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PTSD Survivor’s Speak: Just a Thought on Labels and Healing

Posted Apr 14 2010 12:00am

It’s so exciting to me to hear a survivor digging down deep to find courage, strength, power and determination to name the PTSD experience, claim it, and make plans for its release. I’m so pleased today to feature the words of a survivor taking steps to not only redefine the PTSD state but also, redefine an entire self. Brave. Inspiring.

It’s a tricky thing this method of healing.  Because I don’t doubt my courage.  I was, like so many others, forced to be tough.  That stays with us as we grow blossoming and mutating in ways at the same time.  But hey, who says the mutations can’t be beautiful?  Just different.  Different perspectives.  I find myself not even having to muster up the courage because it’s within arms reach, as it always had to be.  The problem is how to use it?  These are times I may realize I need to just BE and FEEL.  But again, there are good times, and bad, horrible times.  And moments of pure bliss small, yet ever more than enough, more than I can wrap my heart around. 

I have chronic, severe PTSD and the episodes (flashbacks) and anxiety and dissociation quite consume me at certain times.  I was armed and ready and fighting and then I realized I wasn’t going to win.  There’s no way.  And I think that’s because I’m not just being I spend so much energy on the fight when I really need to learn to sit and feel, accept it and just be. 

How hard it is for people with PTSD to “just be.”  How do you do it without slipping into dissociation, I wonder?  But I’ll keep practicing, I’ll get it.  Rewire those thoughts, eh?  I have to have the courage to fight in a different way.  I need to redefine that word.  I need to use my courage to feel and be, to take a moment and love my thoughts and think outside my head and with my soul stepping away from the disorder when it’s in full swing and to accept myself and be aware that what is happening is natural and not of me, but from something I would never allow to happen to me. 

I will respect myself more when I struggle through the dark thoughts and emotions, and tell myself “this too shall pass.”  I’ve started to face the vacuum of my identity, and I feel it, then I try to build upon it, and create the woman that’s inside of me – after I love her up some.  Self-love has to stop being at the bottom of my list of things to do. 

I feel it’s important that I say that I don’t (and maybe many of you don’t either, depending on your situation) feel like a victim.  That word is so empty to me.  I come from sexual, emotional, and physical abuse since the age of five, so to me that was just the way it was.  I had nowhere to go and know way of knowing better except for one thing that kept me connected to by spirit: instinct.  I knew it was wrong and that it hurt and I didn’t like it, and I had the courage to stow away inside of myself to get free, because where else could I go? 

I knew somehow that I was worth protecting even then. I carry that with me.  No, victim is not the word for me I feel.  Only “normal” “healthy” people see us as victims.  Victims seems to imply an attack on a mind and body already developed “correctly”, taught right from wrong.  I don’t know what word fits we feel maybe like we’re selfless (or coreless), unidentified spirits with spirits that swell with such private beauty because we’ve seen the agony.  We’ve been burned, and so, we know

We know what is dark and lost and hiding.  Imagine this though we will one day blossom and be so striking striking to ourselves in particular.  Doesn’t that feeling seem so far away?  How do we know our spirits will blossom?  It’s obvious.  The beauty inside has been hidden from us and we searched for it desperately within our own minds and bodies and souls, and we ventured (and continue to) into the fire, and we came out not innocent but beautifully AWARE and incredibly okay. 

We learn to be okay.  We survive and we fight.  We change our definition of “fight” and do it a different way, without the violence and the dichotomies.  We see ourselves.  We survive and we fight because we had to train ourselves to do so.  We’re self-taught; we know our souls more intimately than anyone else, I dare say.  Our souls shone through all the filth and dirt and tears.  Our souls guide us to purpose, and we keep getting up no matter how many times we fall.  We are an army the most beautiful army in every sense, fighting through love just for a glimpse of ourselves. 

We are not ever victims.  We have always been fighters, we have always been courageous.  Our instincts gave us courage.  And now we have to ease those instincts and love them and feel our way toward ourselves again.  My soul never left me and that used to be my biggest fear.  My soul is bleeding out the infection.

Amy is a 29 year-old mama and writer, living in a lovely little town in northern Wisconsin with her daughter and fiancé.  She is currently unable to work and had to take time off from college as well in order to take time to heal.  She has four great loves in her life: her girl, her fiancé, writing, and the Blues. 

 For more from Amy visit:

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele .


(Photo acknowledgement courtesy of Flickr .)

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