I showed determination when I made the decision to go to therapy and for once tell a psychiatrist the whole truth. I showed determination when I made the decision to buy a workbook for post-traumatic stress disorder and put myself through cognitive behavioral therapy. I showed determination when I decided to make a blog out of my journey so that I would become accountable to someone other than myself. I showed determination when I decided that I wanted to use my story and my journey to help others. I hope to continue showing determination a little bit everyday.
How and when did you show your will to continue to struggle and to eventually succeed?
I’m showing my will everyday, little by little. I’m getting up in the morning. I’m brushing my teeth and washing my hair. I’m trying not to revert back to old habits. I’m trying not to lock it down again, get pissed, and just walk around angry all the time, ignoring my past. I’m also trying not to become overwhelmed and depressed by it all and let it break me down. I’m continuing on this personal journey. I’m struggling, but I’m doing more of what I love and I’m feeling as though happiness is looming just around the corner if I only reach for it.
How and when did your faith help you, particularly faith in yourself and your support system?
I believe my faith has helped me survive my life. When I was younger it was my faith in God that helped me make it through. Then as I grew older, I had less faith in religion, and more faith in love. I began to believe that somewhere there was someone who would love me past my pain. I was always the princess waiting to be saved by the prince. I no longer need or want a prince to save me. I just want someone who’ll hold my hand while I save myself. My true friends have really stepped up in this respect. They are amazing human beings and I am so lucky to have them.
How and when did you show courage?
When I stood between my Mother and my brother, I showed courage. Every time I protected him I showed courage. I remember a time when my Mother was chasing us around the house with my Father’s belt. We couldn’t get away fast enough. My brother and I tried to hide in a corner beside the stairs. Our Mother found us. She began hitting us with the belt and when Zach began crying, I pushed him into the corner behind me. It’s a very fuzzy memory, but I believe that it happened this way. When our youngest brother asked Zach about our Mother, and how it was when we were little, Zach has said that I protected him. I’m not sure how often I actually managed to spare him, but I know I tried and that it was courageous.
How and when did you take personal responsibility for meeting your needs (including your need for safety) during your traumatic experiences?
I remember my Mother coming after me when I was little, I’d try to get away or hide. When I got to high school, I would push furniture in front of door. When I began driving, I would park my car on Folly Beach. I’d live in my car for weeks at a time before I’d finally go back home. It seemed safer to sleep in the Beetle than in my house. Honestly, it still feels that way most of the time.
How and when did you exhibit your personal creativity?
I’ve always been creative. I was singing in chorus by age two, dancing ballet and tap by age three, and drawing and painting by age four. By the time I got to high school, I was in honors chorus and honors drama. I competed and succeeded in making both All-County and All-State choir two years in a row. I was also involved in a theatrical youth company after school and on weekends. I was in many shows. My bedroom walls were collaged and painted and ever changing. I would put songs lyrics everywhere. When I went away to college it was more of the same. It wasn’t until I really gave it all up and moved back home that I really began to suffer. Despite all I’ve been through, music, theatre, art, it was always my release. When I succumbed to the pressures of life, when I quit, I had no where to put all my emotions. I felt so broken, so sad, so angry, but suddenly I had no where to put it. I’ve begun doing theatre again after a nearly five year absence. It has been the best decision I’ve made thus far on my road to recovery.
How and when did you show your resilience?
My resilience has been proven time and again as I refuse to give up. I go through hurricanes. I can’t always handle everything. In the past I’ve fallen apart completely or shut down completely. However, I rage against tempests. I swim against the current. I try not to let the waves take me away. I try not to drown. I swim.
How and when did you use your intuition?
I’m just now beginning to really use my intuition to try to remember what happened to me. There are so many blank spaces. Many memories come in patches. I have to rely on my instincts, on my gut feelings. There are chunks here and there where I am able to remember events completely, the rest is a blur that I’m still trying to sort out. I am hopeful that through therapy, both on my own, and with a professional, I will eventually be able to fill the blank spaces.
How and when were you able to maintain any optimism?
I feel as though I am very optimistic, but it comes in short waves. It’s as though the ocean is kissing the shoreline and there I am running trying to catch it. I try to hold on to hope just as I try to catch the waves, but it is constantly eluding me. Sometimes optimism and hope wash over my feet as does the ocean, and in those moments I can feel the sun rise. I can see the horizon.
How and when were you able to use any physical strength?
I’ve used physical strength over the years both against attacks and to attack my Mother. I am thankful for what physical strength I have. However, I am terrified of what is capable when I feel threatened and adrenaline begins coursing through my body. I’m really not very strong, but it doesn’t take much for me to feel as though my life is in danger. In those (now rare) situations, I know I will do whatever I must to survive and that is terrifying.
What did completing this exercise tell you about your strengths?
Mostly it reinforced that I am determined, courageous, and ready to do whatever necessary, and use whatever skills I possess to overcome my trauma.