The original title for the workbook I am doing was going to be Slogging through PTSD, which I believe is far more accurate than most people want to admit. One of the stories it asked you to imagine you are in a bog, up to your hips in ooze, and as the day heats up you realize it is tar, black sticky tar. Then the writer tells you about this heavy backpack you carry with all sorts of tools to help on the way. I wasn’t issued a backpack. I had a sack of rocks. My counselor yelled from shore and persuaded me to give up my rocks and he would toss me other stuff that was more useful. The rocks he wanted me to give up were shame, guilt, and predefined views of myself. The views my abusers handed to me ‘you’re stupid,’ ‘you’re bad,’ ‘you go hungry because someone else gets your food for seconds,’ ‘you’re fat anyway,’ and the list went on and on of the negative messages dumped in my sack. I was afraid to give up those rocks and hung on to a few of them because I carried them for so long, how could I give up my precious rocks. My counselor worked hard at helping me see those rocks were junk dumped on me by hateful abusers. I argued, “How can they be my abusers they were adults? They knew better than I did?” The horror I felt when I finally understood I was dragging around a pack of lies fed to me both accidentally and maliciously to destroy me. What had I done that was so horrible that they would throw me into this bog and give me a bag of these awful rocks to weigh me done? Nothing, I had done nothing to deserve how I was treated. My counselor tossed me a pair of binoculars so I could see past this tar bog to the other side that had green meadows next to flowing rivers with beautiful waterfalls. A hope that I knew existed but didn’t know how to use. He tossed me boundaries to help keep out intruders. I was called mean and unreasonable for putting up the boundaries but I noticed the way became easier going by using boundaries to move forward. He shared with me how to use grounding. Learning about living in now, not the past. Look around you now, what do you see? Who are you now? What do you want? I was afraid of what do you want because my abusers used that to torment me, “Want it? You can’t have it? Or there is a painful hook in what you are getting?” My counselor convinced me not everyone is throwing hooks at me. He cajoled, encouraged, nagged, argued, and pissed me off trying to keep me slogging through the bog. He warned me the journey is long but so worth it. He stripped away my numbness that protected me and bound me at the same time. He let me see the massive array of emotions available for me to feel. I was bewildered, frightened, but exhilarated by this relentless march forward out of a morass of pain and suffering. I am not offering an easy button to fellow travelers through PTSD. I am saying that there is a way through but it is hard work and requires giving up long held beliefs. Recovery looks different for every person. Some people are afraid to leave the bog…it is the only home they know. This workbook I am reading is challenging because the assumptions he makes I realize he is writing to a person that is far healthier than I was. Fortunately, my counselor, unlike the author, understood exactly where I was at and knew what I needed to do to move forward. I can still get sucked down by the black sticky tar of PTSD. I am getting better at pulling myself back up to living the life I should have had from the beginning.
A view of a tar bog http://www.geulogy.com/guanoco_lake_bermudezlake_pitchlake_largo_la_brea_venezuela.html