It was Sept 11th 2001 & I woke up in my new home, the YMCA. The sun was shining outside & I was getting very excited about the prospect of starting my new job. Today was my 1st day & it was to start with training. I went to the open window and breathed in a gulp of fresh air & I felt free!
I went with my new colleagues into the training session & then we went for some lunch. After lunch we walked through the foyer of the YMCA where there was a big screen TV and many people stood around it pointing & staring in shock and whispering to each other. Intrigued, I walked over & looked up at the screen & I saw for the first of many times the twin towers of the world trade centre. One of the towers was on fire & as we stood & watched we saw a plane fly into the other tower. I was transfixed in unbelief. Who could do this? How many people were in those buildings? Nobody could survive such an atrocity? Not long after that we saw both towers collapse & I started to cry as I heard the words terrorist attack. For the rest of the day I was in a daze & I couldn’t stop thinking the world is no longer safe, the world has changed today for ever. Like many other people I was shocked by the events I’d seen live on TV.
That night I cried myself to sleep. What I didn’t realise until a lot later was that watching that footage had triggered something in me which would set of a chain of events in my life that eventually would lead to healing. But I had to go through the pain of remembering first. I started to have nightmares, & during the day I saw flashes of events that left me feeling fearful, dirty & guilty. It seemed that the events were happening to me & yet it was as if I was watching them from a distance. I had started to remember the domestic violence, the child abuse I had suffered at the hands of my father.
Eventually, when I was afraid to sleep & when I was exhausted I went to my GP who gave me sleeping tablets & I told my friends who helped me to find counselling. Often I would be left exhausted after the counselling or just couldn’t stop crying & then my friends would sit with me, look after me & hug me. I was very low & at times suicidal & the pattern of nightmares & flashbacks continued for a long time.
After too long, I was diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had to face the reality that the awful events I was having nightmares & flashbacks about had happened to me!!! I had to face this truth before I could face the memories. I had been abused by my father & I didn’t know for how long & more than that the abuse was now coming to haunt my days & nights. This abuse happened to me & was still happening to me in my nightmares & flashbacks.
During this time my friends helped me, supported me, loved & encouraged me to keep getting the help I needed. They encouraged me that I would get through this. Friends who I had not know for longer than a few months hugged me as I cried after many counselling sessions. I was BELIEVED!!! They reminded me again & again “It was not my fault”, “I had not done anything to deserve this”. They didn’t ask too many questions. They went at my pace & didn’t expect too much from me. They LOVED me!!!
But there was much more to come out, more memories, more understanding of what was going on inside me to come but I’ll tell you about that at another time. Know that if you are in the middle of remembering & healing & counselling there is a light at the end. Keep on walking the journey, you are not alone & you CAN do it.
To find out more about PTSD go to Mind @ http://goo.gl/b5yvlr