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I’ve been thinking about how my initial feelings after my trauma stayed with me and impacted my life, perspective and world long after the event was over. I’ll explain:
When I was finally released from the hospital I had the very powerful feeling that I did not deserve to survive. Don’t ask me where this feeling came from. I’ve tried to figure it out, but I simply don’t know. I was 13 and anyway, who knows why we think and feel what we do post-trauma — after the shock of what we experience we’re not exactly in a rational frame of mind.
Be that as it may, that small voice in my mind saying, “You weren’t worthy of saving”, and, “You better do something to make your survival worthwhile”, got louder and louder over the years until I could barely stand the anxiety it produced. In addition to the usual PTSD-related symptoms and feelings of fear, anxiety, etc., I had this gnawing feeling that I had survived by mistake; someone had made an error and my time was really limited.
I was lucky: I had a loving and supportive family. I had a nurturing environment after my trauma. Still, it didn’t stop that voice or the feeling it created. The more deep into PTSD I went the more that feeling amplified until I could barely stand to be inside myself.
Since I’ve healed, it’s been a gradual process of coming to terms with the fact that of course, we each deserve to survive. Of course, we deserve to live — and more than that: live well. Each and every one of us has an innocent and pure soul that deserves to carry on and even heal after a traumatic experience.
I’m struck by the power of how those first post-trauma thoughts so shadowed the next almost 30 years. I’m wondering if any of you experience the same thing.
Did your initial thought/response to trauma become a part of your perspective for many years to come? And if it did, how is that impacting you today?
(Photo acknowledgement on Flickr.)
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