Child abuse stories are difficult to read or hear but it is very important for the survivor to be able to tell their story, to be heard, and to find support. Telling the story of their abuse can aid in the recovery process. Love and support of the survivor also helps them to heal from the trauma they suffered.
I just finished reading this book about PTSD called, “What’s Your Superpower?: Living and Coping with PTSD” by Bob Wagner. Usually I fly through a book, devouring all its bits much like I eat french fries but this was more like a fine steak dinner that you savor each part. I had a lot of emotional reactions and cried a lot while reading. I was triggered a couple times but I really loved how the author did not mince his words and got right down to the heart of what it is like to live with PTSD on a daily basis. He describes it perfectly and in a way I just want to shout it to the rooftops that is you have PTSD this book is VERY validating and if you love someone with PTSD, it is a book for you too. I’ll be directing people to this book a lot like I do the other resources that have helped me in my ongoing journey.
It really helps me to read books by people with the PTSD themselves instead of some educated person’s theory on it. Its comforting and heartbreaking that I am not alone in what I go through every day. I’m very thankful that he was able to open up like he did. I also learned that 28 people that have been diagnosed with PTSD commit suicide EVERY DAY! That’s a horribly large number and to think that is just the ones with a diagnosis and just the ones that are classified a suicide. I understand why though. PTSD tried to kill me and continues to through its bitch-ass hat in the ring every few months.
This book also helped me to see the behavior caused by PTSD and what is actually part of my personality. There are assignments in the book for PTSD sufferers and I enjoyed them although some are still in progress in my mind as well as my journals. I had already started working further defining my symptoms vs what is just me and my dorky weirdoness. Reading Bob Wagner’s book further helped to bring that home that my identity is not my disease and visa versa.
If you can not tell, I highly recommend this book and it is worth owning digitally to refer back to again and again. It is a story of strength and understanding. The author still struggles with PTSD and overcomes it every day to live his life. This book made me realize that I do the same and inspired me to keep going. My disease has been trying to kill me again as I go into this new phase of healing. It is lying to me and taking things from me like sleep and time. It makes me feel crazy but what is really happening is that I’m fighting.
This book also addresses the stigma that comes along with mental illness as well as the many stupid things that people say to you if you do happen to have a mental illness. Reading this I began to realize what a fucking underdog that I really am: sex worker, female, abuse survivor, mentally ill. This doesn’t make me feel bad anymore though. I don’t hold near the amount of shame that I used to about anything I listed above. I hope to one day write a book from my perspective as well. There are some big plans that I decided not to wait to do when I feel better. Here’s the thing: I might not feel better, my disease might kill me, I might get hit by a bus tomorrow. I have started to progress toward my dreams if only one small step per day. This book is one more tool in my arsenal against PTSD and living my life. As it says in the book though: Living another day is one for the win column.
I remember talking to the sun as a child. Every morning I was thankful for it coming up again. During some of the abuse I would dissociate and talk to it or I would talk to it afterwards. I would have pretend conversations with it. I would ask that it would just stay bright and there would be no night. At night is when the bad things would happen. When the sun came up in the morning I knew it was safe to sleep again. I would beg for it to rise again and make the world safe for me. I don’t remember being afraid of the dark, just afraid of night time and of going to bed.
During this time when I was about 5 years old a movie came out that had a huge impact on me and I found comfort in the fantasy world that was the movie: Legend. There was a song that resonated with me so much and I cry when I listen to it now. Everyday the sun would give me hope. “Loved by the Sun” by Tangerine Dream and those lyrics in the chorus, loved by the sun, reminds me of when I would go outside and the sun rays would touch my face as if to comfort me. I was too afraid to tell anyone and get comfort from another human being so the sun was my friend. When the sun was around, no one hurt me.
As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I know there are many ways that I coped but this particular memory brings me so much joy and hope. I’m remembering things again that are not horrible but hopeful instead. I imagine hugging my child-self and telling her how proud I am. For years I have been so mean to myself and talked to myself like the people that abused me. Remembering my strong child-self is so heartwarming.
I was never angry with the sun for leaving for the night. I missed the sun like a friend and unconditionally love it. I remember in a pretend conversation I asked why it couldn’t just stay with me. It said it needed to rest so it could come back to protect me the next day. I accepted that in my child’s mind that didn’t know the sun doesn’t actually sleep, talk, rest, or that the earth was revolving, giving us the night. The reasoning of an abused child can be wondrous, beautiful, and sad all at the same time. I feel sad but thankful at the same time that I was able to cope in that way.
I remember finding out at school that the sun doesn’t sleep and that it always shines. That also gave me a comfort that is hard to explain. The sun was everything. Without it, everything would die. Without the sun, I felt I would die until it rose again to brighten the darkness and protect me again. I felt loved by the sun. I’m finding this once lost memory of how I was able to get through those times to be such a source of strength and an example of resilience. I’m listening to the song on repeat and letting myself exist in that memory, crying happily and smiling at my child self,dancing with our arms up, being loved by the sun as it touches our face.