Fear drives all post-trauma related behaviors; healing focuses on resolving the fear.
I used to live my life just to escape it. I felt a driving force to be someone other than who I thought I was. As I reflect back, I realize now that I didn’t know who I really was. The negative beliefs that I thought to be true about myself, were based solely on life experiences that made me feel irreparably defective.
I went to whatever lengths necessary to escape my reality.
I thought I needed to escape from being that little girl who was left alone those long days and nights while her single mother worked tirelessly to support her three children on her own.
I needed to escape from being the five year old girl left playing with the ants on the cement stairs, outside her apartment building, as they were her best and only companions.
I needed to escape from being that little girl sitting on her neighbors lap as he slyly stuck his hand down her Oshkosh overalls, while cheerfully singing trot trot to Boston.
I needed to escape from being the girl who so badly ached for her father’s adoration, after he abandoned her as a baby.
I needed to escape from being that pre-pubescent girl who sat in front of the mirror every morning sobbing, while she changed countless times, only to wear the same slimming black shirt and yoga pants she always wore.
I needed to escape from being the girl who was made fun of for the food stamps her family had but no choice to either use or go hungry.
I needed to escape from being the girl who struggled under the weight of that man who pinned her down that night, after he offered her a ride home.
I needed to escape from being the girl who was told she was so smart, but just didn’t apply herself enough in school.
I needed to escape from being the girl who was called a tease and a whore through messages scrolled across her profile on MySpace.
I needed to escape from being that girl who binged on rows of Oreo cookies, only to purge afterwards when no one was home.
I needed to escape from being that girl who thought she’d found true love with her high school English teacher, only to find out he was a predator.
I needed to escape from being the girl who conceived two children with this same teacher, as the reality of becoming a mother at 19 , felt earth shattering.
I needed to escape from being that girl who carefully slid the razor blade with just enough pressure as she carefully glided it across her ivory tinged wrists.
I needed to escape from being that girl who felt so inadequate, that she avoided social events at all costs.
I needed to escape from being that girl who sat in a psychiatrist’s office, only to walk out 5 minutes later with numerous antidepressant prescriptions.
I needed to escape from being the girl who was afraid to lay her head down at night, as her demons appeared making her nightmares seem all too real.
I needed to escape from the girl who loathed herself.
I needed to escape from being the girl who lived in fear of feeling any raw emotions.
Then one day, I finally needed to escape from being the girl who was endlessly trying to escape.
I was anything but free
I spent years trying to escape the girl I thought I was.
Only to find the woman I had become.
I was a heroin addicted mother of two children, who had become a prisoner to the drugs that I had used to numb the memories and the pain. In fact, all of the trauma and hurt that I had endured as a little girl was still there, and now through my attempts to escape, I had only perpetuated the cycle of trauma.
I had used my body repeatedly as an object of lonely men’s desires to feed my habit and also witnessed countless acts of violence that (statistics show) happens in the presence of addiction. In the end, I had inflicted more pain upon myself than anyone else ever had. If I was going to change, this meant no longer running but instead facing all that had happened, and challenging all that I had believed to be true.
I was more broken than ever before.
They say that sometimes the easiest way to rebuild is best done when you tear down what remains and start from scratch.
This was true in my case. My childhood trauma had prohibited me from ever really having a healthy foundation, so it was best to rebuild myself from the ground up.
This meant I had to get and remain clean, if I was going to begin the journey of healing.
I was scared shitless. Terrified and tired, but I was given a gift.
The gift of pure exhaustion.
I was so, so tired of running.
Afterall, I had been merely running in place for years. Never really getting anywhere, just staying stuck.
The process of recovery was pure hell at times. Overcoming trauma and addiction was the greatest yet, most difficult endeavor of my life. I questioned myself hundreds of times, a day. I was left wondering if I was truy deserving of a better life and often struggled with if it was even possible to lead a better life. I knew that these thoughts of worthlessness, were primarily what kept me sick and in the grips of addiction for so long. I also knew that I couldn’t remain on this earth living the way I was. So if I was going to choose life, I didn’t have any other choice than to walk through the fire.
I learned to incorporate positive self talk. Anyone who knows me, can easily vouch for just how difficult this task was for myself. Yes, who would have thought I would be the girl saying positive affirmations in the mirror, every morning, I didn’t have to believe them just yet, but the more I practiced, the easier it became to trust those affirmations as my truth.
Over time, I began to look at my past life experiences in a different light.
I learned to embrace that little girl who wanted to escape so badly. I cried with her, A LOT! I consoled and comforted her, and in the end I loved her. For she showed me just how resilient and strong I really am.
That little girl no longer resides inside of me. She does visit occasionally, when Im struggling to make it through a bad day, but she has grown, and I have grown too.
For the first time in my life, I’m not living out of fear. I am proud of who I am, and can see the value I have to offer in this world. I no longer feel that burning desire to escape. I have found what it truly means to be me, and there is nothing more freeing than that.