Complex PTSD Series: Act III (of III)

I thought of this letter over the years, wondering if I’d see it again to remember its message. One day, I went through boxes upon boxes of paperwork, page by page. My garage is an overwhelming disarray of various-sized boxes stacked against walls, random unused furniture that should be tossed (but even that costs a lot), a scary amount of bedding and clothing (mine–the thrift store connoisseur, at an all-time low, I became practically immobilized and the task of laundry was unbearable; my daughter’s–the stylist and fashionista; and my son’s–with the highest score for rapid growth spurts), everything that I could get away with holding on to through many moves, two kids, and forty-two years. I’m a collector of material items that elicit memories and a collector of material items that I hold onto by an overwhelmed default, thus to be thrown into random bags and boxes at impulsive moments of “get this out of my sight or I will scream!” Okay, enough about my garage. It is the last place you want to see, so you’ll have to trust me.

I found the letter in a giant, heavy box of at least a decade of paperwork. Now that it’s scanned safely into the cloud, I want to share it with all of you because I know I am not the only one needing to grab ahold of its truths. My friend was given this message on my behalf, which is one of the wondrous ways God communicates with us. Now I know, with a given urgency in my heart, this is God’s message for you too:

Dear Emily,
If this letter can even vaguely convey what my hopes and dreams are for you, then I will feel a great sense of accomplishment. Like I said to you on Tuesday, I believe NOW is the time that the Lord has appointed great things for you. Much will be required, you will have to dig, you will have to grieve, but like all things that are worthwhile, it will be life changing.
Tuesday, in the middle of the night, I awoke to use the bathroom. I was half asleep, half awake, but you came to mind. Now before I go on, I have come to learn that there have been some unmistakable times in my life when God has spoken to me through dreams. I have recently come to learn that whenever God speaks in a dream. He always gives the dreamer the interpretation. With that said. Your face came to my mind. He showed me a diamond that filled my hands when they were cupped together. The diamond was cut out from the rock so it maintained the shape of a giant diamond. The diamond, however, was not polished so it looked more like frosted glass than a brilliant, shiny diamond.
Immediately following, God showed me a gate. I knew at once that through this gate those “unclean” with leprosy would walk through to live outside of the camp away from those that were “clean.”
I believe the interpretation for both these dreams is this: You ARE a diamond, you ARE precious, you POSSESS the shape, you POSSESS the value. There is nothing that you must DO to become a priceless diamond. You must, however, allow yourself to be polished. All the raw materials are right there. Continue to submit to the process of sanctification and you will shine brilliantly, beautifully Likewise. Like all other believers you were unclean. You ARE now clean. Enter through the gate back into the camp. Christ Himself invites you in. Live as though you belong IN the camp.
This morning, again, walking to the bathroom, you came to mind. The diamond and the gate flashed in my mind with these thoughts. The two items are linked in this way. You must learn to believe these words and more importantly, you must live them out. It begins in the mind and heart. I know it is difficult to change the lies, memories, evil that was said and done, but, therein lies the freedom.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
If you see anything in me that remotely resembles Christ then you can know that God can do the same in and through you. It begins with counteracting the lies, believing that truth and walking in it. You are lovely, beautiful, graceful, intelligent, resilient, and have just the right amount of fight left in you to fight the good fight. Do not hold back. You have all the raw materials, now let yourself shine.

(AM, 2009)

I wish I could say that immediately following this letter, I walked right into the camp and lived knowing that I belonged there because God said so. I did not. It took many more years of being broken down, stretching, learning, trusting, and failing, in order to build the woman I am today. One who is thrilled by long-awaited moments of clarity when life begins to make sense. Like the ocean, sometimes still, dark, and deep, while other times big rolling waves throw themselves into each other in constant movement, bringing the treasures to shore.

The first time I read this letter from my dear friend and mentor, I was so lost, hanging on to every word she said, searching for answers to the questions which plagued my mind, seeeking validation for my brokenness. Once, I heard that upon meeting a person that you admire, identify with, and want to be like, you study the way they live their life. These are the things that drew me to her. I had never met anyone who moved with such grace through incredible responsibility and still held space for a stray like me. If I say more, I might give away her identity <3. I remember it vividly, seeing in my mind’s eye, the images she speaks of and knowing they were for ME. A fleeting moment of peaceful ease to just “own it,” but then I’d swirl right back into the confusion, unrest, and committed striving.

Every single week I walked into church as an outsider who didn’t belong. I went anyway because I was desperate to go wherever God was most active. During song and worship, I was filled with an overwhelming ache in my chest, a longing that never seemed would come. Big, rolling tears would fall, and I’d raise my hands to the sky, stretching, pressing as far up as they’d go. I’d imagine God would see that I was reaching to touch Him, weeping. Sunday after Sunday was exhausting. This pattern wiped me out for the rest of the day and most often I had no more peace than when the week began, only growing resentment for most Christians and a staggering tally of all the times God didn’t come through.

