Testimony & Hope

I used to get jealous of my therapist. She got something from therapy that I didn’t (besides my cash). She got to hear from survivor after survivor after survivor.truth

I wanted THAT.

I wanted to know what the other people – who were sharing the same chair before and after me in my session – were saying. I wondered what they lived with, learned and discovered about life with developmental trauma. I wondered how they navigated life post-trauma.

That’s what I needed most.

Them.

How did others go from crappy to happy, stressed to blessed or from pissed off to blissed out?Dandelions in Sunlight

How did they manage when they lost their center and fell into sadness, anger or numbness?

How did they shake off nightmare hangovers or cope with triggers when life was… life?

What were the short cuts, strategies and insights?

I craved conversation and sharing and eye contact without co-pays.

Now I get that all of the time.

I get to hear from other survivors. It’s the best part of doing this work and taking on the topics I do in my writing. It’s as powerful as I suspected it might be.

It’s wishes blown off daffodils now coming true. I want to share because I’ve often thought there’s got to be a way for everyone to hear one another.

So, these are your words below. These are words you’ve posted publicly here or To Write Love on Her Arms, Elephant Journal or Ms. Magazine. Or words you’ve shared privately and given me permission to share. 

Your words affirm, validate and inspire.

Your words are important. Your experiences are important. YOU are important.

And we need each other.

So Yay to truth-telling, silence-breaking and honesty.

Yay to community, being real and being honest. Dandelion

Goodbye shame. Goodbye silence. Goodbye stigma.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

From M. D.  “I am not sure what to say…thank you. Reading this has given me some hope. It can be/feel hard to find someone you can talk to honestly about the “now” of it.”

Anon

“Thank you so much for posting this. Outside of my actual therapy, I feel like no one around me understands the sheer pain and complexity of developmental trauma/C-PTSD. Most information/treatments for PTSD mention childhood trauma but then go on to discuss the goal as “return to normal.” But with those of us who grew up in such toxic environments, this has always been our normal and we have to shape a new, healthy life. There’s no baseline to return to; our brains developed under these traumatic conditions. Yes, it does take years to learn how to function outside of the rabbit hole that was our entire childhood (and usually beyond). Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery in sharing. This has been so validating for me today.”

Hi Christine ~ You’ve touched on many points that are relevant to survivors as we age, and I appreciate your honesty. As a younger woman, I recall striving to get everything abuse-related all worked out (Push through it! Achieve! Cope supremely!) so that I could rest easy when I got older. I specifically remember saying aloud, I do NOT want to be dealing with this when I’m fifty! Imagine my disappointment (rage?) when 50 came and went and I was still having days when coping well seemed like a foolish fantasy. Thankfully I’m learning how to be so much more gentle and forgiving with myself. Your article helps me consider that a good next step would be to be open to the type of friendship you describe. *luv*

From E.B. Fitzgeraldweb sunflower 3

Cissy,

“Thank you. Thank you for creating such a sound container for transparent sharing. It’s something that has often felt missing in the healing community.” 

and 

“As for the practical kinds of things I have done to heal from my own abuse I would say a combination of a life-long faith practice, therapy, safe relationships with healthy friends and mentors, exercise and paying attention to my diet 99% of the time (Exercise is the greatest free medicine), meditation and mindfulness which I started at a very young age, volunteering, practicing gratitude and constantly reminding myself of what I have instead of what I think was missing or ‘bad’, recycling my challenges into gifts (asking myself what was good about each area of abuse, assault or pain-what did I learn etc, who can I help with that etc?), studying my experiences and turning it into a profession-that has given me a way to make meaning out of my experiences which I think is important for trauma survivors-to be able to say that what happened to me ended up helping someone else means that it wasn’t for nothing; my pain had a purpose to help someone else.

I also spent time re-parenting myself and learning how to nurture myself. It’s taken me a very long time to learn how to do very basic things, like buy clothing that makes me feel comfortable in my own body. No one told me to do this or showed me how. I learned by working with adults in recovery and asking them how they felt in their bodies; it was through reflection and then a failed, abusive marriage that I actually learned to look at myself, or see myself. I think part of trauma-survival is the ability to stay detached and remain invisible, so when we finally do come back to our bodies…well, I was kind of a hot mess and no one had told me that I hadn’t brushed my hair in 20 years?”

A.G.  

“How did you crawl inside me and find those words?”

Sandy 

“I completely related to this article and appreciate you sharing what is so hard to put down in words.”

