From the Author: Emma’s story is a peek into the mental and emotional battles that can plague an abuse survivor. It takes a lot of courage to share one’s story and open one’s self up to others. I am proud of Emma. This is a first step in a healing journey for her.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dear Journal 01-11-14: I know I don’t have to share everything, but for some reason I am compelled to share my healing journey. I need to make sure I am not hurting myself by what I say, or exposing myself to feeling alive and connected in some strange false way. I only want to share if it is healthy and helpful – not only to others but also to myself, and my friends.
People who have suffered severe abuse and trauma are often plagued by never ending bad dreams. I don’t know why some people have them and others don’t who live through the same situations. I am obviously cursed in this arena. I truly think I could have worked through a lot on my own and would have stopped thinking about the past during the day if I had not been bombarded nightly with traumatic scenarios – often new images of the same people but in different situations or a replay of the same people in what could have happened if this or if that had occurred. Daily, I often wondered why I could not simply move on and get over the past… let go, as so many well-meaning people say, but the past would not let me go. I have had many years of normalcy at night. And while I can handle a few bad nights, these negative childhood dreams that return remind me of the horrific childhood that I lived through and make me sad that such a horrible life had to happen to a sweet little girl (that happens to be me).
I sang a beautiful worship song in my bedroom one morning. In part of the song, I sang about how I am moving forward with Jesus and my past is left behind. I loved singing the song. I don’t know if they correlate. If maybe a demon put thoughts into my dreams last night to remind me that the past is not all gone or if my mind just somehow decided to circle the past, but I had emotional childhood dreams last night and awoke crying after an exhausting night.
In the dream I was secretly working with some police who were going to try and trap my abusers and bring them to prison. In my childhood, I always was afraid to work with the police or child services because I knew that if one showed up at the house and didn’t follow through with putting my abusers in prison that, when my abusers found out, that I was the one who worked with them and I would literally be killed. People who hear me say this think that this is an exaggeration but, anyone who really lived in my childhood or knew the abusers capability, understand this was a fact of life we lived with constantly – a fear that we would do something he deemed wrong enough that we would be killed. (we meaning me and my alter protectors). In part of this dream, I pin the police officer down to the ground and pound on his chest telling him if anyone gets killed before he acts (because they were taking their dear old time coming up with a timing and plan) that the death would be on him. Then I awake, shaken, crying… not for what I dreamed about, but for the very fact that I still dream about my childhood.
I think about my life that I have now and how happy I am and simply want to shake it off and move on into the day. I know I can. But I wonder why I am different… why out of all of my siblings have I been haunted by horrible dreams that effected my life so deeply. It is not like I had control of what I dreamed. But the very fact that I did dream about this junk is why I couldn’t just let it go and move on…. it had a hold on me and did not let my mind go. And then again, I do not know why. My siblings don’t talk about and share for me to know if they have such dreams. They simply move on like nothing happened. They have handled the past the best they could and I respect each for their own choice.
When a person is deeply physically injured – like from an IED explosion – the bleeding is intense and most often it is pouring out from many bodily sources… limbs may be mangled or missing. Triage is lifesaving, not cosmetic. You simply must act quickly. Pressure needs to be applied to stop the bleeding. Instinct must take over. It is either do or die. This is what my first 10 years of trauma therapy was like. I didn’t much have a choice. I was emotionally bleeding everywhere, on everyone and at anytime. Being around me was not easy and being my friend was painful a lot of the time. Enduring therapy was like having tender scabbing wounds picked at or even ripped open.
Sessions were rarely enjoyable; often I felt like I was re-entering the trauma and I very badly did not want to go… but I was compelled to go for my livelihood. But it is time again for therapy. I don’t think it will be deep level trauma therapy like before. It will be at a different level. For the past 2 years I have been trying to start again, to in a sense pick up where I left off a decade ago but of course, people and times have changed. I am now in my forties. I started therapy in my 20s. There is a HUGE gap of life I–in many ways– survived, not really lived but existed, again… a lot like my first 18 years of life. Only I was not being injured; I was healing from the initial child abuse injuries.
This time in therapy, I am facing my life in the present. I am assessing where I am, who I am and what I need to be doing with the days I have remaining in life. I do know that I am presently safe and whole and that I am deeply loved by God. Thankfully, I am healed to the point that dreams like I had last night don’t creep into my day and therefore they don’t, in any meaningful way, effect my new day. Of course, I can’t help but wonder if they make me a little different in my thoughts. I can only hope that I will use it for good and be more sensitive to others who have suffered. I thank God for His saving grace and the fact that HIS mercies are new every morning. I plan today to move forward with God and leave the past behind. I am going to live in the freshness and goodness that this day brings. I thank God for how far He has brought me and for the enormous healing I have experienced. It is time for me to press into God but in a much different way. I’m going to be learning how to LET GOD LOVE ME, to let HIM FILL ME, to experience HIM in my core and to be grounded in HIM, anchored in HIM…. not mentally/intellectually or hanging onto to Him (ha – let Him hang onto me is more like it) as I travel the turbulent storms of trauma therapy. This time I am going to press into HIM and SIT! Absorb. Rest. Learn to be STILL. And receive all that I lack and so much more that I can not begin to imagine. So today, I step off the ledge in a totally different way, and free fall into God. I want to soak in all of Him I can and thereby to be transformed.