My PTSD Adventure
This is a story of addiction brought on by untreated PTSD and freedom of that PTSD. It’s a painful one for me and my wife. However, our pain has helped others and will continue to help others. Before you begin to read, please understand that this post is full of potential triggers. This story doesn’t have a clear time structure to it either. Let’s start back when I was 9 and a half.
I was a very sexually active 9-year-old. I didn’t know why; all I knew is how to pleasure myself. I discovered my brother’s porn around that age; however, I was very sexual before the porn. I also gave my heart to Christ at 9 years old. It wasn’t until after I gave my heart over, did I become sexual. Which was really confusing to a young Christian. I struggled throughout the years with this. I often felt pure evil for not having control of my sexual desires. When I was in middle and high school, I was on fire for God. I sang in the praise team. I went on mission trips, and much more. Even during those times, I had to masturbate each night to sleep. I still had no idea why. When I was in my early 20s, I had my first major panic attack while house sitting for my sister. At this point in my life, I had everything going for me. I had a stable job, a good girlfriend, my own place and much more. Why was I having panic attacks. These attacks became more frequent in my life. As the attacks became more frequent, so did the anxiety. As the anxiety, so did the need for sexual release. While battling this fight to not subsume to both urges, I met my current wife, Susan. We hit it off quickly. She helps meet some of the sexual needs as well. We married after 6 months and our marriage started off with a bumpy ride. During this ride, I went from my own place to a single bedroom in someone else house that was the size of my old bathroom. I moved from Pickens to Columbia where I quit a job of 10 years and discovered I had no real skills. While in Columbia, the panic attacks grew out of control. Depression had set in, and I was living in a house of bugs. I felt alone as my best friends were miles away, and technology wasn’t that interconnected back then. Facetime was still something only the rich had. I often found myself on yahoo chat. One day after school, and after my shoes were melted slightly, I was searching. I lost my mind, something was broken. I cheated on my wife. Then I did it again. I didn’t understand why I wanted to. The first was with a woman. The second a man. Why? I didn’t understand this “need” to release with someone else. Something was broken inside, but I was blind to it. I broke down and told my wife about what I did. I promised her that it wouldn’t happen again and begged her not to tell anyone.
After being put in the hospital a few times from TMH type panic attacks, she saw I was falling apart, and no one knew why. We moved back to Pickens. I finished my education. I didn’t cheat on her for another 2 years. The panic attacks reduced for the first year, but in the second year, they started getting worse. I started having dreams of children being raped, but they were from a first-person view. I asked my mother and father about these dreams, and they laughed and told me to stop looking at porn. This is funny because when I was younger, I had similar dreams and they would say the same thing to me. After I started cheating the second time, it was a quiet thing. I knew if I confessed, I would lose Susan. I started digging deeper into the bible, trying to figure out how to stop this demon that lived inside of me. The Holy Spirit, audibly stated, “Tell her” or quoted Matthew 5:26-28 to me.
I started to remember the times when I was on fire for God. I wanted those times back. I craved for that closeness again. However, when I prayed, He said, Tell her or quoted Matthew 5:26-28. Finally, one night, He told me something different, “She will not leave you.” It gave me confidence to tell her, but fear became an issue. That week, we found out she was pregnant. The doctors told us that this was impossible with her body. A few years passed and she had Colysta.
I started working second shift which gave me chances to be sneakier. Not a good thing for me. I cheated many times with both men and women. One man told me, “something is wrong with you. You’re not gay. Why are you doing this?” Which my reply was, “Shut up and finish it.” I became cold. My soul was hurting, and I didn’t know why. These dreams became worse.
The 1000-year flood of South Carolina occurred and my mother in law was forced to move in with us. This made things tight, and it made it harder for me to even communicate with others. This added to the stress and depression I was already feeling. I felt completely alone. God had stopped talking to me, other than “tell her” or quoting the same verse over and over. My friends seemed miles away. My wife was up to my mother-in-law’s butt.
2 years passed like this, then one day while going on vacation, my Father passed away from a stroke. This struck me hard. The family nearly tore itself apart. I didn’t know how to handle it. While going through his things, I found some medication I gave him the day before, half used. He took enough of it to cause a stroke. I blamed myself. As my family fought, I had to work and take care of my family. It was a tough time. The dreams started coming faster and stronger than before.
I wasn’t given time to morn my father for long. My mother became deathly ill and ended up in the ICU with less than 10% chance of life. However, God had other plans for her. She lived but lost her colon and below the knee on her leg. This caused the family to fight with her brother, and Susan and myself were caught in the middle. The dreams were eating me alive. I fail onto my artwork to keep me sane during that time. Artwork and porn. I also started having more sex with others. One day while visiting my mother in recovery, I asked her about the dreams, giving details of each event and how It made me feel. She told me that I was crazy, and I needed to get off the porn. However, this time, before I left, she said, “when I am gone, seek help.” I didn’t understand. She passed away a few weeks after that.
