Turning Points and Emotional Healing by Susan Smith

Emotional Healing
Susan Smith

I am pleased and excited to have guest blogger Susan Smith sharing a piece of her story with us today.  Susan is my friend and fellow truth seeker, as well as the author of her own wonderful blog “A Journey” and I’m also blessed to have her as a frequent commenter here on Emerging from Broken.  ~ Darlene

 “When I finally was able to make peace with the past I could write a new ending to the story and claim what was rightfully mine – me.” ~Susan Smith August 26, 2010

 Like many – or most – of the readers of EFB, I grew up in a less than nurturing environment. Physical, emotional, mental, sexual abuse and neglect was the “normal” for me in my home and the rural community where I was raised. As one person put it, I’d grown up in a “battlefield”, a warzone where there was no “safe place” for a small child to even exist. I’d been taught that sex was where my value lay and that this was where my emotional and physical needs were met – by exchanging sex for physical touch. I came to believe at a very young age that this was how the world accepted me and valued me; this was what my role was.  

 And I’d spent a lifetime carrying this baggage with me. I’d become an irritable, angry, pessimistic person that tried to control everyone and everything around me. My relationships were unstable and fraught with conflict, confusion and replicated the abuse, neglect and violence that I came from.

 Eventually, I lived in complete isolation and had gotten to a point where I was losing more and more time. I couldn’t remember things – not only things from a few minutes before, but memories of my own life and of raising my children. I’d gone from “normal” dissociation to the extreme on the dissociative scale where I realized years and decades were just gone from my memories…and that this wasn’t “normal”.

 Depression had plagued me off and on for years. My anxiety was bordering on paranoia and I could easily be triggered into “psychosis” as I reacted to today’s world as though it was my past. PTSd symptoms had turned me into a prisoner in my own home. I was ashamed that I even existed and believed that I was “broken”, “ill” and somehow intrinsically defective.

 I found myself stuck in that place where I was “acting in” and my pain was turned inward and expressed as depression, anxiety, dissociation and other emotional and psychological coping skills that were less than helpful. Sometimes my pain was expressed in “acting out” as I engaged in self-harming behaviors and abusive relationships that recreated the trauma I had been raised in.

 My body was falling apart and no physical cause could be found for much of my physical pain and complaints. Life had become too difficult a burden to bear any longer. I had shut down mentally, emotionally and physically. I had dissociated to the extreme point and in the fall of 2007 I was told the newest diagnosis was D.I.D. and I was abruptly taken off the numerous psychotropic drugs I had been on for all the previous “diagnosis”.

 At first – I listened as the latest psychiatrist told me that this was my “diagnosis” and he handed me a couple of books on the subject one that told the story of one mans journey through MPD and talked about “alters”.

 And while I admittedly recognized that I felt fragmented, I had turned to another psychiatrist that encouraged me to become more attentive to time and what I was doing by using a time log and recording periodically the time and what I had done. This was an exercise in learning to stay present more than one of time management.

 I read about “Internal Family Systems” and began to understand that when I was “tuning out” I was avoiding some painful thought or feelings. The therapist I’d chosen to see encouraged me to become intentionally aware of where I was, what I was thinking, feeling and doing.

 And while there are many more layers to my journey and how I found “me”….I first had to lay claim on and believe that I was a single person who had had some horrendous experiences and that I had the potential to be and live a whole healthy life.

 I came to understand that dissociation was a wonderful tool that protected me from the pain of the past. I also understood that this skill of slipping into a dissociative state was no longer helpful – and was in fact hindering my ability to live beyond the past as I was in a chronic state of avoidance and nurturing the anger and pain connected to it instead of going “through it” to “get out of it”.

