Thursday, May 10, 2012

However: PTSD


I had not experienced an intense flashback for quite some time.  The little ones come and go, like minor aftershocks grown accustomed to from living on the fault line of child sexual abuse.  I thought I moved away from the earthquake zone after completing EMDR treatment two years ago.

Last night, I shut my laptop at 12:20 a.m.  After cleaning it with Norton Utilities, upon restart, Windows refused to load.  I couldn’t get it to do anything.  My Toshiba wouldn’t even work in safe mode.  All I wanted to do was read blogs that I enjoy, give a bit of reciprocity, and go to bed.  I was frustrated and tired.

I shut out the light and my head began to spin.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  Even thinking of it now I get dizzy.  I thought my body was telling me to prepare to hunker down for “The Big One,” a 9.0 on the Richter scale.  However, I ignored it.  I thought, "I don't have those anymore.  It's one of those little recurring things, it will pass."

And I got in bed.

It was there--all of it.  The one memory I knew existed, yet could not retrieve.

I hate it.

I hate it because in that moment, I couldn’t keep from reliving something that my mind worked very hard at burying away in the Mariana Trench.  I had no control of my thoughts.  At a minimum, I was horrified and panic stricken:
A flashback is an emotional return to trauma. It is a type of memory so strong that it seems like you are actually back in the time, place, and situation you are remembering. In your mind, you may believe you are back at the scene of the assault. In your mind you may have a picture of the assault. This picture could seem like an image that is frozen in time, like a photograph, or it could seem like you are watching a movie of your life.   (VADV)
I hate it because I couldn't beat it.  I was desperately trying to focus on the shadows on the wall, figure out what triggered this attack, but I couldn't:
Flashbacks happen when you are awake and can be triggered by almost anything: a smell, sound, taste, or touch. (VADV)
I hate it because my mind is too precious to lose.  I had trouble discerning reality.  I knew someone other than M was in our room.  I just knew it:
Your brain believes each flashback is a separate incident and a real situation. Some flashbacks are so confusing that it gets hard to tell the difference between what is happening in the flashback and what is happening in the real world around you. (VADV)
I hate it for M because he needs me today and I am not yet back to normal.

I hate it for my girls because I do not want them to be affected by this.  It’s not theirs.  It’s mine.  I never want my father to have anything to do with them, even if it’s in the mere residue of my behavior.

I hate it for every little girl who is going to go to bed tonight and be terrorized by an earthquake.

However.

I survived.  The worst part was over many years ago.

I have a computer to fix and earthquake insurance to buy.  

When I stand on moving ground, although I feel weak, my well-worn feet still hold me steady.

On with the day.  

It's my life and I want it.

If you know any one who suffers from PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), 
support them in getting support.  


photo credit: CowGummy via photo pin cc


63 comments:

  1. Oh my dear. Your earthquake comparison is apt. Your strength shows through in this post. Keep working, keep fighting, keep being the person you are and will become.

    Great post. Writing, subject, imagery. Really fantastic.

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    1. Thank you Kristin and thank you for the retweet--I was feeling vulnerable and unsure about this post and the RT was liberating.

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  2. ((hugs))

    your honesty and drive to recover and not let it effect your children is to be admired.

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    1. Oh, the hugs. They are healing, thanks, Robbie.

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  3. I know that earthquake well. It torments and overwhelms and tries to destroy. Thankfully my flashbacks are few and far between these days but I know they are still there, lurking under the surface just waiting. I'm so sorry that you know that earthquake too.

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    1. Your comment sank to the core and lifted me up. The power in the "me too" is incredible. Thank you.

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  4. Amazing story. I can totally relate. That feeling when it just won't go away, it's awful. I hope today is better for you, and tomorrow and every day after that.

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    1. Anna,
      Thank you. The frequency of dizziness is waning. Girls are home from school. Keeping feet moving....all is well. Thank you a million more times. And I am sorry you can relate but happy to not be alone ;)

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  5. Perhaps a fire is in order? ;-)

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  6. This brought tears to my eyes, I am SO sorry and I wish I had read this sooner. Your writing is so moving and I love your bravery and determination, to protect and be there for those you love and most of all, for yourself. Amazing post, that had to be so scary and awful - I'm praying for peaceful nights for you!

