I took this selfie a few months ago, when I was staying in a motel visiting with my daughter. I used my cell phone to capture my reflection in a mirror while standing under fluorescent lights, so the quality of the picture is poor. But I like this image, because it hides the age in my sixty-plus year old face. In this picture, I almost look the way I often feel inside, which is about twelve years old.
Although more than fifty years have passed since I was twelve, part of me feels like I will be twelve forever, frozen on the brink of adolescence. Several therapists have told me that this is normal for someone with PTSD caused by extreme childhood trauma. Just as it is normal that part of my husband still feels like he is twenty years old, fighting a war in Vietnam.
My world shattered when I was twelve, and my soul seemed to shatter along with it. That’s how old I was when my dad came so close to murdering my mother that I thought she was dead. When I believed that I had just heard my father shoot and kill my mother, I was so traumatized that I instantly went deaf! A few minutes later, when I found that my mother was still alive, my hearing came back on, as though someone had flipped a switch inside my brain.
As it turned out, my dad had not shot my mom, although he had beaten and strangled her, while yelling that she was about to meet her maker. I was climbing out my bedroom window to run for help, when I heard my mother scream “NO NOT THE GUN!” — followed by the loud sharp sound of a door being slammed, which sounded just like the gunshots you hear on TV.
I was greatly relieved to discover that my mother was not dead, as I had feared. But the horror was far from over. After my dad was arrested for what he had done, we ran out of money, ran out of food, our home went into foreclosure — and my deeply depressed mother tried to gas us all to death.
These are only some of the extreme traumas that I have survived. When you have parents this violent and crazy, they do not stop with just one or two abusive things. The traumas that happened when I was fourteen through sixteen were even more devastating to me, than my dad almost killing my mom and my mom trying to gas us all to death three times.
Although my parents did not kill me physically, their many abuses over the years did, in fact, murder part of my soul. Which is something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand. I know this is true, because since I’ve started blogging about my PTSD, I have had several people tell me, through blog comments and private messages, that I “should have gotten over” my childhood trauma by now.
One woman, who had previously posted words of compassion on my husband’s Facebook page for having been in military combat almost half a century ago – that same woman posted a message right on my home page, telling me how wrong I am to write about my childhood trauma. I should be over all of that, she said, because I am a grandmother now! And besides, all parents make mistakes, and everyone’s life has sorrow! Focus on the good in life, she told me, and count your blessings…. like I don’t already do that.
I asked this woman — whom we have never met in real life — why she has so much compassion for my husband, for being in a war where total strangers tried to kill him when he was a young adult. And yet she has zero compassion for someone like me, whose own mother tried to murder her when she was a child?
Mrs. Busybody had no answer for that.
Can you imagine being injured in a car crash as a child, hurt so badly that your spine was crushed and you haven’t been able to walk since that day — and people who do not even know you or your full history, go out of their way to tell you that you “should be over” your injury by now, because the car crash happened so long ago?
Can you imagine having a crushed spinal cord and being repeatedly told that if you were a true Christian — if you had fully forgiven the unrepentant drunk driver who crashed into your family’s car when you were a child — your spine would be healed and you would be able to walk? But since you still can’t walk, you must be holding onto bitterness. And the “proof” of your bitterness is the fact that you are now writing about what it’s like to lose your ability to walk after a car crash that happened when you were a child!
Can you imagine having to live with a crushed spine for most of your life, and being accused of “wallowing in your misery” for daring to write about the experience??
But that’s different, you say? A crushed spine is a real, physical injury, while PTSD is “all in your head”?
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER IS A REAL, PHYSICAL INJURY. Modern brain imaging technologies have discovered that severe, life-threatening, and overwhelming trauma actually changes the shape and function of the brain, in both humans and in animals. Although brain imaging has also proven that the injured brain can heal, brain “rewiring” happens slowly, over a period of years in many cases. In order for your injured brain to recover, you need to be in an environment where you are SAFE, you are LOVED, and you are not being RE-TRAUMATIZED. Good luck with that, if your PTSD was caused by an abusive, scapegoating family.