The number of times I stayed after service to pray with someone, anyone, looking for a person who knew how to save me from myself. I figured a Spirit-filled person like that must spend most of their days within the walls of a church building. All-consuming heaviness and fear were suffocating. It was humiliating. People tried to help me with human comfort and answers, but I could turn the most well-intentioned of them into a lunatic with my rebuttal or reason why all the things they believed of God weren’t the answer for me. I had actual evidence that “this” didn’t work for me or “that” obviously wasn’t it. I believe some were bewildered and I may have caused them to question some God-in-a-Box beliefs. 

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.”

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis

Do you remember the elementary cult-school kid I mentioned a couple posts back? That was me the whole time. I felt BIG feelings that were usually too heavy for any audience I was grasping for. It was a curse I couldn’t escape, yet I despised myself for it. And I held a grudge against God for “just watching” me flounder so excruciatingly in it. Why didn’t He pluck me up out of that hell?

From cult-kid to excommunicated cult-kid, to the Emily I was a decade ago, I was a regular church-goer. In the recent ten years, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve sat through a church service. The reason isn’t because I stopped needing God, but because God started meeting me right where I need Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t regularly come to us, but there was some work I needed to do before I was able to see Him. 

Everything about my current life would be laughable by society’s standards, by most opinionated humans. God knows our struggles. He knew I had too many voices talking over Him with their opinions and ideas constantly swirling around in my head. He wanted me to get in a still and quiet space where His voice could be the only one I heard.

I used to be on a regular cycle:

God ➡️ my intuition➡️ outside opinions ➡️ shame/striving


shame/striving ➡️ outside opinions ➡️ my intuition ➡️ God

I was on constant repeat because I didn’t trust my God-given intuition. That skill was broken in childhood. The thing about that is I’ve been led by the spirit since childhood, so how does that add up? –a child programmed from a young age to agree with their only caregivers (no outside “rescuers”) that the child is incapable of reality-based thinking, therefore the child internalizes this and begins to believe their perception on all platforms is unreliable. 

Let me close this by saying that God will move the mountains that stand between me and Him. I’ve seen tremendous castle walls fall. He has climbed the highest tower for me. My fear of heights looking all the way down from the top of the tower is terrifying. He reaches His hand to me. Will I grab ahold of it? You bet your sweet bippy I will!


The Unrecognized Diagnosis

This morning, in my Healing from CPTSD group, someone posted this question. This is probably the #1 hardest thing for me to accept and it comes in waves. It is a decision that I have to keep on making. This was my response:

YES BIG TIME!! Thank you for opening the conversation about this. When I had my daughter 20 years ago, through a torturous postpartum when all of my trauma made it’s grand entrance all at once, I was desperate to find healing. It was the thing I obsessed over the most in my life, to heal all my stuff so my kids would grow up with “the amazing healed version of me.” That healing never even started until about 2 years ago, but by then I was 18 years more traumatized, and add the trauma of spinning around in circles between therapists for 20 years with this CPTSD (the diagnosis with no name that caused people to look at me like a deer in headlights). I had beaten myself up incessantly and had zero confidence in my own motherly abilities and intuitions. I became mentally/ emotionally paralyzed and physically disabled from the stress.
I am just now, like 1 week ago, having healing revelations that I literally did the best I can with the crap tools I had. It wasn’t fair that I didn’t find the help I needed, but I can make the intentional choice to finally accept that this happened rather than spend the next 20 years sabotaging my healing. I apologize to my kids for the ways that I wasn’t better and I am here for them to work through things anytime they need me. We are making history and writing the books on CPTSD that will change the course of lives to come. It sucks that we (and our kids) didn’t get all of the benefits of that; we were/are the foragers. Basically, I’m having to choose every day whether I will stay stuck in how unfair life is, or I will embrace my path here and let the healing come.
♥️ It’s really freaking hard.

Multi-task or Hyper-Focus?

April 29, 2021 “You need to learn how to multi-task better.”
I heard this more times than I can count. At first, I would strive, strive, strive to do better, but I couldn’t ever fully measure up. The more I started to heal from my past, I realized that the concept of multi-tasking as we know it, was pushed by society and the culture of STAYING BUSY. It was not God who said that we need to be great at multi-tasking. I’m gonna ask Him when I see Him, but I’ve come to believe that It’s ok that I am not the best at multi-tasking. If you are like me, then you are probably great at the things that come with being someone who is able to hyperfocus. You give your whole attention to things that inspire you, your senses are heightened, you allow people to feel truly heard.
I’m not knocking all of the mult-taskers out there. I think your ability is a gift, just like the ability to hyperfocus is a gift. I think we need to allow each other to use our gifts, unashamed. Our differences are so beautiful.
-Emily’s Insights🌙

