Therapy Journey Chapter Two: PTSD
Let me apologize to anyone who has been wanting to hear more about therapy. I was hoping to present a fictional story that was rich in symbolism, but I couldn’t find the words for the ghost story and haunting of the main character. There is something that has haunted me for a long time, and I didn’t feel strong enough to write about my therapy journey. That has changed.
What started as a journey into my future has become a trip into my past.
What started with a simple workbook exercise to deal with unpleasant social situations, led to another assessment. I was diagnosed with PTSD. PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, takes many forms. Symptoms can be anything from anxiety, sleep deprivation, and depression to unexplained fear and anger.
Learning to cope with this new information has been a struggle. I will not be disclosing the issue that brought this on because, unlike the person who caused me this pain, I don’t want to create more unnecessary suffering to the family of this person. My own family doesn’t deserve that heartache either.
Forgiveness is hard. At first, I thought I would simply have to forgive the person who damaged my soul, but it is so much more than that.
When a person suffers a blow that leaves them with a lasting scar on their very soul, it is shattering. You become a different person. Over a decade later, I still have so many questions. So, I carry a great deal of guilt. I have to forgive myself for becoming a different person and for hurting people as a result of the anger and bitterness I felt. I became very cruel to the people I love, I became very distant to the people who tried to reach out to me, and I intentionally sabotaged many relationships, romantic and otherwise, because on a subconscious level I didn’t want to get hurt.
I have to forgive myself because sometimes I’m still angry. It has been crazy delving into this therapy to try to get me to a better place. I’ve been having nightmares I thought had been buried down so deep that they were gone forever. Sometimes, when I wake up at night, I find myself scared to be alone. I’m still afraid. I hate to admit it. I still feel like a scared teenage girl in those moments. I feel like I’m being left alone in a dark room to cry, and no one cares.
I spend my days reading about people who changed the world and overcame their pain because I need to hear that I’m not alone, and even though our struggles might be different, I need to hear from someone else out there it is going to be okay.
I genuinely believe I’m sitting here telling you this because I feel less alone than I ever have, not just because of counseling. Because of beautiful friends, family, and coworkers who help me feel stronger. I know that the nightmares will only stop if I follow through with treatment.
I have moments where I feel like my whole life is a lie. I have dedicated much of my time to understanding people in the world who hurt people. My bookshelves at home are filled with stories of serial killers and mass murderers—people who’ve turned other people’s lives upside down. People who have destroyed other human beings for reasons no one can truly understand. It’s hard for me to know why I harbor so much ill-will towards the person who tried to ruin me, yet I spend the rest of my time trying to figure out why people do these things to others. I often look at people who the rest of the world sees as villains, and I tried to understand compassion. Preaching compassion and understanding, and then harboring so much hate towards another person, is something that I still have trouble comprehending.
It hurts so much knowing that this person has taken away so much of my life. I’ve had a tough time with relationships and physical intimacy. I don’t know quite how to frame this because I’m dancing around details that might give some insight into who this person is and what happened, and I don’t want to give this person any more power over me. Over the years, I felt like I don’t deserve love, and I took any relationship that came my way while hating those people every second I was near them. I have been abused in multiple ways by individuals after this incident. Toxic relationships are a common occurrence for survivors.
I genuinely believe that I kept entering toxic and harmful relationships because I felt like I didn’t deserve better. I’m almost 30, and I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I’m lovable.
It hurts because this has caused such a rift within my family. So, they don’t even understand the cause. I opened up one time, and I was called a liar not only by my own family but by professionals who should have given me proper mental health care, so that I didn’t have to go through this for so long. This one event has ruined so much of my life because when someone continually calls you a liar or tells you how bad of a human being you are, not only do you start to believe it, but you start to act on it. I can’t seem to understand how my family let this go for so long. I genuinely don’t know how you can look at someone who’s crying themselves to sleep at night and not try to reach out. I think my mom tried to reach out, but she was scared. My mother’s fear and worry for her child came across as being cold and distant. Being young and impressionable, I didn’t understand and thought she was rejecting me. I didn’t feel safe reaching out to my mom because I thought she was judging me for my feelings. I had trouble reaching out to professionals, feeling that I was going to be judged by people at school or my family at home. Also, I eventually shut down these painful memories all together as an adult. I now know that she was distraught for me and that, frequently, her fear for people she loves comes across as anger or judgment. I have forgiven my mother because I understand her emotions. I have to find a way to feel comfortable opening up to her again.
The logical part of me understands this, but, at the same time, I have so many questions for my family and my mother, in particular. I don’t know where her mindset is when it comes to our relationship. She doesn’t understand how damaged my mind and soul have become, and it’s hard to tell her because I don’t know if she’s going to be receptive. I have so much pain stored away. It’s manifested into anger and disappointment with myself.
I always feel like I’m never good enough. In 2016, I got together with a guy that I knew from high school, and I was totally unable to reciprocate his affections. He was one of those people that came on a little too strong. He wasn’t mean or aggressive, it was just a little too much. He was a little too touchy-feely, and I took that as something predatory. We have not spoken for quite a while. We’ve talked recently since I started speaking out. He still sees me as the villain because he doesn’t understand what he did wrong and sees it as he actually took the time to spend thousands of dollars on a plane ticket to fly cross-country to see me and spend time with me, and I just wouldn’t give him the time of day. I completely understand why he sees me as the villain in the situation. I have apologized to him and let him know that it wasn’t something I did on purpose, and that I wasn’t able to feel safe with him due to my struggle.
I feel such a relief even saying this to my computer screen. However, I know that, at some point, I’m going to be alone and scared again. I’m going to lay awake at night, thinking about all of this. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve slept well in years. I tried easing the pain away with alcohol, food, and unfortunately self-harm. However, if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize it’s that I can’t run from it anymore. There’s someone out there who needs to hear this, and I’m doing this for that person. So, whoever needs to hear this, you are loved, you are valued, you are not one single event in your life. And the more you push it away because it hurts, the more your mind’s going to fight against you. Please reach out.
If you or someone you know is struggling help is available.