After the car accident, there is a second reason I have PTSD. This one should strike a nerve mainly for the females who may happen to read this. Graphic terms are used that may trouble some of you.
After 2 earned degrees and 18 years in ministry I crashed and broke apart. I went back to school for another masters and became a children’s librarian and storyteller. But I was also walking wounded. I decided I needed counseling. While I was in counseling, I began having memories, fuzzy memories. The memories were of abuse. Certainly, I thought, they were false memories. At that time nothing therapeutic came out of it. In fact, that effort at counseling didn’t provide much help at all.
My career shifted over the following 10 years from storytelling to cataloger to adult reference librarian.
After those 10 years I moved with the family to a small college town. I became a technical services librarian, aka a cataloger, at the college. A couple of years into this job and I began to have flashbacks again. I was anxious and depressed. As a cataloger, I noticed I was entering into the database a dissertation by a local therapist. She had studied PTSD in veterans. PTSD. I wondered if that may be what I was trying to sort out. I made an appointment with her.
Over the next couple of years I became aware of more abuse and the flashbacks came with more regularity and severity. In my memories the perpetrator would engage in all sorts of physical violations. The worst violations were repeated rape. During therapy I began having a type of flashback I was unfamiliar with. Body memory flashbacks. I could not consciously or clearly remember the abuse (I was only 6 or 7 at the time) but my body began to experience severe pain. These flashbacks persisted over many months and stretched into years. Certainly these were false memories, I thought.
Frustrated and perplexed I decided to email the one I thought was my abuser and ask him about these feelings of mine. My email was direct. The response came quickly and was equally direct:
It is not your imagination. I have carried a lot of guilt for a long time about that. I have lost lots of sleep over this. If I could do anything to change it all I would. I have eaten my insides about this. I am so sorry. I really am not a bad person. I am as good a person as any other. Again I am sorry that your life has been so ruff [sic].
This was intensely difficult to read! It stunned me! But it also validated my remembered experience. I am sitting here right now reading it again and nearly paralyzed. I’m having a hard time typing and holding my thoughts together. He has since died. I’m sure he was “not a bad person.”
This is the second reason I have PTSD.