What little did I know, at this time, my church was starting up a program called celebrate recovery.
After my mother passed away, we discovered Susan was pregnant with our son James. God kept saying, she will not leave you. I came to the end of myself. A few weeks after James was born, I confused everything. I begged her to get me help. I begged her to take me to our pastor. I was done. She was of course angry but saw that I wanted to change. I was done with this demon. I wanted freedom.
We started the celebrate recovery program at east Pickens. I also started seeing a doctor named Dr Epps. The CR program was moved from one building to a larger building. That day I had my first flash. It was the same building that we had my father’s funeral at. I had this weird flash and a full detailed reliving of that day. A good woman named Lisa suggested seeing Dr Epps. Oh my, things changed.
I started having flashes of random images and details of a rape. Each time the flash would end with words like, “that never happened” or “Stop looking at porn” Hum… I wonder where I heard those words before. The details of these flashes were astounding, but the logical since, made pulp fiction look like it was in chronological order. I would get parts at a time. Sometimes it was a tree. Sometimes it was a bench, sometimes it was the feeling of being held down. The flashes didn’t just have a visual aspect. I could feel everything. The grass of the ground while being pushed down. The feel of her hand crushing my wrists. The feeling of being thrown to the ground. The feeling of the fence as I held tight scared to say no for the first time. Sounds were enhanced, smells, touch, sight, everything. They all came in pieces and none of it made sense. It’s like a memory met a blender. The only thing I knew was true was the emotions I felt each time.
I felt trapped. I felt used. I felt like a piece of meat. I knew I was raped.
As I put the pieces of the memories together, I had to relive each second. The order made on since, but over time it came together like a 40,000-piece puzzle. Thankfully I like puzzles, but this puzzle was aggressive. I felt alone during this time. However, I knew I wasn’t. The people at Celebrate Recovery listened to me trying to put the pieces together. They saw the flashes as memories forced their way through my system.
During this time my family was going through much struggles. Both my parents had passed, and the will was not completed. The family knew I was the one that needed the house because I was the one that was going to take care of the family. However, this was still a struggle as it had to go through my uncle. One of the issues I ran into during this time was one of the memories involved one of my family members. I was forced to interact with her on more than one occasion. It hurt; the memories wanted to work themselves out during those times. What made it even harder is she didn’t know I had those memories. She didn’t know what was going on in my world. My brother’s saw a reliving and it hurt him. He told her about it and she called me to “apologize.” However, at the time, I couldn’t handle it. She stated that the day didn’t go as I remembered it. In all honesty, I had no idea how it went yet. It was still a puzzle. I knew I was naked from the waist down. The conversation ended with; it didn’t happen. The way she said it was the same way I heard it from my mother for years.
My wife handled it harshly. She was angry at first, but mostly confused. She found it hard to help as nothing made sense. I didn’t make sense at that point. I had more than one even unraveling at the same time. I tried to hide it from the kids, and for the most part I did. All they knew is daddy was struggling with something but getting better each day. All my son knew was, I smiled a lot at him, and was very protective of him from his sister.
Everyone in my family tried to help, but often found that the only thing they could do is listen. It was hard on them, and it was hard on me knowing it was hard on them.
When I turned in the paperwork for the PTSD, I was expecting them to say something along the lines of your fired. I was expecting to be made fun of and spat on. However, it was just the opposite. It was, Oh ok. Thanks for letting us know the kind of interaction. My manager didn’t ask a thing. All he knew is I was being a good employee still. I tried to do right by everyone and care for the people around me. My coworkers didn’t ask questions. At least didn’t ask questions until I had a flash around them. Once that happened, they were made aware of the intensity of everything. Then the questions came. My response was simple and subtle. I stated “At the moment, what was done to me is a puzzle. When I have the full picture, I will tell it to you.”
During this time, friendships took a hard road. I made friends in CR that saw me for me. People who knew the struggle and listened to me. People who were patient with me. But I also almost lost my best friend. He couldn’t see the pain I was in. He couldn’t see the internal struggles. What made it worse, is I made that so. I didn’t let Him see the reliving. I didn’t let him know how the memories were being put together. I was scared. One day he took me to the mountain top and threatened to leave me there. He thought scaring me would make me open. At one point he stated the magical words, “it didn’t happen.” He tried to reconcile my hurt wasn’t anything special that he went through the same thing. It was all to get me to be my old self. I learned that PTSD shows the true nature of your friends. One of my long relationships stopped and listened. Waiting until I came to him. While the other took me to a mountain top and threatened to leave me there unless I opened more. God was in complete control of that day. The rain started, and my friend’s good heart couldn’t leave me there. The rain was so bad, that we almost didn’t make it home. God showed me what was really going on through the rain. So, I opened more. I explained what was happening. He finally listened and took a step back. He even tried to help put the puzzle together.
