I thought PTSD only happened to military veterans.

I was sat in my new therapists office in 2019 when she first told me she believed
that I had gone through a traumatic childhood and adolescence and suffer with
complex posttraumatic stress disorder (c-ptsd).

I struggled and resisted with someone telling me that my childhood was traumatic
and that I had PTSD. I had and have intense love for those in my family – I don’t want
to think that my mom or anyone did anything bad to me on purpose. Plus, I had
never heard about PTSD in a case other than veterans in the military.

My therapist then explained more about generational trauma. Intergenerational
trauma (sometimes referred to as trans- or multigenerational trauma) is defined as
trauma that gets passed down from those who directly experience an incident to
subsequent generations.

Talking to my therapist about generational trauma and complex trauma allowed me
to understand different parts of myself.

After working with this therapist for half of a year, we both decided that my
progress had stalled and my alcohol intake was increasing steadily. I was
transferred to work with the substance abuse team. Talking about my past traumas
(emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect) in childhood and early adulthood ramped
up my usage of substances, as I did not have the skills or understanding to cope.

Understanding the major events that lead me to where I am now is essential in my

I remember being very functional in high school. I had an immense amount of
pressure to get all A’s & be a perfect student, whatever that means. I know the
reason my mom put so much pressure on me was because she wanted me to have a
good life – and this is the only way she knew how to push me to my full potential.
Sadly, that full potential had a lot of drawbacks. I was restricting my food intake,
bingeing, and abusing laxatives. I was extremely insecure in my personal
relationship with my boyfriend at the time and because of my past abandonment
issues, I always thought he would leave me for someone better. I wasn’t sleeping
more than a few hours a night and my relationship with my mom was terrible.

At the end of my personal relationship three years later, when I was 20, my gut
instinct was validated and he was with another woman the weekend after he
abruptly left me. This action in itself validated all of the abused parts of me that
believed no one could be trusted and no one would ever stay.

This breakup sparked many of my mental health conditions to come out of the
woodwork. I was hospitalized in the summer of 2011 after having suicidal thoughts
and plans. After this treatment, I would see therapists on and off but didn’t receive
the treatment I should have. I wanted to pretend everything was fine – I didn’t need
to address anything. That was too uncomfortable. So let’s just pretend.

Fast forward to 2018. My mom, who was a source of my emotional abuse and
neglect as a child AND who was a loving and caring parent, was sick.

She always was ill and that’s how I knew her growing up but this time it was life or
death. She had a stroke and had miraculously come out of it seemingly okay.

My family was at her side always during these few weeks in the hospital where she
was ventilated. Unfortunately when she was back to her old self, she wasn’t
pleasant. She didn’t believe we were there with her. She fought with us. A lot of tears
were shed.

Back then, I saw her behavior as her not caring for us and her being who she was.
Now, I can see and understand what traumatic experience she went through and
like me, she did not having the skills to cope.

She slowly deteriorated from 2018 on. Putting her in assisted living and eventually a
nursing home was incredibly painful for all involved.

My mom died in April of 2020. I saw her slowly pass over a few days and saw her
lifeless after she transitioned to another place. My biggest fear had happened.

My mom was gone.

Since then, I’ve been having PTSD nightmares during sleep and flashbacks during
the day. In my dreams, mom is always dying or passed away. Interestingly, another
subject of my dreams is my first breakup. It happens all over again and in my
dreams, I am ignored and replaced by all of those that I loved.

The theme here is hopelessness and helplessness. I am unable to change what
happened and it hurts me – I feel stuck. Everyday I feel stuck, guilty and fearful that
another distressing or traumatic event will send me off the edge.

Yet – everyday I am hopeful. How can I be hopeful you ask?

Through these two distressing and traumatic events, I have grown substantially as a
woman, as a girlfriend, as a friend and as a daughter.

I now know what I am dealing with (complex trauma) and what needs to be done to

I now know that I am worth more than what I look like.

I now know someone can love all of me.

I now know that two things can be true at once.

I now know that I am resilient enough to battle future battles.

I now know that I am worthy of healing.

You are too.

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