I looked at the therapist from the deep woods where I remained hidden. Friend or foe? Only time would show. I was wild since I had learned from experience to distrust man. He remained silent as I considered my next move. Should I show myself or continue to watch him from the shadows? He looked very relaxed as he sat in his chair. His long legs were crossed at the ankles and he looked like we had all the time in the world. He was looking at the carpet while he waited. I studied him and decided that I liked his face, his demeanor too. He looked wise and patient. And, not one given to sudden movements. I slowly came out from behind a tree and stood before him. He raised his eyes slowly till they met mine and he smiled a small gentle smile. I stopped breathing for several moments and then had to look away. I felt too revealed when our eyes met. A bit dizzy, I sat down upon the ground. I tried, but I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact again so I just looked at his shoed feet. I felt something stir inside me. A feeling, a new feeling. It had no name. Or none that came readily to my mind. I studied the feeling. I decided that it felt good. And then, a word entered my mind. “Safe”. Yes, that was it. I felt safe. I reached out to touch the ground but instead felt carpet.
Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looksoutsidedreams. Who looks inside, awakens. -Carl Jung
You look inside upon the vastness of the soul and realize how much you don’t know; you are a witness to your own inhibitions and ignorance. The canyon walls are inflected with beauty and ugliness, which in itself draws you
I feel this relates to all types of abuse and neglect..
“The aftereffects of Post-Incest Syndrome are not ‘problems’ to be ‘overcome’, but coping mechanisms that have negative side-effects. By attaching the concept of ‘disorder’ to these consequences, we damn the incest survivor to weakness instead of attributing to her the strength of spirit, creativity, and endurance that she deserves–that she has earned.”
It is hard to find people in this world who will try to understand just what PTSD is, let alone how it impacts your life. Even people who love you are apt to know more about the president’s dog than PTSD. Even if they read up on it, they may not understand it in an empathetic way since it is not something they experience. There are days that I feel more understood by the cat than a dear friend. (Of course, this is anthropomorphism — but heh, whatever gets me through the day… 😉 ) But, here at WordPress, I can find others who walk my path — who “get it” — because they are walking it too. It may not be PTSD, but instead depression, anxiety, OCD, DID, bi-polar disorder, or any number of mental and emotional health challenges. But, we can understand each other because we have shared experiences. Some days, we write a post and feel heard when we see a “like” on it. We press “like” when we find a post we can relate to. Sometimes we even comment on each others blogs and share a thought or two. We see others on the path sharing our journey. The loneliness abates. Other people’s ignorance is easier to bear. There are others who understand and whom we understand and this is a very good thing.
Okay, that is me that the last post spoke so lovingly of. It’s an odd anniversary. One year ago I tried to take my life. I took an overdose of valium. Then, I thought better of it, and called 911. I still feel shame over it. Because my son found out. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for allowing my darkness to enter his world. You see, I hid it successfully for over seventeen years. He was about five years old when I started having flashbacks and started feeling like I was losing my mind. I would hide in the bathroom and run my fingers up and down the lines on the wallpaper till the worst of the anxiety would pass. His favorite movies would play as I grappled with my sanity. Years of refusing medication because I thought to tough it out and get better faster. Till I didn’t. I grew worse and finally cried uncle and said “give me the pills”. The medication helped a great deal. I no longer felt as if I was holding on to my sanity by a thread. But, all along, I was working hard to improve my life. I got a divorce, went to college, got training and worked hard. Despite some hardships, I felt my life getting better. I felt that the bad times, and the decades of abuse, were behind me. Then, I met a kind man and we married and within a year he got a terminal illness and he died seven years later. And that is when I lost it. Lost the hope that I could have a decent life. I did manage to keep on keeping on for a time but then a dark day came and I took the pills. I am lucky that a part of me wasn’t ready to give in and dialed that phone.
I don’t have any words of wisdom. When you feel that bad — that you try to take your life — it seems you are beyond words. A darkness encompasses you and you just want to flee it. My medication was changed during my subsequent hospitalization. Perhaps, that is why I have not attempted suicide again. Or perhaps, I have found a glimmer of hope that my life could get better. It is ever so small this glimmer but for now it is enough.
“Faith is not a belief. Faith is what is left when your beliefs have all been blown to hell.”
~ Ram Dass
All who have survived trauma know well the feeling of the broken spirit. The loss of faith that comes with having your belief system ripped out from under you.
How can trauma survivors come to a place of restoring our faith? Our faith has been built over time as we live and construct in our minds the things we believe in. Trauma can shatter those beliefs in an instant.
In her amazing book, Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman, M.D. addresses the issue of faith. She states “(Traumatic events…) violate the victim’s faith in a natural or divine order and cast the victim into a state of existential crisis. “
In other words, we begin to question everything we have come to know.
I am my harshest critic. I have compassion for other people but have to work at having compassion for myself. One thing I do that seems to help is to imagine that I am a character in a book. I view my life page by page and begin to see someone that deserves empathy and shouldn’t be judged too harshly. Perhaps you too are hard on yourself. Try this exercise and imagine you are a fictional character. We all could use a little less judgement and a little more self-compassion.