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  7. Wow. So raw and powerful. (I came to your blog to comment on an idea I had for you and your stories about moms pinterest board!) Was not expecting an earthquake. Mine was very, very different, and did not happen until later in life: it was under the surface, I suppressed it for years. (I mentioned some of it in one of my other comments on your blog recently.) When it did surface, I became depressed for days, then weeks, then months, sadness turned to anger, then rage, then honesty, then acceptance. My earthquake was having a special needs child. Sounds crazy now. But it happened, and I knew I wasn't the only mom to have gone through this. By sharing your earthquake, you are brave, and helping other moms who don't have a voice. And yours is so talented. (I'll email you soon about my idea, oh my gosh, it's getting late, time to log off and read or book or something.)

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  8. I read this on my phone the other day so I didn't comment. Amazing. I so very much love to read your words. They just hit me. I know how you feel - not personally, but because you tell me.

    Please never stop writing.

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    1. Your comment is impactful...beyond words. Thank you.

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  9. You are an inspiration. This was so well put. I hope the earthquake was a brief one.

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  10. It's my life and I want it. Great words to end that very moving earth shaking event. It's not theirs, it's mine, another moving sentiment regarding your daughters. Such strength you exhibit. Inspiring. There must be many others who have endured what you have that read these posts but don't comment. And I imagine they find great comfort in your words. They are not alone. They can move through it, as you do each day.

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    1. Stephanie,
      "There must be many others who have endured what you have that read these posts but don't comment. And I imagine they find great comfort in your words." This is my hope. This is why I share my story. Thank your for your insight and kind words of support.

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  11. That last sentence? Amazing.

    These words are so real and so raw and I'm happy to have found your blog.

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    1. Thank you, Aidan. I am happy you found Sperk*, too. Blessings to you.
      ~Kimberly

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  12. i love your strength. you are truly so amazing, so inspiring.

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  13. Absolutely beautiful! I am so moved by this piece. There are so many parts of it that contain words that are incredibly and poetically woven together. I am in awe of you and your inner strength. I am moved by your courage and power. Your strength is inspiring and your voice is inspirational. You are an amazing woman who has survived. You give strength to other woman who need support and the courage to get it. -LV

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    1. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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  14. I've never suffered with PTSD so i can't relate but your words and the imagery it evoked helped me to understand just a little.

    Such lovely words!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. I am glad this helped you to relate. The number of people who suffer from PTSD is astounding. The more people understand, the more empathetic the world will be!

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  15. Ugh, I'm sorry. That sounds horrible.

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  16. You have a way Kimberly of sharing your pain and emotions in a visceral way. I feel your pain, your sadness, and wish I could take it away.

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    1. Thank you, Jackie. I wish you could take it, too, from everyone who suffers, and explode it into the universe. It does pass. And these intense flashbacks as I describe happen much less than they used to.

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  17. Wow. Can I share this with a survivor friend, so she doesn't feel so alone in her flashbacks? I'm so sorry you still suffer aftershocks. But you know it's not your fault, and if it somehow impacts your husband and kids, that's just life. It's okay to see that mommy is human, because mommy will pick herself back up - and that's a good lesson too. May today be calm and full of love.

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    1. Wow right back at you, Pish Posh. Yes, share it with your friend and anyone else you think may benefit from it. There is so much power in knowing one is not alone.

      I really, really love what you stated about my girls witnessing a human mommy. I forget that so often. You're right, it's so important for them to see me recover from uncomfortable moments so that they do not judge themselves harshly when they are having their own struggles.

      Thank you.

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  18. I'm very sorry that you lived it. Even sorrier that sometimes you have to relive it. But wow, your will amazes me.

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    1. Thanks, Vanessa. I forget I even have it sometimes and your comment is a solid reminder.

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  19. You just described this experience to a tee. Thank you for making me feel normal. Not alone. This is so well written and I just want to hug you for what you've been through. It has been a while since I have had one of these moments, but good for you for fighting through them! You should be SO PROUD OF YOURSELF!

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    1. oh, Mags. I'm sorry you, too, experience this. I hate it for both of us...for all of us. I appreciate your candor and am hugging you right now.

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  20. I'm sort of breathless right now--how beautifully written! You took me there in an amazing way! Your strength and self-awareness is inspirational!

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  21. I don't know what to type. If I was with you "in real life," I would stay silent, let you talk, fix you tea, and give you a hug. This is going to stay with me for quite awhile. Ellen

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. You actually describe what professionals recommend friends and loved-ones do for those who experience flashbacks. You are so wise. ;)

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  22. Every time I come here I am completely amazed by the power of your words and the rawness of your emotions. I wish there was anything in the world I could do to ... you know.
    xo, friend. xo

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    1. Thanks, Kristen. There is something...spread the word on how to protect children. I, myself, am amazed at your kindness and desire to be supportive. I can't express how much that means to me.

