First Responder Family Post Traumatic Growth

first responder first responder family post traumatic growth post traumatic stress ptg ptsd ptsi secondary stress

Sometimes I can get really mad at Post Traumatic Stress. Maybe you can too? Especially this week losing First Responders to suicide.

In our family we can refer to our experience as pre and post- Post Traumatic Stress.

The pre-Post Traumatic Stress years were the honeymoon stage of being a First Responder Family. Adventurous, fun and mostly happy. 

The middle years living with Post Traumatic Stress were dark, lonely, exhausting, anxiety filled and depressing.

Now living in the stage of Post Traumatic Growth is triumphant. It feels like conquering Everest, slaying the dragons, celebrating sticking together and gratitude for all the hard work.

The dragons still get triggered once in a while, but you are wiser warriors, with new weaponry to tame the beast so it can no longer breathe fire to cause harm. 

Post Traumatic Growth is not a place I would walk away from. I am grateful for the intimacy, growth and resilience in our family from our journey. 

We have learned skills and tools we would not give up for anything. 

We have gained:

  • boundaries 
  • an assertive voice 
  • communication, intimacy and vulnerability in our relationships
  • a sense of self 
  • healing of past trauma 

But gosh those middle years. They were hard. Looking at pictures you can see it there in all of our faces. It was a dark time. I absorbed my husband's trauma reactions and sustained a secondary stress injury or compassion fatigue. 

I isolated myself. I was depressed. I feared talking to anyone about what was happening. I believed it might risk my husband’s job. There were so many people in our lives who loved us. I could have chosen to reach out and share. I didn’t. I didn’t think anyone could understand. I feared judgement. I felt ashamed that this was happening to us. I didn’t know how anyone could possibly help.

I was prideful. I coveted my ego. I thought about what others would think, what they might say. I was deep in shame, ego and pride, my friends. When you are not honest in your support system, they have no hope to help. 

Post Traumatic and Secondary Stress was the springboard that broke our family free. It cracked open the clay armour I had built around myself as a protection. 

Gosh I felt vulnerable, exposed and in so much pain.

The healing though. It was hard work and commitment. It required us to show up, open and willing to try new things. It was worth it.

Post Traumatic Growth gives us SO much:

  • where we can show up and allow ourselves to be fully seen. 
  • accept ourselves with our strengths and limitations. 
  • reframe our mindset.
  • walk with transparency, authenticity and vulnerability. 
  • know who we are, our purpose, dreams and being lit on fire to show up in the world. 
  • to know our worth and teach others how to treat us.
  • to speak our truth. 
  • no more eggshells instead skills to communicate through hard things.
  •  taking responsibility for ourselves. 
  • creating and designing a life we want to live. 
  • to wake up excited and motivated to make an impact.

Post Traumatic Growth is worth every ounce of time and energy invested in climbing the mountain, unpacking baggage on the way, to land where we are now.

If you are on an Operational or Post Traumatic Stress journey, I offer you hope, SO much hope my friends. Start or stay on your journey now. 

Grab your supports and map to help you along the way. The path is easier with light bearers, the wisdom of guides to lead you on a shorter path and teach you the new weaponry of skills to slay the dragon, Post Traumatic Stress.

Keep going. One foot in front of the other. You can do this. Your reward is awaiting warriors.

Consider joining us this week for:

1. Building A Resilience Shield for First Responder Families

2. Resilience Academy for First Responder Spouses

We hope to see you there.



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