Growing up as I did, surrounded by religious fundamentalism and extreme, chronic physical abuse, I felt as though every physical or emotional ailment I had was because of a mental or moral failing. What I mean is that when I was sick I was told it was because of hidden sin, and if I looked deep enough in me I would find what needed to be confessed. This worked and really stimulated the hyper-vigilance aspect of the PTSD that I now suffer from.
This symptom of my physical abuse has manifested in my adult life, I see all of the results of how I grew up. And I feel that I should be able to get over it, that if I can only be morally or mentally stronger then I can find my way through the effects of my abuse. But the more I try to muscle through, the more I am unable to get past it.
What is terrifying to me, is that the thing that seems to be working is compassion. Compassion is scary, I feel that if I am kind to myself and allow myself to seek and accept the healing that I need that I am giving into it. I have been trying to muscle through the pain for so long, and now I find that my struggle is in letting go and seeing it for what it is. It is a perfectly normal reaction to a situation that was abnormal, abusive and unhealthy. I can’t force myself to get over it. What I can do is accept that in this time in my life I have the time to heal. And that I need to take it.
Last week, I had an example of this. I was fine, I was doing ok. And then I heard yelling and the banging of someone’s hand on a desk. It terrified me, and I suffered auditory flashbacks (also a symptom of PTSD) and all of a sudden I was a little girl again and there was a very large oak rod about to swing into me. I spent the next 72 hours with insomnia, flashbacks, panic attacks, nausea and I almost fainted again.
Yes, I was a victim of abuse for a very long time. Yes, I am a survivor. But my path now is to walk through those stories and those pains so that I can heal on a deeper level and work through the PTSD that can debilitate me at any time. And for me so far the key to that is a huge helping of compassion.
I am doing a lot of this work on my blog, because I know that I am far from alone in my past, my pain and my path toward healing. I feel like abuse is a cycle and that there is an expectation of shame and silence that hushes sufferers. I feel that abuse is a much bigger and more common problem that we talk about and silence about it just encourages the cycle. And so I am starting to speak out about my past and my recovery. I don’t want pity, I want healing. And I want to hear from you how you have healed.
Especially other PTSD sufferers.