This is my face showing the emotional, physiological and psychological pain that goes along with Complex Trauma, also known as C-PTSD. The pain I was feeling when I took this photo was so raw, so strong and so deeply distressing.
This blog post is very hard for me to write as it makes me very vulnerable and I don’t like people to see the pain that I carry within me, the pain I have carried all my life. It makes me feel weak though I know I am not, I am very strong to have made it this far. For the last little while this has been weighing so heavily on me and I need to get it out of me, to put the words onto this page. I never understood the underlying sadness that has always been a part of me but that all changed last September. But I digress…
From the little I remember of my childhood I was a happy child and I loved my family, particularly my extended family and my friends that I grew up with. I was very protective of my younger brother and sister and would have done anything for them. Outside everything looked good. We lived in a nice house, wore nice clothes, we went on family holidays, never wanted for anything as both my parents worked to support their three children. But behind closed doors there was a darkness that I could not tell anyone about. I was a child, how could I explain darkness when I was a child of the light?
My father was a violent alcoholic and he regularly beat the shit out of my mother until she could not stand and was a mess. I recall seeing blood on the walls and her screaming at him, making him more angry and telling him she would ‘see him in hell’. I can still see her lying in bed, her eyes swollen shut, cuts and on her face & hands, unable to get up to tend to the children. This went on for years and I became the mother. I sheltered my siblings as best as I could, especially my sister as she was so small & fragile. I made excuses for my mother and became her confidante. I covered for her, I lied for her and she manipulated me in the cruelest way possible. She was jealous of me and made me feel bad, that I wasn’t good enough and physically assaulted me regularly.
As I grew into my teen years it got worse so I could not focus on my school work as I was exhausted from trying to get through the nights when the fights would start and the screaming and shouting went on for hours. I remember my father breaking down the back door one night in a drunken rage, he was furious that my mother had locked it and he went crazy. He turned off the power at the mains and was stalking my mother through the house. I was beyond terrified when she told me to take my siblings, to get out of the house and hide until everything had settled down. We ran down the street and hid under someone’s car for I don’t know how long until I felt it was safe to go home again.
The next day she was in such a bad way I begged her to go to hospital and to leave him, to get out of the house. She refused. There were no little or no facilities in the 70’s that could help women in that situation and both of her parents has passed away by this time and I now understand that she didn’t really like my fathers side of the family. They were good church going people and I now know they could see the evil in her that I was unable to see until I was in my thirties. So we stayed.
By the time I finished school both of my paternal grandparents has passed away so my soft place to fall was gone. Though things at home had settled down a little I knew I had to make an escape plan if I was to ever find some peace and freedom. So when I finished school I started applying to hospitals so I could study to be a Nurse. Back in those days all your training was done in hospitals. I made sure to apply to places that were far away from where my parents were and to my great joy I was accepted at a hospital that was 80kms from my home town. Yippee, my first taste of semi freedom. My mother still kept a close eye on me but I was gradually loosening her grip.
After I finished my training I went on to work at a large hospital where I was fortunate to land one of the best positions I ever had. I still dream about working in that job to this day though I haven’t done it for 30 years. Now I had found my wings! I worked there for a few years and made some great friends. One of them moved to Perth in late 1986 and less than a year later I joined her. My parents forbid me to go and would not help me at all or drive me to the airport but I knew I had to go, and go I did. Living in Western Australia for the next two years helped me to find myself. A couple of years later I met my soul mate via a friend and we set off on our own adventures. My parents tried to interfere again saying that he was no good for me and I couldn’t trust him. When I took him home to meet them my mother told him lies about me and my father got drunk and had a fist fight with him, my boyfriend kicked his arse!
For the next seven years I travelled the world with my boyfriend, working in dodgy places, making truck loads of money, doing really risky things and generally having the best time. While we were living the life and working overseas it all started to come unstuck and we knew the relationship had reached its end so after an extremely painful break up I headed home to my parents who assured me that they would look after me and help me though this difficult time. In my weakened state I agreed so packed the remnants of my then life and headed back to the home town. I could never have prepared myself for the shit storm that awaited me there.
It was straight back into the manipulation & craziness. My father by this time was in his late 50’s and had injured his back at work so wasn’t as strong as he used to be but he still drank and was an angry man. They wanted to know everything about what happened so I told them we had drifted apart and the relationship came to its natural end. Of course that wasn’t good enough. My mother sent me to a psychiatrist and insisted I was medicated and tried to have me committed due to me being unable to cope (this was the first major PTSD trigger I had experienced since I left home). I later found out my mother stole my address book and rang not only my ex boyfriend but also work colleagues to find out the real reason we had broken up. My father also has people following me to ‘keep tabs on me’ in case I got out of line. I stayed with them for five weeks until I could take no more.
One day I decided that was it, I packed all my stuff, called a taxi and and waited for them to come home from work. I asked them to sit down at the kitchen table as I had something important to tell them. I told them I was done with them, that they were sick people that had ruined me and my siblings and they were to never contact me again, I had no family. I walked out that door and never looked back. I have had no contact with them for twenty years now and that’s they way it’s going to stay. The pain that caused me is indescribable and sent me on a downward spiral that I’m lucky to have found my way back from.
Since then I have spent my life clawing my way back to sanity and wholeness through my spirituality and continual healing for the past 17 years. It has been the toughest road I have travelled. Fast forward to September 2016 when the next major trigger of the PTSD would happen literally in my back yard. I was told by a Psychic that I must heal my father wound before I could move on with my life and the universe wasn’t going to allow me to run this time, the fight or flight reactions I had used for so long were not an option. That wound was healed in a very dramatic way and got me to where I am today. Finally a diagnosis of why I am the way that I am. I’m not crazy! It explains everything!
I was sure I had dealt with enough of my past that I could settle down and live a quiet, calm life but no. I now find myself living next door to man that is very angry, who screams and shouts and throws his weight around, scaring his wife and young family. I tried to talk to them but that was a really bad idea and has caused bad feelings. A few days ago it all became too much and I had a huge meltdown and have struggled to function while being sick with extreme fear and anxiety. This morning when I woke up I was a mess. I have been crying all day. Crying for my lost childhood, crying for the immense pain and loss I have experienced in my life, crying for the physical scars I bear from my childhood and crying for the wounded woman I have become.
As I was lying on the couch today with my beautiful boys beside me I knew I had to write, writing always helps me and I feel a little better now I have written this blog post I don’t feel so stressed. I realise it’s not my job to fix the problems next door. I feel very sad for the children but I need to help myself, that is my priority and I will now focus on that. Having the big melt down was needed to help shift my focus. I will heal myself as best as I can with the help of trusted people that I have in my life.
So there it is my friends. My story is not an unusual one as there are millions of precious children that have been traumatised beyond belief. Then to one day wake up as an adult and finally gain some understanding why they are the way that they are. That they are not what happened to them. The road to healing is long and painful but I am willing to do whatever it takes to find some happiness and perhaps love. But how do you love the girl that’s never been loved…