I grew up in a very abusive home where I learned to keep secrets, how not to trust or communicate, and that I had no self-worth. As a result, I have been diagnosed with chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PtSD), anxiety disorder as well as borderline personality disorder. On the positive side, I learned how to survive.
Actually, my recovery began at the age of 28 after my first suicide attempt. Soon after that, the PTSD kicked in. Flashbacks are very scary. Although I was 28, I was remembering something (an abusive interlude) through the eyes of a child. I would relive the pain and fear as if it were really happening. Oftentimes I would find myself curled up in the fetal position, rocking myself, silently crying and singing “Jesus loves me” in my head, hoping not to be found by my abuser or sometimes it was due to the aftermath of the abuse. Then, poof! I would be 28 again and feeling more depressed than ever. Eventually, thanks to medication and years of therapy, I came to recognize some of the triggers that would induce a flashback and how to get through it, process it and let it go. For instance, the smell of cheap cigars would affect me emotionally. All of a sudden, I would get very scared and want to hide but I have learned to counteract the smell by carrying a bottle of white flower oil that I could sniff and get grounded instead of cutting myself or using drugs.
I learned very early in life to depend on me. I taught myself how to survive – whatever the cost – I managed to get my needs met, not stopping to think about the consequences (a borderline trait). Due to the fact that I had no coping or communication skills, I did the best I could. I became a whore, a drug addict, a single parent and a lost soul. I did not trust anyone, not even myself! Periodically, I tried church, but because of my trust issues, I couldn’t trust God. Actually, I didn’t want to . . . I was angry with Him for the abusive childhood I had. Where was He then, when I needed His protection?! I can take care of myself now. So, I bounced back and forth between church, the party life and the therapeutic recovery life.
One of the most vivid memories I have about accomplishments and progress during my recovery is when I learned that I have the right to say “No” and I did not owe anybody an explanation. I would tell people “No” just because I could! After awhile, I did learn that “No” is not always an appropriate response. Today I have a new and powerful favorite word – choose. I love to say, “I choose not to…” or “I choose to… ” Believing that I have a choice is very liberating and empowering, but the greatest gift I have received thus far on my journey is a spiritual awakening and a personal relationship with Christ. This has given me a sense of self-worth; it’s teaching me how to trust others and, most importantly, how to give and receive love.