I thought a lot about what I wrote over the past couple of days. The articles looking for an easy answer, the one about people oversimplifying problems, and my rant. I realize that every single abuse survivor walks around with a different set of scars and reactions to the World. I am making this list not to elicit a ‘poor me’ response. I am trying to illustrate how many different ways PTSD and the after effects of abuse disrupts my life.
I don’t recognize when someone is abusive….it feels ‘normal’ to me.
I don’t know who to trust and who I shouldn’t trust. Nice people are scary to me. One of my abusers used kindness to set me up for abuse. Pedophiles groom a child with kindness, gifts, or favors to accept their abuse.
I don’t comprehend small talk. Simple chatter can get me in trouble fast when my attitude is too cavalier for a conversation or my busy little mind connects with some horrific mind image that shoots me off into thoughts and feelings way out of proportion of small talk.
I struggle with appropriate boundaries at home, work, or church….doesn’t matter where I am, boundaries setting and maintaining are still difficult. As a child, I was not allowed boundaries. I am still working on it but it is a constant work in progress.
Insomnia is by far one of the worse parts. I rarely feel rested.
I struggle with self-care. Simple things like brushing my teeth, eating healthy foods, and generally taking care of myself come way down my list of things to do.
I avoid funerals because I occasionally feel jealous that they escaped this crazy planet or my attitude is “bye, see you later.” Both totally inappropriate reactions.
I struggle with focusing on mundane things like doing dishes. These gentle routines allows way too much mental down time and my brain waltzes into forbidden territories of my past. Keeping my mind totally focused on something keeps these stray thoughts buried.
I self-punish by not allowing myself to do things I enjoy. If I am happy, I look at my life and try to figure out what I am doing wrong.
My body will rudely remind me that triggers are a full body experience. Not just my mind getting a jolt but my entire system shuts down, increased hearing loss, trouble swallowing food, severe reactions may extend to not being able to talk or feel like I am suffocating with no evidence that I am. I experienced the sensation of my mind so caught up in the horrors of my childhood that my body is frozen unable to move or respond. Extreme dissociation can extend to my entire body.
Until counseling, I didn’t know what human rights I had. I didn’t know I had the right to tell somebody they can’t yell at me, call me names, or treat me badly. I didn’t comprehend that I can walk away from someone that hurts me.
Basically, I had no idea how to live. I am an ultimate survivor but don’t know how to thrive. I am learning. I am changing. I am creating boundaries and maintaining them. I am learning to thrive.
I write this blog, not to find sympathy, instead I want to pass on what I am learning about thriving. Hopefully, I am taking the experiences I learned and sharing so others know they are not alone on this journey and there is life after abuse. Today, I gathered grown children and their families and my sister and Dad for dinner. We had a wonderful evening. Joy exists and fills my heart. I know tough times return but the lovely day is mine to enjoy.