Complex PTSD Series: Act II (of III)

A few months ago, in desperation, I wrote this to read to my therapist because when I am highly stressed, my verbal skills are severely affected. Another problem that keeps coming up for me is that, having so many years of getting absolutely nowhere, I panic. Even though I’m finally in a safe place, I panic. It’s called catastrophizing. An idea gets in my head that I should be doing something more that I am incapable of knowing so I must blindly find whatever that is.

Writing this out, I feel God telling me this: “Emily, I will not give you a task that you are incapable of. This is not a game of Russian Roulette. Trust me. You are safe now. When it is time to do something different, I will make it clear to you.”

My therapist deserves much more than what he is probably paid to see me every week. I’ve noticed that he is meeting my needs expressed here. He was great before, but being the observer that I am, it’s wonderfully comforting to see the ways that our sessions together have become more personalized for ME in direct parallel to my haphazard letter. 


If you can imagine what it might be like knocking on ALL THE DOORS and holding on fruitlessly with all your strength through severe lows and emotional dysregulation, because nobody understands what the hell I’M TALKING ABOUT– yet they don’t admit it. Resulting in the tragedy that I never get anywhere. 


All the while, life doesn’t ever stop–freeze in time for me to magically get my shit together. Life keeps going. I become more and more traumatized until I truly BREAK.  Well, that happened about ten years ago.  

I’m physically ill with autoimmune conditions,  can’t work, and can hardly be a functioning human to save my life.  So my heart is ripped apart every day that I am all too painfully aware of my downfalls and that I didn’t beat the clock on the race for time because my son is now sixteen and my daughter is twenty. 

I am not supposed to be worse off than over twenty years ago when I began seeking help. This morning I had to ask my own child for gas money so I could come here today. Do you have any idea what this feels like when you see the disappointment in your child’s eyes that you are such a chaotic mess of a pathetic, helpless, and hopeless mother? On top of that,  it’s Christmas season, but without a dime to my name, nothing about this is hopeful. 

I will not survive another year if I don’t find a human being that is willing and capable, or even someone willing to learn about CPTSD to help me. 

It’s one of the most tragic situations I’ve known, which says a lot because I’m a full-blown empath. I’ve heard tragedies that my heart breaks over. But I swear if I ever knew of another person that was knocking on all the doors and in such excruciating pain like I am but choosing to f****** live while still going around in circles like me, I’d do anything in my power to help them. This is why I am still here, so I can be that person for others. But for what? 

I keep forcing myself to dig up hope, even the tiniest bit of hope I can muster just to keep going. Weeks, months, and years keep passing by. It’s not okay. 

So please, please, please, I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart if you have any feeling that you are not able to help, that you don’t know About complex PTSD to be able to help me heal from this, I beg you to please let me go now or refer me to someone that you know for a fact can help me then please let me go I cannot spend another year running around in circles chasing something that is never going to come for me. 

I promise, if you’re willing and able to help me, as soon as I can function, I’ll spend the rest of my life dedicated to helping others who may otherwise be falling through the cracks as I have been.


Complex PTSD Series: Act I (of III)

Note: Here, I will breakdown Complex PTSD according to myself. My memory is fallible, so I can promise you that this won’t be a complete account, but it will give a solid picture of what living with this has been like for me. It may or may not be similar for others with the same diagnosis, but most likely any individual with CPTSD will find common threads.

I like to leave you on a more positive note. Please bear with me as it unfolds.

What is Complex PTSD? In a nutshell, Complex PTSD describes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events–often of an invasive, interpersonal nature–and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such a abuse and profound neglect (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network).

What is PTSD? PTSD results from witnessing or experiencing a single life-threatening traumatic event (All Points North).

A person with PTSD will have a core memory of what “normal”, or in homeostasis feels like. A person with Complex PTSD, most likely will not.


For me,  it was fear of having a heart attack at eight years old,  constantly checking my pulse with my fingers on my neck or my hands over my heart. 

It was hyperventilating or breathing so forced that babysitters asked “Why are you breathing like that?”  but I didn’t know the answer at seven years old.  

It was to develop such a phobia of throwing up that at six, I held a chewed-up cookie in my mouth for hours instead of spitting it out because when I was nauseous, that action felt too similar to throwing up. 

It was recurring nightmares of the same white truck slowly driving up my street as I ran, in slow-motion, away from the kidnapper.

 It was living stuck in a constant state of extreme fear over the demons that visited my room without a person to comfort me. 

As an elementary cult-school kid, it was venting to classmates about my traumas, digging my roots deeper into the mentality that I was alone. Because elementary age kids aren’t even capable of the emotional maturity that would’ve been necessary to absorb the type of conversations I was searching to have.

It looked like clinging to every adult that gave me attention,  memorizing the feeling of their hugs. 

It was running away from home to hide underneath a weeping willow tree,  wishing with all my heart that someone would come looking for me. 

It was the feeling of being the oddball, the failure in my family and extended family, always different no matter how hard I tried to fit in.  

It was anxious behaviors in my teens that my friends grew to define me by. 

It was constantly seeking, and striving for answers to my problems, a complete lack of trust in my abilities, zero decision-making skills, and no life management skills to figure out how to succeed in the world at fifteen years old.  

It was finding myself without anyone to protect me from the man who raped me without consequence and stole the most precious thing I owned, along with my ability to sing. 

It was, at eighteen years old, unconditionally and faithfully thinking that I could somehow make the boy love me, staying through cheating, emotional abuse, and gossip,  under the pretense that I was to be a martyr. 

It was daydreams of having my own child play like a fairytale story in my mind and how it would heal all of my wounded parts. 

It was being the firstborn but never making the mark of being looked up to as the big sister. 

It was experiencing the worst case of postpartum known within the walls of a maternity home that served countless women for decades. 

It was losing trust in the medical system for not believing me, for never knowing how to help me, for letting me leave their offices worse than when I came,  for just giving me more and more medicine to hide what was truly wrong.

It was not being able to sleep for three days in a row until I was extremely nauseous yet I had to go to work to keep a roof over my daughter’s head regardless of my poor health.  

It was being looked at as a “project” or a “lost cause” by many, attracting all the narcissists, self-righteous judges, and those who lacked empathy to overwhelm my head with their opinions to the point of breaking.

It was staying in abusive relationships for years past their expiration date, out of a “martyr’s empathy” (new term I made up).

It was finding miserable solace in my bed for years and losing the capacity to hold employment.

It is trying to communicate with a brain that goes entirely blank at the most crucial times. 

It is when I’m reading a book to relax and the dog is barking, all while my son is telling me that he’s starving but there is nothing to eat. On top of all this, my phone is ringing. Further, my brain is racing, so I panic and break down in tears. The sensory overload is intense.

It is no longer getting the option of staying present or dissociating. My nervous system has been overriding out of self-preservation for many years. 

It is the sense of sudden dread that comes without clear rhyme or reason, which no amount of self-talk can ease. 

It is intrusive thoughts and images that my kids are better off without me. 

It is isolation, shame, and over-explaining, yet still largely misunderstood. 

It is not being able to picture a future because a future doesn’t feel like an option.