 By facing dissociation and my other avoidance strategies as  learned skills that had helped me to avoid my pain – I became strong enough to face the pain and begin to let it go.

 about Susan Smith;

I am a trauma survivor…but I no longer live only to survive. After a lifetime of trauma’s ranging from physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect as a child to two violent marriages, I entered the mental health system seeking help for depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and irritability where my lifelong history of trauma was dismissed. For over 15 years I was given a variety of “diagnosis”, numerous mind altering psychotropic drugs and a routine of weekly “talk” therapy. In the fall of 2007 I was abruptly taken off of the drugs I’d been prescribed all those years and began to reclaim both my mind and my life.

 I connected with a therapist trained in Trauma Informed therapy and heard a new message of hope – that I could learn to create the life I wanted for myself…in spite of the past I’d had.

 Today, I no longer accept any labels for myself and live the life of my choosing, following my dream and passion to share a message of healing and hope as I write and speak about this journey that has been my life.

Please be sure to visit Susan at her website http://www.susankingsleysmith.com/

31 response to "Turning Points and Emotional Healing by Susan Smith"

  1. By: Elizabeth Posted: 28th September

    I keep reading and reading this post. I keep seeing something new each time I read it. In the past week, at work, where I frequently have numerous anxiety attacks every day, I am beginning to feel ….hopeful…I am beginning to feel more light hearted, not like doom is just around the corner every minute. My financial situation isn’t good but I am not terrified every single day of the future like I have been for a long time.

    Please keep telling us about your journey.I so much identify with your story.I need to hear more about someone else getting there and healing and I need to hear gut honesty, like you and Kim and Darlene use in your stories. I can’t take any more detached semi bored or controlling counsellors. I am actively looking for a trauma informed counsellor.

  2. By: Elena Posted: 27th September

    Your story sounded way too much like my own, (except for the recovery part, which I am working on). Thank you for validating my feelings!

  3. By: Elizabeth Posted: 27th September


    I appreciate your comments. I think when and if we are abused by our parents and families, or whoever it might be- that allowing ourselves to realize this, and allowing ourselves to ‘blame’ the abusers is appropriate.Its our right to be angry on our own behalf- In my case no one else ever did that=stand up for me. What to do with the anger and grief, is so very important, and working with someone who doesn’t assume we WANT to stay stuck in that place is key!
    Being stressed and anxious, grieved, and angry doesn’t mean one is not taking responsibility for oneself.

    My being victimized didn’t mean I was irresponsible either.Or that I ALLOWED IT.Knowing the toll it takes on one physically, and in every other way, and the fact that a person IS seeking help is very responsible…And proactive.Thanks again for your insight.

  4. By: Susan Posted: 26th September

    Hi Patricia – thank you for your encouragement and sharing your wisdom. It really is true that those who have not been able to sit with their own pain cannot sit with the pain of another. I always thought the providers knew their stuff – it was only recently that I began to see how they were actually working out there own issues in my therapy!

    And it’s true that often the good intentions end up teaching us to find new ways to avoid dealing with our anger and grief and the tough part for me was how I was shamed again into believing that when therapy wasn’t working it was because I was dong something wrong.

    I appreciate how you have found and share such wisdom in your posts and your comments. Thank you!

  5. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 26th September

    Susan and Darlene, thanks for sharing the encouragement of this post. I hear so much of me in both of your words. As far as I know I don’t have DID or any of the other dissociative disorders. Still I can relate to so much of what you share.

    Elizabeth, so many people become counselors/therapists because of a conscious or unconscious desire to heal their own issues. If they are willing to look at their own issues, then they can be willing to allow their clients to look at their own issues. If they are in denial of their issues, then they aren’t going to want you to look at your issues. Not every counselor is right for every client. Not every counseling method is right for every client. We each have the responsibility to find what and who works for us.

    When I went into counseling years ago, feeling my anger, blaming my parents and other abusers, crying my way through my grief was exactly what I needed to do to heal. Your therapists methods would have just given me new ways to continue to hide from my feelings and would have made me sicker than I already was. Blaming my parents was just a way to get to the anger that I had been stuffing inside of me for so many years. My anger was attacking me by way of high blood pressure and ulcers. I had to let it out. Inside it was destroying me. I didn’t need to stay stuck in the blaming. At some point I had to accept responsibility for what I was doing to myself. At some point I became an adult responsible for what I was allowing to happen in my life.

