No Fight In Me

This experience stopped me in my tracks.  I am decidedly not fighting to overcome Ptsd.  In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that I even realized that I might have, indeed, had Ptsd at the age of 15. Something very violent, sudden and awful happened to me back then.   I don't want to say what it was.  Saying it won't change it.  But the thing is, my way of dealing with it was to keep it way down inside. Where I come from, it was the preferred way to cope.  There weren't any trauma counselors or anything like that back then anyway. 

When it happened, as the fabric of my existense was ripped apart, instead of screaming, my tv besotted mind actually flashed a vision of an old tv show, the Get Smart opening credits, a series of slamming doors.  Here, I found it on youtube.  Watching it now is strange.

I split myself apart in the moment, I was two people, one inside, one outside. One shoved the other down.  I instinctively barricaded my fifteen year old self in, the slamming doors protecting me from feeling her reaction to what was happening. So I could be safe from her!  That instantaneous defense has served me well.  Maybe I've lived in a bit of a fog but I've also been a fairly functional human being. The only reason I am writing this now is to document what happened a few weeks ago.  I heard a song that was popular back before the incident happened.   The young girl came out to listen!   I felt her.  And experienced an exceptionally happy person!  One who had felt joy on a regular basis!  I had completely forgotten that I was ever like that at all.  My own capacity for happiness was news to me.  I'm glad I found her out.  The question is, do I dare find her again?

LilAnnie LilAnnie
56-60, F
9 Responses Jan 28, 2009

Yes, you speak of something I understand. How you feel about it is also very familiar. Am in the throes of it and wonder if I shall ever re-emerge? Happiness, a feeling of the past now. Am lost and this my first posting on Experience Project.

I wish I knew how to advize you. I chose to shove the experience down deep. I've lived a long time now, and I don't remember most of my life. There is a price to pay when you desensitize yourself to this extent. But I've functioned, I've been producitive. I've loved and been loved. Maybe my path was the best one I could have chosen....but get professional help. I never did.

And Shelby,there have been many times when I have been happy. It's possible when living in moments of great joy. When appreciating immediate living with a good man, the birth of a child, motherhood itself, an interesting journey. Even if your nerve endings are covered in cotton, its not such an unpleasant sensation. Peeling back the cotton, reliving the moment...not a good idea. Additional injury and maybe an infection can happen.

Be careful! I was lucky, looking back on the years I spent getting high, I was lucky that I didn't get into anything dangerous. Ambition was non existent, I've had a decent standard of living only because of my husband....gee. Get professional help.

Now I'm worried about you when I consider your age. You have no time to waste. If you've experienced a trauma, treat yourself as you would nurse a wounded pet....gently, with great compassion and patience. Don't worry the wound, leave it alone. Keep all conflict from your door! You don't have the system to tolerate it. And find sympathetic help. I came from a tradition of tough stoicism, no one ever admitted to any weakness or need, it just wasn't ever done. We put on brave faces. Sigh, that's a whole other discussion....Good luck, hon. Do whatever you need to do to survive. Life still holds joy, don't turn your back on the good and healthy aspects of it. I hope I have helped in some way

1 More Response

It sounds like you have forgotten who you used to be before this incident happened which is fairly common with people who have PTSD; i have no recollection of who i was as a child before the **** hit the fan. It is referred to as having a fragmented memory. As lettinggo suggested i would recommend getting therapy. <br />
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One effective way of trying to overcome PTSD is EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). That helped me quite a bit although i think i need to get more EMDR therapy because of something that happened very recently. <br />
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There are other ways of working to overcome PTSD but regardless of which method you use you should not go through this by yourself. You should window shop until you find the right therapist though because going to one that you can't relate to will not help you and it could actually be harmful. With a bit of patience though, you can find a counselor who does care about you, your well-being and your dignity and you could benefit considerably. <br />
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The best of luck to you.

As you well know, what has taken place back in those moments has long since stop. It is now history. It no longer exists. Yet the memory of what took place feels very real and for many when this happens to them it is real! They are re-experiencing all of those trapped negative emotions attached to the memories of what took place. It is these trapped emotions that cause the problems. If you remove the negative emotions from the memories, you can remember them, but they have no affect on you. They now have no power over your life, so you get your life back.<br />
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It's time to take that young girl inside of you who is bravely holding all of this pain for you for all these years and make her safe. It's time to get rid of this so that she doesn't have carry this anymore.<br />
You don't have to live with this!<br />
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That's what I do; I get rid of these trapped negative emotions.<br />
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"You can't change history, but you can change the future!"

It's really sad when something as complex as emotions (or even people) are habitually described as "negative" (or "positive"). This represents a really unfortunate refusal of the opportunity to really learn from experiences (including the experience of conflict with others), and to learn to really understand (and be able to helpfully describe) emotions (and emotion-charged experiences). It's not easy, but learning to accept *all* the nuances and sometimes apparently contradictory layers that emotions &amp; experiences can involve is a really important thing to work on, as is learning to accept the constant fact of one's own subjective responses to things in the world.
We humans get a real ego reward out of passing judgement of any kind, and habitually slapping the label of "negative" or "positive" on things is really an addiction to that very easy-to-get type of emotional reward.

No it really isn't sad, it's reality. I really don't think you understand what these people experience. What you’re describing is fine for specific events where talking to a wise trusted friend or relative will allow this to clear. Would you care to try to and explain the missed opportunity for real learning and understanding that some of my clients have experienced? How these trapped negative emotions that have decimated their lives are missed opportunity for real learning and understanding?

