As a survivor of rape and domestic violence who has been recovering for over twenty years, I've often asked myself the question, "Will I ever heal?" Sometimes I've answered "nope" and sometimes I say "Yes, I'm healed." But I never fail from teeter-tottering back and forth on that answer. And oh the pain that comes when I realize that I wasn't so "healed" as I thought I was. This is what I've come to learn.
1. Healing is a Journey
Too many people think of healing as a black and white thing. I'm either healed or not healed from PTSD. As long as you make yourself stand on one side of the line or the other, you will never really get to see the truth. The hard part of healing is that it is not a yes or a no. It is not black or white. Nor is it good or bad. Healing is more like one bendy line that curves upward on a graph. Sometimes it dips down and sometimes it soars, but slowly you see the results.
2. Pain Does Subside
Even as I write this, I can't say that I've stopped crying about my rape, because I know all it takes is one weird trigger and I'm back to crying again. I know people in recovery don't want to hear this, but it's the truth. What happened for me was that the nights of crying got farther and farther apart. The pain eased. My coping mechanisms got better through therapy and other resources. So, instead of it affecting me all of the time, it only affected me sometimes. And for me, it is not even that often. And that's what I consider another "H" word- healthy.
3. Forgive yourself
When that time comes when everything seems to have come back to you. When the memories are vivid. When you did something and you know it was a PTSD reaction. Guess what? Forgive yourself! I'm sorry to say this, but you are a human being. All human beings fail. As I recovered, I blamed a lot of things on my PTSD and rape. About midway through my recovery, I started learning to let the blame go. So what, you cried. So what, you started shaking in front of a man. I began to say something important: "I forgive you." In the last few years, I started realizing that I can't blame my rape on certain things any longer. I started realizing that other people had seen me as a victim and were using that as their excuse. It wasn't my PTSD's fault anymore and I started calling people out on it. That's when I began changing my world.
So, do you heal from PTSD?
If you are at the beginning of your healing journey, you might think I am healed. At the end of your journey, you will only see the path ahead. You have a bright life to live. Things can come up from time to time, sure, but that won't stop you from living. And you will live.
HEAL from Domestic Violence and Rape