  6. By: Susan Posted: 25th September

    Sojourner – I’m sorry that you had those experiences in your past and thank you for choosing to share your story here with us. It’s great to hear that you have support where you feel heard and encouraged. That is such an important issue for healing. It can feel very lonely when we are following this path and the anger you feel is so very justified. I’m glad you choose to drop by and certainly wish you the best as you find your footing in your journey:)

  7. By: Susan Posted: 25th September

    @Elizabeth – all the points Darlene hit on in her note are excellent suggestions; I’ll add a few comments here…

    Validation of our feelings and experiences is what was missing very often in our lives and caused us to start to see the world through the eyes of being a victim who was powerless to change our lot in life. In my journey – this realization was key as I shifted from looking to others for my solutions and discovered that I held the power within myself to create this change. It was scary learning to stand up and not tolerate the bad behavior of others but it was what set me free when I realized I no longer was dependent on my family for my attachments and human connections and could create new connections and relationships.

    On finding a therapist trained in Trauma informed therapy…I can’t offer specific options but I do keep a list of some resources on my blog under the “Resources” link.

    Dissociation – you describe what I found in my own journey to be true; dissociation was not something that happened TO me, it was a coping skill to avoid uncomfortable feelings. It was a place where I was not “tuned in”; I wrote a post where I disclosed I blew through a large amount of money in less than a month. This is another part of avoidance coping skills and I found that I can learn to overcome them just like I learned to use them.

    Knowing you are valuable – this was part of the foundation for me, Elizabeth. And we can do this. I learned to recognize the thoughts that ran in the back of my mind and to challenge them. I recently posted a “Note” on my Facebook account that you might find helpful called “Overcoming helplessness and hopeless: Learned helplessness”. This issue is really key for me – and not as hopeless as it felt when I was mired in it that feeling of powerlessness.

    Integration of new experiences – and I’d like to add, my past experiences. Through new experiences I learned and practiced how to be in the now. In processing or integrating past experiences I resolved my pain instead of continuing to avoid it through avoidance behaviors like addictive shopping, depression or dissociation. I had to experience both past and present in my search for wholeness as I learned to live in the now and forgo the old coping skills.

    It is really common, as you have read here in Darlene’s posts, for family to resist our efforts to be independent of them. It is impossible for others to sit with anothers pain if they are not able to face and sit with their own mortality and pain. For my birth family to admit what happened to me was as horrible as it was would mean shaking the very foundation of their own avoidance. To protect my healing and avoid being triggered by their denial or efforts to reign me back into being the “sick” one….I limit my contact or have simply stopped being around them. I am very picky about where and who I spend my time with or what I expose myself to any more. As I grow and get stronger – my boundaries may become more flexible but for now I keep my boundaries very tight.

    Like you, I became the scapegoat in my family and they interfered with my parenting my children and I”m so sorry this was your experience. This for me was another part of grieving the past in order to live in today.

    On regaining your own truth – in seeking is where I began to find my truth and I found the “me” that was buried beneath the years of shame and pain. I found freedom to create and live my best life today, in spite of the past that I’d had. I was there…and in facing my past and going through the emotional healing and grieving I was able to start trusting myself more and more.

    I’m really glad you are here Elizabeth…the thing that happens when we start seeking our own truth is that we often find we are already living it. As Darlene says…hang in there!

    One last note – something that I hung onto and gave me hope when I struggled was this: “As long as I don’t give up, I will win”.

    Thank you for having the courage to reach out and share your story with us Elizabeth.

