This blog post isn’t for everyone and it isn’t for attention. The sole purpose of this blog is to reach anyone else who may be going through something similar and could benefit from knowing that they aren’t alone in this fight of theirs.
I’ve been reliving a childhood trauma on a pretty consistent basis for a few months now. I’ve never properly dealt with this happening, having been encouraged at an early age to not talk about it. And before this, my conscious mind could handle burying my memory for about a decade at a time. Every ten years or so, I’d remember what happened and spiral a bit out of control until I was able to push the memory back down again and move forward with everyday life.
It’s obvious to me now that a lot of my actions and behavior, a lot of my mindsets and attitudes, were greatly influenced by these events and that even though my memories might have been compartmentalized at different times in my life, my conscious mind was definitely affected.
I’m in my forties, so this particular set of memories has resurfaced several times and for whatever reason — be it timing or a simple expiration on my coping method— I’m unable to bury this any longer.
I’m haunted by my memories. Fear. Pain. Pleading. My very first panic attack, around grade three. Seeing the same face in the face of so many others for the majority of my life. Hiding anything about myself that I feel is shameful. There is no area of my life that gets away unscathed. It touches everything. Things that I never understood before, choices that didn’t make a whole lot of sense — they all make sense now.
Every day is a rollercoaster and triggers are all around me. I’ve stopped communicating with people that are important to me. Reaching out is so painful right now. I feel like my whole body is inside out and all of the things that are most vulnerable and tender and now unprotected and being bruised constantly.
This is the first thing that I’ve been able to write in weeks, probably months, and my writing is what keeps me sane. Everything inside my head brings me to tears and the tears almost always turn into an anxiety attack.
The world isn’t helping, either. The times I’ve been able to surface from inside myself are hardly any better. The world is on fire. There is hatred everywhere. And my trauma is keeping me from doing anything to help. And I want to help. Desperately.
And that leads me to now.
I’ve realized that the helping I so desperately want to do starts with me. I cannot help anyone unless I first help myself. And that’s not easy. I was raised Catholic and was taught that the best of people give until they have nothing left for themselves. Self-care was not something that was taught or encouraged and I’ve always equated my own self-care with selfishness.
So, I’m going back to therapy.
I saw a psychiatrist about six or so years ago but never touched on this, as I was in one of my memory burial periods and I mostly talked about losing my dad as a teenager. I honestly thought that was my biggest problem or at least I convinced myself that’s what I though.
I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist a little over a year ago but never went. I must have canceled and rescheduled that appointment four or five times until life helped me out and we ended up moving back to SoCal so it wouldn’t make sense to start therapy if I wouldn’t be able to have more than one or two sessions.
I got a new GP in December, when my husband started a new job and I’ve spent the past four months avoiding the therapy that I told her I wanted. But things have steadily gotten worse. This is not something I can handle on my own. I realize that, now. I really realize that.
I’ve spent a lot of time hiding this, fearing that any disclosure on my part would hurt the people closest to me. Would they think I was lying? Would they think that I was blowing things out of proportion? Would they question the validity of my memories? Would they be mad at me for not just sweeping it under the rug but instead bringing it up all of these years later? Would I somehow make them feel guilty for not knowing about this sooner? Would they just think I was being a drama queen?
I’m afraid of everything.
But no matter how much I tell myself I want to keep quiet and keep things buried, to protect my own feelings as well as the feelings of those I care about, I physically cannot keep it in any longer. I lose control. I lose control of my emotions. I lose control of my hurt. I lose control of my anger. And then I lose control of my control and my words come spilling out.
My confusion takes front and center. My inability to understand sweeps over everything and I become that young girl again, begging for help. Even now as I write this, the tears are uncontrollable. The pain is so raw that it feels undeniable.
I feel as though I’m battling every emotion, every single second. Shame. Anger. Guilt. Frustration. Sadness. Futility. Helplessness. Annoyance. Betrayal. And a lot — and I mean a lot — of confusion and an inability to understand how this all happened.
I saw a social worker last week. That was my first step. She was very nice and helpful. She laughed at my jokes. My husband came with me. I needed that. I have an inordinate amount of trouble with feeling like I’m a phony. I needed someone there that could corroborate things for me. Sure, he couldn’t speak of my memories but he could help me feel validated about problems that I still have, about issues and truths that I’ve been denying for so long that I think no one could possibly believe them.
I have an appointment scheduled with a psychiatrist for next week. I let the social worker know very honestly that I knew I needed a psychiatrist’s help. Mental illness runs in my family and that combined with the clusterfuck of memories I’ve got going on made it a pretty obvious decision for me.
I don’t know how the appointment is going to go. It’s with a guy and to be frank, I want to talk to a woman. But I would rather give someone a shot and start the ball rolling than insist on a woman straight away. I know a lot of really wonderful men — maybe this guy will be another I can add to that list.
I have a follow-up appointment set for next month with the social worker. I like that I have someone acting as my advocate. All she cares about is me getting healthier. If this psychiatrist ends up not working, she’ll find me another. She’s helping me with coping methods, as well.
None of this has been easy. Every single day has been like a minefield and my feelings of guilt and shame surround me. I’ve spent so long lying to myself and everyone around me about so many things that I feel like an imposter when I’m telling the truth.
But…I’m finally getting help. I’m actually doing it. I’m putting my well-being first because I’m finally realizing that ignoring my own needs isn’t healthy. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Denying yourself the essentials, not properly caring for yourself — it doesn’t make you a better person. It just makes you less able to handle all that life throws at you. And it makes you less able to help those you love, when they need it.
I know that I’m not the only person going through something like this. And right now, I feel at such a loss to be able to help anyone else with anything — except in one way: I can be open about what I’m going through. I can let people know that they’re not alone. I don’t have to reveal all of my secrets to the entire world in order to let other people know that even though they may feel alone, we’re in this thing together.
I can share that it’s never too late to help yourself. I can encourage people to put themselves first once and a while. And I can hopefully show that no matter how many times you try again, the important thing is that you’re, again, trying. Never give up on yourself. Never. This is the only life we know, whatever happens before or after our time here, the only thing you have for sure is you. Don’t give up on yourself. You’re worth it.