Survivors Series -Bridgets Story- How the body can respond to trauma

Bridgets Story

Looking back I absolutely see how trauma and stress can effect the body if it is not allowed to be released in a healthy way.

I was taught from the youngest age as I’m sure most of us are and I have mistakenly taught my daughter as well. Stop crying when we are upset when we are just unable to communicate what is wrong. As parents or caregivers, we need to remember to take the extra moment and display that last ounce of patience and sometimes a gentle word of encouragement because we don’t all know how to speak for ourselves even as adults. That’s something that is taught to us. If we weren’t taught to speak for ourselves as young children and giving the opportunity to express our opinions and feelings and even medical issues, then we won’t ever know how. We will basically be people pleasers our whole lives because most of us were not taught boundaries which are a basic part of communication. This is a learned skill as silly as it sounds. Speaking for myself, my own feelings and emotions, and my own thoughts is something I was not teaching to my daughter. I taught her to be nice because that’s what I was taught, I watched her get bullied. I had to find a way to teach her how to have her own voice and speak up for herself however I knew in order to do this I needed to find my own voice and speak for myself with everyone. Once I

learned about boundaries on Facebook of all places, I needed to set them with everyone even if just in small ways. I then started tea

ching my daughter and even my husband how to start setting boundaries. I’m a little embarrassed to say this but I feel like she has raised me more than I have her and she is only 7. I have tried my absolute best, but she is so good and pointing out to me when something hurts her and when she needs something. I think it is amazing that she has that courage, strength, and trust to come and tell me when something bothers her. I didn’t have that trust. I don’t want to lose that in my daughter either. I do not believe my Mom intentionally meant to lose it in me. I currently have an immediate goal to try to heal myself from my lifelong trauma history that has left an impact on my body for my kids. I need to make sur

e I end this cycle of abuse for good. I was taught not to go to my parents when bad things happened to me without my parents even realizing at the time. When I was 6 years old a truck driver tried to kidnap me. I ran for my life back towards my house and then remember thinking then he’ll know where I live and then ran through my neighbor's backyard to my friend's house, the way I was supposed to take there in the first place. I walked around to the front door and that truck was pulling to the end of the street. I ran back to my block and he was backing back to my street. I finally ran back to my friends back yard and hid. I hid in the tiniest spot I could find all the way against the house. I remember hearing his footsteps and my heart feeling like it had to stop. It couldn’t beat, I couldn’t breath, I had to be silent in every part of my body my 6 year old self said. He stood in front of me about 2 to 3 feet away for maybe 30 seconds but what felt like 3 hours while he scanned the yard and left. I waited and waited to come out and then went home and ran to my Mom who was cooking on the stove and told her a Man in black boots and a truck tried to take me and she told me to stop making up stories I had been playing with my friend. I lost it, I told her to call their house, I never was playing there. I was gone so long because there was a man chasing me. I was so hurt, I broke down in tears. I had almost lost my family, possibly been murdered in my mind and my Mom’s reaction was stop making up stories, does she actually care about me was my thought at that very moment. She then told me to stop being such a drama queen and go by my Dad. My Dad told me I must have seen it on Tv but gave me a hug. That little hug calmed my nerves a little bit. No one believed me, I was on my own in my mind, but atleast there was love I thought. In my mind I had to protect myself from that day forward, I had no protection.

When I was 7 I didn’t go to my parent’s when I was hurt. I didn’t want to get hurt a second time by getting told I was lying. I would just get hurt again. My gymnastics coach sexually molested me. I repressed that memory, my brain and bodies way of coping since I did not have that support system. I did not recall the actual memory until 25 years later. I would have intense fear and anxiety with tickling because I knew someone was going to hurt me, but never understood why or where it came from. Tickling is how he would start off. He would chase us as the tickle monster and grab us by the legs and tickle our legs and further up and up but behind mats or in the foam pit so parents couldn’t see. The day after he did this to me, I fell in school. Teachers were confused because I was standing there and then I fell and I broke my wrist. There was no rhyme or reason why I fell, but it wouldn’t be the last time I fell for no reason when I was stressed. I never after that remember what happened. It was almost as if the trauma was stored with my injury, with my pain. My coach was arrested a few years later for molesting 3 other little girls. Community was appalled that someone would allege such a thing, that had such an impact on me as a child. My parents at the time asked me if he had ever touched me but I couldn’t remember, I said no. I got sick to my stomach feelings by the sight of his picture on tv, but I didn’t know why, I said no.

That is the first injury or body related trauma. At 7 years old my body needed an escape and was already starting to dissociate. I had tried to run away already from the often beratement, violence, and parents fighting. I had a handsy uncle, my younger brother had health problems that took much of my parents' energy, not being believed about the kidnapping, the molestation was the final straw, the icing on the cake have you for my brain to finally “check out”. Three of my cousins came to live with us when I was 8. It was so exciting, power in numbers. It's kind of put the previous 7 years of my life into perspective for me, but a little bit of the wrong one. My problems I dealt with weren’t anything in comparison, my parents were still there, they hadn’t abandoned me. I told myself I needed to buck up and brush it off, knock off my “drama”. This was my belief, so I never acknowledged anything that happened to me before that or from that point on. I pushed it down basically like I was told it never happened. If it didn’t meet that I’m dead level, I pretty much kept my mouth shut.

