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Who Controls My Life With PTSD: Me or My Abusers?

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I’ve expressed many times how irritated I get when people only associate PTSD with veterans. I do not dismiss their illness and the things brought on by it. They are just as valid as I am. Many people would likely think that’s the one thing I want them to know about PTSD, but they’re dead wrong.

• What is PTSD?

What I want people to know about PTSD, is that my trauma is not what defines me, and the people who have traumatized me do not own me.

See, with PTSD, the trauma almost becomes your life. Your abusers rule your life. When you think of a veteran coming back from war, the movies have you thinking that their everyday life is greatly affected. That is one of the very few things Hollywood has gotten correct when it comes to mental illness. Every single aspect of your daily life is affected once a traumatic situation occurs and you don’t “bounce back” properly. PTSD is a result of not being able to “bounce back” properly from the traumatic event.

When people associate you with trauma, or trauma with you, you begin thinking to yourself that you are your trauma; your trauma is what defines you. If your trauma defines you, then so do the people who have traumatized you.

Heck, why wouldn’t it define me? There’s hardly anything in my daily life that is still the same following my three traumatic events. I am not the same, my life is not the same, and my personality is hardly the same. So why wouldn’t the trauma define me? Why wouldn’t those who have traumatized me define me?

I went back to psychotherapy for the first time in years this week. My new therapist reminded me that I am not what happened to me. She said that I am not my trauma, and my trauma doesn’t own me. Most of all, the people who have traumatized me do not have the right to hold such power over my head.

For years I have suffered in shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Each morning when I wake up, I allow my abusers to have power over me. It’s almost as if they control my life. They control my every move, my decisions, and they steal my time.

I live every single day in fear that what has happened to me, is going to happen to me again. I am constantly trying to figure out who is going to hurt me, assault me, or betray me next. My abusers don’t know it, but they control my life. They are the kings and queens of my life.

I give them the power. I don’t choose to, because I don’t choose PTSD. But I do allow them to rule my life by allowing my illness to overpower me. Every flashback, every dissociative episode, every jumpy reaction, and anytime I am on guard or on high alert, I give them the power to haunt me.

Someone made a great point not too long ago. They asked me why I allow them to still have power over me when they don’t even know they have such a thing. I know for a fact that nine times out of ten, my abusers don’t think twice about me. They don’t care about me or what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. They don’t care about what I eat, what I wear, where I’m going, or what I’m about to say. They don’t care about any of that. Yet, here I am allowing all of those decisions to be based around what they would think or say or do to me.

The traumatic things that have happened to me are basically all I think about. I can’t tell you the last time I wasn’t thinking about any of them. No matter where I go or what I do, what has happened to me is always there – always present. Every single day my abusers are given power over my life because what they did to me rules me. I don’t know who or what I would be without my trauma. I’m terrified to find out. How in the world is that the way it’s supposed to be?

It’s not supposed to be like that. I should be able to make the same daily decisions everyone else makes without me thinking about my abusers. I should be able to choose what I want to eat, what I want to wear, where I’m going, or what I’m going to say without thinking twice about my abusers and what they would have said or done if they were still in my life. But PTSD doesn’t allow that. It has my brain programmed to think that way.

The beauty of it all is that there are medications and there is therapy to help reprogram my brain. There are resources out there to help me get better. There are resources to help me get better and take back my power. I have to choose to allow those things to help me get better. Each morning when I wake up and do so, I take back my power.

I have lost weeks, months, and years of my life because of my trauma. I can’t get that time back, but I can get that power back. This is one of many declarations that I am making in order to take back my power.

My trauma doesn’t own me. The people who have traumatized do not own me. PTSD does not own me.

Follow this journey on Understanding Chaos

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Thinkstock photo via grinvalds

Originally published: June 20, 2017
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