Honoring the Person I Am

“I'd like to say I no longer suffer from flashbacks, but even at the time of this writing, I am in the middle of recovering another memory from my childhood.”

by K. Waheed

I am a middle-aged woman, married with two children. I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at age 25. I am grateful to say that I have had tremendous support, terrific professional help, a strong will to recover, and a resolve to do whatever work necessary to overcome all of my trauma. Other miraculous help has been my spiritual beliefs and practices.

As a child I suffered numerous traumatic events that began when I was just two years old. I was physically abused, sexually abused, emotionally abused, and spiritually abused. I was terrorized, tortured, neglected, and abandoned. Unfortunately, there were multiple perpetrators; that has made the healing and confusion about what pieces of the puzzle fit together tiresome at times.

The good news is that it's gotten better! One tremendous step in the right direction was putting myself in therapy at age 21 years. Another was quitting drinking alcohol with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. I abused alcohol to escape reality. I am grateful to say I have been sober for almost two decades.

It was just after my first AA anniversary that I began having persistent, terrifying flashbacks that came in many forms, including flashes of images in my mind (like a movie, only skipping some parts), body memories, and loss of time due to dissociation. I admitted myself into a psychiatric hospital, and the journey to recovery began. It was while there I was diagnosed with PTSD.

I'd like to say I no longer suffer from flashbacks, but even at the time of this writing, I am in the middle of recovering another memory from my childhood. This has become routine after all these years, but unfortunately it does include horrible flashbacks—and that is the frustrating part. I have learned they won't kill me or make my head explode, which is something I used to believe.

I am still working hard in therapy, even after all these years. Thank goodness, though, I do have reprieves from the hard work and get to just "be." To get to be a human being and not just a human doing—it’s been wonderfully empowering! I take it one day at a time, try not to take myself too seriously, and I honor the person I am as well as the wounded child inside. Today I know I am safe. That is the best feeling in the world!

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