Making sense of the chaos
I knew I had to break it down somehow. I’m a logical person dealing with an illogical event in my life. It had been suppressed for years, and I didn’t know how or why. The first thing we did was target how. One thing that kept popping up was “It didn’t happen” or “it never happened” or “it’s because you’re watching porn.” Those words were uttered by my own mother. I remember going to special doctors to help me forget something. I remember asking her back in high school and college about these memories. Those are the results I always received. I accepted the answers at face value because to think of anything else was too painful. Even when I was in Columbia South Carolina, I would get the same results. Even when she was on her death bed, she said the same thing. Except for the day before she died. She told me I will need to seek a therapist for something in my past. At that time I didn’t know what she was talking about. Now I do. She programmed me, and my family to forget the sexual abuse that was done to us by other people by saying, “It never happened.” I later confirmed this by talking to a therapist from my childhood.
Knowing the How these memories were suppressed, we started asking, did it really happen. That opened me up like a can of worms wanting to jump in the nice potting soil. I found I was about to stop a memory and step outside of it. Instead of being held down, I stepped out and watched what was allowed in. I did this through mindfulness training combined with lots of prayers from those around me. Each time I felt the “This didn’t feeling” I rejected the feeling. I started accepting it. Doing so, opened more of the memories.
Finally, one day, after a stressful week, I choose to drink. My family is not big drinkers. I’m not a big drinker, but my mountain top friend knew how to drink safely. So, we had a small party. I got drunk, like putting cards on my head drunk. I passed out. It was my first time ever being that drunk. Then something happened that I wasn’t expecting. I had a dream. Yes, a full dream with full details of everything that happened to me that day when I was 9 years old. My mind put it together. I was raped. I was saved by my brother and dad. That piece of the chaos was over. Now the emotions of it all started to hit me like a train that was just through by the hulk. It was harder to accept a full picture than a puzzle because the puzzle had doubts. However, God had a plan.
While in a session with Dr Epps, I started going into a PTSD flash. It took over my body. My eyes rolled into the back of my head. Images from other times started beating me down. Then suddenly, BAM!
I was laying in a field. The first thing I noticed was the grass. I felt softer than the softest of pillows. The blades of grass were perfectly shaped and unique to themselves. Each one was encased in a perfectly clear crystal, almost like water. The blade was a strong green with gentle faint vine lines. My eyes then focused beyond the perfect grass to a sky made of liquid gold and amethyst that shimmered to the light. It flowed like clouds, but at the same water. I can’t even describe the fullness of this sight. One thing stood out and my eyes quickly shifted to it. The light was shown on it from the field. The white, pure, clean light. Jesus Christ stood in the middle of the field and he showed brightly. Then God put me back into my body. I had a deep understanding of his love for me. The pain of all the rapes was like a plastic bag flowing away in the wind. It had no control over me.
That hurt was no longer like Sisyphus being crushed by the boulder of memory. Instead, it was picked up and Held for me by the light of Christ.
Since then, we have unraveled years of sexual experimentation done to me by family members, friends of family members, babysitters and more. Notice I saw we. This is a community thing. I have people in my life that has helped me and are helping me. My wife has been the biggest influence during this time. God knew what He was doing when He put us together on yahoo chat.
Each time a new memory comes about, the depression takes hold, but if I am focusing on Christ’s love. Spending time with Him, and loving others, the pain is like pulling off a Band-Aid. It hurts for a moment but then goes away. One of my biggest tools to battle PTSD is to remember what God showed me. He is the light, and through that, I am free. I must live it. I must accept the hurt and give it over. I don’t need to keep it inside me. The memories are also solid now instead of fractured. God has it under his control. I don’t need to dwell anymore. My freedom comes by letting Christ handle it. Does this mean I don’t feel it? No, I feel everything. It just means I am strong enough to relive and tell the tale.
Its ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be hurt by others. You didn’t do it. Accept what was done to you and give over to Christ. This burden doesn’t have to be yours alone. Ask for help. I encourage you to check out celebrate recovery. Sometimes it’s full of rednecks with spit stains on their shirts, but dangit, those guys know how to be there. Also, for us guys, we can be raped. We can be sexually abused, and sadly, it’s common. It’s also common for us not to do anything about it. We often feel less than a man when we deal with it. Guess what, you are more of a man dealing with it than letting it deal with you.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to reach out to me.