Memweb sunflower 2

“But this parenting stuff… heavy! I think you’re right. It was the absence of good/occasionally happy experiences that make it so very tricky to be the parent you want to be and keep all that expertise out of their sight, and somehow manage your own needs due to high ACEs etc. What an understatement. And yet so very very crucial to understand and achieve. I think this topic deserves it’s own blog!! There must be so many trying to do what you are and often struggling and need to find the appropriate support and hope: we CAN do this!
The things I have done to try and protect my children from what I’ve endured are kinda out there, but I know you would understand!:)
I think it’s hard to not leave some sort of impact on our children, but honesty and sheer gutsiness must surely overcome most of this legacy.
Keep up the great work. As ACEs becomes more well known and established by more of the population, this website and this topic, I’m sure, will become one in which parents will turn to. Congratulations again on such a crucial topic, Cissy!”

J. 

“OMG!! this story has really lifted my hopes of finding hope, something like this happen to me when I was 8years old and it was one of my family remembers.. but thank you 4 this story and I would like to thank you also 4 the hotline you put up there, they really care and want to hear your story! THANK YOU!”

Elizabethscituate 12

“I read through some of Dr. Porges work and watched some videos but it’s not quite registering. I’ll keep at it though because I’ve watched another seminar on Compassion Fatigue that talks about the vagus nerve and that did make sense.
What I really loved is hearing “Safety is the treatment.” The concept that as survivors, we live our lives ‘faking normal’ or white knuckling through life is finally becoming cruel enough to me, that I’ve just started giving myself permission to accommodate my own needs. Isn’t that nuts? Wild? Radical? Yes. And it’s also been really kind, compassionate, humanistic and peaceful.
I buy the soft blanket, and the shirt that is beautiful and covers my body how I want it to be covered. I eat the good food, even if it costs more. I create the space I want to come home to and set the pace for how I want to live. I set the boundary and leave when I need, instead of stay to make ‘them’ happy. I say ‘no’. I practice not apologizing. The hardest part is communicating those complex needs to a loving and available partner. You keep waiting for the other person to get sick of all your disclaimers, but the price my body makes me pay for not honoring those disclaimers has become too high. And then there’s the balancing of awareness. I think at some point I began looking around at people and noticing they had all managed to figure out what they wanted or needed to have a nice day at the beach or a good hike; were my ‘disclaimers’ or needs really any different? or any more or less? No. I had just deemed all of my needs as excessive, obnoxious, too much-insert the sound of my mother sighing, my father screaming or someone rolling their eyes. Permission to be alive and have needs-granted. Meeting needs = Safety = not aggravating that polyvagus nerve and spending the day with acute anxiety because of out of control somatic symptoms.
The most basic question gets missed by healthcare: What do you need to feel safe before we begin? Imagine if a doctor asked that?? Most don’t, so I’ve had to learn to be my own advocate, which can be exhausting. Hooray for trauma-informed care!
Anyway, great stuff. Thank you!”

Amy

“I tried to build a successful life and hide my truth and its just not possible. I do not have a local support group I can go to. I’ve been told to keep what happened buried inside so others won’t know what happened to me and/or think “bad” of me. Thank you for sharing this article because I feel that I’m not the only one who wants to speak up and help others by sharing my survival story. There should be no shame with being a victim to incest/childhood sexual abuse.”

KC1278794_10201996997437297_953583868_o(1)

“I always thought my thoughts of : if I were homeless where would I find shelter, how would I survive, or defend myself; when I am in a restaurant I sit facing the door and map out an exit strategy in my mind in case a gunman comes in; or, how will I defend myself if I am attacked while (fill in the blank)…were just things I did.

I understand the need for constant noise so my mind can’t rest and think and just be.

I will need to look into mindfulness.

Thank you for writing this and to my cousin who posted this on her FB page.”

Holly

“There is nothing more vindicating than seeing what I experience…written by someone else. I’m an adult adoptee, trauma survivor and also an adoptive parent (like you!) Today has been a tough one, safety eludes me…but, thanks to your sharing I found a little something else I wasn’t expecting today; HOPE. Can’t wait to dig in and read more.
Thank you!”

Vicki

“You have articulated so well the experience of trauma on going throughout life. I kept shaking my head yes at every sentence. When I read “the absence of good more than the presence of bad”, I knew I was home. I have been saying for sometime, it is not what happened but what did not happen that causes the most damage. When we receive what we need in the aftermath of an experience, the guidance, empathy, comfort and connection, we can form resilience instead of distorted self concept and copeing. It is not what happened but how we emerged from it that forms our expectations and beliefs in our ability and worth to ourselves and the world. Of course, a healthy response to trauma is rarely, if ever experienced in the home that allowed/created it. I invite you to check out my site which has a simple way to do this today, with amazing results. It is no coincidence that I saw the webcast today, you posted this today and I am personally working on managing my fear of “getting the word out about Life ReScripted”. I have more to learn personally about fear, no, actually terror and how to cope, continue, transform it and I am sure this will also enhance Life ReScripted. However, I wish it would be easier, “just do it” has worked for fear but is not working for terror.”

Cassandrascituate 19

“I have only just found your website recently, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for articulating so eloquently thoughts that I frequently have about dealing with trauma, especially seeing mother as victim but also perpetrator and the repeated reference in literature to a “pre-trauma self” (which really doesn’t resonate for those abused in childhood). I am early days in my treatment of complex trauma (having previously been diagnosed with panic attacks and depression 6 years ago and my family being in denial about the abuse), so I am new to the concepts of developmental trauma and possible treatments (neurofeedback etc).

Thank you for providing such a human and empathetic voice to these issues. I find it greatly comforting.”

Jane

“Not everyone has the mental acuity or other support and abilities to become their own doctor, lawyer, advocate, investigator. I feel like im cramming for about a hundred tests at a time”

Anonymous

“thank you so much for writing this. by far the hardest part of life for me is learning how to NOT compartmentalize my feelings, having to actually FEEL them and not “control” (ignore) them. i so relate to your statement about it being as appealing as letting snot leak from the nose. if i’m being completely honest, i think i would rather be physically beat up than acknowledge my sadness or disappointment in front of someone else, or even myself. so learning to do just that has been a scary and often confusing journey for me. but i want to believe that it will be worth the pain and hard work someday — that someday i feel be able to feel connected to someone, present, open, and vulnerable, without also feeling panicked.
all the same, the road to getting to that place is hard to share with others who have never traveled it. when intimacy has always meant love and comfort and safety to someone, it can be really hard for them to understand how it can mean the opposite — destruction and danger and fear — to someone else. the most valuable people in my life are those who will be patient and show grace when I am not as connected as I should be in our relationship, even though they haven’t experienced trauma themselves. but it’s always nice to read others’ stories and know that I am not alone in this – that there are other people out there who are trying to put the pieces of themselves back together too and are finding it to be a slow process, so much slower than anyone ever wants It to be. thanks for making my day brighter.”

M. J. B. 
“I’m so happy to have this. There are other people like me. What it must be like to talk with them. Thank you.”nora 125

R. K. 

“What I have learned during my journey is that not everyone can comprehend the amount of time it takes to heal. It is a long painful journey that loops back on it’s self constantly. You are starting a long overdue conversation, thank you.”

Eglorioso

“So often ,we the survivors, the truth sayers , the hyper sensitive, the warriors, are also referred to as the ‘Blacksheep’ in the family.We Are condescended to by shrinks and lawyers for having the courage to speak the truth, see the truth, know it and convey it to others. We hold our own the truth keeps us rooted ,more often then not, Alone, facing the overwhelming masses of those without the courage to face, see and be truth.Be strong, you are the love that holds this world together.”

G. T. 

“That was beautiful. We can grow up. I have had to rely on Jesus to bring me through and I am doing it. For 47 years I hid. Found alcohol and drugs at 12 and stayed with it til I turned 47. Tried to stay sober for 6 years, but I was haunted and no way out. I tried every therapy available, didn’t work. I lost my kids, my husband my life for 20 more years. Now I have God. I am not afraid. The old thoughts and pains are going away and I can love myself and others because God loved me. I really appreciate you sharing. I shouldn’t have to hurt to be a kid. But sometimes it does and then we heal and can be a light to others. God bless you.”

L.

“Thank you for taking the time to write exactly how I feel at times…”Tara“this story is literally as if someone wrote down the very words I spoke to my counselor just a few months back [“where are the older women…”]. Thank you for sharing. It’s good to be reminded that there are ones who’ve come through and are healthy..thriving…healed…”Morgan“I’m 22 now and I struggle often, constantly worrying that I’m always going to feel the way I feel now. And worrying that I’ll never be able to have a life outside of my pain. I also struggle with wanting to share my story but feeling like so many people won’t or don’t want to hear it. Thank you again for sharing this. I hope some day I can be as strong as you are. “
Hannah

“I’m 22 and struggling to finish my college degree while wading through the flashbacks and panic attacks that come with childhood sexual abuse. The culture I grew up in was a culture of silence and shame, and this post made me feel less alone in a world that has no desire to hear my story.”

Carol

“You could be telling my story that I didn’t even know had a name… Breaking the Cycle Parent. What a hopeful message for young parents. I continued to feel alone with my PTSD while raising my small children and used that secret to beat myself up. Love the focus on the present and truth-telling parents.”

V-maine 23

“I wish I could find someone who had gotten to the place that you have, but started where I am. So few adults are open about being sexually assaulted, especially adult men assaulted by women, that it is easy to feel alone. Thank you for sharing your story. Despite it being a different situation, it still gave me some hope.”Anon“Yes to it all. Thank you for speaking your truth. May all survivors learn to find their voice, and find healing. I have been married 23 years to the same man, and what you wrote is profoundly true. Even though the partner of my dreams showed up in my life, and continues to show up in my life — it’s not something that will ever go away. It shows up in unexpected moments. For me, I have healed, yet my PTSD is still present from all of the different experiences I faced in my young life. I have heard SO MANY stories. There are many unspoken voices out there. I can say though, in my experience and personal work that I have done, that healing IS possible. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is. <3 I just want to send out Love Vibrations to all who are hurting, and thank you for writing this. We are not alone.”Haley“It is so rare to read something that truly changes you – something that wakes you up on the inside and shakes you down to your very core. This was one of those reads for me.
Thank you for sharing this piece. Thank you for the reminder that there are no prerequisites to loving yourself. This came at a time when I really needed it, and I couldn’t be more grateful that I stumbled upon it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go brush up on more techniques to “deal with my awesomeness.” (Bam!)
Love,
A fellow warrior.”
sea glass seaglass with ocean , beach and seascapeChristine

“Sitting here on my own porch balcony in my little cottage on the water at 31 years old, battling PTSD from 10 years of a relationship with a narcissist, and currently pushing someone away who’s healthy and truly loves me despite my “baggage,” I am truly in tears. They’re both tears of validation – of belonging – and of sadness. Because, although I may have just read the most perfect words that describe my own inner journey, I have yet to figure out how to build that bridge to true self-love. As a writer, survivor, and fellow warrior, thank you for taking the time to follow your soul and write this article and post it. You didn’t have to. We all have untold stories in us that we can believe aren’t important enough to share. Thank you for sharing one of yours. It’s life-changing for me today.”
Patty

“Let the self abandonment cease to be what we pass on to each other.

Our (realistic) needs are not optional. Thinking otherwise numbed me to basic core human needs… and I’m glad to know lots and lots of people who are waking up to the very basic, core need to feel a friendly, loving, accepting connection to themselves… and to be one of them!

On the envelope to my Valentine’s Day card to myself I wrote: “To the greatest love of my life.”

H. H. 
“Thank you for this. And thank you to everyone who’s commented, to every survivor of childhood abuse who speaks out. Telling the truth about what was done to me has quite literally saved my life, and I would never have been able to do it if I hadn’t been lucky enough to witness a woman speak openly – her voice strong, her back straight, no apology on her lips – about what had been done to her. Keeping silent feels like the only sane option, the only safe option, the only respectable option in a world that continues to heap shame upon us for things someone else did. It took me until the age of 40 to risk doing what I was certain was the insane thing – to tell the truth about what was done to me. If you are reading this and you cannot envision saying what happened to you out loud to another human being, I understand. You have the right to your silence. I would never want you to feel ashamed of your silence, especially on top of the legacy of shame forced upon you by perpetrators of abuse. But know this: we are out there, people who say it out loud and write it publicly, and we are rooting for you. You are not alone. If you need to stay silent, that’s okay. Just know we’re out here, loving you.”
Door
A.F.“I’m a soldier, a survivor of sexual , physical and emotional abuse as a child. For a long time I punished myself for the wrongs done to me and i was throwing my life away in the process. I’m proud to say that at 44 years old, I’ve decided to stop trying to die and to start loving to live. I’ve forgiven the harms done to me for my own clear conscience and so I can move on. I was only harming myself more by holding on to the past. I’m clean and sober and proud to be a survivor!”

R. B. 

Thank you so much for writing this amazing post! I am a therapist that works with trauma survivors and I love reading about your strength and courage and I think the work you have done will inspire many – it is doable! Continue your greatness!C.S.“I still have days where I live in fear, terror, panic and I fight so hard on those days just to breathe. But I know NOW I am not alone! Just knowing that you are all out there fighting too reminds me not to give keep fighting!”
L. G. A. 

“I was sexually and physically abused by my parents. I am 69 years of age and have been in therapy and dealing with this abuse all of my life. It is getting better. I go to a senior center and 90 plus aged seniors still feel the effects of sexual abuse and they are angry and shamed. There should be a way of people being able to deal with this.”