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Healing From Trauma: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

It’s been three years and my heart still aches. My body has yet to forget the trauma that it’s been through and my brain is still desperately holding onto the very thoughts and feelings I try so hard to run away from. I miss my rapist but it’s not what you think. There, I said it…

• What is PTSD?

You’re probably a bit confused by this statement, because why would anyone in their right mind miss their rapist? How could that be? It sounds “crazy,” I know, but it’s quite simple, actually. You see, I’m not in love with him nor have I ever been. And no, I don’t have the desire to be with him, but I do miss him. I miss the idea of who I made him out to be in my head. I miss who I thought he was and all that he represented to me. I guess that’s the bad part of being raped by a pastor. I was raped by someone who was an authority figure in the church. He had power over me. It was my word against his and in a sense, he won. He fooled so many people and sadly, he got away with it. That’s the daunting truth about about being raped by a pastor, people believe that because he was a pastor, he could do no harm, when in reality, he did so much.

I miss all that he so eagerly took from me. I miss the dreams I had for myself prior to this happening. I miss the idea of the perfect life I had envisioned for myself at this age. I miss the dream of being married and having four kids by now. I miss not being so fearful of the people around me and I so desperately miss not always being stuck in a state of hyper-arousal. You see, grief is a funny thing and hard to understand at times. I’m mourning the loss of the life I once had prior to this and it’s hard. I miss me. I miss the me I was before but I also love the me I am becoming.

Healing from trauma isn’t linear and it sure isn’t all sunshine and rainbows either. It’s not something that can happen overnight, though, I’m sure we’d all love it to. Healing from trauma can be so ugly at times — like puffy face, snotty nose, ugly. It hurts a lot and doesn’t make a lot sense most of the time. Healing from trauma often looks different from day-to-day and it can be so grueling at times. I don’t think we ever really just “get over” our trauma like we as humans like to think. Sure, our hearts and minds heal over time but never do we just “get over it.” Trauma has a way of taking over our lives. It’s all-consuming at times. It has a way of making us feel trapped and frozen. It knocks us down and makes it so hard to get back up again. But we make the necessary changes and tweaks to get better and even with those changes, we still may not get over it. It may always be there; it just begins to hurt a little less over time. 

There are days where all of this seems so distant from my life as if it never happened and life is so grand and beautiful and then there are days I feel like I’m back on the operating table having open heart surgery. The wounds are raw and fresh and it feels as if it just happened moments ago. The wounds run deep and everything in me aches. There are days I so desperately long for things to be different. There are days I wish this never happened and I long for the days when life wasn’t so confusing, when making a decision wasn’t so debilitating and I didn’t overanalyze everything.

Talking about it is helpful, but sometimes I don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes all I want to do is run and never turn back. Sometimes I just want to pretend this never happened because at the moment it seems so much better than facing the pain I’m in. Will I recover? Will the countless nightmares finally stop? Will there ever be a time where I can walk into a church and not make a mental note of every exit I see and be prepared to run if I feel threatened? How do you fix a body that been raped? How do you mend a heart that’s been so broken? These questions are so hard and often leave me feeling like I’ve been ran over by bulldozer. I’ve seen some pretty dark days. I’ve sat in what felt like a pool of demons taking over me. I’ve screamed. I’ve cried and I’ve said some bad words. This is the good, the bad and the ugly part of healing. It’s hard but it does get better.

To the person who is like me…

I truly believe life gets better.

To the person standing in the back of the room trying not be seen…

I believe there will come a time when hiding is no longer second nature to you.

To the person who is anxious…

I hope your fearful, anxiety-filled thoughts will soon become nonexistent.

To the person who is experiencing grief…

I believe your heart will heal and you will feel whole again.

To the person who feels tired and overwhelmed…

I hope those sleepless nights will soon become restful ones.

To the person who feels afraid…

I hope your debilitating fears will soon dissipate and you will be able to do the things you once enjoyed.

To the person who feels unlovable…

I promise you are not alone. You are loved and please, don’t you forget that.

And even on my worst of days, I try to remind myself this is healing too. 

Unsplash photo via Svetlana Pochatun

Originally published: October 17, 2018
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