I’ve experienced many PTSD episodes related to smells. I have not ever experienced an episode due to a physical interaction.
If I smell certain smells that remind me of the men that abused me then I have a predicatable response. I dissociate. I become a robot. I will have manic thoughts, manic actions. It takes time to come back. Someone can help me to come back. On occasion if I can catch it, I will practice the coping/therapy skills of staying present by focusing on an object. The other predictable response is to freeze. I am paralyzed. I have not one thought. I am simply gone. I have left my body and I can see myself there but I cannot speak. I cannot move. I’ve experience both of these PTSD symptoms often.
But something new happened. Something different. This was in a physical interaction. I immediately went back to the actual event. But I don’t even remember the event happening. I was just a child. I felt JUST like a child. I felt small. I felt afraid. I felt helpless. I looked at my own arm and I didn’t recognize it. I looked at the person I was with and I didn’t recognize him. I was not there. I was transported to an event I do not even recall. I could not come back. I thought I was lost forever. I felt like I had lost my sense of self. I didn’t know who I was or where I was. I barely remember the rest of the day.
I’ve been in trauma therapy for…I’m not sure how long now…6 months maybe? There are so many layers of trauma. PTSD is not a simple diagnosis with a simple cause. Learning how to cope takes time. This new event will need more work. It is hard to work when I am so tired. But I will.
This week has been hard for me. I am suffering.
I worry PTSD will kill me.
I worry the past traumas will take me to the brink and that one person will push me right over.
This week felt like that week.
Therapy put things in perspective for me. My therapist helped me to put those who have hurt me where they belong. They cannot and should not have that kind of power over me. So I put them all in my hand and dumped them. Dumped their actions and their words. As soon as I did that, they lost power. As it should be. She helped bring back my power. She brought me back to me.
I asked, I wonder if the family member who hurt me after knowing exactly what my current situation is knows the harm she caused. Will they ever stop? No they won’t. My family is so wrapped up in their family secrets and me speaking even a fraction of them has made me the enemy. One day, I don’t know when that will be, maybe not even until heaven, they will see that I am not, nor was ever the enemy. The abusers are. Only the abusers. No she does not care that she hurt me. None of my family does. They would have to be able to really see to put the blame on those who deserve the blame. But they still don’t know all of the truth. They are so scared of what I wil reveal. The secrets I have revealed are directly related to me and have impacted me. Their secrets are their own to face. I can only pray they stop penetrating the protective wall I am trying to build. I more pray that I stop allowing them to make me feel worthless and as if I would be better off dead. They push me to wishing I were dead. Every time. Each one of them. If they only knew the secrets that I withheld to protect their hearts. If they only saw in me what everyone else does. Only my family members see me as the villain. And they have had more weight than those who see me as the loving being that I am. I’ve given them to weight. I’ve given them too much power over me.
So things needed to be put in perspective. The PTSD is not going away and I cannot have one family member penetrate the protective barrier and push me over the edge again.
So my therapist helped me. My husband helped me. My friends helped me. Those who really know and love me put everything in perspective.
A kind neighbor’s compliment put things in perspective.
Another kind neighbor brought me a gift today, putting things in better perspective.
I went on a 2 hour walk with my husband and we looked at the birds, the sky, and talked like we had not a care in the world. Love can put things in perspective.
Those bad memories are there. Those bad people who slip through the cracks of my barrier and try to stomp out my will, do appear. This world is full of triggers, narcissists, hateful people who have no idea that their words could be my breaking point. This world is also full of compassionate people who have no idea that their actions have saved me.
I am thankful that the scales have shifted from the bad weighing me down to the good lifting me up. Thank God I have a husband who reminds me that I am not small, I am not worthless, I am not the words that have been said to me or the way those words made me feel by my family and by the men who have abused me. He reminds me that I matter and that I am loved and that I am more than I could ever imagine I can be. I watched the owls with him today. And the owls watched us. For those moments I wasn’t the girl that had been raped. I wasn’t the child that had been molested. I wasn’t the adult dealing with PTSD. I wasn’t that member of the family that was wrongly attacked. I wasn’t the woman who had a flashback earlier. I was with my husband out under God’s great sky. I was just a woman, a wife, a mother, living in the moment of good. God knows my heart. He knows the things I have done for others for no one to see but God and that other person. God knows. All of the people in the nursing home that I helped. All the animals I saved. God knows my heart that I have given unconditionally. Those who cannot see into my heart can no longer take up space in my brain nor can they have the power to make me feel like my life does not matter.
PTSD is excruciating and life altering. I have no control over that. I do have control over who I allow into my life. People can be dangerous. Especially those who know I am fighting for my life here while fighting for my daughters as well and are willing to stab me in the back anyway. Keep your eyes open. Put up your boundaries and barriers. If you are fighting PTSD you don’t need to be fighting insensitive people too.
I can’t say , “be strong,” because you may not feel you can be. I can say, “find your owl.” Right now, all I can do is hold my husband’s hand, pray for guidance and protection and healing, and look into the eyes of my owl. We can only do what we can do! Right now, that’s all I can do.