely painful moment rocketing me into a state of raw emotions.
My mind had a difficult processing this information. In time, my memory was chopped up as I forgot a lot of things; it became more difficult to formulate words that made sense when trying to communicate with people. Everything I did was an effort; decision making was very difficult because I did not know who I was and what made me happy. On a regular basis, anxiety attacks would come with no warning. There were times I just had to walk away from people who were enjoying company just to protect them from the forming rage that wanted to hurt them with unkind words. For years I had to work at protecting others from me and me from the monster within. Finally, after over thirty years of struggling with this beast I have a diagnosis. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.

It all began with rape, domestic violence environment and continued to fester with the experiences of sudden deaths. At the age of seventeen, my big brother died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of nineteen and in that same year my best friend suddenly died when a car crushed him. Then at age 28, I was suddenly widowed when my husband was killed in a car accident. I really thought about suicide then.

But now, I understand my inner-struggles so much so, I wrote a book which allowed me to have cathartic experiences. Each time I share my story, the stronger and better I feel. I was even blessed to share tools of survival with PTSD. Life is wonderful now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALinda Diane Wattley is a published writer who began her first work of art with poetry. The poem, “I Wish” appeared in the Poetry Gem of the American Poets Society. For over twelve years she had her own religious/philosophical column in the Frost Illustrated Newspaper titled “The Best Will Show Themselves”.

Linda has appeared as a contributed writer for the online magazines including: Faith Writers, The Wright Side of Me Productions, The Blessed Room and Cheers where she shared Inspirational and thought provoking messages to readers. She is also a contributor of anthologies: The Triumph of My Soul edited by Elissa Gabriel and This Far by Faith with Vanessa Miller as editor.

Today, God has awakened her to a new and extremely important message to share with the world. We must become more conscious of PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; she is presenting her newest work: Soldier with a Backpack, Living and Dying Simultaneously. This work reveals the reality of the impact this disorder has on our veterans and civilian people’s lives. It takes you deep within the soul of the inner dynamics of this disorder. Stress and Trauma is guiding us farther away from love. Truth and understanding will guide us to self-love and love for our fellowman.

When Wattley is not writing, she enjoys her family; Mother Jacqueline M. Bushner, sons: Robert D. Wattley III, Marcus, daughter-in-law Katie and her granddaughters Jaelynn and Myla.

Linda can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter