The road to recovery is long and arduous. The act of seeking help, and the anticipation of receiving it, is among the most challenging of all. It stirs deep, dark waters and the sensed but unknown terrors that lurk in waiting underneath the sediment of my mind.
I can feel them slither in their murky abode. These cold blooded creatures have not stirred in decennia, but now the minutest shimmering of light has trickled down from above, carrying a promise of warmth. It quickens their blood, and my pulse.
Inertia takes hold; I become the lizard, body and brain.
I must eat to survive this cold. I must only do what is absolutely necessary to survive. I must survive.
I must survive.
Those four syllables turn into a merciless beat, and I like a puppet to its puppeteer. In the background, my rational brain protests, and bravely suggests helpful activities such as drawing and journaling, and noting my thoughts when feeling the urge to comfort eat. Its efforts are noted, but drowned out by the ceaseless 4-speed beat of the lizard brain.
I must survive.
Today is the first time in two weeks the beat has dropped its volume enough for my rational brain to regain control. It’s been an exhausting and very lonely two weeks. The most horrific thing about this experience is that practically no one on the outside will have noticed that anything was going on, or if so, the extent to which I was troubled by it.
We trauma survivors – certainly those of us whom experienced Childhood Emotional Neglect (‘CEN’)– have learnt to hide in plain sight. Many of us were forced to be someone else’s vision of whom we were, so what you see on the outside is not what is happening on the inside.
What’s more, we had to learn to suppress our emotions in order to survive. And some of our early childhood experiences were so traumatic (‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ or ‘ACE’)) that we mentally boxed them up and put them away. Our memories got jumbled and shattered, and we are physically incapable of recalling what happened – until something changes, often much later on, that allows the memory paths to reform.
My ‘something’ was an initial conversation with a therapist to explore trauma informed therapy.
It was the first time I spoke in detail about my ACEs, specifically CEN and Covert Emotional Incest. And, after some diagnostic tests, it was also the first time to get a formal diagnosis of PTSD. Not just me adding up the causes and symptoms and saying, yep, that’s Complex PTSD, but an actual trauma informed therapist confirming it.
I’m not an imposter. My trauma is real.
I have given notice to the electric moray wrestling for prominence among the restless jumble of my memories. I am coming for them.