What’s on your emotional/mental plate? Hmmm – major depressive disorder, a nasty anxiety situation, anorexia, PTSD, bereavement, compulsive behavior? Something else? If you’re in the midst, I’m thinkin’ you could use a story of courage and hope. And I just happen to have one…
So I came up with the idea about a week ago, and presented it to you in Stories of Courage and Hope | I Want Your Mission (Im)Possible Tale (bossy of me, huh). FYI – the concept and article were inspired by the reaction to a piece I posted some two weeks ago, The Journey to a Good Place | Sue’s Epiphany – now featuring updates.
Well, I received the first of our “stories of courage and hope” several days ago. So without further ado, I’ll turn things over to Patricia…
Sitting on the sofa at Christmas, listening to my family celebrating in the other room, I realized I had no emotions but a lingering and pervasive hope that today I would die; and the numbness and longing for death had been there for as long as I could remember.
I wasn’t going to off myself, both parents had committed suicide and I’d been the competent oldest child who literally cleaned up those messes, but there was no joy in my world. The despair of the current work-related death-threats had pushed me into a depression of monumental proportion and I was buried in self-disgust because I viewed myself as too weak to just suck it up.
Ultimately, I realized my only hope was to reach out beyond myself and seek medication and then counseling because I was savvy enough to know the combination of medication and counseling is effective 90% of the time….and I am a logical, purpose driven person even in the midst of my darkest despair.
Once I had medication on board I discovered that a current life stressor like my present-day fear is often a trigger to past trauma events. For decades I’d blown off my childhood of chronic torture and extensive sexual abuse history with, “Well, some bad stuff happened and then some other REALLY bad stuff happened, but it isn’t a problem,” and convinced myself that this was true.
I suppressed, denied, ignored and it worked for me, at least until I got into a place where I was living in fear again, causing me to rebound into the fear I’d lived in all of my childhood and teen years.
Suddenly I was dealing with Complex-PTSD symptoms and attendant chronic nightmares, depression, flashbacks, anxiety, insomnia and let’s just toss in some lifetime OCD intrusive thoughts to make the psychological cocktail a more complete mix. It would be simplest to say that I was certain I was an insane person and just barely concealing it from the world, and terrified that I would never find myself again.
I found safety in a therapeutic relationship where I kept no secrets, even when I was frightened to reveal the truth about me. Self-perception is shaped by the relationships within the family of origin. When those closest to you have used you sexually, betrayed you by selling your body and your soul, it is brutal to trust anyone, yet once I began to find safety and test those waters by asking within the counseling relationship, growth happened.
So much for me was learning that I was NORMAL for the terrifyingly ABNORMAL world in which I grew up. Being accepted for who I was/am helped me learn that I am not disgusting to at least one other person with whom I was willing to be open and honest about the reality of ME.
Admittedly, I struggle with self-disgust and loathing, but progress happens over time. Releasing the shame and guilt that I carry for the deeds of others is so much easier said than done, but I have never shirked the hard work. Learning to FEEL again was the hardest task of all because logic had always been my refuge and defense from the vagaries of life.
I would never give up any of my childhood experiences because that would change who I am and I like who I am. I believe fully in the message of Genesis 50:20: God is in the business of turning simple evil into complex good. I protect others and I’ve built my distress tolerance over time; learning I already lived through the worst and I am a strong person. I’m brave beyond words. Survivors always are.
Thank you, Patricia. It means so much to all of us that you would step-up-to-the-plate and share so openly. You are, indeed, brave beyond words, and I’m glad you acknowledge it.
Chipur reader – whether you realize it, or not, I’m thinkin’ you’re likely “brave beyond words,” as well. And it’s my hope Patricia’s story will bring you the inspiration and motivation to continue to move forward – and grow.
Major depressive disorder, a nasty anxiety situation, anorexia, PTSD, bereavement, compulsive behavior – more? I’m inviting you to reach-out to others and share your story of courage and hope. Why not drop me a line?
Would you like to peruse some 600 Chipur titles? Your servant.
Hey Folks! I’m really excited about this ongoing series. And just imagine, when one taps through all of the Chipur titles they’ll see “Stories of Courage and Hope” mixed in. And they’ll know they can tap-in for some inspiration and motivation. Nothing like real-world experience. Please consider sharing your story. Just drop me a line https://chipur.com/drop-me-a-line/
Oh, Patricia, I have so much to say and don’t know where to start. Your childhood was just horrific and although I assume I know how hard it was for you to share it with us all, I know that I really know. I’m so comforted knowing that you’ve realized you were a precious child born into a world of monsters. I’ve always thought that a sexually abused child must think they’re Abnormal while everyone around them is Normal — after all, they’re adults, so they must be right, right? Sadly, Wrong. Learning your own value as a person must mean a whole new world for you (it certainly means the world to me for you). And it warms my heart to know you’re continuing to get to that place, that precious place. With the incredible help of a wonderful therapist, we can hopefully continue down our paths with him, while supporting one another. Can it get better than this? I hope it will; hell, I know it will…..Love, Sue
Very sweet, DSL…
Thank you so much for responding to the post. I know your life is quite full right now, and that you have a number of high priority changes that are so pressing right now and I will keep these in mind for you as well. Your encouragement means so much to me right now. I do like the idea of grown and maturing along this path of healing together; that makes my heart lighter.