When I was 9 my best friend was gruesomely murdered and so was her younger brother and mother. Her baby brother and the baby her Mom was carrying both survived. The school told us friends what happened when we got to school the next morning. My parents didn’t know what to say to an adult, or themselves, let alone a 9-year-old in my situation, counseling would have been great in retrospect. I never understood how to process the emotion of missing my friend. The fear of someone coming in my house in the middle of the night and doing the same thing to me and my family. For over 25 years it’s brought me fear. Two days after her death I had a mysterious illness, they tested for mono in my records, but my Mom said it was a lot of vomiting and lethargy. I have had the same “illness” every year almost to the exact date in my medical records. My pain stayed trapped in me in this “illness” that would come out at the anniversary of their murders. No one realized because there was so much other noise to cover these things up. I didn’t even realize until I started writing reviewing my medical records looking for patterns.

Fast forward some more until the end of High School. The “symptoms” of my represses stress, emotions, anxieties, and memories keep building up even more. My junior year of high school I start having seizures. I remember that day clear. I had a breakdown at 16 years old. My Dad told me to go to my room and he would be up soon, because I was sent home sick from school. That never meant anything good. I remember not being able to move talk. There was loud banging. My dad yelled at me to stop making all that noise. What noise I thought, then I realized I was shaking like crazy. I still couldn’t respond or see my room even. I can’t even move my body. I hear him yell again and again and then his foot hit the step. His voice changed to panic and I blackout. That was my first non-epileptic or otherwise called pseudo-seizure I recall having. If you have one of these and a Dr or paramedic tells you it a fake seizure or you are faking realize it is a very real seizure. It does not show up on an EEG and so it is not epileptic. This is a stress/trauma induced seizure. It mimics a seizure and you are still technically having a seizure. You still have brainwaves short-circuiting in your brain, just not in an epileptic pattern, and you are still technically your muscles are still going through the same motions as a seizure as is your brain. It’s just not an epileptic seizure. It’s a stress/trauma induced seizure, many times PTSD related. Supposedly the paramedics had to give me adrenaline and use the paddles because I stopped breathing and my heart briefly stopped, it wasn’t the last time. My fear brought that on. My fear because I didn’t want to get beat anymore, I brain said I didn’t deserve too, and I knew that. A couple of weeks later I stopped going to my Dad’s house. I was afraid that I was going to die but I didn’t understand the extent of the physical side of stress at that point.

In 2006 I was finally diagnosed with PTSD. I was diagnosed for completely different reasons. At that point I didn’t open up very well, I still have difficulties and am learning how to. I was completely shut down to my childhood at that point though. In 2009 I was diagnosed from working for AmeriCorps which is similar to the Peace Corps but takes place domestically. Our first task was to aid in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I had never seen such a thing before being from Chicago. We don’t have hurricanes. A small portion of the city was still flooded, and it looked like a bomb had gone off in some places. I remember walking into a grocery store that I thought had already been checked and was empty, there was a 0-body count on the front. I walked in and there was a man laying not too far in dead laying on his stomach. Flies everywhere. I can still hear the flies I froze, I didn’t know what to do. One of the National Guardsmen I was with brought me back to reality thankfully. It brought me back to my High School hallway where an English teacher had a heart attack and fell straight face down to the floor. I was standing staring at my High school english teacher. I could barely sleep for the 3 weeks we were in New Orleans. I worked during the day and went to Bourbon street at night. I was diagnosed with PTSD on the second day back to base, but I didn’t really understand it at 19 or was I giving a treatment plan.

My first narcissist relationship made me leave hating myself and him. We ended the relationship ready to leave. I could no longer handle being told how superior he was to me when I knew it wasn’t true. I am a person who looks heavily on the reality around me, that’s what I know to be true. I am not inferior to anyone if I work hard enough, especially for little reasons like I didn’t finish college or where I’m from. I still knew how to educate myself and reflect and learn from my mistakes. I needed to realize I was making a mistake in the first place though. I didn’t realize I was being treated wrong until a long time later. I didn’t realize that when you love someone you want them to raise you up, that’s what I should expect in a partner. I wasn’t receiving that. I was being torn down daily, so many times with just the tiniest little jabs about hair or clothes or class. I was taught class, and etiquette as well growing, it was expected because that’s how my Mother and Grandmother grew up. So, again, I was confused because that was not my reality. At one point I tried to kill myself by overdosing. I couldn’t take the constant mental abuse, he hadn’t ever been physical with me, however I was starting to learn that love treated you like you’re never good enough, and I didn’t want to be treated like that any longer in life. I started having seizures in my sleep while with him. I would have drop seizures occasionally at work. Those were usually related to work though. I would read a really triggering jail booking report and all the sudden down I go, oops. I don’t remember falling or how long I’d be down, but I’m always told I jump right back up. I just always remembering jumping right back up like nothing happened, kind of like my brain had a hick-up. Now that I understand and remember more, I equate it to my brain and body saying to me dummy, that was supposed to stay hidden, locked up. Let’s short circuit real quick and I fall while my brain stops itself from remembering and refocuses. I don’t know if that makes sense but after many triggering events and after finally letting the triggering happen and working through it this is how I’ve determined it.