  8. By: sojourner Posted: 25th September

    I was diagnosed DID about 19 years ago. I had alot of bizarre ritual abuse when i was very young & then sexual abuse & subtle emotional abuse growing up. I had alot of healing due to good counseling and prayer in the past 18 years. I backed off of the tougher issues when I went back to school 7 years ago and never really got back into it until recently. I have been unemployed since mid-May and now have alot of time to work on things. I am having a hard time getting in touch with my alters. I’ve ignored them so they are ignoring me! I do think that I am experiencing their feelings alot but I am not sure “whose”. I do feel extreme anxiety at times, never mind I have no income and am mostly dependant on my family to be able to pay my bills. I feel very lonley right now. I have a hard time thinking through things to get anything done. I get extremely angry and enraged.
    Fortunatley I have a good therapist & a pastor who both understand DID.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th September

      Hi Sojourner,
      Thank you for sharing this bit of your story. There is a big discussion going on in the next post (Dissociative Identity ~ the solution became the problem) that might interest you. There is a lot of sharing going on here, please feel free to join in.
      I am so glad that you have supportive help, and that you like both your therapist and your pastor. That helps so much!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Elizabeth Posted: 25th September

    I read every comment I can on this blog. Everyone has alot of experience and wisdom to share.
    Thanks, Darlene, and Susan, for your comments.
    I think ‘validation’ is what comes thru first, from what I read in your comments. Then freeing oneself from undeserved responsibility and unearned guilt, and also shame. Then working on staying in the present, and relearning emotional responses in the present- i.e. trying to stop responding to the present as if we were still in the abusive past. Is that pretty much on target?

    I would like to find a therapist who is trained in Trauma Informed Therapy.

    I also think I will need help recovering from
    zoning out’ or dissociation. I know I do it to avoid anxiety, and I look back over the past couple years and see there are chunks of time I just don’t remember- money I frittered away and don’t remember spending. like I was in a fog, or half awake. I have to be more present.I am terrible with money. It terrifies me being responsible for. Doeas anyone else feel this way? I guess the bottom line is: I worry if I CAN trust myself to take care of me.

    I worry if the people who basically spit on me, and treated me like dirt(family)were right. Maybe I AM defective and useless..they said I was and told other people I was-.but I know that isn’t true. How do I get to the point where I KNOW I am a good and worthy person, and see how I self deafeat and KNOW I deserve to treat myself like a worthy person. Its scary how I almost gave up on myself and didn’t even realize it.

    You can’t change the way you think or see things until you integrate experiences, it seems like. Otherwise its just a theoretical belief system.I know I do not see everyone as a potential abuser, but I either do not trust people enough or I trust too much.

    Also I do not have memories of specfic sexuaal abuses but I have always been physically nauseous around a particular family member.I don’t know what it means but it means something. This person also did not react in what I consider to be a normal fashion when I found out and revealed my then 19 mo. old toddler had been sexually abused. This person just got up and left the room and nothing was ever said by them at all about it.

    I never found out who abused my child. My child kept saying a name,and that this person had put ‘markers in my diaper’ but that person had never even been alone with that child. What was done to my child would have taken some time and would have been extremely painful. I suspect the person who did this tried to make my baby accuse an innocent person. It would be easy to confuse a toddler.I was devasted, confued and didn’t know who to trust or not trust. One thing I know is the person my child named was never alone with my child and could not logistically have done this. This person was very disliked by a particular family member who was afraid that I and my child would leave our home to stay with this person. I feel this person in my wanted to make ME suspect an innocent person.

    This person also engineered events later that caused me to become more and more anxious and even later wound up putting me in a position to be considered totally nuts by the rest of my family and all family acquaintances.I didn’t volunteer for any of this!This person had control of family perceptions of me, church people’s perceptions of me, and to a large degree financial control. Once I was cast in the ‘mentally ill’ role by my family, no one ever listened to me again, and some family members perpetuated the garbage with every new person I met, if they also were acquainted with them.

    The wisest thing I ever did was to decide to essentially cut out of my life almost every person my family and I knew mutually.I have a family member who is still telling lies and distortions to old family acquaintances about me, making herself appear ‘victimized’ emotionally by me, and she says she is so upset by this and has no idea why …..etc…

    See, I don’t have to have had recent contact or be present or to say anything for this garbage to go on.I wonder why, and do not understand why. In the past my conversations with this family member were retold with these bizarre distortions, and twisted meanings attributed to me. this really frightened me when I realized this because it was a family member I had trusted with my feelings, and she encouraged me to trust her.