Oh Patricia – wow WOW wow… thank you so very much for sharing your story. Oh my gosh what you went through, but as importantly, what you’ve done to bring Patricia through the fire and into the light. I loved your line, “but progress happens over time.” You have shown so much courage and strength, and your story is sure to bring hope to others who will find themselves in your words and hopefully do as you did and reach out for help. Thank you for sharing!!
That is so kind of you Lisa. It has been extremely important to me all of my life to reach out to be a protector and an advocate for others. Using the experiences of my life have certainly provided many of the tools along the way. For a very long time I didn’t think I was brave OR strong because I was so fearful and had to work so hard to approach the fear with courage. I do hope there are others who make decisions to reach out beyond the fear that they are not enough and let someone help them; that is the only path of hope.
…and thank you for visiting and commenting, Lisa. It’s super important!
Thank you so much for having the courage to share you story. I’m in awe really and feel so much compassion for all that you have gone through. You have come full circle and what a beacon of hope you are to others who are suffering in a similar situation or in any family challenge. Your strength really shines through. Take care and thanks again!
I appreciate your visit and comment, Cathy – always do. You know, you make a great point as you reference courage (hmmm, there’s that word again). It truly takes one heck of a lot of it to share such personally scary information. I mean, wouldn’t it be possible that one who’d endured such atrocities could fear some manner of retribution for “telling on” the perps? May not add-up to you or me, but it’s life-size real for the victim – even years after the initial trauma. Well, then, the importance of sharing and receiving understanding and encouragement in return. Oh, and not to mention the reach-out to those in the same boat. Just huge.
Glad you stopped-on-by, Cathy. Come back…
(You are saved from the original long version as discus lost it..) I have a student who describes herself as being very depressed all the time. She has tried therapy, medication, EMT, hypnotherapy and quit them all. There is nothing she will commit herself to for the long haul. 12 step meeting for DandOMI do not interest her. I am not a professional: all I can do is listen and keep her in her body and breath, these are also tools she doesn’t feel like using. I wish she were ready to read and benefit fro stories like these. The bravery and dedication it takes to make such a profound life change and identity shift is amazing. I gear for my student and work at letting the frustration go. Is there a “bottom” she needs to reach to decide to commit to the help she needs to become her self? This is painful stuff.
Thanks for visiting and commenting, Kyczy. No doubt, the bravery and dedication involved here is “amazing.” I’m looking forward to sharing more stories. Please keep comin’ back…
It is hard for me to trek you for sure whether she has to shatter at the bottom of the well of life before she can find the energy and will to make life changes. I can tell you that I have always been someone who was willing to do hard work to change who I am in order to stop the pain within. This point in time I wrote about was one when I realized I required professional assistance. I knew I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” and I was correct. I’m also a suicide gatekeeper trainer and I KNEW my own passive suicidal ideation was bad news and still had the cognitive resources to force myself to reach out for help. I was crushed with shame and failure, but that was nothing new. I lived with self – loathing so this just added to the weight.
So here is what I can suggest. I’m more than willing to communicate with your client if she is willing to communicate with me. Perhaps I can encourage her that there is life without this level of chronic pain and it is worth the hard work of tackling the task. So often the fear of relationship is the barrier and the fear of failure once again is also powerful. I can encourage her in both areas. I’m good at that. Frankly, this offer is open to anyone struggling in these areas. Just contact Bill at Chipur and he will put you in contact with me. I know I am a good encourager.
Thank you for caring about her and making that apparent to her. Thank you for that unconditional acceptance and the gift of relationship. I suspect that Mayers to her far more to her than you know if she cam from a traumatic home environment.
God, Patricia makes me wanna be a better huMan. Her words, “I’ve built my distress tolerance over time; learning I already lived through the worst and I am a strong person. I’m brave beyond words. Survivors always are”, remind me of these other good words by another courageous cat, Edward Lewis, “We define ourselves by the best that is in us, not the worst that has been done to us.”
Patricia, you are a Super Woman. Thank you.
Great insight from Lewis, Herby. I appreciate your sharing. Always a good thing when you stop-by…
Dr. Herby. …. Hmm mm, I think I have to pass on the Superwoman title, even though I love the image Bill selected. I do feel far more free of the chains of the past than I’ve ever felt in the past. You do lighten my heart with your compliments and I thank you for them. Sharing this journey in a public forum was not easy, yet I’m thankful I stepped up. —Patricia
Me (we) too…
Thirded (after Bill, that is). I love the imagery too of you, Patricia flying through the atmosphere and it is the friction, the “not easy” aspect of your trajectory that really impresses me. I know you know, you helped another in your uneasiness. Thanks again.
This is really great stuff..thx for sharing.
Glad you stopped-by, rms. Please come back…