Publishing for a Change, LLC presents Gail Dickert, author of #RecoveryInRealTime as shares more about the writing process behind her "Anti-workbook" for surviving multiple traumas.
There are too many untold stories behind the hashtags in #RecoveryInRealTime... but I'll tell this one today, because #MostDoNotUnderstand is one of the hashtags that gives me a great deal of peace.
It gives me a lot of peace about being complicated.
It gives me a lot of peace about being intense.
It gives me a lot of peace about being unlike a lot of other people.
It gives me a lot of peace about being angry.
It gives me a lot of peace about being sad.
Most people DO NOT understand what we have been through as survivors of trauma. Sometimes we meet therapists and friends who sort of "get it," and maybe there are a few movies and books that highlight a part of what we've been through - but I wrote #RecoveryInRealTime because I needed a resource that captures the complexities of lifelong recovery! (Yes, I wrote it for myself - I published it for others.)
Sometimes we are okay... sometimes we are functional and we have plans that makes sense... sometimes we know how to heal and sometimes we are reliving trauma and we don't even know why!
But most of the time, #MostDoNotUnderstand what it is that we are dealing with... (trigger alert below).
Recently I've been having nightmares about a childhood abuser - almost every night for the last month, he comes into my dreams at the same age he was when he was touching me, luring me in, grooming me, befriending me, manipulating me...
I'm now 39 years old, but when I close my eyes and fall asleep, I'm suddenly 12 years old again, confused about the advances of a brother-figure who is a senior in high school. I am not attracted to him, but I am drawn in... vulnerable... eager to please and full of shame. I must be a "bad girl" to have "made him" want me this way... I must be an evil girl, because I am not attracted to him... Abuse is not my type, but neither are young men...
So I go to bed afraid that he will still have an influence over me in my dreams... and he does. Last night he wanted me to go down on him and would not let me leave his living room until I "did what I was supposed to do." In the dream, I argued with him... I fought back for a moment... I refused and told him I wanted to leave. I woke up before I could find out if I "won" last night...
In my dream, I was brave.
I woke up anxious, terrified to look in the mirror, and unable to move for a few minutes.
But then I remembered it was just a dream... and instead of anxious, I was depressed immediately. Tears filled my eyes. I heard my wife's alarm and it was clear to me - I was on the edge of a flashback and...
In my dream, I was brave.
But in reality...
I did everything he told me to do, everything he manipulated me into doing... for 5 years.
This morning's shower felt like the shower I needed 27 years ago.
Suddenly, I realized I needed to head into work and be 39 years old - a somewhat successful Executive Director, community leader, social change agent, author, foster parent, wife...
And the truth is...
#MostDoNotUnderstand how I can do this.
But survivors understand... how flashbacks and anxiety, in a moment, set us apart, validating that we feel isolated sometimes because we were isolated! We feel different, because we were different... we feel separate, because we were separated... we feel lost in time, because every time they touched us, time was lost...
Thank you, flashbacks and anxiety - for reminding me that my path is my own. I am a lifelong survivor of multiple traumas against my essence.
If I can handle intrusions from the past, what is it that I cannot handle?
Today, I have great peace knowing #MostDoNotUnderstand because I am also then not obligated to explain myself to most people...
I am obligated then, only to myself... to keep going... to be here, now - brave NOW, for the young girl whose survival was submission.
Brave readers, keep sharing. I’m here with you. #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.