    Over the last few years I found out that she had said things to my child’s teachers, mutual acquaintances, and other family members that eroded my credibility and my ability to be an effective person in my community of acquaintances and an effective parent to my child.
    This had the effect of ‘concerned’ church people trying to get my child away from my influence. This was all done so subtly I never realized for a long time it all started within my own family by two family members.it also put doubts in the minds of otherwise well meaning and good people who were told things by my very well respected sister and mother.
    I look back and now realize that for some sick reason they needed me to be the fall guy, and the sick one in the family. Everytime I tried to get help and support something bizarre would happen- church people encroahed and interfered between my daughter and I, I was stalked and terrorized very subtly by a male friend of my mother’s snd after that scenario, had a breakdown.After that they essentially ‘won’.I have had intense anxiety, flashbacks, and depression and difficulty trusting myself.

    How can all this have happened ‘accidentally’?How can all these things have happened one after another, just by themselves. there was a pattern there that terrified me and it was not in my mind. But I have been treated by a few counsellors as if I am delusional, because I had a breakdown and have a label.

    I am not ‘allowed’ by my current counsellor to try to put these pieces together.Its only since this person in my family has died that I feel its really safer to explore this. It was too ‘dangerous’ before.

    I now feel alot of guilt at what happened to my child because I was so confused about what was happening. I don’t think the confusion was accidental. I think I figured it all out and was clapped into a mental institution for 6 days after I was stalked which pretty much shut me up after that.My sister still tells people I was there for 2 months.

    Any ideas on how to regain my own truth and credibility in the world when I now feel if i fail at being independent that my family has ‘won’ and they were ‘right’ about me?

    At one time I was brave, smart, scattered but, self sufficient,had anxiety attacks but wasn’t considered a nut. How do I get back there after 20 years of hell in the bosom of my family?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th September

      Hi Elizabeth,
      I found that being validated ~ that the abuse was not my fault and I did not make it up, was a big first step for me because it freed me to go to the next step. I didn’t trust myself to be able to take care of myself either ~ however I found out that was not the case at all! I take very good care of myself now and I learned to love and accept myself in the process too. These points are some of the biggest freedom keys out there!

      ~ You might want to print out your comments on this blog and use them for the intake session when you find that new therapist. You have shared some really important history.
      ~ I worried that my family was right about me too, but they were not right. It took time for me to “own” that information as truth. This process takes time. Give yourself that time Elizabeth. =)
      ~ It is okay not to trust, I had to give myself permission not to trust because that was another big area for me.

      ~Some memories came back to me in therapy, some didn’t but I had enough information that my therapist helped me to see the damage and how it became so deeply ingrained in my belief system. That is all that really matters. Its like a complicated puzzle, it takes time to figure it all out.

      ~When a therapist or mental health professional treats you like you are delusional or crazy, that is about them, not about you. Not all professionals have the level of training or understanding necessary to deal with this kind of trauma.

      ~ about regaining your own truth, you are already in the process Elizabeth. Just keep going, keep trying and keep seeking. That is what worked for me. It took time.
      Thanks so much for sharing your life with us.

      Hang in there!!!
      P.S. the post I just published was inspired by this one, you might find some more information in it.

      Love Darlene

  10. By: Susan Posted: 25th September

    @Elizabeth – I am so sorry to hear that you’ve had this experience in your journey to seeking healing. While trauma informed therapy seems to be making its way into the mainstream it is still a long way from becoming the “norm” it seems.

    You have brought up many many good points in your comment, I’ll start by echoing Darlenes note with this: the only way out is through. I was fortunate to connect with a therapist trained in trauma work who was able to guide me in this process that looks very similar to what Darlene describes. I did not face every single trauma event – but rather a few of the original ones where I was taught that I had no right to exist, that I held no power, that I was responsible for my parents thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It was challenging the source of the beliefs that had shaped how I viewed and interacted with the world.

