Click here or on the pic above to go to my Patreon account and check out the new video! It’s about 10 minutes. More to come as I get more videos edited. I posted a new vlog this week. I’ve been filming nearly every day to track my progress through my healing journey. Becoming a Patron starts at just $3. I’m still working out how I’m going to be expanding my Patreon. I would love the feedback if you would like to share. Thank you!
TW: colorful language, tears, my voice shakes. Although this audio does not describe abuse it still may be triggering for other survivors. Please take care of yourself. If this is too triggering for you then please do not listen and shut it off immediately and do something kind and practice selfcare. Come back to it another time or never at all. Your well being is important. Thank you for reading and for listing.
New Sarah Garlits audio diary entry. I tell the story of when I happened upon the man who abused me as a child. I didn’t run. Find out what happened in my survivor Storytime.
I will be adding a transcript of my audio files in the near future to make them more accessible for everyone.
I’ve been being more active on my Patreon account. I’ve been getting support there for a couple years now. Thank you to my supporters! I’m finally feeling up to being able to consistently update it. My blog here too. I’m trying not to overwhelm myself so I’ll be taking things slow. I did update the goals on Patreon and I’m thinking about adding a live stream goal. I have been working my bills around to lower than and in the process I was able to pay over $100 less per month and upgrade my internet! Streaming will be no problem now!
My latest 3 posts are my abuse survivor video diary. I had to split it into 3 pasts due to space limitations on Patreon but I was able to get it posted. Check it out there and support me sharing my Complex PTSD healing journey by becoming a patron. I’ll be posting a short teaser video soon. Can you also do me a favor and comment below with what you would enjoy as a patron? Educational vids like stress management courses? More vlogs? Audio versions of my blog posts? Art sent to you each month? Monthly live streams? What would help you to help me? For the price of a couple cups of coffee, what would you like to see in return? I would love to hear your ideas with a comment or use the contact page. Telling me an idea doesn’t lock you into making a pledge. It’s just helpful.
If you are already a Patron, thank you so much! You are helping to get me through a rough time in my life. I’d love to hear from you too. What would help you to stay my patron? Reaction videos, silly weekly selfies? A few of you mentioned you would like to have some of the art I’ve made. The artwork REALLY helps me too so I’m totally for it. I also have a kiln now so I can do ceramic pieces and glass art. Tell me your thoughts. Are there certain topics you would like me to cover? Please leave a comment below You can message me on the contact page if that’s more comfortable for you.
If you are against the whole Patreon, no hate, you can support my blog and videos directly here: paypal.me/2chicksLV
Again thank you for the support and for the ideas on how to improve my Patreon and blog. 🙂
A letter to Myself. I have written many of these over the years. The post pic of some of those letters. It scares me sometimes because all the selves in my start talking at once in my head. It scared me that I was all these selves before. I’m really trying to accept this about myself and love myself. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE! So, here’s a love letter:
Take me with you when you need strength. Know that someone loves you and hold a safe place for you to be yourself. Your playful, tearful self. Take me with you when you need me. Most importantly take yourself with you and all of us stand behind you that believe in you. You can do this. You are doing this. You have survived every single day no matter what the world threw at you. It’s ok to be hesitant in receiving help, just keep going! Day by day, step by step, and layer by later you are making a life for yourself that you get to live for yourself. It’s yours! The abuse may have held you back but you are bursting out now.
Take all your friends and loved ones with you through everything. Let them stand behind you and be your foundation along with your own love for yourself. When someone walks over your boundary, ask yourself, “What would Mom, Jeff, John, the support group, patrons, and your twitter friends tell you if you told them about this?” What would you tell them if this happened to them? You don’t deserve to be treated badly EVER! Everyone that cares about you wants you to have healthy boundaries and not go over them or hurt you. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries after you state them or make an effort to do better, have a block party and dance about your freedom from another asshole! You don’t have to give them a chance either. You can do what you like. You don’t owe anyone attention, friendship, or whatever. Even if they give you things or money. You don’t have to play tit for tat.
