The Shadows of Memories

It will be October in a couple of days.  I am enjoying the change in weather, but there is also a tightness that runs through my body with the month of October that continues until my birthday at the end of January.  This four month block of time ushers in a series of painful anniversary dates of severe abuse as well as birthdays that are reminders of my abusers, and even though several of my abusers have died in the last decade, I can’t keep from thinking of them as their birthday approaches any more than I can forget my own birth date.

Those who have not lived through severe, almost daily abuse for their entire childhood rarely understand how major anniversary dates related to the abuse or the abuser can trouble a survivor even decades later.  Often friends and others think and sometimes say aloud that we should “get over it already”, “let go of the past”, “put it behind you”, “forgive and forget.”  But it is not so simple.  I (and most other survivors) don’t choose to be overwhelmed with memories or depression and anxiety from past experiences.   Denial doesn’t help – it was years of denial that left us so psychologically and spiritually lost for a large part of our lives. And while I have come a long way in healing this pain, I also admit I have a long way to go.  Life is better than it has ever been, but I am still broken in some places psychologically and physically.  To those who can’t understand that, or just won’t accept that as truth but prefer to see it as an excuse, I am sorry for your issues.

Many survivors are doing the best they can.  Yet, with the onset of October I feel the anxiety and sadness stirring in the pit of my stomach, invading my dreams, stealing my energy. It makes me a little emotional at times, it keeps me home a little more often for both physical and emotional struggles.  My prayer is that my friends (and the friends of anyone who deals with PTSD issues from childhood or assault trauma – or from the trauma of war, like many of our returning veterans deal with) will be understanding, patient and perhaps a few will even reach out and share a cup of tea or watch a movie with me. Or maybe they will send an encouraging note, give me a hug at church, let me know I am in their prayers.  I hope the Church of Christ Jesus will take even a few moments of time to encourage and help those who are struggling feel included in the body of Christ, even if they look okay on the outside.

As a survivor with PTSD, knowing I am not alone (and I am not speaking of just physical alone-ness) but that I have friends and am part of the family of Christ – not just in theory, but in real life, is a powerful act of love friends and a church family can gift to survivors.

To those who will have ears and hearts to hear this message, Thank You and may God bless your kindness and love.