Little Girl with Big Dreams

May 13, 2021 Since I was 12, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to change the world. 😆 Big dreams for a kid. God could have said, “You sure about that, little girl?” I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, what I signed up for when I made that pact with Him that He could ” do with me as He pleased, IF….” All I knew was that my heart ached to be for someone else who I always needed for myself. The hands and feet of Jesus.
I can’t take credit for this person you see today. Seriously, not for any of it. I would have wallowed in my sadness and the darkness could have consumed me so so many times. The only thing I did was keep getting up. But even that seems insignificant, when He was the one who kept waking me up.
I am so glad He kept waking me up, especially when I didn’t care if He did or not.
If you reading this, are still in the dark place, please keep getting up.
If you reading this, are cringing at my mention of God, I feel you, I get this soo much. I hope that you will hear me when I say: God isn’t the One who fails us, people do. If you ever want to talk with someone from a place of empathy and not judgment, I’m here.
-Emily’s Insights 🌙

Shut down the Inner Critic

June 7, 2021 I’ve been at war with myself over continuing to be transparent on social media. I made a list of the taunting messages that keep repeating themselves in my own mind, trying to silence my voice, my joy, and suck me back down into the pit. I have to face each fearful message of self-doubt, “supposed to” theories, and labels. I am owning & processing these messages to take back my power.
My page has grown into a blog of sorts. This is my intention. My hope has been to use it as a platform to share my healing journey and discoveries in an authentic way. Keeping it REAL and brave is my heart’s song. It is part therapy, part humor, part strength, part terrifying, part faith & hope & freedom. It gives me purpose and has brought me joy that I can’t define. This. This is my lifelong dream.
This is your opportunity to really speak your mind to me. LOVINGLY. I need to hear it. I want nothing more than to do this in the most effective, encompassing of all, so loving way. If I’m doing it all wrong and you know a better way, please message me.

If you see my vulnerability as a twisted ploy of a damsel in distress, I give you all my blessings to unfollow me and go in peace. I don’t have the energy. Love to all.

Heart to Heart

June 14, 2021 I need to have a heart-to-heart with you all. Recently I was befriended by a stranger, a mental health professional who was drawn to my page. He was new to the area in which I lived, and soon after, began following several of my friends. At 1st, I saw red flags and I was hesitant to interact with him, but he patiently planted little seeds. When he explained that he was a safe person, I believed him, which made way for some deeper conversations. He showed concern over my healing journey. Because of his patience, the seeds he planted, and his damn credentials, I was too trusting. It felt like the moment I let my guard down, he began to break me apart and break me down from all the work that I put in this past year. He criticised my entire essence and integrity and calling. In the meantime, he was also getting close with a long time dear friend of mine. ‘Dear friend’ hardly does justice to how much she has meant to me over the years. In order to protect my friend, I was not going to share this story, but since both she and he have unfriended me, here it is. It is no longer my responsibility to protect those who do not protect me.
The ‘mental health professional’ began to have such a huge, unknown, personal issue with me that he turned ‘my friend’ against me and I didn’t/don’t have a voice to ask “why?” or to defend myself. I have been a hot mess. My number one trigger in life is to not have a voice. What makes it even worse is that he calls himself a “voice for the voiceless.” He stole my line, he lied, and stole my friend. No explanation from either.
I felt like I couldn’t begin to process if I wanted to because I don’t understand what happened. Excuse my language here but as I told my therapist, this was the ultimate cluster-mind-*#@*. It was the perfect storm to derail me and end my beautiful, productive, transparent, healing reign of personal testimony.
Mental illness, trauma, etc., can happen to any one of us at any time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been overlooked, brushed off, ignored, picked apart, bullied, and let’s face it, unloved, simply because I struggle with symptoms of complex trauma. I believe that my saving grace is Jesus, but many would correct me to say that had I been fearless enough to dabble in drugs, even Jesus may not have been in a place to stop me. I know I would be dead. I wouldn’t be here to write this and plead with you all to be kinder, be gentler to others, ESPECIALLY those who you don’t understand. My kids would be without a mom. With all my heart, I’m writing this.
I am sensitive to the fact that my personal blog of sorts here on social media is going to make some people uncomfortable. My hope is that we, you and me, push through that discomfort and listen. “When a survivor speaks up, they are speaking from a place that has altered their nervous system. They are speaking from a place that has changed the lens on how they see the world and those in it. They are speaking from a place of extreme vulnerability and pain. Believe them. ” -Nate Postlethwait
If the conversation is awkward for you, ask God to help make it less awkward. If you have stigma, do the research, sit with the feelings that come up, and fight back against that conditioning. Just because I have Jesus and I’ve said many times that I will keep fighting for my own life, does not mean that I’m always OK, that I’m not terrified. When someone is actively suicidal, they usually have the dark thought patterns and a method in mind. The crisis is that most of these people have already gone through all of the pain and the shame and are now disassociated by numbness. Do you honestly think that they skipped 2 steps and the ending action was for lack of searching for a way out? I assure you, it was not.
To be honest with you, I don’t know all of the things that have kept me alive. But I do know that the pain, the shame I carry over the stigma and judgement from people like everyone here, is enough to drown me into a passively suicidal state at times (no plan of action, but same feelings and same darkness.) I am putting in the work to overcome all of the trauma that others did to me. This may just be the hardest thing for people to hear, I am responsible for my healing, but in no way was I responsible for the things I am forced to heal from. IT IS ROYALLY SCREWED UP THAT I SHOULD FEEL SO ASHAMED TO REACH OUT FOR HELP.
I am begging you, please do not hear all of this as a cry to feel sorry for me. I am just one out of the 5 people you know. This crisis is hurting most of us here. Our hearts break each time we lose someone we love to this horrific disease. We can prevent that tragedy, but only if we put in the effort to break the cycle.
Since I began my healing journey last year, I can testify that VALIDATION of my pain and suffering, and being “allowed” to sit in that with my therapist, which I had never before in 40 years felt safe to do, was the 1st step in being able to heal anything! I am asking you personally to stop shushing, judging, rolling eyes, avoiding the conversations, gossiping about the people you care about.
Not one of us has walked in anyone else’s shoes, but our own. I just need us, me and all of my people, to do better. Please do better. 💓🙏
P.S. please feel free to comment with the name of someone you love and lost to mental illness. Say their name.

