A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely


on January 10, 2017

It’s mid January and my arms are not covered in scars of various shades…shame and guilt are not the cloaks I wear…I remember to breathe…and, I give a half smile…wondering if thinking I’ve won the battle is enough for ptsd or Murphy’s Law to pull the rug from under my feet.  But then, I look at the last 2.5 months…2.5 months that have, every year for the last 4 years, been a nightmare to live through…months where ptsd has a stronghold, where everything and nothing is enough to trigger flashbacks and nightmares, where my days and nights are a blur of the same, where hiding in a clothing rack when out has me realizing that there is nowhere I can hide where I’d feel safe…And, here I am.  I went into November with a panic…knowing what was coming next.  I coped ahead with my psychologist, I went to DBT each week, I met with my nutritionist and my psychiatric CNP, I was med compliant…and with each flash I was terrified and waiting for the other shoe to drop and be thrust back into 24/7 ptsd.  Yet, it didn’t.  I shook things up this year.


My best friend and I took a weekend getaway to Chicago in early November…and it’s what my soul needed…We laughed until our sides hurt and happy tears rolled down our cheeks, we were spontaneous and followed our body cues–without any worry that we’d offend the other-, when we were hungry-we ate, if we needed sleep-we slept, another cup of coffee–of course!, a restaurant without foods I could comfortably eat-we got up, left and found another restaurant that wouldn’t have me freaking.  I sat on the shores of Lake Michigan each morning, watching the sunrise over the waves…delighting in the beauty and feeling the cold…listening to the waves…it was the most mindful I think I’ve ever been…sitting solo on the beach…just being.  And, after arriving back at the airport and checking in for my flight, I snagged a ticket to Hamilton: Chicago–and, took the bump to another flight, bought my ticket and raced to the theatre to see an incredible show!  The weekend reminded me of who I am and why I want to live this life.  I came back determined to not lose that peace and sense of self…I remembered “me”…I’m not sure if I’ve ever received a gift so amazing. ❤


It is with that sense of me that I tackled November…not in one swoop, but in small moments and next.right.steps.  I even let go of all-or-nothing at times.  I tried to keep December simple…and did…with the grocery and monetary gifts from our church family going far to alleviate the financial stresses that this single mom on disability has.  I went into a neurosurg repair in late December and asked for support, accepted it…I’ve gratefully invited close friends into my fears and inappropriate hospital humor, eaten the meals that have been prepared…embraced my scar and the new-hair growth.  Step by step, moment by moment.  There were nightmares, although not every night…there were flashes and flashbacks, but not every day…and, I could reach out, choose to get a meal or snack in, use a skill (!?!…that’s actually working!?!)…instead of harm, restriction or other maladaptive choices that also “work” but only short term and with a haze of shame and guilt.  Have there been slips and slides?  Certainly.  I’ve been able to turn it around, though…and have been able to keep myself from falling off the cliff.


I’m remembering that healing is possible. ❤  Much love, my friends…keep on fighting…you can do this ❤


((Attached image is from watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan…the phrase “It is well with my soul” played over in my mind.))


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