    I also was told in traditional therapy that it was wrong to feel angry, that when I talked about the past that I was blaming. I was labeled but not given any tools or life skills in traditional mental health care that would help me find healing. Yet it was these exact issues that freed me from living in the bondage and pain that tormented my mind.

    It is through validating my experiences, the pain, the faulty beliefs that I began to make peace with the past and calm the noise in my head and learning to live in the “now”. And as you point out without this we are just doing what we are told and settling for much less than we deserve.

    Elizabeth – you are in the best place possible to find validation here at EFB. Your experiences were more than you should have had to deal with….and the help you sought wasn’t helpful perhaps and it is possible to find healing and wholeness from these issues….I am glad you are here and thank you for sharing your story today.

  11. By: Susan Posted: 25th September

    @Eddie – Oh…I so understand what you write about in your note. As children living in this kind of abuse and neglect we became so creative at staying safe and occupying our minds with making up play. Like you – I would often hide from the chaos and neglect by wandering the acres of farmland and spending time with the horsed, goats and other farm animals.

    I so agree with you Eddie – it is a horrible shame that we were reduced to living in this kind of environment yet in hindsight I see how creative we are to have survived these experiences and now joining our voices to say “enough” as well as “we can heal and find wholeness”.

    Thank you Eddie for your note – I so appreciate your support:)

  12. By: Susan Posted: 25th September

    @Mel – I know it seems as though dissociation is the solution – it crept up on me over the years as I avoided going through the emotional healing process of facing the anger and grief around what I’d experienced….”if I could just avoid the memories then I would be ok”. Then I remember what someone who had walked this healing path before me had shared…a quote by I think, Robert Frost: The only way out is through”. As much as I wanted to avoid the feelings, the memories the thoughts….while it was helpful to keep from being overwhelmed when life was hard, this skill was also what was preventing me from finding healing. It was through recognizing the connection of avoidance behaviors and seeing how they worked that I was able to begin to learn to change them.

    I am so grateful for you note, encouragement and support Mel. The piece you mentioned about “If mental is….” I remember very clearly the day I had this awareness. I also remember the journey from there to here and I am honored that you have found some helpful nuggets in my story. And I so related to your comment about the layers…I think it’s like this for many of us as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Congratulations on finding your own healing path Mel! And thank you for walking beside me in mine:)

  13. By: Elizabeth Posted: 24th September

    Omg, Susan, this is an incredible post.I have had the talk therapy,with a few therapists and have their thei offices many times brimming with very painful feelings. I have bee diagnosed with three of four different labels, but only one counsellor years ago caught on to the trauma origins of this but she went off into a kind of new age bent I was not comfortable with. I never found anyonwe else who would do EMDR with me, or give me the skills and the time to work on what was going on. from time to time I try again, and am now with a counsellor who won’t allow me to talk about the past. She told me last week she is glad to work with me but only if we ‘stay in the present’. I think she is doung Cognitive Based therapy. She is also requiring me not to draw conclusions or make judgements about my abusers,saying I am to focus only on behaviors and not to judge. How can I do that? She says I am to avoid anger at what happened to me because it will poison me.She calls what we do ‘reframing’. I am not this deatached. How can I process what happened to me without emotion, without drawing some kind of conclusions about it,without judging what happened,as in it was really bad, and the people who did it were very negative people- and without grieving it? I finally gave up and just take the meds.I feel very frustrated with this and don’t feel any validation. Have you heard of this type therapy?
    I love your blog.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th September

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Although you have written your comment to Susan, I wanted to respond too.
      I can only say what worked for me; and the only thing that ever worked for me was working through the trauma of the past, with the details of the past. I couldn’t process it the other way, I mean I tried to, I tried to do it the other way, but I never got anywhere, and I didn’t know about this way. The therapist that I went through wanted to go back to the beginning of the trauma and I just about freaked. I hated that idea, but he said it was his method. By the second session I knew that I was finally going to get to the bottom of my issues. I relived 2 trauma events in detail and I began to see where the belief system started to develop in me and I knew that this method of therapy was what I needed to do. I had to get angry, I had to feel it and I had to finally validate myself that the anger was justified. This was such a big part of what set me free. And then I was able to grieve. And I even found freedom from the resentments that I had for the missing years of my life and towards the abusers. I started Emerging from Broken because I was SO passionate about the methods I learned in therapy that worked so perfectly and enabled me to find the freedom that I so deeply wanted.

