“I am not my rehabilitation”

As a little girl unspeakable things were done to me. I grew up swaying between the two vastly different realties of my childhood. Around third grade I started having panic attacks nearly every night. I was haunted by nightmares of trauma and silently carried a heavy weight of shame on my shoulders for years. I swallowed it up, stuffed it down, and I was determined that if I just didn’t talk about it then I could pretend nothing had happened.

As time passed silence turned to suffering. I believed we lived in a disgusting, and rotten world. I came to a point in my life when I tried to become as cold and evil as I perceived the rest of humanity. I wanted more than anything to hate, and destroy. I experimented with all sorts of (what I would now call,) negative coping skills.

Things went from bad to worse in my sophomore year of high school. I had been spiraling downward for a long time, and when I finally crashed, all I wanted was to watch the world burn. I laid in a hospital bed at 3 o’clock in the morning. My father was burying his face in his hands. The doctor had just come in, and read the results of my TOX screen. The room was spinning, and I was fighting off a shivering fever, that was a result of de-toxin.

I didn’t have a thing left to live for. The people who had hurt me, were about to win. They didn’t deserve to live, yet here I am. In this moment I am face to face with death, not them. I am lying here miserable, empty, and sick, not them. I am choosing this, to kill myself from the inside out. But I had the curse of indestructible and constant hope. And at my darkest moments, this hope would hold me so tightly, that I had no choice but to be resilient. That’s how God wanted me. That’s how I was born, a fighter.

In the years that came after life changed drastically. A month after turning 17 I was sent to a wilderness therapy program for three months before being enrolled in a Residential Treatment Center in Utah to live during my senior year of high school. It was here that I began to speak about the traumatic experiences I had as a child. I was safe, and fully supported by my community. I was able to relearn how to take care of and trust myself.

I know that recovery is a long process. I will have to continue rehabilitating my thoughts, actions, patterns, and relationships from the default setting that trauma wove into my life. By definition to rehabilitate is to restore (someone) to health or normal life by training and therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness. Now I don’t know where life will take me or what I’ll be like but wherever it is and whoever I am;

I hope to be doing just that.