Blind Devotion: Survival on the Front Lines of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction

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9781616494094: Blind Devotion: Survival on the Front Lines of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction
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One woman's startling firsthand account of her struggle to protect her children while facing the man she married, a combat veteran plagued by addiction, rage, and depression born from PTSD.

One woman’s startling firsthand account of her struggle to protect her children while facing the man she married, a combat veteran plagued by addiction, rage, and depression born from PTSD.Sharlene peered out the window into the blackness that enveloped her yard. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were out there--police officers and a SWAT team holding their positions in the wood line out her front door, their weapons trained with deadly precision pointing at her home.“Don’t let them shoot at my kids!” she shouted into the phone to the dispatcher as her drunk, enraged, and armed husband picked up the other line, “Go on, get the hell out of here then!”When she first met Sean seven years earlier, Sharlene never imagined that he’d someday be the catalyst to this terrifying scene. Sean was handsome in his camouflage fatigues, looking proud and just a little cocky. Unlike any other man she had ever met, he was an easy, charming conversationalist and his sincerity was unmistakable. The two married and started a family.But Sean’s drinking soon took over, and signs of depression and his raging outbursts amplified. Something was seriously wrong. He never talked about his tours overseas, including his seven-month peacekeeping mission in the aftermath of Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing campaign, but there were signs that what he experienced in Bosnia left him reeling at his core. As Sean’s behavior grew increasingly worse, Sharlene’s obsessive worry for his well–being trumped her basic needs. She knew that her husband was suffering from tremendous inner turmoil--which she later learned was PTSD--and she hoped, more than anything, to nurse him back to the loving partner and father she knew he could be.A powerful story of pain and forgiveness, horror and hope, Blind Devotion gives voice to the thousands of families who are struggling to heal and to achieve a sense of normalcy stolen by the trauma in their lives.

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About the Author:

Sharlene Prinsen and her husband Sean have been married for eleven years and have two children. She is a teacher in northern Wisconsin. This is her first book.

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“Tell the officers I’m coming out with the kids! Tell them it’s us coming out!Don’t let them shoot at my kids!”. . . I threw the phone down, looped the bag over my shoulder, and went to wake up my son. “Michael,” I whispered as I shook his shoulders. “Wake up, Honey. We have to go, right now. You need to listen to Mommy and do exactly what I say, OK?” In an instant, my four-year-old was on his feet, reminding me so much of his father who would startle from his sleep at the slightest sound, feet on the floor and at attention, ready to receive his orders. My son’s eyes were wide with fear and confusion. He was wearing nothing but his underwear, but I didn’t have time to get him dressed. He clung to my leg as I went into the nursery to grab my infant daughter. My sobs caught in my throat as I wrapped her in a blanket and ran for the door with Michael glued to my side. “Michael,” I said, trying to keep my voice calm for my son’s sake. “When I open this door, I need you to run with me as fast as you can to the car. And when you get in, I need you to get down on the floor in the back seat.” Now he was terrified, his tears welling up. “Mommy. . .” he started, but I cut him off. “Just do it, Michael, please!” My little girl, still lost in slumber when I picked her up, was now stirring in my arms, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. I took a deep breath, opened the door, and ran with my children to the car parked outside. As Michael climbed in, I could hear my husband just a few yards away, still raging at the officers who were concealed in the darkness. My heart raced as I threw my baby girl into the car with such haste
that she rolled across the seat and bumped her head on the passenger door. The sound of her startled cries and Michael’s whimpers from the back seat were too much for me. As I tore down the long driveway, my head swirled with the surreal sounds around me—the baby’s screams, Michael’s sobs, the drone of the search helicopter overhead, the ranting of my husband. It all blurred together into a chilling soundtrack. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. I knew from the
direction of my husband’s voice just a few minutes ago that I was driving right between him and the officers with whom he was locked in a deadly standoff. My mind grappled to make sense of it. This is like a movie. . . Is this really happening to me? I gripped the steering wheel and braced myself, convinced that the next sound to join the eerie symphony would be a gunshot echoing through the night. And then my husband would be dead. Or I would be. Or one of the children.

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