C-PTSD Childhood Trauma Survivor

A little Background

I have written and talked a little about my biological mother. She was a very sick woman. Her illness, from what I understood started when she was pregnant with my second oldest half-sister. It is difficult to piece together a past when all I have are my fractured memories, bits of recorded conversations and paperwork from the county I was a ward of my entire childhood.

All the people have moved on. They have either died, forgotten us or I have forgotten them. Needless to say, my C-PTSD started when I was born and left in the care of a woman who was very mentally ill. My entire life I had to deal with her religious fanaticism and her psychotic episodes.

My biological half siblings had a different view of her I think. Obviously as I have no relationship with them, nor want one anymore, I can only surmise from conversations we have had in the past. In the beginning, to them she was a Mother. To me she was always a bit of a monster. I never knew who I would be coming home to.

I was moved from home to home as she would have psychotic breaks that would cause her to harm me and the people around her. Eventually, at the end, all that was left was us. Her and me. And I was stuck in foster care when she took her own life on Christmas Eve.

Complications of Diving Into A Swiss Cheese Memory

As I try to delve into my past, I try to understand the symptoms of my C-PTSD and how I am going to heal from it. I really do not have a game plan, I have decided to put my trust in my “team”. My psychologist who is specializes in Childhood Trauma  and the psychiatrist she recommended. However, I find myself looking at things from a different perspective than before I started on this particular path to healing.

When I am paralyzed by the pain and when I feel the rage so close to breaking through the surface I wonder if I made the right decision to beat the shit out of that hornets’ nest that is my mind. There is something to be said for, as I have been told repeatedly by those who mean well but frankly are full of shit, sometimes it is best to leave the past in the past.

No, it is not, but there is a part of me that wishes I could. That wishes the body did not keep the score and the symptoms of my C-PTSD were not so strong that they prevented me from living what I feel is a “normal” life. I know it is a construct of my mind, we all struggle in one way or another, however, my pain, my trauma does not devalue yours, nor does yours devalue mine.

This is my life and I am doing the best I can, as most of us are wont to do.

The challenge is that when I think of healing I imagine a thinner happier me running along a beach with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart and the salt wind tickling my face. I am beginning to realize that this is a fantasy I concocted to help me survive and keep moving forward. I am not sure what the “happy ending” is or if there is one for me.

The facts according to Jessica

True healing, no matter what anyone tells you, is individual. It is why I started this project, because I did not really relate to people out there preaching positive thinking and damning trauma survivors for not having control over their own emotions and healing process. There is no “One Specific” way to heal. There are methodologies that work for some and not for others. There are medications that help some and harm others. Frankly, from what I have experienced, it is a crap shoot.

We, the vulnerable, the survivors, put our faith in the people who are supposed to be qualified to help us. These are the same people I went to college with. The same people who did too many shots and ended up in an alley in NYC throwing up their guts while I held their hair. My point is these people are normal human beings who are fallible and who are not always educated or prepared to help people who really need it.

Therefore it is up to us to find our way and be our own advocates and that can be so damn difficult when you are struggling to get through each day and feel as if you might break at any moment or go batshit crazy on the next person who gives you the stink eye.

Trust your gut. Look around. Schedule several appointments so you can interview potential psychologists. Look for people who specialize in your specific area of trauma. Research. Put the work into it because you are worth it.

My Process So Far

I am no expert. I am not a psychologist. I am a woman who has spent the last 40 years of her life alternating from rage to hiding from the world because of being afraid of being hurt. For some reason I thought creating this Facebook Page, This private Group and this blog would help in my healing process and I still need to figure out if it is helping me. I have yet to be able to answer that question when my psychologists asks.

Recently I have been struggling with my triggers being hit by asshats and it made me want to run back into my shell. I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to be bullied by anyone anymore. That does not mean that it is easy or that dealing with trolls or asshats is easy, but now that I have implemented a No Tolerance policy and recruited two of my best friends to help weed out the jerks and mean people, it helps.

