One of the more difficult aspects of healing Complex PTSD is the fact that often it’s hard for me to follow my own progress.   Therefore, I have attempted to list some of the road marks along the way, the indicators that I can really put my finger on as points of healing.  These points are reference markers that I can use to prove to myself that I am healing.  Of course, seeing proof of my healing encourages me to continue my journey.  Perhaps sharing my list with you will help you develop your own list or will simply encourage you to keep on truckin’ if you already have a list. 

 

If I had not developed this list and used it to take inventory of my progress now and then, I might have grown discouraged and quit therapy long ago.  If I had done that, the lens through which I view my world would be much darker than it is now, and my field of vision would be much narrower.  Hanging in there, difficult as it has been, has paid off! 

 

  • For the most part, I have learned to manage the pesky “side effects” of Complex PTSD.  I have no car, so I use public transportation.  Now, when somebody gets on the bus and argues with the driver loudly and angrily because he or she doesn’t want to pay, I simply sit and think, “What an ass!”  I no longer space out into la-la land, numb out, or shut down. 

         I attribute my improvement to all the hard work I’ve done with my ego states, bringing   peace into my psyche by getting to know these ego states, helping them get to know one another, and bringing about harmony within my “inner family.”  For a very basic explanation of EgoState Therapy, see this site: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8480666  For more detailed information, search Google and read any articles by Helen or John Watkins.  Please note:  The use of hypnosis has not been a factor in my therapy.I have more work to do in EgoState Therapy, but I’m well beyond the halfway mark now.

  • I am beginning to see beyond the labels that significant others gave me in the past, labels such as “stupid,” “ugly,” and all the other nasty, mean, vicious labels people gave me when they needed to protect themselves from whatever.  Since these significant others included my parents and my former husband, at one time extremely important people in my life, shedding these labels is a long, hard process.
  • I have closed the door on my marriage.  It’s taken me thirty years to do this, but that’s okay.  I was married in 1961 and separated in 1981.  My divorce became legal in 1983.  My former husband abused me sexually, emotionally, and mentally.  During my marriage, I learned that if I let him use me sexually, he was less likely to have a temper tantrum.  Sex seemed to soothe him, and keeping the peace at any cost was my goal.  After having no contact with him for over twenty years, I finally contacted him this year in order to get some photos from him.  I also wanted to see if he had changed.  From our exchange of correspondence, I discovered that he apparently has not changed.  To his credit, however, he did lend me the photos I wanted. 

Since contacting him recently, I can think of him without the fear, anger, and other emotions of the past.  Those of you who have come from abusive marriages and who are trying to heal can probably appreciate the relief I feel now that I have finally closed that door.  After some EMDR work on some of the traumas I experienced during my marriage, I believe I’ll feel even more relief and peace.

  • I am getting to know the part of me that carries my emotions and beginning to work on the task of achieving some sort of working partnership between my head and my heart.   For those of us who have spent most of our lives protecting our emotions by depending on our heads, our rational thought, to get us through our days, the thought of expressing our emotions is horrendous and can be terrifying.  For example, I can’t cry in front of another person.  Sometimes I can cry if I am where nobody else can hear or see me, but even those times are rare.  Maybe I’ll never be able to cry openly.  However, I’m going to assume that I can accomplish this. 

How did I get to this state?  From the time I was a tiny child, my parents laughed at me, jeered at me, when I would begin to cry.  They pointed their fingers and teased me, told me to get a milk bottle and fill it with my tears.  That started my education.  When I cried at my father’s funeral, my mother poked me in the side and said, “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself!”

By the time I was married, I had learned that tears are a sign of weakness and vulnerability, so I did not cry no matter what my former husband required of me.  I dissociated, but I did not cry.  I would have been better off if I had cried, for my ex revealed to me that he ramped up his sexual violence because he “wanted to find out if there was somebody inside” my body.

The points I have discussed above are the points that come most readily to mind.  These are the points I consider most important at this moment.  I hope they will help you to know that with the help of a competent therapist, you, too, can heal.

Here is a Scottish blessing to take into the New Year—

If there is righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So let it be!

My bet is that the journey of therapy leads to, among other rewards, “righteousness in the heart.” If so, then world peace is possible!  However, I’ll settle for “beauty in the character” and “harmony in the home,” my inner home.  Blessings for the New Year, Everyone! 

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