I had client, a young woman, a mother. She locks her daughter in her car seat in the back seat of her car to protect her. While putting groceries in the trunk she suddenly hears screeching tires, a split second later the sound of crunching metal and busting glass. Her car being hit and it bursting into flames. Her daughter crying screaming at the top of her lungs “MOMMY HELP ME! MOMMY IT”S BURNING ME! HELP ME!” over and over again. Mom suffered 3rd degree burns trying to get into the car. The little girl burned to death screaming at the top of her lungs.

This scene playing non stop, over and over again in mom’s head. All of the negative emotions attached to this. Do you think you can even begin to imagine what these emotions attached are and what this event did to her? So what positive emotions do you think she experienced from this event? What opportunity for real learning and understanding do you think she missed after having this running through her mind for years? I think she had learning to accept *all* the nuances of this event by the second time she had tried to commit suicide. What opportunity for real learning and understanding do you think she missed by me turning off this recording and helping her get rid of this? By giving her, her life back?

I understand that you think we should learn from these experiences and you’re right. I just don’t think you grasp how some of these negative experiences impact and affect people.

Be well,

Larry, you are obviously very emotionally committed to your use of the terms "negative" and "positive" in reference to emotions and experiences.

I'm afraid you are wrong in your conjecture about what I do and don't grasp.

The terms "negative" and "positive" are unhelpfully simplistic, vague and dismissive. The English language provides many useful and much less reductively judgemental adjectives (for example "painful, challenging, difficult, damaging") and learning to expand your vocabulary around this would allow you to understand the nuances of emotions &amp; experiences, without the reductive judgements inherent in "positive" and "negative". Of course, you would first have to be willing to accept that emotions and experiences have more nuance than is contained in these terms.

I hope that clarifies my point enough for you to understand it now.


Gee, How did this discussion get by me? Very interesting. I want to weigh in just for a brief second. What happened to me was sudden, violent, wretching and final, along the lines of the horrible accident newhope describes. Trust me. There was nothing positive about it. Its occurence could only be construed in negative terms. The idea of having to find something positive in it makes me want to throw up. And judgement does not play a part in that reaction. ITs visceral.

Oh I keenly understand the nuances; I get to see them all the time. I don't play in word gymnastics, but I do deal with real people with very real traumatic experiences that are having a very profound effect on their life. They really aren't the least bit interested in the subtle nuances in the language used to describe their experience which has had a very profoundly negative impact on the way they live the rest of their life. Hearing about these subtle nuances doesn't bring them any relief, nor help them heal.

We stick words onto experiences as references, but it's the experience, not the word that's important. You are more then welcome to play word games, but it all boils down to what we like and dislike. What affects us positively and what affects us negatively and where on that sliding scale what we just experienced affects us and our response to it.

If I say "wegrey yre jmasdue ne nwefuus erdc rowzxc" these words would mean nothing to you, just letters on the screen. You have no experience with them, no experiential reference point for them.

If I were to say "the smell of a beautiful red rose", if you've ever had that experience you know exactly what these words mean. Without experience to reference, subtle nuances are just words to play with.

The subtle nuances of non-consensually having your face bashed in, your clothes ripped from your body, punched and strangled not knowing whether or not you are going to live while having your orifices repeatedly violently violated, not enjoying a millisecond of this experience, yup a negative experience pretty much describes it. I'm quite sure you could go through and pick out all of the subtle nuances of all the experiences repeatedly felt during this muti-day event, but I can tell you quite definitely, the receiver of this viewed it as a very negative event. Having experienced it, not the least bit interested in describing the subtle nuances of the experience. Having the subtle nuances of the experience described to them, not the least bit interested nor helpful. They couldn't pack the crap up and get rid of it quick enough.

So please GoogleyEye, show me how writing out subtle nuances are going to help these people?

Children who have been sexually, physically, psychologically, emotionally abused. You see by the time I see them, their judgements of their experiences are already firmly in place.

Would you like me to write out all the subtle nuances of the fear a child feels as they hear those footsteps coming, again. The helplessness of knowing what is about to happen, again, and feeling totally helpless to do anything as they are being violated. Nowhere to run. No where to hide. The child screaming inside, but terrified to utter a word because they know just how bad it can get. They've already had that experience.

Tell me how describing all the nuances of this experience to the child will help them be whole again? How doing so will help them appreciate all the nuances of their experiences?

Be well,

2 More Responses

I'm so sorry about what happened - but I think that the reappearance of that 15 year old girl may mean that the time has finally come when it's safe for you to get together with her again. These things take time - all healing does - but you owe it to yourself. Happiness is always worth fighting for. Good luck.

I think you and she would be happier as one.

Wow, LilAnnie. I wish I'd found this story sooner. I'm really sorry you had to endure such a traumatic experience. You found a safe way to survive and cope all those years. What resilience you have. What a strong spirit you are. Now that you've re-discovered that happy little girl, the one whose faith and trust hadn't been shattered, have you been able to let that person - who's really YOU - come out easier?

Therapy. Find someone you connect with. Keep looking until you've found the right therapist and then keep going until you feel alot better. It really is the only way.

I know what you're going though. I too struggle with PTSD. Just when I think I've made it over a hurdle I seem to get pushed back again. Thank you for your insightful words.

Thanks for having the courage to talk about this.