      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Eddie Posted: 24th September

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing your journey thus far with us, and thank you, Darlene, for providing the resource here for her to do it. It is an amazing message of hope and assurance for all of us that there is a way out of the depths.

    Something Susan said above was “…a warzone where there was no “safe place” for a small child to even exist”. That comment particularly caught my attention as I’ve had the same thoughts when remembering episodes from the past. Playing alone in the closet with the door cracked only a sliver to let in some minimal light, hiding in the attic of the detached carport, etc…I think we all had our hiding places where we were seeking safety, and what a shame that we were reduced to that.

    Thank you again, Susan and Darlene, I appreciate you both so much.

  15. By: Mel Posted: 24th September

    I love reading about your determination, strength and wisdom as you found freedom from trauma, Susan. Slowly peeling away the layers understanding the importance of each emotion and thought.

    One of my favorite pieces written by you “If ‘mental’ is a thought and ‘illness’ is a sick; that means that I can choose to learn how to recognize the thoughts that are making me feel sick and change them”

    My history also involves complex traumas. I have experienced four years of straight hyper vigilance since the ‘final’ trauma that I cant dissociate from sometimes wishing that I could. I’m so grateful that you share the experiences you’ve journeyed through healing and have used many of the tools you’ve described in your writing, thank you!

  16. By: Susan Posted: 24th September

    @Kris – Of course:) I am grateful always to know that my story has been helpful to others. I understand what you are talking about in watching your daughter; it is difficult to see our loved ones struggle and hopefully through others stories you might find some hope in knowing that healing from this issues and living a full and satisfying life is so very possible!

    I’m sorry that your daughter seems to be struggling with these issues….and thank you for your always kind and supportive comments, my friend:)

    In appreciation…(hugs!)

  17. By: Kris Posted: 24th September

    Thank you for sharing more of your story here, Susan. I have watch my daughter dissociate and have always been confused and scared by it, but now I see it is beneficial in some ways. A couple of weeks ago my daughter was heading off on an ill-conceived trip and she completely lost two hours before her flight. She was mad at me for not keeping her “on task”. But, I wasn’t aware of what was going on. I had gone back to bed and assumed she was getting ready. I will suggest a time log – not because I think it will do anything for her time management skills but maybe she will be able to track when and how she loses time. It happens daily…
    As always, you are an inspiration in your clear writing and gentle message.
    xx kris

  18. By: Susan Posted: 23rd September

    Diane – What you describe in your note is a very difficult place to be; I am sorry that you experienced this yet I am grateful to hear that you found strength and solace when you were able to rest and allow your body some time to recuperate.

    It really is true – the more isolated we are the more alone we feel as our minds swim in the lies that we are powerless and somehow “wrong”. I’m glad you have found that you are NOT alone and that you shared part of your story here today and shared your strength too. We are not alone, we are not “crazy” and we can find wholeness even after feeling so torn and you are evidence that this is true:)

  19. By: Diane Reyes Posted: 23rd September

    After being in a violent relationship for 6 years and near death, because i couldn’t eat or sleep but still worked full time I finely lost it. One Sunday afternoon while baby sitting my grand daughter while my daughter was at work I called my pastors for help. Well they didn’t have time for me they had a son going through some stuff so my friend came from Upland and took me out to Ward B and I was so scared but I didn’t want to live anymore. So I checked myself in and they found I was underweight and dehydrated. I spent 4 days there and it really was the best thing I ever did, I felt the presence of the Lord with me and I knew all would be well and it was doors were open to me that helped me realize the real truths of what had happened. thank you for sharing sometimes we feel like we are the only ones suffering in the whole world with crazy stuff and it’s comforting to know we are not alone. Diane