Allow yourself to have more fun and be your silly self. That’s the good shit and you deserve more of that. Years of not letting yourself unfurl are over. Go as slow as you are comfortable. Extend your wings and let yourself be whoever you are that day. Remember that you aren’t changing, you are remembering. This is all still you. You will grow but you are always still you. No need to fear that. The core of you is good and loving. That really small voice, the real you, doesn’t think you suck. It loves your very much. I love you very much. All of me loves all of the you’s. Even if we never integrate into a whole self you are wonderful just like this. Just think, you most likely will grow and be even better because I know you. You won’t just stop here. You will go get ALL THE THINGS you want because that’s who you are.
That voice telling you all those cruel things that the abusers did is wrong and stupid. The abusers were stupid to do what they did. They could have had so much but they had to be abusers. They didn’t pick you because you were weak. They picked you because you are full of life and love. They wanted to eat your life force. They will live on having their miserable lives. They aren’t happy people even when they get what they want. You, however, will grow into a more loving giving person or rather wake up those parts you had to hide away to protect them. You get to have love and happiness in your life and you are already finding loving people!
It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be scary, but you can do this. I believe in you. Your loved ones believe in you. You don’t have to fight this alone anymore. If and when you doubt yourself ask your loved ones and they will tell you that you can do this. They have your back and so do I, all of the parts. The goal is to have a better life and be yourself, whatever that is! You will have it too because that’s what you do. You do the damn thing! Keep going!
New PTSD video Diary Teaser
You can watch the full pt 1 vlog on my Patreon
Part 2 posts later this week. 🙂
Where else can you find me?
Support my art, writings, survivor blog, youtube channel and more here:
http://www.twitter.com/SarahGarlits –I’m most active and interactive here
http://www.youtube.com/SarahGarlits – My channel
Blog and contact me:
Link to information found in this video:
I am not affiliated with this company but wanted to pass the info along to other survivors. Great information and they have helped me a lot!
CPTSD Foundation Live daily support calls and free resources: https://cptsdfoundation.org/
Traima Recovery Uniniversity Youtube Channel:
I first broke my silence about the sexual abuse when I was 10 years old right after I had a flashback during a school assembly about child sexual abuse. The abuse started at 3 years old(I think, I could have been younger) Telling is transformative. I feel like I am no longer keeping the abusers/rapists secrets. I don’t feel shame because I didn’t do anything wrong to cause it. The more I break my silence about the sexual abuse I suffered the more I feel free. I felt like no one could use these secrets against me anymore. Sometimes it does feel like I’ve said too much and I feel unsure about myself. Not everyone feels good after disclosing. It can mean reliving the events all over again and it can be painful. With practice of speaking my truth this feeling of fear that comes along with talking about it has lessened. That old fear creeps in because I was conditioned to believe my family would die if I told. I was made to protect them by enduring the abuse. I am not going to protect the abusers any longer.
There are many ways to tell your story than speaking. The event could have been so traumatic that your mind could have separated the feelings, images, and sensations, only giving you little bits at a time. You may not be able to tell what happened from beginning to end because you might not have the whole story yet or the language to express what happened. If you were abused before you had the language to express it in words you do have other options. Artwork, dance, music, and other forms of expression can help you tell your communicate with symbols and imagery. I use artwork a lot to express myself through dancing, drawing, painting and sculpture.
Telling a safe person that validates you and cares for you can begin the process of change needed to heal. The act of voicing sexual abuse is powerful and can move you through the isolation of secrecy. Telling can lead building a support network and community of strong survivors like yourself. Your decision to disclose is yours and yours alone. Do not feel pressured to disclose if you are not ready. In my experience I never really felt ready and it always feel awkward but also freeing. I felt I had to heal or die. I chose to live and stop protecting the abusers but I don’t want to hurt others with my pain. It’s a confusing experience for me. A safe person might be your family, a friend, a therapist, or support group.
If you become very triggered and distressed you might want to focus on building your self care skills/self soothing and experiment with the other methods to express yourself first. Writing down what happened in a journal or blog can help to get it out of your head and onto a page. The first person silence you break is to yourself. This can lead to you being more ready to talk about it. Be gentle with yourself and remember that you don’t have to rush. In fact the harder you push the more disruptive it can be. Go as slow as you need too. You don’t need to meet any expectations, including your own, in this expressive discovery process.