I have also had a better understanding of some of my triggers which, after I stop freaking out, allows me to come up with game plans and processes in dealing with these situations. I am a target just by having this project that puts me in the public eye, something that would have been unheard of in the past. This is progress.

I am trying new medications which is also something I would not have done in the past. I am giving it the time it needs and taking it one day at a time. Sometimes I feel okay, others I feel as though I will fall into the dark abyss and let the waves consume me. But I won’t, not really, I will just think about it. I am now also starting to think about and actively take part in working on getting healthy. I think I was slowly killing myself in the most passive aggressive way.

My Truth

Healing is hard. I haven’t even started digging into the traumas themselves with my psychologist because I have been such a mess because of all the medicine changes. The side effects, the emotional ups and downs, the rage and the exhaustion, the sadness and grief. Did I mention the rage? Cause that shit is no joke.

The Facebook Page and Group are difficult enough because I feel a responsibility to protect myself and my followers and there are always going to be people who have inner demons that cause them to try to hurt others. The key, and I am working on it, is to realize that no matter how much they think it is personal to me, it is not. And to ban the fuckers. By putting myself out there, by putting my story out there, I am going to upset people and I accept that. I also accept that I need to learn how to evolve so that it does not affect me. Something that will take time and work.

I survived twelve years of abuse, trauma and abandonment. I think I can handle this. Even if it does hurt. I can accept that, allow myself to feel it and move on. That is progress my friends.

I haven’t even begun the real meat of the healing process. So that shit will be interesting when I get to that point.

The reason I am sharing this is twofold.

  1. To know that I am not alone.
  2. To show you that you are not alone.

You have seen my breakdowns, you have seen some of my triumphs and you have seen the real me. This will continue because I think it is important. If you are an asshat, we will weed you out eventually, you can’t hide forever and I am not here to support you. I am here to support the people who encourage and spread love. Those who laugh at pain, at honestly and those who think they are experts are full of shit and will be removed.

A Short Story and the reason for my Long Post

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I have the need to share, to talk and educate, not only myself but others too. So I talk a lot and I write a lot. I wanted to share a part of the crazy wonderfulness of my biological mother. I wanted to show you that it is not always black and white and that sometimes no matter how hard we try, we are fallible.

She tried so damn hard. Like I do, only her illnesses were so much more different than my struggles. I struggle because of what she and the system and the foster parents did to me. But she was not a monster, not really, she was like us, struggling and she should have been forced to give me up the moment she gave birth to me.

I think this is why I have struggled for so many years because I had this image in my mind of me hating her and her always being a monster. But she wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, bitch was a bad mother and she beat me and was a religious fanatic when she was on the medication. But she had these moments too and I would like to share one of them with you.

And I need to make it clear that I loved her more than anything in the world and I was a loyal little girl. I remember trying so hard to please her and always failing. I wanted her to love me. And she did, in her own, psychotic, controlling obsessive way.

The Morning My Mother Showed Me Magic Existed

We were living in this little one room apartment a few years before she took her own life by jumping off the bridge into the Hudson River, freeing me from her obsessive love. I often, at least lately, wonder what was going through her mind in those last moments.

We surmised that she left the house she was living in at the time with the intent to take her own life because the fight became too much, too exhausting. She left her big St. James bible, my nemesis, behind. This is what made everyone think she intended to take her own life and it was no accident.

However, years before, I was staying with her in this little apartment. I was too young to realize that there was only one bedroom and I remember that she would lie down next to me each night and I would pretend to fall asleep because I wanted her to leave. I would practice my breathing, pretending it was a deep sleep breathing and I would wait until I actually fell asleep.

Like a good girl I said my prayers and they always went on too long because when we got to the bless part I wanted to make sure to include everyone so it went on a while. I was always a literal kid, person, woman. I think that is a part of being abused. We try so hard to do exactly what we are told so we do not get hit or screamed at.

