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PTSD

Return to Live!

As a survivor of childhood sexual violence, my faith in God saved my life.  By the grace of God, I held onto my faith when I began having suicidal thoughts.  Today, I am a happy and peaceful person no longer suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Thanks be to God!During one of the darkest times of my life after the abuse, I was living at the YMCA in the Gold Coast in a room the size of a large, walk-in closet and working as a security guard in a River North condo building.  That’s when I was blessed with the remarkable experience and privilege of writing a book I never wanted to write, A Rape Survivor’s Spiritual Journey: My Poems and Practical Exercises.  Visit my website, listen to a clip of my website theme song, and download a FREE PDF of my book.

Below is one of the poems in my book.  Please note the poems with italics are God's words, not mine.  I hope it consoles you.

 

Return to Live!

You hate me.
That’s okay,
but I still love you just the same.
I know that you’re not you, AND you’re in agony and pain.
I see you suffer and hear you cry.
I wish you’d turn to me,
and see me cry beside you
and hear my gentle plea.
Come back.  Come back.  Come back to me!
Let me hold you in my arms.
I loved you into life.  Please let me love you one more time.
I’m here and love you SO much it makes me cry to see
you struggle all alone and no longer call on me.
Hate me.  Yell and swear at me if that’s exactly how you feel.
Just keep talking.  Don’t shut me out.  I’m not going anywhere.
Go ahead.  Do it.  Right now.  I’m always listening, you know.
Remember, you can hate me, but away I’ll never go.
Return to me.  Return to live
the life I meant for you,
and through your suffering and pain
you will find your life renewed.

Inspired by Ezekiel 18:32.

You Have the Power You Need to Heal Yourself

As a child, the criminal sexual assaults and rapes I suffered at the hands of my father tormented and tortured me mentally, physically, and spiritually.  He brainwashed me into believing I was solely to blame.  After many years of therapy, I finally know and truly believe that I was NEVER to blame.
More than 10 years ago, when I started having suicidal thoughts, I fought back by holding onto my faith in God and NEVER letting go.  Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, earlier this year, long after I wrote my book (soon to be published), I struggled through the worst depression I ever experienced.  My mind, senses, and spirit constantly wrestled with the bleak darkness, and my only consolation came during prayer.  I felt myself slipping away and disappearing, regressing to my tormented childhood days never to return.

Thank God I met William Rosado, another survivor, who helped me achieve a miraculous breakthrough.  William wisely assessed I had not completely forgiven my deceased father or myself as I told him I already did.  He helped me achieve a miraculous breakthrough on July 7, 2014, my deceased step-sister Mary’s birthday.  Also sexually abused by our biological father, I felt she saved my live and expunged my guilt for not finding her before she passed away.

William reminded me of the power of God’s love while carefully guiding and counseling me through completely forgiving my father and myself.  However, I had to finish the process on my own in private between God and me.  Determined, I had no idea how it would end.  After endless tears and painfully excavating the depths of my soul, I finally achieved absolute forgiveness for my father and me.  Beaten, torn, and tattered, my heart exploded, and my PTSD became history.  Thanks be to God!

After my breakthrough this summer, I saw the Wizard of Oz at Millenium Park with a friend.  Growing up, it gave me the hope I needed.  Now, all grown up, after seeing it I realized that it not only kept me from running away, it also taught me a valuable lesson about my own healing earlier this year.

Below are the lines from the Wizard of Oz that I’m talking about.  When I heard Glinda say the last line, I turned to my friend and said, “Oh, my God, that’s exactly what happened to me this year.  I had to learn on my own like Dorothy that by the grace of God, I’ve always had the power to heal myself.  I just had to learn it for myself.

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda, the Good Witch: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda, the Good Witch: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

Awareness About Your Numbness is Huge!


Wisely, the YWCA always had a focus or theme for our sexual violence group therapy sessions which I think lasted about 8 weeks.  I remember one where we focused on listening to our body.  We explored painful or uncomfortable sensations and learned these feelings were a manifestation of the sexual assaults we suffered.

