Sunday, November 16, 2014

Defining Weakness (very long)

I have written this post at least two dozen times. Each time, I wind up getting frustrated and confused and deleting everything. I have this inner battle going on of what I am okay with sharing and what I am not okay with sharing. I have only recently been able to say a few things out loud when I am by myself, so how on earth do I find the strength to say them when there are other ears/eyes in the room?

This post is for me. This is my attempt to be more honest and bold with myself. It is long and drawn out and probably doesn't make very much sense. I keep deleting what I write because I like my denial. Denial is comfy and keeps me from having to face things that have haunted me for years. In fact, where the five stages of grief are concerned (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) I  have managed to become complacent somewhere between denial and anger. I wobble back and forth between the two and it consumes me.

I have PTSD. My PTSD came back with a vengeance in August of this year. It never went away, it has been very much present in my life since I was 12 years old. PTSD symptoms flare in times of stress. Symptoms also can be triggered and the triggers are not the same for everyone. Mine range from smells to the timbre of someones voice. When Seth is home, I have a security blanket. I still have night terrors and flashbacks but I can come out of them quicker when he is here. My security blanket was ripped away from me and I had to face those night terrors alone. I couldn't talk to Seth about it so in every sense of the word I felt alone. The stress of him being gone and some additional stress made my triggers more easily tripped. The human brain is pretty amazing. If you go through something extremely traumatic, your brain can completely shut out certain events. That is what my brain did. I vividly remember the initial cause of my PTSD like it was yesterday. Yet, it is what happened a few weeks later that my brain decided to shut out. I had a flashback in August that caused the wall hiding that event to be broken down. For the past few months I have been getting bits and pieces of what happened. I cannot sleep. I haven't slept in weeks. I am dearly lucky if I get two hours of peaceful sleep a night. Everytime I close my eyes I have night mares and everything that I tried so hard to shut out comes flooding back, and I wake up so scared I can't scream and Seth isn't there to tell me its just a dream.

(this may be a bit graphic)

When I was 12, I was witness to a violent crime. I was on the phone talking to a friend the night her drunken father beat her four year old sister to death. The friend barely survived with having every single one of her ribs broken and her jaw shattered, among other injuries. We were talking casually on the phone when her father came into the house and for whatever reason, she begged me not to hang up so that someone would have proof. I called a number she had given me in case of emergency and that person (a neighbor) called 911. Her father found out that I had been on the phone (he knew I knew about her home life for a few weeks and had previously threatened me if I told anyone). As a result of him finding out I was on the phone that night, I was attacked a few months later. The situation was a lot more complicated but I am choosing to not put all those details on here because I don't think I need them to be.

I kept all of the above things a secret from everyone because I was so scared. I did not tell my parents what happened that night. I didn't tell any of my friends either. I lived with that heavy of a secret for months before being attacked. I kept the attack a secret also because I had to keep the previous thing a secret. I was also afraid of what my own father would do. He wasn't the nicest man. I bandaged my wounds and pretended like nothing ever happened.

Fast forward to a few years later... I went to see a counselor because I had horrid anxiety. My mom didn't know why I had anxiety issues or why I was behaving in the manner I was so she drug me in to see a counselor. It was only then that I was able to talk about what happened. I told the counselor about what happened to my friend and how I felt about it.  It wasn't until a few years after that, that I told someone I was actually on the phone when it happened. I heard everything. Fast forward again to this year. I had so effectively shut out being attacked that I kind of forgot about it. It wasn't until the wall was broken down that I fully remembered what happened. Seth has asked me for years where I got certain scars and I couldn't give him an answer because I didn't know. Now I know. The memories have come flooding back vividly. The flashbacks and the PTSD are crippling me because I am having to relive these things everytime I try to sleep. Seth is not home and I am left to try and manage things by myself. I can't tell him every detail over the phone because I need him here to hold me when I do. He needs to be here to hold me just as much as I need him to be.

I struggled for years feeling like I was weak. My anxiety turned my mind against me. I felt stupid, emotional and guilty. My family turned against me. My father and brother made sure to pick at my insecurities and let me know I was weak and stupid each and every day. I had no self confidence and spent each day trying to make it through the 24 hours. I met Seth when I was 16 and we started dating. It wasn't until then that I saw the dimmest of lights up ahead. He has helped me with so many things and I have overcome so much in the going on five years that we have been together. He knew about the initial cause of the PTSD but didn't know about the attack. He helped me see that I had no reason to feel guilty and encouraged me to push past the things that happened so many years ago.

