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Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse Emotional Child Abuse My Story

Stages Of Healing From Sexual Abuse: 1 Deciding to Heal

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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
Grieving
Anger
Disclosures and truth telling
Forgiveness for yourself
Spirituality
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.

Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse

Coping with Anxiety

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Since the weekend I have been dealing with a massive amount of anxiety.  On Saturday I had one of the worst anxiety attacks that I can remember. This was followed by many smaller anxiety attacks as it cycled back down. I would have seen this as a set back but I don’t believe that anymore. It wasn’t a set back because anxiety is part of my life living with Cptsd. As I integrate myself into a more healed and solid individual, there is going to be destabilization. The parts of me that hold the trauma memories are being integrated and it’s painful.

Instead of seeing this as a setback I observed myself putting into action many techniques I have learned over the past few years. The hard work paid off because I was able to get myself through it. I did everything I could to comfort myself and reassure myself that I was safe. Some things only work some of the time then I switch it up. I feel stronger now. I proved to myself that yes, it’s going to get bad sometimes and scary but I can get through it. Keep going!

Some of the things I did:

I talked to myself out loud that I was safe and going to be ok. This is an anxiety attack. I am not going to die that super high heat rate. I was wearing a heart rate monitor and breathing to get it down but it scared me more so I took it off. I told myself, “I am here. It is 2018. I am 38. I am a grown adult that can defend herself. I am safe.

More deep breathing and I tried to slow down as much as possible.

Cold cloth on my face and rubbed my arms and legs down with it. Turned on a fan. Laid in front of it with my feet up.

I let myself curl up and then uncurled myself. Like clenching all my muscles up and then releasing them. I then took up space and changed my body language to a more confident TAKE UP SPACE instead of trying to be small. I also stretched to try to stop my body from muscle armoring.

I cuddled with my dogs and they were more than happy to give me kisses.

I turned off the TV and turned on some music.

I smelled some of my aromatherapy oils.

I engaged all my senses to ground myself and get my panicked part of myself to realize where and WHEN I was again.  I feel like this is a big step toward being able to manage my anxiety in a better, healthier way. I’m still dealing with it on a daily basis and it will get bad again some days. Like today I am having a hard time with food. I vomited up the food I tried to eat for breakfast. Food doesn’t even taste good right now. Tt will pass though. The good news it that everything changes so this isn’t forever. This is just extra difficult right now.

The healing process is very slow but I see the progress I am making. It is extremely frustrating and overwhelming but there is good coming from all this pain. I’m going to be ok. This process of helping myself to heal is going to take years. I wish I could just magically get over it. All the people who lied to me telling me this or that, get over it, really didn’t know shit. Ignorant asses! I may be always dealing with it the rest of my life to some extent. I survived every day up until now no matter how bad the abuse was so I know I can get through the healing part too. Like I said before, SPOILER ALERT! CPTSD doesn’t kill me. I have faith in myself that I will get through this.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse Free Writing My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

PTSD Episode

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My anxiety and insomnia are back again. I’m in another PTSD Episode. This happens and will happen again and again as I move through my life. The duration of the episodes get shorter and recovery time from the episodes grow shorter. I am becoming more resilient by practicing self care and self compassion like my life depends on it. Because it does. I feel more prepared to take care of myself now. Knowing what is happening and having a plan to take care of myself helps me so much during times like these. I’ve got this and I’m cranky about it all the same. I’m surviving on meditation, love, coffee, and a Spoonie/Goonies Never Say Die attitude.

I hope you are having a better day, dear reader, than I am. If you are having a crappy day too, know that I stand there with you in solidarity. Deep breathing and mindfulness meditation have been the most helpful for me. Art and writing in my journal when I need to express myself more. The insomnia has been creeping back as my anxiety worsened. I’m going to have to focus on sleep more this month. People talk about healing as some wonderful spiritual positive experience but the reality is that it hurts.

This month’s mantra is “Keep it Moving” and I plan to do just that. I am being more active and focused on myself. I refuse to let Complex PTSD kill me. Like I said before, I live.

Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse Emotional Child Abuse Free Writing My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse Uncategorized

Rewriting My Nightmares

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Last night I had fitful sleep filled with nightmares. My brain is working on healing 24-7. Lack of restful sleep makes my daytime symptoms with complex PTSD flare up and become more difficult to deal with. One method of working through what I’m experiencing in my healing process is to talk about my experience. Share it, write about it, make a video or audio and talk. The other is visualization with “rewriting” what happened in the nightmare. While pacing around my house trying to cope with the energy that anxiety dishes out I decided to rewrite my nightmare. I said what happened but then I talked myself through visualizing a different set of actions that I took and a different outcome than the dream. It’s also MY visualization so I can control the whole thing start to finish.

In this new version of the now fading memory of the nightmare I was brave and stood up for myself. I did not cower behind the door and look frightfully out the window. In my rewritten version of the nightmare I opened the door, walked outside and faced the scary person in the dream. Already it went from a nightmare to a dream. I’m the hero in my dream and I tell this (no longer scary) person that I snatched their identity to make them basically faceless to piss off. I take the gun from them and they leave. I went over and over the story until I was able to tell the story out loud without getting upset. I pushed past upset and went through the dream until the end. This helped me feel more empowered and strong. The original nightmare doesn’t matter now because I rewrote it.

Visualization is very powerful and I use it a lot to help me cope but also see different perspectives of the same issue. This is my way of problem solving. This was not easy for me at first but like everything, practice creates new pathways in the brain making it a little easier each time. I think my nightmares are a way for my brain to process multiple traumas and stitch the details together into something confusing and terrifying. Even if the nightmare is something that 100% happened I can still visualize and talk myself through. The more I do this, the more confident I am with my ability to help myself. It can take what would be possibly days of being upset to a few hours. This doesn’t always work but when it does I feel like a super hero. As I said before SPOILER ALERT, I don’t die due to my CPTSD, I recover and live well.