Sharing today from the present. Losing my jobs was very difficult for me. I believed they provided me stability, definition and purpose. I had a place to go every day in a structured environment. My soul cried for freedom; my head for consistency and structure. The head ruled for so long.
It now has been about 4 months since I lost the last job. It has been an interesting journey. Without really paying attention, I managed to get caught up in several different Facebook games with different people. It was a way for me to disconnect from my reality. I played a lot. Lately, I was becoming more and more frustrated with it. I felt compelled to play to ensure I didn’t “let down” my fellow teammates. I found myself playing less and less.
Last Thursday I had an appointment with my therapist. I shared with her my frustrations at not being able to focus, problem solve, pay attention or create. I told her about the computer games. I learned something new that day or it just connected with me, and want to share it.
I learned that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is not only psychological, but also affects the brain physically and that repeated trauma/stress creates more and more damage. As many of you know I experienced sexual, physical and emotional abuse for most of my growing up years by my parents and family and others. I’ve been raped by others, married a man who physically abused me and had a psychologist sexualized the relationship in my mid 20’s. I shut down then shutting out everyone besides work.
Work became a way of disconnecting from my world. It seemed the one thing I could do where I felt I failed at so much in my life. It was the only thing I felt successful at and I could feel good doing. It didn’t matter if I were an admin or the vice president of a company. I was a workaholic. The longer the days, the harder the work, the happier I was. Oh yes, I would bitch about it periodically but inside it was rewarding. It gave me positive feedback, attention and I felt valued and wanted. I had human contact without the risk of intimacy.
In 2003, my foot was crushed in a freak accident as I walked into a meeting and had about a 100 pound frame crash on it. That was very difficult to endure through physical healing that took about 1.5 years to get back to work. I was pretty much depressed the whole time and yet not willing to totally comprehend why that would be. I had just bought a brand new house and I had to give it up. I moved back into a home that I was robbed back in 2001.
The ability to work was diminished somewhat and a lot of the psychological symptoms were coming to the surface. I was fighting them down hard. Yet the fears were there. I had a job that required I travel and I became fearful of driving. I could barely breathe. I changed jobs. I never told anyone the truth really, I just kept making up excuses which was to my detriment – I see that now.
These last three jobs were the toughest for me to handle for various reasons. The work was fun but the owners were not so much and that was a major stresses. The first of the three was authority figures that triggered the past a lot. The new president put a lot of energy putting me down and eventually let me go primarily because he didn’t like me much and the feeling was mutual. He truly took a lot out of me. I should have left when it started, but true to an abused woman’s form, I stayed blaming myself and knowing if I healed and tried hard enough, he would change. The only one it changed is me.
The second of the 3 jobs, I had a very difficult time focusing, creating and solving problems. I knew something was wrong with me but I couldn’t let anyone know. By this time I am back in therapy and started EMDR to heal the PTSD. It ended by his accusing me of things that just weren’t true and withheld from me my due. That broke me. That is when my therapist said I could no longer work.
I didn’t believe her. I looked for jobs. Interviewed for jobs and nothing would come up. I couldn’t give up. I had to be stronger than anything anyone ever did to me. I was offered the third job which lasted 4 months. It was an entry-level job that I should have been able to handle. As part of my journey, I had to experience it one last time.
Which brings me to today. I understand brain injury and I understand that it can be changed through behavioral and EMDR assistance. Over the weekend I notified all the folks I play games with that I was done with it. I deleted all games off everything. My therapist suggested meditating every so often during the day to calm the brain. She also recommended that I download brain games like Lumosity or Fit Brain which are structured to help reorganize new pathways in the brain. I also need to connect with people rather than isolating in my room. A dear friend has encouraged me through accountability and I am doing it. So, that is what I am doing.
Now I am left with very little to do with a brain that is unable to focus and create. It is time once and for all to heal me completely. As I am able, I create healthy ways of dealing with time. I am hoping soon to be back and creating better than I ever have. I know it takes time. I understand brain injury. I can do this. I have the tools necessary, the desire of my heart and a persistent will. I also am very fatigued. The physical symptoms, besides the brain, wears on me.
My therapist said it is important to begin connecting with folks outside of work and learning to live healthfully. That is hard for me because as I share the truth of my experience, I find a few who have shut the door to me – people I had connected with at work. Perhaps I let them down, because I presented an illusion of who I was to them rather than the truth of me. Perhaps having the illusion shatter was more than they could deal with right now especially since I was so much a part of their support system. Another friend has been very faithful in his walk with me but even now it is different. I know it is hard for him to see me and my capabilities, doing nothing in his eyes. That hurts and yet I won’t carry it. My focus has to be on my healing now that I know about healing the brain. I’ve come so far on my journey of healing. I thought it was done. There always seems to be many layers to get through to find the core of who I am and then find the courage and stamina to allow that to be present. It takes so much courage.
It is very difficult for me to share the truth of an experience because I’ve lived a life pretending to be perfect and all is well. I thrived at being an independent, strong and self-sufficient woman who needing nothing or nobody.
I found that true health means interdependency. I am learning the dependent side of that right now. It is very challenging at times. I am understanding that receiving is giving as giving is receiving. So I share with all of you knowing I am not perfect and you are seeing the truth of my experience.
Thank you for taking the time to read this