PTSD Spirituality: Past the Sand Traps, On to the Green.

Sometimes working on PTSD projects can be a little like trying to play golf. Not being a golf player (but I did like Bagger Vance, both the book and the film), I suppose it is something like this: You try to hit the ball as efficiently as you can without getting it caught in the obstacles, the ponds, goose poop, and the sand traps.

After a few dozen swings you get the ball to the green and then plop it into the cup. The golfer has a goal, but needs to operate in awareness of the various obstacles, lest they throw their clubs on the ground, go to the club house, and drown in whiskey.

From Golfing to Farming

Writing succinctly to a particular topic never goes real fast for me. I do a lot of thinking and writing around a PTSD Spirituality topic, praying too. I have to lay a lot of ground work first that could add up to 8000-10,000 words before I am ready, before I feel personally prepared, to get to the point.

It is somewhat analogous to a farmer who must decide what crops to plant, then tills ground and weeds it, decides if it will be an organic or conventional crop, plants, irrigates, prays, harvests, and hopefully delivers us some healthy green beans for our consumption.

For better or worse, I tend to approach writing as a farmer might approach producing beans. Except, I tend to overwrite, over prepare.  One does not know how much PTSD background the reader possesses, needs, or wants. One does not always know how much to write and lay out to prep the reader.

In some ways I am not well suited for blog writing. It’s difficult to write about a topic like PTSD Spirituality in just a couple of hundred words or less. Plus, I am, or so it’s rumored, to be, well, you know, a tad bit prolix, a mite too wordy here and there, just a touch. Hmmm? Nyaah! Never! Can’t be! Not me!

And, of course, thinking, praying, and writing are usually therapeutic for me. One of the ways I heal is through writing. Not always, but often enough, through the act of writing and pondering, I can find some meaning in my life’s experiences. Sometimes the writing may even benefit someone else.

Conversely, sometimes the writing is not all that therapeutic, or not obviously so. The last few weeks have been difficult on the PTSD front for me. The “Usual Suspects” of my physical body and its ailments amplify my PTSD issues. I have been more susceptible to my PTSD triggers and have not always realized it until after the fact.

Recently, I have had some difficult times in my role of helping people survive and thrive in spite of their own trauma (if that seems a bit vague, it’s supposed to be).

Usually I can shake it off, water off a duck and all that.  On top of that I’ve been doing quite a bit more writing than has actually shown on the PTSD Spirituality website. Have been dealing with, thinking about, praying about, recollecting experiences of my own and those of others. A constellation of topics coalescing around rape, molestation, isolation, PTSD-induced infidelity, and PTSD caused by a partner’s infidelity, have formed the deep furrows I have of late been cultivating.

In my academic work on PTSD, non-violence, and peace-making, I’ve seen where scholars who work on topics such as torture and atrocities sometime become ill. The work needs to be done, but sometimes you can’t wash all of the gore off your hands when you back away from the table. The smell may linger in your mind when you are away from the table and supposedly focused on something else.

Just like scientists who wear special clothes when dealing with virulent pathogens, we need to be aware that certain spiritual PTSD pathogens come with our turf.

Usually, writing helps put me back together. Yet, I still need better awareness of how some of my non-writing work/encounters can be amplified by the messier side of concentrating on “PTSD pathogens.” Seems I get reminded of that once in a while.

I figured something was up when I started having a hankering for the whiskey and not for its taste. Besides being one of my own PTSD symptoms I am just bright enough to also see the temptation to drink too much as a warning flare. Well, I managed to not submit to the temptation to misuse the whiskey. That left me to once again assess where I am in regards to my PTSD. Turned out it was not a good place and needed some rescue operations.

Getting Back on the Grass

I spoke to several people I trust about the situation. Not so much for the “solution” to my situation, but to make them aware of my current state of being and to take some solace in confiding some of my vulnerabilities to people I can trust. There is healing in that act of confidence just in and of itself.

So, have I quit exploring the metaphorical furrows and sand traps on rape, isolation, and infidelity as they connect with PTSD? No, not really. I’ve continued. But, I am exploring and writing a bit smarter.

I keep a mouth guard handy for when I unconsciously start clenching my jaws too tightly (cracked a tooth that way once, I am such a dolt sometimes).

I have made a point of interacting with my pets more and they don’t seem to mind.

I reaffirm my prayer life away from the temptation to not pray or ponder God.

I keep in constant conversation with my wife.

And, I also write and read about things that are not so personally fraught for me so my subconscious has other things besides atrocities to ponder.

I have already noticed a difference after a week of upping my game and being more responsive to God, my wife, my friends, and my pets. I also have made a point to spend more time on music, trying to sort out how it works technically in the written notes and also in how to make that music alive with an instrument.

In fact, it’s time to put this writing aside and spend time making some music.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z


  1. I’m so sorry, Dr. Z, I had set this aside to read later. You poor thing. I, too, was going through a PTSD waxing, rather than waning, point in the last week.

    I wished to compliment you on your use of distress tolerance skills — interacting with your pets and spending more time on your music. I’m a cook, and two things best for me when the PTSD is acting up is to interact with our Maltese and do a new or multi-step recipe (not that one has to do with the other). 🙂

    I can feel the pain in your post, my friend. Please try to remember it waxes and wanes. Many, many people love hearing your thoughts … all of them.

    Hugs to you Dr. Z from Escondido CA

    • Hello Harry,
      I am (mostly) resisting the urge to make a pun about the Maltese Falcon.
      Cooking sounds like a cool way to keep creative. You get to enjoy it twice or thrice, the cooking, the eating and the sharing…way cool.
      Thank you for your support, it is always meaningful.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  2. 🙂 Thank you. I’m so happy to know you here.

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