Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Moment with Lauren: Life After Trauma

I so admire my friend Lauren's bravery in sharing her story with us all in today's Moments Guest Post. Lauren is graciously sharing her heart and her words with us today, and I am so inspired by her vulnerability and the way in which she has chased hard after the Lord in the hardest of times. Her story is worth reading. 

When Kelsie first mentioned this series, I wanted to take part, but didn't originally think of writing about life after PTSD or living with trauma. I have mentioned it in passing on my personal blog, but to really talk about my life with PTSD, I would have to talk more about what caused it and I was scared to do that. I was also terrified to talk about life “after” PTSD, because I am still in the middle of living it.

However, then a few news stories hit the media, questioning the validity of a person's PTSD and the honesty behind a sexual assault case. I'm not big on writing commentary on social and political events. It's outside my comfort zone. But in this case, both those things affect me personally and while it may not be much, I think telling my personal story may be able to help with some of the assumptions others make about sexual assault and post traumatic stress disorder.

My first trauma came when I was much younger, and to be quite frank, was more like a sliver in a foot than a jagged knife to an artery. The problem with that trauma, however, was instead of removing the tiny piece of wood, cleaning out the wound, bandaging it up, and letting others know the sliver happened? I threw a band­aid on it and allowed it to slowly fester and rot beneath that bandage.

Ignoring every warning sign, every time the pain would overflow a little, I continued to apply bandage after bandage as the infection grew and began to slowly take over my life. Then at 19, when the other assault happened, it was like a stab wound to my already infected leg. Every part of me that had become rotten and broken exploded out and I left believing the leg would have to be amputated. Or I could die, did I not cut off all the broken pieces of me. I wasn't sure which was worse anymore.

We saved the leg, though.

I left school shortly following my assault and made it through what people would tell me was the darkest part of the night. I slowly began to acknowledge what had happened and therapy gave me four little letters for what my reaction was: PTSD. A diagnosis: post traumatic stress disorder. What no one told me about PTSD though, is that the darkest part of the night never completely ends­or at least it hasn't yet for me.

I really would love to be here talking about overcoming PTSD and the trauma, but I'm not there yet either. While I'm no longer in the middle of the hardest parts, the stress of my trauma is still significantly infiltrating my life. As I stated above, we saved the leg, but like anything that had been ignored, covered up, and slowly decaying for years, my leg was not back to the way it was before the injuries. I was not the same person as I was before my assaults. My coping skills were terrible, and I used all the wrong ones.

I slowly had to relearn how to live with the damage that had been done. Trauma adds an extra layer to every aspect of your life. Marriage, my relationship with friends, my faith in God...all had been tainted by the trauma I had lived through. Each step was harder than the last, but I slowly began to heal. I married a wonderful man, who helped me through the hard times. My relationship with friends slowly were grown back up. I regained a faith in God, leaning on Him as I forgave myself, God, and the person who hurt me.

Even pregnancy after sexual assault had it's own struggles and I found myself having to trust in God and myself. So many moments that should have been overrun with happiness left me uncomfortable and feeling out of control­something I never wanted again. My son's birth itself left me having panic attacks throughout it; my body was not mine for those hours and it caused flashbacks.

My second pregnancy has been easier though; life gets easier every day. I'm slowly coming closer to who I know God meant for me to be. This wasn't where I planned to be fifteen years ago, before my little heart knew the pain of trauma. But I am also not where I planned to be five years ago, directly following it either. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Some days seem harder. When the anniversary of the date goes by, I tend to have a rough week. Every so often, there come nights that are worse than others. But it's getting better. And I want anyone else out there living in life after trauma to know that.

I also want them to know they deserve to be allowed own what happened to them, however they want or need to own it. It took a long time for me to talk about these things; even now, my words are carefully considered as to not give away too many details. For me, I choose not to be completely open because the details should not be needed to confirm my trauma. What happened to me happened, and I'm living the “after” everyday. By the grace of God alone, I am making it through. The grace of God and the love of a few good people.

Life after trauma can be so hard. But it can also be beautiful, wonderful, and you find you have strength you never knew you had. If you take anything away from this moments with Lauren Jane, I hope you take away that even after trauma, life can be amazing.

Lauren Jane is a twenty-something mom blogger who is passionate about mental health, raising a Christian family, and foster care. Shel ives in the mountains of Western Massachusetts with five of her six kids (added through adoption, foster care, and biology) and her outdoorsman husband. You can follow along with Lauren and Bellows in the Berkshires on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

If you liked this Moments Guest Post, check out the others here. Have a story that you'd like to share on Currently, Kelsie? Contact me here with your idea!


1 comment:

  1. lovely post. The line that really caught me is this "While I'm no longer in the middle of the hardest parts, the stress of my trauma is still significantly infiltrating my life." trauma isn't something we just get over.


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