Listening to the truth of a survivor is an honor. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, be prepared for a possible negative response. If the person you tell was also abused their own defenses by get triggered. Some people may not believe you at first or react in a hostile way. They may be crass and extremely insensitive. I would like to offer my ear to any fellow survivor that wishes to disclose. I am here for you. Email me, leave a comment (ask not to publish it if you wish, it is your choice), leave feedback, DM me on twitter. You can be completely anonymous. I am not going to ridicule you or tell other people what you tell me. Many of my friends and family have disclosed to me and I see it as the real honor that it is. I am a vault unless you give me permission otherwise. I want to support ALL survivors: Men, women, transgender, and non-binary. All genders, all races, all of us. We all deserve to heal. I would also like to share the hashtag #SurvivorCulture on twitter. This group of brave individuals does not discriminate. If you have felt like you don’t feel a sense of belonging in the #MeToo movement or told otherwise check out: https://twitter.com/survivorculture You can also contact Rainn.org or call 800.656.HOPE (4673)
If you are an ally/supporter of survivors and someone discloses to you, please listen. Believe the survivor. Talking about our pain and experience of abuse is so difficult. Offer support and affirming language not advice. The listening part is healing. Please do so with an open mind and not a judgmental one. Don’t go into fix it mode. Offer resources that can help them. More information for talking to survivors of sexual assault can be found here: https://www.rainn.org/articles/tips-talking-survivors-sexual-assault
If you are in crisis please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for chat support or call 800.273.TALK (8255)
It really happened to me. The memories, flashbacks, and nightmares are real. For so long I couldn’t say the words. Now I know that I survived child sexual abuse, attempted murder, partner rape, bullying, attempted suicide, domestic violence, stalking, and more. Denial that these things happened to me served me in some ways to try to move forward in my life…until I couldn’t move anymore. There was no more forward. I had no choice but to start healing myself because continuing to hate myself and not believe my own memory was killing me. I had to stop making excuses and confront what I did not want to deal with. I didn’t want to remember or have to pause my life to heal. The rose colored glasses have been shattered much like my mind.
My brain separated the functioning part of myself from the abuse but it was always there. There were symptoms even though I couldn’t remember for years. I wanted to believe it didn’t happen. I wanted to believe it was just a dream, just weird thoughts, just not me. It matters. I matter. What happened to me matters. The fact that the rapists walk free matter while I continue to suffer. I am not disposable and no survivor is. It happened and I believe myself. I trust myself. I wasn’t ready for years to admit it but it’s my truth.
If you are struggling with this please know that it is ok to be where you are. Believing and getting through the denial takes time. According to the The Courage to Heal book believing doesn’t happen all at once. Be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to force yourself or push yourself to accept it all at once. Healing is a gradual, grueling, nonlinear process. Don’t let anyone else rush you either.
I would love for this process to be faster. The more I push the more disruption happens. Learning to give myself time and to believe each new memory as it arises is also something I’m having to gradually learn. It is easier to fall into the old ways of coping but the more I choose to love and accept myself and my memories the easier it is getting to get through another day.
Remembering is another stage in the healing process. When I was 10 years old memories of child sexual abuse that I suffered came back to me during a class assembly. Right there in front of everyone, the memories came crashing in. It roared in my ear and black came in around my peripheral vision. I felt like I was being sucked into the back of my head and everything was going black. I started to fight it but it was no use. All the sudden I was 3 years old and very confused, in immense burning pain, couldn’t move.I saw the abuser. I’m not sure when I came back to the present as remembering that traumatic event was also traumatic. I ran out of the room crying. It was like a horror movie except it was my life. My life wasn’t what I thought it was. I don’t have much memory of the next few months but I went into therapy as did my family.
I’m still remembering traumatic events all these years later that I repressed and I’m now 38 years old. Survivors can remember at any age and there are seniors in their 80’s and 90’s just now remembering traumatic events that happened to them in their childhoods. Now it effects me much like it when I was 10 but I am better able to handle it because I usually know what is going on. Do you remember that scene in The Bourne Identity where Jason Bourne remembers some repressed memories due to the government experiments? He grabs a table to steady himself and almost falls over. It’s pretty close to that for me. I usually have to get to a safe state of being like sitting down. I can get dizzy and fall. It’s like I’m not even in my body, I’m certainly not in the present.
There are times when I can feel a memory on it’s way, like impending doom. When this happens I get to a place that I will be safe.I let myself feel as much as I can. I employ selfcare and grounding techniques that I mentioned in the last post. Every step is important but I just started learning how to let myself rest. Remembering is painful and exhausting. There is no way I can just go back to whatever I was doing. I need time to process and rest. When I’m ready I write about it, create some art, and talking about it when I’m ready can help too.
