Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Our circumstances change, the weather changes and so do the seasons. We change our minds, our clothes and our cell phones. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can be frightening. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what might be can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.
But change is inevitable. There are unforeseen events that occur daily. Some may feel insignificant, or be a nuisance such as a flat tire, some are as life-altering as the diagnosis of cancer. Even then we have the ability to choose how we handle the challenges in our lives. We can use the momentum of change to keep growing as a person.
Since I was diagnosed with PTSD, I have had to change almost everything about my life. I had to learn how to cope with this debilitating illness, adjust to the dramatic change in my financial situation, deal with horrific and terrifying memories that were quickly filling in the blanks of my past, and accept that my ability to be self-sufficient in most aspects of my everyday life was severely limited.
Once my memories started coming fast and furiously, I discovered I was living my life unlived and I didn’t want that for myself anymore. I wanted to live my life with my eyes wide open, knowing my truth. I sought the help of professionals who helped me work through the pain of my past, taught me how to manage my PTSD symptoms, and helped me see that I did have a choice on how I wanted to live the rest of my life. I emerged from the process with a congruent past and now feel a sense of freedom because I understand why I think, feel and sometimes react to the world the way I do. Once I let myself begin to heal, even though it’s been baby steps along the way, I changed. It was scary, new unchartered territory, but I felt there was less of a scrim between the world and me.
One of the biggest changes that happened the past eight years is self-compassion. I can easily and generously feel compassion for others. I don’t expect anything of them when they feel ill or out of sorts, except to take good care and be gentle with themselves. However, when I was faced with illness whether it was mental, emotional, spiritual or physical I had a lack of compassion for myself that ran so deep it was almost palpable. I used to give myself the old “buck up” speech. I would hear myself saying, “Lots of people have it much worse than you.” These were the tapes that played in my head. But now, I have learned to hit the pause button. That change has helped me extend the same degree of compassion for myself that I have for others, and I now recognize that I am a compassionate person. I own that quality in myself in a way I never could before.
I realize that nothing stays constant and there is always change.In the context of what I am writing about, I believe there are two kinds of change. One is the inevitable events that occur on a daily basis. The other kind of change is mindful and purposeful. It takes courage to work through both. It is a courageous person who is willing to work through their past and knit it together with they are now. I no longer wanted my past to dictate my present day life. The effects of my trauma sometimes dictate my everyday life, but I can tease apart the difference. I made a conscious effort to understand the past, feel for myself with the same kind of compassion I would have for others and integrate who I was with who I am now and who I am striving to become. I take full responsibility for life, and that brings a sense of freedom and empowerment.
I no longer wanted my past to dictate my present day life. The effects of my trauma sometimes dictate my everyday life, but I can tease apart the difference. I made a conscious effort to understand the past, feel for myself with the same kind of compassion I would have for others and integrate who I was, with who I am now, and who I am striving to become. I take full responsibility for life, and that brings a sense of freedom and empowerment. With that freedom brings a calmness to understanding that all things change, it’s inevitable and that is part of living a very lived life.
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph