ONE TRAUMA MOMENT of MANY and ITS IMPACT
Individuals who suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) have been subjected to trauma of a long duration. As a survivor of decades of abuse and torture, my situation was ongoing and filled with trauma. I will focus on one trauma moment for this post. Before doing so, below is information regarding C-PTSD for those who are interested. Maybe one day, I will devote an entire post to the subject.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states the following:
“What types of trauma are associated with Complex PTSD?
During long-term traumas, the victim is generally held in a state of captivity, physically or emotionally, according to Dr. Herman (1). In these situations the victim is under the control of the perpetrator and unable to get away from the danger.
Examples of such traumatic situations include:
Prisoner of War camps
Long-term domestic violence
Long-term child physical abuse
Long-term child sexual abuse
Organized child exploitation rings”
Pete Walker writes:
“The causes of Cptsd range from severe neglect to monstrous abuse. Many survivors grow up in houses that are not homes – in families that are as loveless as orphanages and sometimes as dangerous.
If you felt unwanted, unliked, rejected, hated and/or despised for a lengthy portion of your childhood, trauma may be deeply engrained in your mind, soul and body.”
Time does not necessarily heal us fully. Survivors can though look back as healing progresses with a different set of eyes. What happened does not change. Our perspective may. If you are dealing and healing with C-PTSD, there may be single occurrences (amid multiple ones) where revisiting may become essential (even though you may have process the event already).
My suffering from C-PTSD was formed by too many abuse, torture, and trauma moments to ever count. Survivors do not have to deal with each separate moment of trauma to heal enough. Your psyche and/or Spirit may guide you to deal with the necessary ones. Healing takes fortitude, courage, resiliency, knowledge, insight, strength, and love (including self-love).
Although I have healed greatly, it shall take me years more to fully digest, process, understand, and gain further compassion for myself. It will take a lifetime to process and heal …. Acceptance and new awareness of the actual extent of the trauma of my life is extremely helpful.
The trauma did not end in November, 2003, when I separated from Tom M. (husband and abuser). No. Not at all. More trauma occurred to both my daughter and I. As is common in domestic violence relationships and situations when a child tells of the abuse, the courts, psych persons and institutions can traumatize both the protective parent and child again and again.
Many, many parents face similar situations due to the courts and the disbelief that the child was abused. Watch the award winning documentary titled, “No Way Out But One”. It is a heart-wrenching story of one woman’s attempt to protect her children from an abusive father. (See: http://www.nowayoutbutone.com/ Some libraries carry copies of this DVD.) This protective parent situation is not only my story.
The day after Thanksgiving, 2007, is one that I will never forget. Megan, my 13 year old daughter, and I were discovered. At that time, I was a protective parent trying to keep my daughter safe from her father (abuser – perpetrator). We had been in hiding for around 14 months.
The police arrived. Phone calls were made. Megan was going to be taken into custody. I would then be arrested. I was able to talk with Megan. She thought I would be free and able to see friends later that day for a post-Thanksgiving dinner. We both remained strong and relatively calm. I looked into her eyes to say good-bye and to tell her, “I love you.”
My heart is still filled with gratitude that I was able to say good-bye to Megan and to tell her I love her on that day after Thanksgiving in 2007. Megan and I had no idea when we would see each other next. I definitely did not think it would be 20 months before I laid eyes on my daughter again. TRAUMA. A huge emotional trauma occurred that day for both my daughter and I.
My readers know that Megan was forced onto a plane to Virginia (where her father lived) and was hospitalized in a psych institution for six months. She went into the hospital saying the abuse by her father occurred and came out in denial. Megan then lived with her father. She tried to commit suicide. Megan is a survivor.
That day, after Megan was taken by authorities, I was told to empty my pockets in the parking lot by the police car. In my pocket was my A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) chip. It is a habit of mine to carry it in my pocket as a reminder of how precious sobriety is. I was taken to jail and held for five days. It was on the fifth day that someone from child protective services finally came to see me. He told me that Megan was taken to Virginia.
I was eventually charged with custodial interference and tried. The trial ended in a hung jury. The charges were dismissed a couple of months later. It was 20 months from the time Megan and I were discovered until I saw her at my trial. TRAUMA.
Megan and I then were able to talk and connect once again. I am grateful for each moment I share with my daughter … past and present.
When Megan has visited me or I visit Megan, I tend to get teary the night before she leaves. These tears are usually quietly shed in bed that night. The actual day of departure brings a tremendous amount of tears on my part. The time close to saying good-bye turns on a faucet of tears. Suddenly, no matter how much I try to exert control, tears run out of my eyes. TRAUMA-based tears. TBT! I can hardly speak when this occurs. (Even as I write this, tears want to flow.)
The airport scenes are poignant. Each time I must use all my strength to compose myself enough. It is not just sadness or the uncertainty of not knowing when I will see her again or need – it is TRAUMA. Stored trauma. My body knows. My body reacts. Trauma-based tears. TBT.
The understanding of what is occurring gives me compassion toward myself. The first couple of times it occurred, I felt badly that I could not control the tears. I did not talk about it. Slowly I began to share how I felt and to put the pieces together.
The effects of that trauma moment of being separated from Megan on the day after Thanksgiving in 2007 are more apparent to me now. In general, good-byes to people of importance to me are difficult. Saying good-bye to my daughter, especially in person, is challenging. Even on the phone, I almost always let Megan end the conversation. I want to linger, to enjoy the silence even, to remain in her presence a moment longer. Logically, I know I most likely will speak with her again on the phone, that we will text, and that I will once again see her in person.
I also know that we never know what life brings … unexpectedly. Both Megan and I were in Germany one day in July, 2006, and gone the next. We did not get to say good-bye to friends. It left an emptiness, a hole, a gap. None of us knows for sure when the final moment of contact on this earth with a friend or loved one will be.
The day I wrote this post, I sat in the downtown area of my town. A street musician was playing the song, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” on his guitar. Synchronicity. Immediately, I thought of my daughter playing that song on a guitar not long before we were discovered and separated in 2007. A jet plane took her from me to Virginia and to life with her father (the abuser) due to decisions by the courts.
Now jet planes take Megan to visit me or me to visit her ….
Gratitude in my heart …