P.S. Feel free to share all or part of this message

Taking Up Space

August 28, 2020 Some of you may be wondering why I’m so transparent on social media. Some of you may feel slightly uncomfortable with my reallness. If so, then maybe it isn’t for you. For the first time in my life, I know in my heart that I don’t owe anybody an explanation, and that peace in my heart feels freaking amazing. But if you are still reading, than maybe this is for you too.

Up until only a few short weeks ago, I would have crumbled at backlash, especially after allowing myself to be so vulnerable. I would have gone silent and dark. But I am healing and for as long as I’ve been here in this earth, my purpose is to share my light with as many as I can. In order to do this, I believe it is important to share my story. If I don’t shy away from sharing the raw pain and my struggles, I am allowing someone to identify with me and am reaching out my hand to them to say “I know it hurts. I see you. Have some of my strength today. We can heal together.”

My story is not to make you feel sad for me any more, but to share in my joy and my freedom from all that had me feeling so confused and hopeless for so long. My story is not an excuse for myself to remain a victim. But I am willing to admit that I have been a victim of many painful things that weren’t my fault, I am finally allowing myself to really look at those things and feel compassion, empathy for that child, that girl, that young woman, that mother, that friend. For me, I needed to be allowed to admit my heart breaks, my traumas, in order to heal. I was not allowed to do that for a long time, and didn’t know how to do that because I got so good at stuffing it all down to “keep on truckin'”. Well, ” big girl panties” have never been my thing and I really wasn’t very good “sucking it up”. 😝 I was so damn sad and beat myself up constantly because I couldn’t seem to conform to the expectations that others had of me.

Many of my followers are my family, my dear friends throughout the years. Many of you have loved me, cried with me and for me, prayed with me and for me. Many of you have counseled me and worried about me and hoped and dreamed for me to find healing. This is for you.

My stories and testimony are for anyone who feels stuck, who feels hopeless, worthless, like they can’t hold on another day, like God doesn’t see them, that they will never be able to climb out of the darkness, that they are pathetic, too much, not enough, stupid, ugly, or any other heartbreaking message that we tell ourselves.

My story is for myself, to acknowledge my pain and share in my healing.

My story is for my precious children to know in their hearts just how deeply they are loved and how worthy they are of fighting for.

So much love to you all as we all do the very best we can at this crazy thing called life. ❤

Never Forgotten

September 29, 2022 To me, little kids are the closest beings to God. 💓💓 He even says, “Let the children come to me.” They are so precious. I’ve always believed that even babies can speak the language of angels. (You know how they will just babble and smile while seemingly looking into the air?)
This brings me a lot of joy and comfort. I only wish little children could keep themselves clean like kittens do. 😹
My intuition about babies and little children, although beautiful enough to make my heart swell, also makes me feel a sense of great sadness that, as a child, I wasn’t thought of in this way. I am so grateful that I knew God’s comfort though. As long as i can remember, I had safe places to go to in my mind, in my heart. My sensitivity, my strength gave me the ability to tap into that. He was right there the whole time and there isn’t a doubt in my mind of that. I was so loved.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

-Isaiah 49:15-16