Polarity exists in my nervous system more than my mind. Thin skinned, hollowed flesh; I lack a reference for middle ground.
I’m good or I’m not. I can exist without fear or I am coated in it. I can be touched, or I cannot. I embody joy or I swim in indifference.
I need reconstructive surgery on my bones, the broken foundation from which I’ve grown.
Surviving in a detached state, feelings penetrate only so deep. Brain and body on high alert, a constant reminder of how fragile I am.
My body was hijacked. She never fully returned. Attachment is what the hijackers stole from me. I can check out, but I can’t check in.
Those who were supposed to protect me were never protected themselves. Dysfunction is etched into my DNA.
Enough is never enough, but always too much, always surviving on less than, or more than I can shoulder. My attachment-seeking armor welcomes with vibrant colors, but nothing breaks through. It’s keeps me “safe.”
Music a constant in my mind. The volume kept loud to drown out the sickness; the trauma residue.
At what point do our weapons turn on us?
The very skills that kept me alive and adaptable have become maladaptive now work against me. Numbing out pushes the very people I need in my life away. Faking it ’til I make it heaves me towards a slow, familiar stone wall. Intoxication deceives me; bait for regret.
My attention span not so much distracted as dissociated.
“You’re difficult to read,” said so many times it evolved into a compliment. Face value is on purpose. Any deeper creates emotional paralysis.
I need a new tool; a visceral cry loud enough to shatter open.
If I can live only half alive, what does it matter?
This thing inside me. This itch that I’m afraid to scratch. If I give it attention I must admit how long I’ve been ignoring it, and the choices I made as a result of it.
Trauma is a life sentence spent creating, destroying, and defining balance. Ask the survivors. They’ll speak from an overflowing well of grief, joy, and fury. All clues.
Listen to her.
Do not stifle her voice with a pill. Save her from the condescending boot-strap propaganda.
Help her learn to bend and breath.
She needs to trust her survivor’s state of mind.
That is the only way.
Dawn Daum is co-editor of the book Parenting with PTSD: the impact of childhood abuse on parenting. She is a mother of two, has an ACE score of 9, and has spent nearly 20 years working in the trenches of the mental health system.
Dawn is currently the Program Director for Milestone Manor, a mental health recovery community residence in Saratoga Springs, NY. Previous to that she provided ICM and Health Home care management services to adults living with mental illness in the community. She entered her career in the field as a mental health inpatient tech and child & youth residential counselor.
Dawn uses both her personal and professional experience to write, speak, and facilitate conversation about trauma informed systemic change. Her mission is to help shift the culture’s understanding of what it means to recalibrate and heal the mind and body from trauma.