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  23. oh that we could sit across a table, so you would have at the very least my hand to squeeze for these painful moments. for now, take these words that the way you write brings me right along side you. you are strong, you have and will overcome, even if this process starts anew everyday. but you don't need to face anything alone. i am always just one click of an e-mail away. promise.

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  24. This was beautifully written. I have never had a flashback or experienced the trauma that you did, but I could feel the pain through your post, and I have intimate and deep experience with general anxiety.

    You said you don't want your daughters to be touched by this, and I understand that, but perhaps they are being impacted in the very best ways by a mother who is strong in the face of her memories and her trials, by a mother who wants the best for them, by a mother who isn't afraid to share her truth.

    Your soul shines through in this writing, and I think your daughters are very lucky to have you as their mother.

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    1. And I can record your voice saying those words to be played back non-stop in my ear when? Really, your words overwhelm me. I am grateful.

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  25. Wow.
    Thank you so much for sharing this post. It is so real and raw and perfectly descriptive.
    *hugs*

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  26. Crying now. First time reading your blog, lots of love.

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    1. Thanks, Vivian. I'm sorry you are crying. I want to hug you. I'm having a really good day. Those moments pass, and I'm stronger because of people like you.

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  27. So powerfully written. I can feel your strength.

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  28. So much love to you. The visualization of the Earthquake is powerful, evocative, and so so accurate as described by so many of the people I work with. Thinking of you often.

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    1. I'm glad it is accurate and sorry you hear it from many. I'm happy to speak for those who might not be able to. Thank you.

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  29. You are such an incredibly strong woman for sharing your story and for rising above the circumstances that happened to you.

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  30. Replies
    1. Your presence here means a lot. Thank you.

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  31. I feel the same way about my anxiety. It affects everything I do and everyone in my life and I don't want it to control me, too. I know how easy it is to let these things consume you and I know how hard we have to fight to take control over this and not let it dictate our lives. And I definitely know that feeling of confusion and helplessness when you think you have all of this under control, but then it sneaks up on you again.

    I'm so glad that you're sharing your story. I think it's so important that those of us who have felt the aftereffects of emotional trauma share it so others know they are not alone.

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  32. I'm so sorry! My heart was broken reading this. I will never understand how anyone can hurt a child, and I hate knowing that people I care about have been hurt. I'm so glad that this is in your past and you're choosing life. Not only was your writing beautiful, but informative. I clicked on those links and I had no idea that flashbacks could be like that. I'm just so sorry that you know first hand.

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  33. Trying to shield our children from our pain is so difficult! You are a powerful writer. I hope you are able to find peace by putting pen to paper...or, nowadays, fingers to keyboard.

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  34. your strength is inspiring - wishing you peace.

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  35. Dreams and flashbacks are very powerful and our lack of control over them makes their power over us so intense.

    Great share,
    WG

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  36. Awww .. I have small flashbacks of something that was emotionally traumatizing ... but what I went through was nothing compared to what you went through I'm sure ... it is hard that such small things can come out of the blue and people around you don't often understand ... as always I love reading your blogs :)

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  37. like others who have commented, I love those last lines: it's my life and I want it. Hell yeah. You have earned the secure and safe ground on which you stand - the fact that you can write this post proves your groundedness and stability. Bravo.

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  38. Your strength and resilience is so admirable, so obvious here in your words. I'm sorry that you have to live with this, live with those memories, but I'm proud of your strength, proud of your courage and all that helps you be a remarkable and amazing woman in spite of painful memories, in spite of it all.

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  39. Wow. I love your resolve at the end, your take-charge attitude. That sounds cheesy and I don't mean it that way. With the minor problems plagueing me today and my inability to move forward and push them away, I find your ability to move forward in the face of a true problem very inspiring.

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  40. This is beautiful, distressing & powerful. Your attitude is inspiring & will certainly help your girls move through life without feeling the effect of that earthquake. All the best to you. Remain strong & positive.

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  41. Oh Kim. I hate that these things happened to you. Or that it has, does and will happen to so many more. Keep bringing awareness with your writing and your powerful words of suffering AND healing. Stay you, stay strong. You are amazing.

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  42. I love the strength that you exhibited by saying "On with the day..."
    I can't imagine how hard it was, but you obviously know that you want it.

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