Messages received via social media that are judgmental, accusing, know-it-all, condemning and bullying are re-traumatizing to abuse survivors.
A few months ago, one of the people who was following this blog sent me a message via Twitter. His message contained a link to a blog post that was nothing but a long-winded, arrogant, judgmental RANT about how “true Christians” should never talk about, or write about, the traumas they went through long ago. The post went on and on about how Christians are supposed to not only forgive everyone for everything instantly, regardless of whether the perpetrators repent, and regardless of whether they continue to abuse us — we are also supposed to FORGET about any sin that has ever been committed against us, and only think about, and only write about, happy and uplifting things. If a Christian writes a blog or a book, according to that article, they should only be writing about happy, joyful things that will “point people to Christ”.
What I don’t understand is why people who feel this way would even read a blog like mine, which clearly states, right in its title, that this blog is about Healing From TRAUMA! People — if you don’t like what I write here, the solution is very simple: Don’t Read My Blog! Who appointed you to be the thought police of the internet, anyway? Who gave you permission to tell ME how to BE? Go live your own life, and let me live mine!
Not even God tries to micromanage His children. He loves us enough that He gave each one of us a free will.
The Bible itself is full of stories about traumatic events, stories about sin, stories about murder, stories about rape, stories about adultery, stories about war. Why does the Bible tell us that Cain killed his brother Abel, and that Abraham fathered a child with his wife’s handmaid? Why does the Old Testament tell us that King David had an affair with Bathsheba while her husband was fighting a war and then, when she became pregnant, David ordered her soldier husband to be placed in an area of battle where he would be killed, so David could marry Bathsheba? And why does the New Testament tell us about Peter cutting off the ear of a soldier, and denying Christ three times, and all the stories about people being stoned to death, and beheaded, and imprisoned unjustly, and martyred in various ways? If Christians are only supposed to think about, talk about, and write about happy, joyful, and uplifting things, why are so many stories like these in the Bible?
And no, I do not believe that I am not writing a Bible, not even close. That is not what I am saying here. I am simply saying that it makes zero sense to me, when people who claim to get their spiritual guidance from the Bible, presume to tell me how to be a good Christian — and yet, even the Bible does not follow the strict guidelines that these know-it-all busybodies tell me I should follow!
But even so, what if this person who sent me the message via Twitter, was RIGHT? What if he was telling me God’s will for my life? Will I refuse to listen to God’s will, just because I don’t like the way it was presented to me?
Long before this person contacted me through Twitter with his link to that browbeating post, I prayed countless times, and I asked my Christian therapist, and I asked several pastors, and I talked it over with my chaplain husband, about whether it is God’s will for me to write this blog, and write my memoir. More than anything, I really, truly want to know what God’s will and plan is for the rest of my life, and I want to be obedient and follow His plan.
I have prayed countless prayers about this. I pray about this every day. I pray, asking God to please show me if it is His will for me to tell the story about how I survived so many traumas and still managed to have a fairly good life, and to find my way to Christ, despite my severe PTSD – PTSD that was caused primarily by my abusive MINISTER father and my even more abusive BIBLE THUMPING mother!
In all of my praying and seeking God’s will for my life, I have come to the conclusion that writing about my true life history is not a sin. But, even though something may not be sinful to do, it does not necessarily follow that it is God’s plan for my life. Is there something better that I could be doing with my time right now? Is there something better I should write?
Writing about my trauma history is hard. I mean, this is very, extremely HARD! Why should I even be doing this? Why should I write this blog? Why should I write my memoir? And why should anyone ever read anything that I write?
I believe I have found some answers to these questions. I will write a post about it… soon.
I have just one more point to make, before I end this article: I believe that God has a unique plan and purpose for each individual life. God’s plan for the apostle Paul was not the same as His plan for the other apostles. Maybe you feel that God is leading YOU to never write about your traumas. This does not mean that God is leading everyone else to do the same.
Comments are closed, at least until I finish writing my memoir. Thank you for stopping by and God bless. ❤