This night, it was still light out when she put me to bed. I remember looking out the little window and seeing the neighborhood kids playing king /queen of the hill on a huge snowbank and wishing I could play with them. She told me they were sinners and that was out of the question.

So I said my prayers to a god I no longer believed in and I said my blessings because I honestly wanted everyone to be blessed. I climbed into the twin bed and she laid on top of the covers. I thought she would leave and tried to trick her with my breathing but she stayed and I fell asleep eventually. I remember resenting her and her god. I remember wishing I could be one of those neighborhood kids and wishing my stomach was not empty. I remember wishing I could have been born into a different family.

As I fell asleep I explored worlds in my mind, where I was strong and powerful and I traveled the universe and I was not stuck in my own personal hell. I was powerful and no one could hurt me or touch me there. That was my sanctuary. My mind. All throughout my life.

At some point she jostled me awake, it was still night out. She wanted to show me something and she was so excited. I was wearing my jammies, meaning I did not have a coat on or shoes. It was the middle of winter. She walked ahead of me, in her manic state and talked to herself as I dragged myself behind her. My feet were full of slush and I was freezing but I did not dare say anything. I knew well enough where that would lead.

After a while we came to the local park and the sun was starting to replace the pitch black star filled sky with soft layers of color. It was beautiful and for a moment I forgot how cold I was and how wet my unsodden feet were. She stopped suddenly and motioned for me to be still and quite.

And suddenly I saw the world through her eyes. As we stood there in the freezing cold, the wind whipping mercilessly against my ill equipped body, I struggled to keep my movements to a minimum and I watched as the light filled the sky, shining on the huge puddles of melted snow that were covered with these beautiful white birds.

It was stunning. The birds were huge and beautiful and they covered the field. The water and ice sparkled in the sun and I was lost in the moment of pure beauty, pure magic. To her, this moment was something she wanted to share with me.

She was incapable of understanding that “normal” parents do not drag their children out into the freezing cold with no shoes, no jackets or gloves or hats to watch the sun rise over a field covered in beautiful birds. All she saw was the beauty. Not my discomfort, or her own as she was feverish with her mania.

This was the beginning of the end, the start of a new psychotic episode. But she gave me a gift. The gift of beauty. The gift of nature and the gift of a flu which I caught not soon after.

My mother was so many things. We all are. That is what I am struggling with. Trying to understand her in a new light. She had a beautiful voice. She would sing to me every time I requested it. She would draw me princesses and add jewels as I requested them. She loved me more than life itself. Yet, she abused me.  She tortured me. She could have killed me, snapped my neck when she threw me across the room. She loved me, she hated me and she did not know me, depending on where she was in her psychotic breaks.

I went hungry because we did not have food and every time we went to a church, I knew I was going home with a beating waiting for me and then time in the little closet and that fucking bible.

She was so sick. But underneath that was a loving woman, who was uneducated and still a shitty mom. Let’s be real here, I am not going to sugar coat this shit. There is only so much you can blame on the illness.

I think her heart was good. I think everything else just got in the way. Imagine waking up one day in a psych ward unsure how you got there or what you did to deserve to be there. This was her life. But she still abused me when she was on her medications.

What is the point?

My point to this post is that we are all so much more than we appear and my journey to healing is trying to understand not only my own triggers and traumas, but hers as well. In the end it was just the two of us and then it was just her because I was in foster care.

I was so full of rage. I did not understand why. All I knew is what I felt. I felt hurt and betrayed and abandoned and hate and rage. But underneath that I loved her desperately. With a passion that was so intense I could never imagine not feeling it. I was protective of her. I was supportive and I was loyal to the end.

We all have our struggles, we all have our triggers. Mine do not devalue yours nor do yours devalue mine.

My biological grandmother wanted so much for me to see that there were good times too, but all I could remember was the pain and disappointment.