Mine was a huge, black, jagged rock in my chest which felt like it was shredding my heart.  Yes, talking about it was painful, but continuing to live with it was worse.  That’s why I kept going to my group therapy sessions and one-on-one therapy.  Over time, awareness about this sensation and consistent, one-on-one therapy helped me eventually obliterate it.

During the “listening to our body” group therapy sessions, I also remember another woman there who said she was only experiencing numbness.  Slumping in her chair, she said she just couldn’t feel anything.  One of the counselors said, “That’s great!  You’re awareness about the numbness is huge!!!  The woman’s face lit up.  She smiled the warmest smile I’d ever seen on her, and she sat straight up.

At the time, I didn’t understand the counselor was right.  I thought she was just trying to make her feel included since she was praising everyone else for their insights.  Later, I realized that acknowledging her numbness was huge since awareness is the first step to healing.  Unfortunately, like most sexual violence survivors, we all suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which mirrors the PTSD war veterans experience.

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) categorizes numbness as an avoidance symptom for obvious reasons.  Other categories include re-experiencing  and hyperarousal symptoms.  Read more about PTSD symptoms on the NIMH’s website.

Don’t Ever Give Up!


There will be days when you feel like you can’t take it anymore.  Days when you can’t think, focus, and can’t even begin to pray because all your energy and strength is almost gone.  When that happens, close your eyes, open your heart and ache for God.  Words aren't needed.

Promise me whenever you feel like this, you will always remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  

Promise me you will fight the lies the criminal(s) who assaulted you repeated and the victim-blaming crap you read and hear about in the media and society.  They're all lies from people who don't want to believe that someone in their community can commit such evil acts.  

God loved you into life.  When he created you, he sculpted a masterpiece.  You’re a beautiful work or art.  Some people will appreciate you and others won’t.  Some will criticize you and others will praise you.

It’s not always going to be like this.  I pray you get the counseling and support of loved ones that you need.  Don’t ever give up!  I will NEVER give up on you and neither will God.  Remember that when you listen to this Jason Mraz song, I Won’t Give Up.

PTSD Trauma Survivors Suffer Mirrors the PTSD War Veterans Suffer, so Please Be Gentle with Yourself

Did you know that as early as 1993, the American Psychological Association published a report referencing 45 clinical studies that found post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occurred in child sexual violence victims?  When survivors of childhood sexual violence and other trauma survivors experience PTSD, the disorder mirrors the PTSD war veterans suffer, so please be forgiving and gentle with yourself or your loved one.

It’s unfair you’re fighting a war with yourself because you’ve been brainwashed into believing the sexual assault you suffered was your fault.  That’s a lie perpetrated by the criminal who assaulted you or your loved one.  To make matters worse, it’s outrageous you’re also in combat with a society and worldwide media that refuses to believe that someone in their community can commit such violent and evil acts, so they usually choose to blame victims.  Remember, not only is God there for you, but millions if not billions of survivors are sending you their love by praying for you every day: for your peace, joy, and healing.  I pray you hear and feel our spirits reaching out to yours cheering you on.

Here are the lyrics of the beginning of Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” video that talks about fighting for her soul.  Below is a link to this YouTube video.  I hope you find it inspiring.
Days like this I want to drive away
Pack my bags and watch your shadow fade away
‘Cause you chew me up and spit me out
Like I was poison in your mouth
You took my light, you drained me down
That was then and this is now
Now look at me

[Chorus:]
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
Throw sticks and stones, throw your bombs and bones
You’re not gonna break my soul
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

You deserve to live a happy and peaceful life!  Maybe you don't feel like it right now, but you are in control of your life.  You and God, Nature, or whatever you call your higher power, together you can do anything.  Keep praying/meditating, fighting, and we'll keep praying/meditation for you and continue sending you our love.  It won't always be like this.  You will feel better one day!  You might lose some battles, but you're going to win this war!!!
I’m not a licensed doctor or therapistI’m one of your billion cheerleaders.  We're all someone just like you or your loved one:  conquering evil one day at a time.  If you or a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or another anxiety disorder and is not in therapy, please seek professional help in your community immediately.  Here’s a link to Resources on my website page that can assist you in your search:  https://apprenticebutterflies.com/resources/

Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.