After the war, or the rape, or the abuse…

Flashbacks, terror, dissociation, the crushing sense that the horror is happening again, now, over and over

Piecing together the mosaic of missing and fragmented memories

Hatred and fear of my abuser

Grief over what was lost, that can never be regained

Unmanageable spikes of anxiety followed by the flat, hopeless numbness of depression

Fear of crowds

The inability to concentrate

Dissociative fugues with lost time

Hypersensitivity to disappointment

Hyper or hypoarousal

The inescapable feeling that everyone hates me and is out to hurt me

Difficulty doing basic tasks

Overwhelming, unbelievable, unbearable self-loathing

Addiction to anything that makes the pain go away

Sabotaging important relationships with those who love me most

A distorted view of my life where successes are diminished and failures amplified

Gut-wrenching sensations from the past, heart, palpitations, shortness of breath

Shut down

Thoughts of death…

Then, unconditional love from those who don’t give up on me

A listening ear helping me piece together and make sense of the past

Deep, peaceful sleep

An unexpected kindness

Permission to feel what I’m feeling

A surprising show of grace

A friend who has been through it

The healing touch and laughter of a child

Unmerited compassion

A place where I feel safe again

Feeling myself again

An open door

A future with hope