What I want to remember is that she was a human being struggling with many mental illnesses that were not properly understood or treated and a family that deserted her in the end.

How lonely that had to feel.

That last night, the last time I spoke with her, on Christmas eve I was at my grandmothers and I remember that she made me cry. I am not sure what it was about, but I remember that my grandmother got on the phone and yelled at her. Those were her last words to her daughter. Those were my last words to my mother.

I imagine the darkness insider her growing to the point where the water was a release. The cold embrace was her way out. The way to stop the struggle. I imagine that she felt lost and alone and that she had no one left. I feel as though she felt that she let everyone down, when in reality it was not her fault. She did not have the help, the support she needed.

In my mind’s eye I see her standing on the bridge to the gorge, watching the water crash down, the splashes of water softly hitting her in the face, the cold water mixing with her tears. That moment when the decision was made. Perhaps when she went there to test herself, or perhaps she knew all along that it was going to happen, that the decision had been made and she was going to succumb. That fighting was too damn difficult.

I wonder what she thought about? Did she think about the angry conversations? Did she think there was simply no way left to fix herself and heal and live with her illnesses? Did she think of me and my half-biological siblings? Did she think of my long dead grandfather and uncle? Did she think she was doing her mother a favor? Was she thinking at all? Was she simply numb?

I will never know the answers to this. But I do know that although my own journey to healing is proving far more difficult than I ever expected it to be, I will never make the final leap into the crashing waves. I will never allow them to welcome me into their cold embrace. I am not my biological mother.

She was never the monster that I thought she was. She was a woman who suffered and tried so damn hard to find the answers, which is why she became a religious fanatic. She was human. She was flawed. But she was capable of such beauty. She could see it, she could draw and paint it and she could sing it. When she was more herself, she loved me. When she was more the monster, sick and psychotic she was possessive and would not let me go.

She beat me when I was a baby and she beat me when I was a little girl, all through my childhood. She let her fanaticism infect our world and she made my life a living hell. But she was more than I remember her to be and I am going to work on humanizing her. Because she was doing the best she could and in her own way, when she could, she loved me.

She showed me that beauty exists. That magic exists. She also showed me that pain and loss and abandonment exists so… kind of a mixed bag my friends.

2 replies
  1. Kelly Kirkland
    Kelly Kirkland says:

    It comes to mind that I’ve told my children in the past that parents are human, too. I never thought to lump my parents in there, though. It sure is a lot to think about. I wish I could say that I recall feeling love from either of them, but I can’t. I suppose that is why I can’t make them fit into that. Your story gives me some things to reflect on. Thank you very much for writing it. You are so special and encouraging. Also, you are not alone. I wish you the best in all things.

    Reply
    • Jess
      Jess says:

      Kelly, thank you so much for your support. I think it is something we all struggle with. It is only because of what I have personally been going through, with trying to heal and struggling with the medications that are supposed to help with the side effects of my C-PTSD that I have begun to be able to see more. Do not get me wrong, I refuse to blame it all on her illnesses, but it is interesting to think about what her life was like and how difficult it must have been to struggle the way she did. What amazes me is that she did not kill me. I read stories all the time of mothers who lose it and they kill their children. I was so fragile and so many times she could have taken it just one step further. I think, deep down, she was a good person struggling with something that most people can not comprehend. She did the best she could but it was never close enough to being good enough. She was abusive. She was a fanatic. She was also a woman who was not getting the help she needed to find a way to live in this world without struggling so much. We lived in a small town, surrounded by other small towns. People were ignorant and uneducated. I guess I am just trying to look beyond my own suffering and experience and understand hers as well. Which with just me hypothesising and having the big Box of Pain to go by isn’t much. In the end, we are the ones who determine our reality and I am not sure it matters, unless it helps me understand and move forward away from the darkness. Thank you for reminding me I am not alone, and for your support and encouragement. You know how to find me if you ever want to “talk” it out. -Jess

      Reply

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