I am excited to have Karen from Finding The Grace Within sharing her heart in this space. I first met Karen a couple of years back (maybe longer) while writing for the Five Minute Friday prompts. I’ve followed her journey of healing and have been amazed at her strength, which all points to what God has done in her life. I know you will be blessed by her honesty as she shares about living with PTSD.
My entire life, up to this point, I have always thought deep within that “this is the way that I am, this is the way that I have always been, and this is the way that I will always be.”
For the first time in my life, I can actually say, “this is why I am the way that I am”, “this is not how it’s always going to be”, and the most important part? – “this is not my fault”.
I am a victim of child sexual abuse! The first part of healing is admitting what happened to you as real and true. You cannot heal from something you do not accept has happened to you. It has taken me 5 years on this journey of healing (therapy) with someone I trust to help me understand that “this was done TO me, and this is NOT who I am”. I took the step 5 years ago to go to someone and talk about my story from ME, and release the silence within – and I am thankful that I have that support to go forward in my journey.
Living with PTSD and trying to overcome it has been the hardest work I have ever had to endure! I am still to this day working hard through it! There is not a day that goes go by that I do not live with the ramifications of the abuse I endured as a child. People may say that “it’s the past, you have to let it go” .. but if you haven’t lived with it, or lived IN it, you will never understand it, or understand the demons it casts upon you.
Yes the abuse may no longer be happening now, but you never forget! You never forget how it made you feel, how it destroyed your self worth, or what it has done to you inside. The memories, the smells, the triggers, the thoughts – that at any given time on any day, an image can pop into your head uninvited, and you are immediately brought back to the situation that traumatized you. When those moments happen, you feel you have no control; as if you are being abused all over again! You feel as if you are back in the very moment it happened, and you feel defeated, you feel lost, and you feel alone – Imagine going through this process for 35+ years? I do not wish this life on ANYONE!
I have finally reached a place in my journey of healing, and came to realization, that this is NOT the way I am going to live, and this is NOT who I am, and this is NOT who I am going to be. I am finding my way out of the abuse by honoring what has happened to me in the past, telling my story for ME, doing a timeline of my story of the abuse I endured, and facing it head on. I am slowly welcoming the memories as “information” and not “triggers“. I have found that the more I honor the feelings and the memories, the more I have control over them, and when I say THEM, I not only mean the memories; but the people who hurt me in the past.
It’s not easy to honor something that hurts, it’s not easy to face the memories head on and invite them in.. it’s painful, sad and it makes you angry, but what I have realized is that, the more I fought the triggers and the feelings, the more they had control over me every single day, and that is giving it another day of my life that “they” already took from me!
I go through this daily ritual, and have for the past 35+ years – a ritual that sends me right back into the abuse that makes me feel isolated, and ashamed, guilty and sad, worthless, and full of fear. I have taken that ritual and I have welcomed it! I have come to terms that I am no longer letting it ruin my life, but welcoming it as information that I need to heal from it. It’s a lot easier to walk WITH the current, than it is to walk against it.
Honoring is hard work, it takes a lot of strength, courage, and support!! – But I am taking control over the story and no longer being the person that lived in “their” silence. Each day that you take that trigger and feel it, and walk with it, instead of against it, it will eventually get weaker; to the point of you walking ahead of it, instead of IT walking your path for you!
I am, and always will be a victim of abuse, but how I choose to let it empower over me is my choice.. and the one thing that I now know in telling the story from me is that -“this is why I am the way that I am, this is not how it’s always going to be, and the most important part? – this is NOT my fault.
Karen is wife to Tim, mom to 3 beautiful boys ages 24, 20 and 17, writer, photographer and an adult survivor of child sexual abuse. Today she writes and uses the voice God gave her to help others know that they are not alone and to raise awareness. Karen is also a CASA (Child Advocate for Atlanta), taking a stand for children who need help finding safe homes to live in. She is currently working on her book, “Alone In The Closet” and hopes to complete it within the next year. To connect with Karen, visit her at her blog, Finding the Grace Within or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
*This post originally appeared at Finding The Grace Within.