Remembering is a unique experience for every survivor. Some survivors remember what happened, others don’t, some of us get pieces or just feelings. I have traumatic amnesia around many events. There are also body memories, emotional flashbacks, and my memory seems to change. I can remember different parts of my life at different times. Sometimes I can’t remember anything and I just exist in this body, dissociating to the point of depersonalization. Some survivors remember the event but not the feelings that went along with it. The healing process can bring out more memories as well as life events and stress. Something can trigger a memory like a life event such as getting married, having a child, breaking an addition. A retraumatization can also bring the memories back.
The emergency stage is very disruptive. Memories and long repressed emotions bubble to the surface. Sexual abuse was all I could think about. I had no escape from it. I felt like I had lost my mind. I couldn’t sleep, wasn’t eating well, and wanted to run or hide. The feelings are overwhelming and this is when I started to feel even more suicidal. It felt like it was consuming me from the inside out and I was out of control.
New memories that had been locked away came forward. I had nightmares at night and flashbacks during the day. I wasn’t even able to escape into my head with dissociation like I used to. I got myself into therapy and talking to someone really helped me get through a lot of it. As I said in my last blog post that I felt like I finally got past this emergency stage. It still feels this way sometimes and I’m learning to cope better. I still use therapy on and off but what has helped the most is support from my family, friends and online community of survivors. I found forums like http://www.myptsd.com where I read about what other people were experiencing. That helped me not feel so crazy.
During this time I had almost constant anxiety along with anxiety attacks. It has taken me 4 years to figure out how to help myself. There are a ton of parts to healing so one 1 thing really doesn’t work it for me. It takes an arsenal but I am finally in a better place and the techniques I have learned are paying off. I still have a lot of anxiety but I’m better. The attacks don’t last as long and I don’t feel like I’m going to die when they happen. I am less scared. My body freaks out but I am able to talk myself down, breathe, and employ more things that get me through it.
If you are in the emergency stage please know that you are not going crazy. Find someone to talk to so that you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are some great communities out there on the web, forums, twitter chats, survivor communities online. Talk to your doctor about medications, if necessary There are also therapists trained in trauma recovery and group therapy you can attend.Talking to a therapist and reading about the stages helped me realize that this would pass. It will pass for you too. Another thing that helped me was to have a plan for when I was feeling desperate. That desperation for relief led me to feel suicidal. I just wanted the pain to stop. I didn’t really want to die but at times it felt like my only option.
Here is my Safety Plan to help me cope and de-escalate my suicidal ideation:
1. Deep breathing. I use a 1-2-3 method- 1 deep breath, hold to 2 counts, blow out for 3 counts, repeat, slower each time.
2. Focus on the people who love me and how we feel about each other.
3. Call my Mom-text my older brother-text my friend-talk with my online friends
4. Call a crisis line-
National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Rainn Nation Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
5. Go stay with my Mom
6. Contact therapist – make an appointment
7. Go to hospital.
You list might look a lot different from this and that’s ok. Do what works for you. You aren’t doing it wrong, just keep trying. Remember that what works can change. For me, some things work some of the time.
Grounding techniques are also very effective to help keep me in the present and not feeling lost in the flashback or memory. The mind is powerful and a flashback can have you feeling like you are being hurt all over again. These can also help if you are disassociating to stay more present. Try these out and see what works for you:
Employ your 5 senses- Touch, sight, sound, smell, taste
Touch: I like using a cold wet wash cloth. I hold it in my hands, feel the temperature, rub my arms and legs down, the back of my neck, my face. I also have some really soft blankets that I love the feel of. I have a rug in my bedroom that is fake fur and I go sink my toes in it. Wiggle your toes right now and notice the feeling of what your feet are touching. Turn on a fan and feel the air movement. I also go find my dogs and hold them, pet them, talk to them, They are always down for cuddles.
Sight: Notice what is around you, say it out loud, describe things. Art therapy can be very helpful to express yourself and shift your focus.
Sound: Play your favorite music, clap you hands, speak out loud
Smell: I use essential oils for anxiety like: Eucalyptus, lemon, orange, lavender. I also like rose and have rose hand lotion that works with a few senses because it feels good and smells good.
Taste: Eat something and notice the texture, how it tastes- is it sweet, sour, cold, hot? I love making tea and the whole process can be relaxing for me.
