Support groups can be bad for your health.

The other day I brought up an issue about a group of my peers being particularly hurtful (and often hateful) to other people, including me, when they should be the very people that we should count on for support.

I said, in part:

I’ve tried to dismiss comments made by caregivers who are also in my shoes that I should be thankful my husband is alive. I have also tried to dismiss comments by caregivers in my shoes that my asking for outside help, let alone expecting it, is selfish of me to do.

Yeah. Well. Nothing has changed except for the fact it got even worse.

There are two “caregiver” groups that are involved in this drama, and I left both of them tonight. After the wives got in a very heated argument about whether civilians are entitled to earn a Purple Heart (um, hello…they can’t….so why argue?) it just kept going on and on and on….all on a platform based on an argument of “I am entitled to my opinion!” Now it became a “She said this” and “She did that” scenario, playing it out all over again.

I can’t. I just can’t. I don’t want to see it rehashed, regurgitated or relived. At all. If people still have to hash it out between themselves, they could do the rest of us the courtesy by doing it through private messages. It’s time to move on. Clearly.

So I stepped in and asked,

Can we please put this to rest? Please?

Well. That was the WORST thing I could have ever done if you asked them. I explained that I was not dismissing anyone’s opinion, but this should be water under the bridge. I even apologized that their feelings were hurt and explained that my intent wasn’t to cause hurt or pain. I did it publicly, privately, and multiple times.

And wouldn’t you know it? The mob mentality kicked in. Both boards were talking openly and publicly about me in such a way that it brought me back to tears. I had a feeling that the snide comments coming in all week were about me (and others) but tonight it all gelled together in more specificity that there is no longer any doubt.

Then I was accused of purposely hurting someone who’s husband had worse injuries than my husband had. I was stunned.

I really, honestly, am at a loss for words. After apologized again, explained again, reaffirmed that my whole point was to avoid more drama…through my OWN tears….I realized that I am talking to what is supposed to be a SUPPORT GROUP. I finally I just had to walk away

Yeah, you heard it. ME! I walked away. ME! The notorious fighter left the ring. And I let the nonsense get the best of me to make me break down and cry. But let’s face it….You can’t win in a fight like that.

Why else would I quit? Because I am SO damned tired of it. If this is my only source of support… I really don’t need it THAT bad. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. It was just insanity on all levels from my perspective.

First it was “If your husband doesn’t have a Purple Heart, you aren’t a real wounded warrior caregiver and don’t belong in this group” bullshit. I stuck up for the girls who were singled out, and caught hell for it.

Then it was “my husband is worse than yours so you have no room to complain” bullshit. I pointed out that we don’t have a right to compare injuries when we haven’t walked on other people’s shoes, and caught hell for it.

Then it was the “you can’t compare PTSD to an amputation” bullshit. I actually REFRAINED from explaining that it some cases it can be even more disabling than the loss of a limb — because I knew I’d just catch hell for it — and I knew that it would hurt some people’s feelings. I won’t go there or risk minimizing anyone. But it was starting to consume me to stick up for myself or others and it was increasingly hard to make a point with logic involved.

That’s also when I started seeing cross-posting from one board to the next. Which, by our OWN rules, isn’t supposed to be allowed. I wasn’t about to get in an argument in both places. Lordy, no.

Then it was “I am going to give you my opinion, but if you don’t agree with me I’ll tell you that you can’t have yours” bullshit. Hmmm. Very interesting. The strategy was increased tenfold!

Then it was the “if you loved your husband you’d be a martyr like me and not be greedy to ask for a benefit” bullshit. That’s when I posted this blog entry, and I caught hell for it.

And it just. won’t. stop.

I find it interesting that it’s more of the same people that CAUSE the drama that go and complain about it between both boards. They blame the noncombatants for creating the drama. It’s friggin’ hateful comments, outright criticism, accusations, etc. And when they need reinforcements, they’ll grab people that never visit the group to come in and argue for them. It’s a sociology experiment like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

I have no time or space in my life for that kind of nonsense. I am not in ANY mood to be told that I haven’t been anything but nice, respectful and courteous to make sure everyone gets along.

I hate to admit this but I found myself where I was last week. Hurt. And I won’t keep opening myself up to it.

It’s like the movie Jurassic Park. The Raptors knew how to test the fence. They’ve found my weak spots more than once. It IS a competition. It IS a process of elimination. It IS an alliance to see one person go down. It’s petty, unnecessary, and really just not my idea of support.

So yeah…”Support Groups” like this are bad for my health.

PS. To those caregivers that said I would be “stripping” the benefits from real caregivers that the newly-implemented Caregiver Bill was “meant for” — you can kiss it right here. (_)(_) Suffice it to say, I received confirmation from the VA that I have passed the criteria of earning it. If that makes me greedy in your mind, that’s YOUR problem and not mine. Martyrdom is not my forte.

About The Author

Torrey Shannon

My name is Torrey Shannon and I am a writer, author, blogger, movie consultant, speaker, veteran's advocate and Blue Star Mom. I am also a full-time caregiver and spouse of a wounded warrior. My husband survived a gunshot wound to the head in a gunfight in Iraq in 2004 after serving in the Army for more than 23 years. We spent three years of his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has severe PTSD and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Dealing with the invisible wounds of war first-hand allows me to bring a human element to the problems our military communities face. Blogging gives me the chance to do what I love the most: write about life after combat and help create awareness and solutions for military members and their families. When I am not writing here, I freelance for a variety of publications and media outlets and am currently writing a book.