Fast Forward. We break up and I get my own place for about 6 months and then I get scared again. I meet this guy that I know is completely wrong and full of red flags, but I was scared to run from and drawn to at the same time. I lost a lot of friendships because he made them feel uncomfortable. My best friend said something so many times and tried to get me to leave but he showed back up each time. I remember the one time I broke up with him and my friend came to stay with me to make sure he wasn’t going to try and get back together with me. She didn’t know he was violent back then; she would have never left if she did. 30 Min after she went back home 2 hours away he called my phone from a different number. He asked me who it was I was with the other night. I told him it was none of his business. Hey became furious. I told him we weren’t together and hung up. He called back and I was stupid and answered, he told me he was going to go to the man's house gave me the type of car and the man’s name. He told me he was going to sneak into his house, tie him up, torture him and then rob him. Then he added and you know I’ll do it. He knew more information than I did about someone who gave 3 of us a ride home. I didn’t even know the dude’s name. I was terrified. Next thing I know there is a knock on the door, and he says open the door. I told him hell no. He said open the door or I’m going there now. I was so scared from that day forward it forever changed our relationship. He also was violent after I let him back in the door that day. I tried to leave many times and was never able to. At one time I was in our truck and he took the battery out and put it on the roof of the house. I tried to call his Mom and plead with her for help and she told me that we were toxic and that was my problem I needed to break up with him, I told her I was trying at that exact moment but I was unable to. I appreciate her for seeing that, but I wish she would have seen him for the monster he was and helped, at least talked to him. He raped me that day. He raped me for calling his Mom, for trying to leave him. This was his, I was his. Whenever he wanted it, I was his he told me as he was raping me. I died inside that day because I didn’t think I was going to be able to leave alive even though my family only lived less than 1 mile away I didn’t think they would believe me. It was my fault, I stayed, I didn’t think they would believe me. I had a huge deal of shame I carried because of this before I realized he was the monster, not me. I did nothing wrong, he did. Should ofs and could ofs will get me nowhere now, he is a monster. It took me the longest to realize this. My seizures kept getting worse and worse through this time up until I lost another job and another job due to having seizures.

After he finally left, because I did not get up the courage again, however he did not have the courage to be a dad. After he finally left, I moved in with my Mother. I lost my job again due to having seizures at work. I could no longer afford my rent. My daughter was 4 months old at the time. I started to have what are known as somatoform symptoms. Symptoms that the cause is unknown but there is a physiological problem. I started having regular non-epileptic seizures most times he would call me. I am occasional pain that would bring me to my knees. It would go across my shoulder and down my back, it is related to a flashback.

I saw this online and I feel like it needs to be shared as many times as possible because I needed to hear this. I was afraid to call 911 numerous times when I should have. I should have called 911 as a child. I should have called 911 that night instead of letting him back into my apartment, I should have called 911 the night he raped me and any time after. I hadn’t ever heard this, and I was afraid because again it was all my fault, I was bad.

Reporting an abuser doesn’t ruin their life, they did that themselves

It doesn’t damage their reputations; it makes it more accurate


Reporting an abuser isn’t gossip, is STRENGTH and INTEGRITY

I spent almost 4 ½ years single after my ex. 2 of those living with my Mom who also has major narcissists tendencies and the rest just my daughter and I. At the time my ex left I swore I would never date a never man again because I could not get treated like this. I wanted someone who treated me like I treated them, with respect, love, compassion, empathy. I had not known that, ever. I met my husband almost 4 years ago and we are going on our one-year anniversary. He showed me those characteristics right from the start and no one is perfect, and we have our miscommunications sometimes. What I like though is I’m able to say to him wait I don’t understand, or I don’t agree, or I don’t like that and we can we talk about this and he does and listens, and we compromise. I have never known that before. It was amazing feeling. To think that someone cared about me enough to sit down and say Ok, I’ll listen to what you have to say. That’s it, that simple. It takes just a couple seconds and that’s love. It’s a crazy thought to that other people in your life can’t take that short little time to really hear what you’re trying to say and show you that same love.

I learned it’s ok to have my own opinion, my own thoughts and my own feelings. It’s not my responsibility for how other people react or feel about those opinions and feelings. Once I realized that the knot in my stomach loosened up a little bit and a little bit of the tightness in my chest went away. As I keep peeling away the layers of my past and process it and put-up boundaries with those around me, it has helped my symptoms go away. Symptoms I have dealt with most of my lift are starting to subside. This November I didn’t get sick. The first November since my I was my best friends murder, I didn’t get sick. I still have that fear and I still tremble but when I think of her, I don’t get sick in November anymore. This year the first year that being. The healing process.

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