There was a time the most popular diagnosis for women who were abused as children and into later life was border line personality disorder. When I first began my educational journey as a counselor, prior to becoming well versed in my own recovery, one of the training sessions focused on recognizing and dealing with the border line personality. The consensus at the time was the exhaustive nature of this disorder, like energy vampires the border line personality continued to insist on being “fixed.” The idea of posing this aspect was to give warning and equip the counselor with the tools to keep from being drained and warn out by this personality. Now the change is slow, but women are being included in the posttraumatic stress diagnosis. This does not change the stigma that rises with the reasons for the diagnosis, nor does the limited experience of working with anyone in this category. Treatment options are all limited, designed to work with what the individual who designed them feels will work, quoting a few success and hence creating a path for others to follow.
As one who has been living inside of the disease I can tell you that each treatment has its limits and serves to ignore the most important aspect of the human, the entire person. What this means to me is the mental, physical, spiritual, somatic, emotional, neuro-physical, and all the other parts that seem to get clumped up into one mass solution. Until the disorder is treated holistically recovery is not possible, I am firm in this belief based upon my own experience. I do not know what it is that created resilience, nor the strong belief that I can heal! I remain convicted, in prison searching for a way out, escape is not possible, but serving my time is done, hence healing is the only other option. A difficult quest, exhausting and at times the sense of helplessness, to forget about it and let life end is sitting there waiting to remind me of the abandonment.
Recently it came to my attention that my grandmother was being harassed for being supportive of me, so I wrote with the intent to end this turmoil, serving to protect her. The result was simple; I am now disowned and cut out of a will that for all intents and purposes really contained nothing for me. This is not the first time this has occurred, but it is the first time I was told. This event woke me up to a concept I had ignored and frightens me to no end. My mother married a man just like her dad, and then remarried him. We do repeat the same patterns over and over again in an attempt to resolve them, not on an intentional level, but on a much deeper one. The second marriage brought me my perpetrator, tormentor and nightmare that have finally gotten weaker. The pattern says that I should not have expected my birth father to be any different than my mother’s second husband, and this is not said out of anger or pain.
The most important aspect to healing is to find those patterns which serve to continue the behaviors that created it. I speak of posttraumatic stress which has a distinct set of patterns with some obvious and others subtle. Learning to listen is a learned behavior, the need to feel safe, take it slow and in small increments, each exercise is designed to bring awareness alive and heal the somatic as well as the entire self. The best books for self-help direct the individual into the arena of self, learning to be safe in feeling self, this means the body and sensations as simple as rain drops on the face. This journey is frightening to someone who spent an entire lifetime practicing detaching from body, emotions, somatic, etc. This type of lifestyle creates so much distress for the body, wearing out organs, creating disease and developing severe neurosis.
My years of recovery from drug and alcohol use/abuse has brought me to this aspect of journey, finding the somatic self, accepting her and helping her to live a life she was born to experience. Moving beyond the mediocrity of life, that place of manageability, a set point that one continues to return to because it feels safe for the moment, yet in the long run only serves to keep the self locked away.
I hear the child cry,
she sits huddled in the darkest corners,
Silently she sheds her tears,
begging for an ear to hear,
a soft touch to bring comfort,
fearful of being found.
Hear the silent cry,
comfort the child that sheds the tear,
bring her into the light.
She asks to be safe, to live and to love.
The child born to…
The lessons learned burn deep,
engraved in her skin,
carved on her soul,
tell and you will be punished,
you asked for it
begged for it
no one listens
no one cares
your punishment awaits when you tell.
The journey continues, because I told, and I have not stopped telling. Standing up for myself, no longer accepting the harassment, the torment of being a secret in the closet. I live in the light, so does the child who silently cries, slowly she is brought into the world, protected and learning how to care for self. Sorrow is in the losses gained through no longer hiding, being so brazen as to step into the light and speak up for those who are still so fearful, teaching that there is no shame in speaking your story in order to change it. As long as wallowing is not an ongoing way of life, moving beyond means accepting the silent suffering, acceptance is the way of life, moving into awareness.
Recovery happens! Life is real, not some imagined story that happens to others! The chains fall away and crumble; holistic healing is a way of life now. No longer hiding in the shadows, acceptance of those who cannot possibly look at me because they see their failures, the reminder of a way of life they would sooner forget. The one thing that stings when someone who stands for recovering their life, choosing life, those who are involved get restless, scared and guilty, finding their own sores are not really healed, just hidden. Becoming their mirror, reminding them of the child they chose to leave in the closet, taking her out only when it served them, showing her off, now she refuses to be silenced and have the closet door closed and locked, disposing of her is easier, a simpler way to silence their own wounds that scream for healing.
Life is worth living. There is a solution, a way out of the closet. But, do you dare? I hope so, take the risk, learn how to find a gentler, kinder way of life, move beyond the dark and face the light. Here is a prayer I recently found that I am now enamored with:
Daily Petition to St. Dymphna
Almighty and loving Father, by the example of St. Dymphna, Virgin and martyr, and by her intercession protect all those afflicted by tension and emotional stress, to enjoy your protection in life, and eternal happiness in your presence now and forever. Through Christ, our Lord, I ask. Amen.
Choose life, join me on my journey to recover what was taken from self and gift her/him with the love each of us is blessed with. It is our heritage to live in abundance, to love, be loved, and have the power to heal. You are not alone, Divine love is yours, reach out and it will come to you a thousand fold. Learn to become aware, to grow and to heal.