Over the last few years I feel like I’ve taken a blank canvas and tried to make a beautiful portrait. It started with my manuscript. What a labor of love that has been! Writing is my passion and gives me a safe harbor where I’m able to expend pent-up energy. Once I wrapped my head around the idea of sharing my writing with the world, this website was built and took me a step further. From there I’ve joined writing groups, written the majority of my second novel, I have several other projects in development, added Critique Partners to the mix, and started blogging regularly. You name it, I’ve been doing it, trying to paint the heck out of my canvas. Or, so I thought…
During a recent afternoon run (yes I do that…though it looks more like a painful crawl) I realized that I’ve only really been painting around the edges of my canvas. The center is still blank and I wasn’t sure what belonged there. As I pondered over this I came to understand that my answer had arrived even before I knew there was a question.
You see, each week as I prepare to write my blog I make the subject a matter of prayer and go where I’m led. It’s been a wonderful experience, the blogs are often chipper and downright fun to create. But, last week when I prayed nothing came. Usually by Friday I have a rough draft, but I didn’t even have a subject…and then it was there, out of nowhere. In fact, it hit me so hard that I had to pull my car over because tears had utterly clouded my vision. My response through the tears was simple, “I can’t do that…I won’t do that…”
After days of struggling with the call to action, I finally made my peace. I’d write the blog. I’d do as instructed. Sure, I still have my reservations but I’m choosing to trust the process, what follows is the genesis of what I felt. As for the canvas, well, I’ve come to accept that what belongs in the center is me.
For almost 40 years I’ve drawn breath on Planet Earth. During that time, I’ve experienced an array of abuse/trauma in each of these categories: physical, mental, emotional, sexual, narcissism, brain washing, neglect, abandonment, manipulation, and homelessness. The aftermath of these experiences have led to a lifetime of self-doubt and loathing, worthlessness, withdrawal, social awkwardness, substance abuse leading to eventual addiction, failed relationships, mistrust of individuals and society as a whole, the list could go on.
Only recently have I been made aware of my reality, my state of existence. You see, I have by and large lived in a state of “flight or fight” response, always waiting for the next tragedy or life threatening situation to creep up and overwhelm me. In other words, I live with complex PTSD.
Yes, I am a veteran. No, my PTSD is not combat related (unless you consider my life the war zone). It is so VERY IMPORTANT to me that I not take anything away from my brothers and sisters in arms. Combat PTSD is real and THEIR SACRIFICE has given many in the medical profession the ability to study PTSD, categorize it and finally start treating it; this so that people like me have a fighting chance at normalcy.
For years I thought I was crazy and bounced from one doctor to the next. I’ve been misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, and new diagnosed more times than I care to recall. Oh and then there’s the prescriptions that kept me going back, paying those really high prices, but never-EVER finding the help that I needed. At the end of my rope, I decided to give therapy one more shot and much to my surprise, relief arrived.
I met a therapist who doesn’t seem to be in it for the money. She looked at my history, commented that I really should be dead, (still processing that one) and then she said she couldn’t help me but that she knew someone who could. As it turns out, I’m not crazy. What I’ve needed for so very long is a specific therapy, a place to cut the rot out so that I can finally heal, what I’ve needed is trauma therapy.
Has it been hard? Yes. Trusting anything or anyone is extremely difficult, let alone this process.
Is it working? Yes. Amazingly so.
Do I have hope for the first time in decades? Absolutely.
There was never a diagnosis that felt right, but when complex PTSD was explained to me I knew, I understood. In fact, that little girl inside me looked up for the first time in what felt like ages and saw the light. And this is where it gets really interesting!
I’ve no sooner got my head wrapped around the possibility of healing and then came the nudge I was telling you about. The feeling whispered, “Write about it. Use your voice. Don’t let others stay in the darkness.”
This was the moment where I pulled my car over and sobbed. Everything in me says that exposure on this level opens me up to new dangers, to more trauma and I’m already about as full as a person can take. Why would I do this? How could I dare?
The thought was like a breeze on a warm spring day. “Trust me.”
As I said earlier, I’ve learned that I belong at the center of my canvas while this blog is me putting the canvas on display. I’ve been given a talent with writing, not talking so much because that’s the uncut version and well, it gets messy. But here, in this platform I can share my experiences as I travel the road to recovery. Considering everything, I feel like I’d be wrong for keeping this experience safely tucked away. After all, during some of the worst of my experiences I’ve leaned on other people and now it’s time to pay it forward.
With the introduction complete, I’ll be adding three more parts to this blog. In other words, I’m loading my own locomotive (think steam engine) destined for places unknown as I journey towards freedom from the binding chains of trauma. The whistle’s blowing and that beautiful white steam is billowing from the chimney. It won’t be long before I roll out of the station and I hope that you’ll come along, give me a shot, hear what I have to say. I’m not a professional, I’m not claiming to have it all worked out. I’m just a woman who’s caught hold of hope and wants to share it with anyone willing to listen.
Thanks for hearing me out to the end, may your days be peaceful as you entertain this thing called life. —J.M. Jordan