I still struggle with these things although they did happen 8 years ago. I still have a wave of emotions that hits me when I wake up from a night terror. I may always have a few issues because the situation was pretty traumatic. What I am starting to realize though, and focus on, is the fact that I survived. I had so many words to describe myself for so long. None of those words were positive. I have an internal struggle between two sides going on right now and I am trying so hard to pull towards the positive side. As a 12/13 year old girl, I kept that big of a secret, I was attacked, bandaged my wounds and went about life effectively enough that noone knew anything had happened. While I thought I was so weak, I realize that I had to be pretty darn strong to do that. I have also realized recently that the man who attacked me was not successful in his intentions with the attack. I survived. I ended up doing pretty well for myself. I wound up with an amazing man who I met when I was only 16. We are married and looking at a bright future full of possibilities. When I feel weak because I am 20 years old and still have nightmares I can remind myself that I am in fact not weak. Many who were put in the same situation as mine crumbled. I am shakey and uncertain and sleep deprived but I know it will be okay. Seth is almost home and I can begin to heal.

If you read down this far I am impressed. I tried to make this shorter but theres so much more I could easily say. I have fought with myself for weeks to try and decide if I should write this or not. It is recommended that one share their trials as a way of healing. I think Im finally in the process of healing now. I am no longer in denial. I can say what happened. I am no longer as angry because I realize that I survived and I am thriving. I can skip the two other stages and go on to acceptance and healing. I hope this truly does help the healing process. Time will tell.

8 comments:

  1. First off Maddie, never apologize on the length of your posts. Long is ACTUALLY a good thing!

    Back in Feb. I started to have 'visions' of something that happen when I was a teen. I remember bits and pieces of that night, but these visions and flashes are different from what I remember. I, by the way am a LOT older than you, so this happened a VERY long time ago. I tried to talk to a couple of girlfriends about it, but as these flashes don't exactly make sense, I didn't press the issue when they didn't seem to understand my mumble about it. For several weeks I would wake from these flashes. To this day I am uncertain what is the real history of that night. So I can't compare the severity of it with your night terrors for so many reasons. BUT what I wanted to say was facing them and trying to figure it out did help.

    I think you are extremely brave to share with Seth all of yourself, especially since the first two main 'men' in your life were not the type of men a little girl needed. That is a HUGE step toward healing. Hopefully sharing with us, and writing for yourself, will further your healing process. Hopefully some of the weight of this will be removed and bit by bit you will continue to heal.

    I further hope the days until Seth comes home fly by.

    Thinking of you
    willie

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    1. Willie,
      Thank you so much. I was struggling after I posted this because I really wanted to delete it. Your comment made me decide not to.

      I completely understand how you feel about what you are calling 'visions' because my flashbacks usually start off as almost like strobe light style flashes that make no sense. It could be something like remembering I was wearing a certain t shirt and not knowing why I remember that shirt. I hope you find clarity, especially if yours are still bothering you. Nothing is worse than being freaked out and having no clue why.

      I am very lucky to have found Seth. He is my rock and I love him to death.

      Thank you for your kind words,
      Maddie

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  2. Maddie,

    I'm so sorry you had to go through that! Thanks for sharing and like you said when you write and get things out in the open it's a great healing tool. You are a strong woman and it really sucks that you have to deal with night terrors and all this stress. I will be praying for healing and an inner peace that passes all understanding.

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    1. Thank you Paige.
      Prayers are always greatly appreciated.

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  3. Hi Maddie,
    I am new to your blog, a mutual friend pointed me your way because she knew that I went through some abuse as a child and in my teens that I am still working though & it causes me to shut down at times & feel weak as well-but I have learned that surviving and learning to protect yourself when there is no one else to do that is not weak at all. Letting another person in like you have with Seth is also a sign of strength. What you went through was terrible & no child should ever have to go through something like that, your friend and her sister shouldn't have either. I am also sorry that you did not have your family to protect you & support you like they should have, that is an awful feeling also. The fact that you are sharing your experience & fears shows not only strength, but growth as well-you are moving forward & not letting these awful traumas define you & hold you back-so you should feel proud of yourself & the progress you have made!
    I will be sending healing prayers your way.
    Love,
    Scarlet ; )

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    1. Scarlet,
      First off welcome to my blog. Secondly thank you so much for your kind words. Any form of abuse or trauma is terrible but i do think we have a unique and special outlook on life that others may not have. I wish you well in your own healing and will be sending prayers back your way.

      Maddie

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  4. PTSD is no joke, and it doesn't make you weak. The flashbacks and night terrors can be debilitating, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. There are people who understand. I've been there. There are bits and pieces that I still don't remember, and frankly I don't want to. There is nothing wrong with that. Do what you need to do to feel safe, and anybody that has a problem with whatever that is can take a hike. Don't beat yourself up for those moments. Remember that they are just that... moments. PTSD is just one thing. It doesn't define who you are. I know that is easier said than done, but it's the truth. The only thing you can do is lean on those who love you and work through it. You are in my thoughts.

    TL

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    1. TL
      Wow this is a great pep talk so to speak. And you are spot on. PTSD sucks but I am stronger than I was in the beginning.

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