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How 15 Minutes Caused My Family Years of Trauma

“There’s someone in the house with your daughter.”

I stood there looking at my wife, wondering what was going on. She said it again a little more forcefully, and I simply said, “What are you talking about? How do you know?”

My daughter was texting her there was somebody in the house while she was home, sick and alone as a 12-year-old girl.

Once I realized what was going on, I could not get in my car fast enough. I threw it into high gear, ran red lights and stop signs, and did well over 100 mph trying to get home while my wife called the police. As I approached my exit off the interstate, I saw the police cars go screaming by, all the while, the knot continued to grow in my stomach. As I drove, I prayed over and over for God’s hand of protection to watch over my little girl, but I had never felt more helpless in my life. As I pulled into the neighborhood and sped down the road, I came upon my house surrounded by police cars and I watched a number of men walk my baby girl out the front door.

I barely stopped the car as I jumped out and ran to hug my little angel. We had left her home that day because she was sick and while lying in bed, she heard more noise in the house. When she opened the door to her room, she came face-to-face with someone invading our house. To this day, I’m not sure what the criminal saw or what he felt, but all he said was, “Oops I’m in the wrong house,” and she slammed the door, and got on her device and began texting us.

Time went by and I felt everyone had moved on, never once realizing inside my daughter’s mind and heart, she was facing a struggle. The trauma left her in a bad place and the certainty of her life, in that one moment, vanished. As we begin to seek options to help her work through it, we were told she had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She was having a hard time working through it as she realized all that could’ve happened and how fortunate she was.

We got an alarm system, but eventually had to move from that house to make sure she felt safe. Even now, years later, it still affects her and many of the decisions she makes. It was especially hard because there wasn’t a whole lot we could do to help, except continue to encourage and strengthen her as she fought this battle in her mind and spirit.

It was an education for me to realize, “suck it up buttercup” was not the answer for everything, and that some battlefields in the mind and the heart are hard to overcome. PTSD is often one of those things people experience, but others do not always see. It is often an invisible struggle to those outside the person, and one many do not understand.

It took me a number of years to begin to understand what my daughter walked through, and in that, I found she needed my support and encouragement, not always my advice. Sometimes, she just needed my love, care and embrace, and to be that reminded somebody is always there.

Is this still a battle for her? Yes, but it is one she does not have to face alone. As we surround those struggling, we need to remind them they are loved and they are safe, and we are there to walk the path with them, no matter what course it takes, regardless of the time involved. It is through these simple, little things we help to make this overwhelming weight of PTSD a little more manageable for them. We give them a shoulder to help strengthen them and remind them what they are going through is important and real, even if others cannot see it.

You can follow Charles’ blog at Day By Day: My Journey With Parkinson’s

Getty image by Kerkez