PTSD Survivors Speak: On Being a Survivor, Part 1

It takes courage to be a PTSD survivor who speaks. It takes a commitment to acknowledging and validating who you are and what you’ve been through. It also takes bravery to say out loud some things it’s often easier to hide. Today’s guest post comes from a survivor who thought long and hard, and now has decided to speak. Welcome, Grasshopper Stephanie.

On Being a Survivor: My Thoughts on August 14, 2009PTSD, Survivors Speak
by Grasshopper Stephanie

(Actually by a strong voice within me that spoke this day. I wrote quickly for this voice doesn’t speak very often for it is yet a faint, foreign whisper.)

“Survivor” – just the word itself brings to my mind a bedraggled, hungry, exhausted, physically and emotionally wounded soldier slowly, painfully walking home at the end of a horrible nightmare of a war.

A war he didn’t start.

A war he didn’t want.

A war that ripped his soul and forever changed him.

A war that mercilessly chewed him up and spit him out.

How would he go on?

How could he look at his family and friends now that he had such horrible wounds from such a tragic experience?

How could he live among them and “keep it together” when the horrible, sometimes overpowering memories and flashbacks and nightmares plagued him?

How could he ever, ever tell them how horrible it had all been for him?  Could they handle it?  Would they throw him away after they knew?  Would they still love him?  How could anyone ever, ever understand?

How could he ever smile again amid so much pain in his heart?

Would it just have been better if he had died in battle?

I admit I do not know exactly how it is to be a soldier of war and I don’t presume to know all about it, but I have felt like this image I have in my mind many, many times – sometimes daily – in my journey of recovery as a survivor of child sexual abuse.  Oh how it is such a torture to even write the words “survivor of child sexual abuse”!!  My body and mind scream in great fear “Don’t say it! Don’t say it!” and my heart feels broken all over again.  I think it breaks fresh daily each morning when I wake up and consciousness returns and I remember present reality and it hits me I’ve got to do this all over again.  Many times it feels like a huge rock has slammed into my chest, grabbed my throat and sucked the breath and life from me leaving me hollow yet full of pain and fear. And the screaming of the tornado within me returns to my ears.  It’s like something precious has been ripped from me all over again, only now it seems that the joy and wonder of life have also been brutally stolen from me.  Like the soldier, an innocence and wonder of life have become a distant, many times completely elusive, memory.  In fact, it is hard at times to believe I ever could have possessed them.

I imagine a soldier may be shocked that life goes on after the war and somehow, in ways he never thought he could, his mind and body go on despite the wounds and awful pain.  Some soldiers may be able to look deep inside their souls and learn just who this person they are is that survived so much horror. Just as a soldier may learn these things about himself, in my journey I am learning new things about me.  A lot of these things are frightening and shocking and seem unbearable.  I am discovering this wounded, screaming child I have always been and who wants so badly to be heard and known and set free.  She also wants to cry and sob and she begs for help, safety and protection.  She has many war stories she has needed to share with me, many horrors she experienced that she never understood.  She scares me to death.  To even acknowledge she is present within me is excruciatingly painful because her pain, her plight, her pleas are so enormous.  And she is Me!  What do I do with an inconsolable, screaming child in pain that lives within me?  The screams in my ears can be enough to drive me mad.  I can only tend her in small doses. Her requests, no, her demands, take so much of my energy!  It leaves me exhausted and overwhelmed, immersed in great pain. My body shakes with tremors from the intensity, almost like it can take no more. And the experience always leaves me feeling like I am in between two worlds – the present and the past.  And both are full of pain.

Next week, part 2…

To learn more about Grasshopper Stephanie, check out:

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele.


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