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th September

      Hi Diane,
      Being subjected to that kind of abuse is very damaging, and most abusers are very skilled at making us think we deserve the treatment, we “asked for it” that there is really something wrong with us, that we imagine things, that we should “forgive and forget” or accept the person the way they are and the list goes on and on and it has such a huge affect on our mental and physical health. For me I thought I imagined things, exagerated thing, that I was “dramatic” that I over reacted… and that list goes on too, and as you can see, I was pretty sure that I had to change in order for the relationships to change. I was so mixed up that I didn’t consider that I deserved better. I am really glad that you found some help and that it became your beginning back into life and that you saw the truth about what had happened.
      It really is great to find out that we are not alone!
      Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Susan Posted: 23rd September

    @Nikki – Isn’t this community a great thing! A place where we can share our stories, find hope in them and then learn from one another how to do this thing we call healing! Amazing!

    I’m so happy to have met you and grateful for your support and encouragement! I am terribly sorry that this was your experience as well – but I am so glad to hear that you have found the hope to walk your path and find your way!

  21. By: Susan Posted: 23rd September

    @Darlene – isn’t it amazing how when we start talking about these issues we find that others have also found their way and very often the journey is similar, the path is a different path but the end result is that we found this freedom! What you said “it was holding me back…” – I had a similar awareness when I started identifying that I was slipping into dissociative states. It served me when I needed it but now I wanted to learn to live beyond it.

    Like you – it came down to recognizing the source of the belief that I was helpless to change this about myself. By challenging this first, foundational belief I was able to begin to make that shift from hopeless for anything different to having the hope that I could learn to create the life I wanted – outside of coping and surviving.

    Thanks again for having me over to EFB to share today…and thank you for sharing the journey with me!

  22. By: Susan Posted: 23rd September

    @Karen – you are very welcome! Social Media has made such a huge difference for so many of us who once believed we were alone. Until I started connecting with others online carried the shame of the secret that comes from living in this world where there seems to be a universal “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy around these issues. Karen – I am honored and excited to be a part of this collective voice as it grows and grows!

  23. By: Nikki Posted: 23rd September

    Thank you both, Darlene and Susan, for sharing and being such a light for all. It is hard to overcome a childhood marred with abuse, it is a struggle that I thought I would never be able to talk about much more face, however there is hope. Thank you for being the voices in the wilderness speaking the truth to so many who are traveling that long hard road..

    (((HUGS))) to you both with much love

  24. By: Karen Jolley Posted: 23rd September

    Thank you for posting this…I am always amazed at how our stories interwine once we start openning up about our experiences. Where we once felt so alone, we know now connect with a collective voice! ~~ Karen

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd September

      There is so much that I can relate to in this post that I hardly know where to begin. I am going to write a whole post about how I also learned how to stop dissociating, as a follow up to your post Susan. I also came to learn that dissociating was a wonder survival tool but that now it was holding me back and causing more and more problems for me. I longed for freedom from the depression and began to realize that I had to deal with all my mental health issues, not just one or two of them. I also found the strength to face the pain.

      You wrote ~ “By facing dissociation and my other avoidance strategies as learned skills that had helped me to avoid my pain – I became strong enough to face the pain and begin to let it go.” ~ and that statement is SO huge and so important for others to understand ~ I encourage everyone to read it over and over again, there is so much truth in it. That is the belief system stuff that I constantly talk about.

      Susan, thanks so much for sharing this piece of your journey with us, and for guest posting on my blog. I love your work, the way you write and I am proud to be on the journey with you!

      Hugs, Darlene

  25. By: Susan Posted: 23rd September

    Thank you Darlene for posting this and allowing me to share part of my journey through that I could get out of that dark place. Emerging From Broken is a beacon to the world and I’m honored to be a part of this message today!

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