This is something thats helped me in handling those around me that I want to keep around me. There’s a difference of course as for most people I come into day to day contact with, I don’t care if they stay around me. Once I’m done inspecting their hands, then eyes, then checking if they have a backpack or not (yes hyper vigilance is one of my gifts to myself) I file them away into the ‘won’t remember them’ file. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the ones around you that you love and they love you back. And you want them to stay in your life, and they want to stay in yours. But they don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to bring them around to what actually helps.
I recommend an old army adage. The BLUF. Not the bluffing that is a lie, like in poker. This is the BLUF which is the bottom line up front. In other words, don’t try to explain the details of every little feeling that ever comes up, and the stressors attached. You don’t have time, and it drives those trying to help away from you. Just give them the BLUF. Essentially, skip all the chatter and give them the last sentence to the story and repeat it as necessary. We do this with our kids sometimes when they want to explain to you why they were justified in doing something wrong. My youngest loves to give me a 3 minute speech about why he felt justified in hitting someone, before finally coming out with the fact that yes indeed, he did hit someone. I used to do this to my friends as well when I was suffering. The BLUF helps me and this is more than just honesty. It’s honesty, with skipping the backstory which they won’t get and I don’t want to go into. So heres some examples of what I’m talking about.
BLUF: I don’t do fireworks anymore, ever. Now I could explain why. I could give dates, and references, and a blow by blow description. Or I could leave you with just one thought which is this. Please don’t take it personally, but from now till the end of time I’ll never want to go to an event that is normally filled with drunks, at night, away from my house with explosions that intentionally maximize the noise, light, and pulse of a detonation. Nope. Not going. No matter how good they were, or how many police are around, or how many friends you have with PTSD that went last year and it was just fine. I just saved us both going through all this with the BLUF. Essentially, my version of don’t ask, don’t tell. Because if I don’t give you my BLUF, you may think it’s you. You may think I just don’t go to the fireworks at english bay, but you’ll invite me to the 4th of July ones, or the halloween ones. Do not, because I will not.
BLUF: For me, I have no problem with restaurants but I need to pick where I’m sitting. Now again, I could explain why but this may leave the listener with the idea that maybe next week its not like this, or how its ok because their brother is a cop and he eats here so it must be safe. Doesn’t matter. My Blufs are non negotiable. We’ve got people roaming around the earth today telling you that they identify as ze, the moon, they, Harry, Harriete, Hairy Harriete or whatever. So fine. My BLUFs are my identity. I identify as the guy that sits on the end of the table, can always see the door, likes to see the kitchen if possible. He is me, and I am him.
BLUF: I don’t multi task. My brain doesn’t do that anymore . In fact I don’t actually believe any of you do either but that’s for a different day. I think people can delegate, put something on the backburner to focus on a different task or just be all around shitty at staying focused and getting stuff done. Either way, I don’t multi task. So why is this BLUF important? Don’t expect me to listen to you while I’m driving. I may acknowledge sounds coming out of your mouth but I’m driving. Driving means handling other drivers. Other drivers mean a threat. And I respond in a threat environment a hell of a lot different than you do, or how I used to. I’m different now. And no, I don’t want you to drive because the absolute last thing I want in this threat environment is the feeling that I’m helpless to respond to it. So no. Piss off. I’m driving, and you just accept that I reserve the right to forget all things said during this time and you can’t hold it against me.
Heres the thing about the BLUF. Sometimes veterans and others that are suffering from an OSI can actually be hard to help. Sometimes we can be a right pain in the ass, because while everyone is different we don’t resemble the image the person used to have of us. Thats makes us even different from our unique selves. So keep it simple. Hold the backstory for later. Save everyone the stress of wondering whether your going to want to come out for whatever the hell it is they want to do. And save yourself the feeling that you have to explain why you no longer do those things. Let them know that if they really need to know the roots of your problem that they can hear it at the right time. Or if you do want to talk about it, then by all means. But for now, just give them the bottom line up front.
So, to any of my friends reading this, please take note of these BLUF’s for me. Its not about you, but these are about me and are essentially guidlines and limitations I need to stick to in order to be the healthiest version of me. I don’t do fireworks. I need to see the door in public buildings. I can’t hear you when I’m doing something. I’ll come over to your place if I can that day, but I’d much rather you came here where I feel more control and have places to get away. I can handle noise no problem like a gun range, but it needs to be from a predictable location. So concerts are actually ok, but movies aren’t. These are my BLUF’s . My buddies know them. My woman knows them. My kids are learning them. Its easier on them and me. They aren’t a list of demands, but they are as strict because I”ve lived in this body with this head for a while now, and by a bit of trial and a shit tonne of error I’ve learnt a thing or two. And I want you around. I want to do things with you. Trust me, if you weren’t in the happy bubble of people you’d know by now. In fact theres people I wanted in that bubble , but there are now gone for many reasons. You’re still here. Thanks, by the way.