3 AM Confessions
It’s nearly 3 am in the morning in South Africa. Do you know where your favorite missionary is? If it’s me – then you do! She’s right here typing up a long post because she can’t sleep and needs some things to be said. So here goes:
1. I am a trauma survivor, multiple times over.
2. I (most likely) struggle with C-PTSD - according to my counselor.
Some of you already know about number 1. But, if you don’t, I’m sure you can read between the lines of this post to figure out what happened. If not, I’ll try and post in future explaining more. But let’s just say, things happened to me when I was a little girl that should never be done to little girls, repeatedly, by a non-family member. Also, my counselor says that other events in more recent history would be considered traumatic. I’m still on the fence with that one, but she’s the expert, so…. yeah. However, that’s not really what I wanted to talk to you all about so early in the morning. What I really wanted to talk about is item number 2 on that list.
C-PTSD stands for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s this lovely version of PTSD that stems from “multiple traumatic events rather than a singular event of origin” as the websites say. Basically, for years and years now, I’ve struggled with these lovely little things called nightmares. And, when I started telling people about item number 1 on that little list above, these wonderful little things called flashbacks started joining the party to make life extra fun (sarcasm, in case you missed it). And when these two little things decide to join forces and hit me at the same stupid time – you end up with 3 AM blog posts! But, at least this one’s not all gloomy (if you keep reading).
For those who may not know, flashbacks are like the worst types of memories – they are memories that feel like they’re happening all over again in the here and now. I hear things physically, I feel things physically, I even smell and taste things physically that are happening in the negative memory. And they often come at the least convenient moment, based on various “triggers.” It was these little moments of joy (she said sarcastically) that led me to getting an online counselor a few years ago. I had no idea what was happening when they first started. But through research online, I figured it out and quickly decided that I needed someone qualified to help me understand what to do when I was triggered – insert amazing online counselor and her list of tricks and tools to help me deal.
This counselor was the one to tell me that I “most likely” had C-PTSD. She could not diagnose me officially because, well, I was in South Africa and she was in America. But she did tell me that if I ever found the courage to come and visit her in person, she would most likely be able to diagnose me. Unfortunately, when 2020 started affecting my “income,” her services were one of the things I could no longer afford. That’s okay, though. I know she’s there waiting once I can afford to go back to speaking with her. And in the meantime, I carry on with the instructions she gave me and coping mechanisms she left with me before we parted ways.
“Why is this crazy lady telling us all of this?” you may be wondering. Well, here’s why – in all of this, one thing has become so very clear to me: God cares about me more than I realize.
You see, here’s the thing… when I was holding my secrets and ignoring my problems, I was also denying God access to them. This left me feeling like God didn’t know. Or if He did know what I was going through, or what I had gone through as a young girl with no power to defend myself, then He simply didn’t care enough to step in – then or now. But, that’s just not the truth. You know what the truth is? The truth is simply: God is a gentleman.
He loves us so incredibly much that He longs to rush into our hearts and into our lives to correct all the wrong that’s going on. But, He believes so very much in freewill that He won’t do that. He won’t rush in. He won’t force. And He won’t manipulate to get our attention. He will simply wait…. longing for the day when we will say to Him, “Please help me!”
Even when we say those oh-so-difficult words, He won’t force. He will gently lean in and start to point to things that need our attention, things that need our permission to be addressed, emotions that need to be felt, memories that need to be faced, broken/damaging thoughts that need to be conquered. It’s in His gentleness that I realize just how much He has cared all along. He has watched me dig my hole deeper and deeper. He has watched me cry out in pain and fear and anger. He has watched me walk away from Him time and time again. And He just waited, longed, continued to love. The minute I said “Help me,” He was there. The minute I allowed Him to poke and dig around was the very minute I allowed Him to begin to make things right again. And the minute I began to let Him do the healing, digging deeper and deeper to find the dark roots that didn’t belong in my heart, was the minute I realized how great His love must have been for me. For Him to simply sit back and watch, for Him to allow me the freedom to ignore Him or come to Him on my own, for Him to want so desperately to help me and yet refuse to force it on me, for Him to wait… must have taken Him such enormous restraint. But He did it that way because He knew that if He forced it (especially with an imbedded stubborn streak like mine) He knew that if He did it any other way, I would resent Him for it.
But the minute I let Him, He POURED out His love on me! I had to say “yes” to Him for Him to fully be able to say “yes” to the question that burned in my soul for so many years.
“Do You really care about me?”
“Yes, child. So very much!”
So, that's it. That's what I wanted to share with you. Despite the nightmares, despite the flashbacks, despite the reasons either of these exists, I know one thing to be so very true right now at 3 AM in the morning: God cares about me! And He cares about you!!!
Alright, I'm off to try this sleep thing once again. Talk to you all later! Love you all!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to comment or message me. But, please don't sent me over-spiritualized responses about how God will do this or that for me. I already know. I know the scriptures too. I know what He has promised. And I know that He keeps His promises. He continues to prove that to me over and over again on this journey of ours. I just needed to share all of this for people that may find themselves on a similar path (emotionally or mentally) that may not yet know just how much He can and will do for us, if we let Him.
PS: For those who were wondering - no, you haven’t seen me during a flashback. I’m very good at knowing who and what is around me when I’m first triggered and making an escape plan as soon as possible. That being said, if you’ve ever seen me shaking my head “no” for very quickly for no reason (hard to catch, I’m fast), biting at my fingers (not my nails, my fingers), hiding my hands under the table or in my pockets, humming random notes under my breath, or just sitting very, very still and not speaking or making eye contact – chances are you saw me fighting off a flashback. I rarely allow them to happen in front of people – if I can help it. But these are some of my “tells.” So, in case you were wondering if you’ve seen me struggling and didn’t help me - doubtful! You may have seen me do something weird, though, and just didn’t know what I was doing. And that’s totally fine! Please keep in mind that I’ve spent years hiding things. I’m well practiced at it. So, if you didn’t know I dealt with any of this stuff, that’s not your fault. It’s mine.
PPS: This is also why my cat, Merida, is so important to me. She's been trained from very early on how to be my "grounding object," or emotional support animal, if you will. She knows when I'm being triggered and she comes to cuddle me, often getting up in my face. She keeps me grounded on what's real and what's just a memory. She was a suggestion by my counselor and an answered prayer when I wasn't allowed pets at my old home, or my new place (people made exceptions for her). She is a walking answered prayer by Someone who knew exactly what I needed and wanted to prove, once again, just how much He cared. (This is also why Merida is so spoiled rotten! LOL)