Change your state: sit if you are standing, stand if you are sitting. Put you arms in the air. Get up and dance a little or walk around. Stretch. Go outside and inhale some fresh air.
This is a pretty big list but doesn’t cover all the things to try. I don’t mean to throw a big list of stuff at you but it takes a lot of trying to figure out what is going to help you. If none of this works, try other things. Search for grounding techniques and you will find even more things to try. You are unique so what helps me might not work for you. Like I can’t do yoga yet due to it body memories. That’s why I don’t like it. This process also takes practice. Eventually I was able to practice mindfulness more throughout the day and it has helped me to stay more present instead of drifting off into my head. I found that drifting off and dissociating was making my flashbacks and memories worse. Once I got more of a handle on staying present I was able to better cope with many of the symptoms of my complex PTSD. Be gentle and patient with yourself. This is not easy at first because you are creating a new pattern of behavior. It literally takes practice for your mind to create the new pathways and go-to actions that will eventually become second nature. It does get easier the more you practice. These techniques can be helpful in other stages of healing and with stress management in general.
There are many stages of healing that a survivor of sexual abuse goes through. Not only do we go through these stages but we go through them over and over again, each time getting more integration. There is no real order to them and many times I have felt stuck in one stage or another. I desperately wanted to feel better and “get over it” as they told me I should have already have done. I now know that a complete resolution may not be possible for me but that doesn’t make healing any less valid for me. I can feel better and I have proven that. I will continue to improve even when it feels like I’m taking a couple steps backward. It’s all part of the journey. According to the book: The Courage to heal, there are 13 stages. I have experienced them all and still go through them over and over again.
The 13 stages are:
Deciding to Heal
The emergency stage
Believing it happened
Breaking the silence
Understanding it wasn’t your fault
The child within
Disclosures and truth telling
Forgiveness for yourself
Resolution and moving on
Here’s where I started:
The Decision to Heal- In 2014 my symptoms from complex ptsd became overwhelming. I ran for a long time and batched, cope with alcohol, and was generally unwell and unable to work. I still struggle to work consistently. I was suicidal and as much as I didn’t feel like I had a choice at all, I chose not to die. I got myself into therapy and seriously committed to healing. This became my full time unpaid occupation. I had been in therapy a few times through my life since I was 10 years old but I didn’t find it very helpful with the exception of some EMDR work I did in 2011. I had to stop going because I couldn’t afford it.
I made a ton of changes and I felt stuck in the emergency stage for a long time. I moved my residence 3 times. Now I’m changing jobs. I’ve gone through the stages and now I FINALLY feel like I’m not in the emergency stage any longer. This is 4 years later. This beginning stages are very disruptive and I found many of the things I used to cope were either unhealthy or just not working. I was remembering more and more instances of sexual abuse. I started calling rape what it was, rape. No pet names or minimizing language. It’s the truth. I couldn’t even say the word for decades but I say it now. I am a rape survivor, a child sexual abuse survivor, domestic violence survivor, partner rape survivor, narcissistic abuse survivor, bullying survivor. I remember my own death and floating above myself. I get a lot of bits and pieces of memories still. Much of it doesn’t make sense. I still disassociate a lot but I’m learning to stay more present throughout the day.
When I remember more I go through a sort of emergency stage again but in a shorter duration. There is just so much to deal with it is very overwhelming for me. It is disrupting and as much as I don’t want to remember anymore, I can’t go back. I can’t undo what was done but I can move toward a better healthier future for myself. That is my goal now, to improve, progress, come at this with compassion and love. It took me a long time to even like myself but I also found this little part of me that I love. That is growing and it makes this journey easier.
Every survivor is different. Their stories and how they go about healing is unique to each and every one of them. There are no boxes that we all fit in, no list that makes sense for everyone. Over the next few posts or so I want to share my experience with the stages of healing as described in the book I mentioned earlier. I hope to share so that it is out of my head and processed more. I want to share to show you can go through all of this and still be able to have a good life. I couldn’t find someone like me so I’m going to be my own role model and model good behavior for myself. Healing is the most difficult work that I have ever done. It is so worth it. I will continue and CPTSD will not kill me because I am tougher than trauma. I’m tougher than what happened to me. I’m tougher than the abusers. I will survive. Whatever it takes, I got this.