Friday, July 5, 2024

stop being trapped by your past

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 5, 2024

The walls you hide behind to protect you from more pain also protect you from more joys. It is time to remove the walls and stop being trapped by your past.
Have you ever wondered why you push people away, especially those you love? I know I did. After all the times I survived, my family saw right through me and got me to talk about what was going on in my head. Being able to talk kept the walls of #PTSD from closing me in. It was not until my first husband tried to kill me that I hid the pain well enough that they didn't suspect more than I was willing to share.

They assumed I would open up if I needed to, but the pain of betrayal from someone I loved was far more than what he caused. It involved everyone around me. I no longer trusted anyone who loved me. They did nothing wrong to me, but the walls were built to protect me even from them. Years later, I realized I was the only one harming myself. 

I didn't trust anyone. While I was making friends and dating after what my first husband did, I never felt close to anyone. That is until I met my second husband. I saw such deep pain in his eyes, and I knew he must have seen it in mine. 

He's a Vietnam veteran. The more I got to know him, he trusted me enough to share what being in Vietnam did to him. He was so young in that dark time of his life. His WWII veteran father kept telling him to get over it. After all, that's what his generation was told. I was the first to tell him it wasn't something he could just get over. He had to get through it. He needed to break down the walls built to protect him from more pain getting inside of him.

I gave great advice but failed to take my own. It took a long time for me to open up about the times I faced death. I felt as if his times were much more severe than mine were. I made it into a contest I believed I'd never win. How could my times be more significant than his? He was in Vietnam facing the fact he could have been killed every day. My times were over, and it was done, and I was safely back home within hours.

I couldn't tell him that I had flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, panic attacks, and felt as if I could never take down my walls enough to really let him in. About fourteen years after our marriage, we moved thousands of miles from my ex-husband. I was still being haunted, although it never made sense to me. I was able to love my husband and our daughter. I wasn't able to feel their love. It was not until my cousin sent me his obituary notice from the newspaper back home that the nightmares, along with everything else, stopped haunting me. I was free. Free to finally take down the walls and believe other people could love me. It was a fantastic feeling. It also left me confused.

Many years later, we moved again, and COVID hit. I explained to my daughter how all the stress and fear would last much longer than the pandemic. I told her what my ex-husband did to me. While she knew what happened, I never told her about the lingering pain I had. She looked at me and said that I never told her I had PTSD. I was shocked!

I was an expert, but I didn't see it. I saw two therapists to help me heal from experiences I had, and they didn't see it. I contacted a couple of psychologists I knew over the years. Both of them said I had a rare case of PTSD because of all the times throughout my life I faced death. The first two times happened on the same night when I was just five years old. Long story short, a doctor told my mother I not only could have died but that I should have died twice the night before. He said it was a miracle I was still alive. I was admitted for five days to heal. My skull was fractured, and I had a concussion.

Knowing what I know now, it is never about what caused PTSD in any of us. It is what we do about our lives as survivors. 

Open up to people you trust in your life. You don't have to tell them everything, but you must let them know the basics. Trust me, because they are as confused as you are. They have no way of knowing what's behind the changes in you. They can only make assumptions. Those assumptions cause conflict between you. Don't blame them because you will have the same reaction if you look at what they are seeing in you. 

The more you talk about it and share what you're going through, the more the walls will come down. If you can't speak to your family, try a friend. If you can't talk to a friend, find a group trying to heal. If you can't find a group you feel comfortable in, find a therapist. If you don't feel comfortable with that therapist, find another one. 

You will see the world and yourself more clearly. Seeing the world without walls in the way is fantastic when you can let joy back in.

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