Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You can't turn back the hands of time.

"Sometimes. hits me in the morning, hits me at night 
That I cannot turn back the years 
So I look out my window, turn off my light 
But I cannot turn back the years"  Phil Collins

    Everyone wishes they can turn back the hands of time on some event in their lives, this is especially true for those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Where a certain event or series of events in that persons life has caused so much trauma that it literally changes their lives forever.

    For me, I live this dream on a daily basis as I cannot escape the effects that these events has had on me ever since I was a child. Turning back the clock would only be a dream come true, however which point to turn it to I could not even begin to figure out. My memories go so far back that they become distorted to the point of confusion putting events into a single timeline. What I thought may have happened at five years old, may have actually happened at eight years old. What happened in pictures and explained in words are later questioned in medical records or other comments from family members.

     No matter how much you think the past is just that, in the mind of a survivor of abuse or trauma it becomes much more. Questions always circulate in the back of ones mind as to the reason it happened, who was or is to blame and most of all was it something that was asked for. While all these are common questions, the normal curiosity of the mind is to seek out these answers as hard as it is. For someone who has suffered from abuse there is often no place to turn for answers except through counseling and therapy. Even for someone who is in these, time will often hinder the healing process because in reality there never are real answers to these questions.

     After my father retired from the United States Air Force in 1978, he was given all the medical records for me and my siblings. It wasn't until my parents passed away that I was able to take possession of my own records. A couple of years before my breakdown in 2010 I opened my records to seek answers to some of the questions I had, specifically a broken leg I had at the age of two. While the doctors note did not give a reason for the break, I had found on several occasions where the doctor had noted "Questionable Injury". I found one of these to be a broken hand which I never knew about and another was a split penis. It never actually went into details on what exactly the split was or how it happened, new questions came about like how did all these happen prior to age of four. The two things that truly came from reading these records was one, why did these events happen and at the hands of who and that if they happened in today's world the comments of "Questionable Injury" would they have been investigated in some manor.

    Unfortunately the events that I do remember, the ones that caused my PTSD, also will remain unanswered. The common questions of did I ask for it, was it normal at the time, was I a willing participant in things that did happen and the biggest question of all, why me, will all be permanently embedded in some part of my mind. The more I attend counseling and talk about my life, the flashbacks that happen in odd places and dreams or often nightmares only add to these questions and leaves more voids or holes in a timeline that for me is a way to try and seek answers. Then there are events that I know I did on my own that bring in even more questions into the equation such as was I abnormal, was it just because it was the way I was raised or was it just because the abuse happened so often that I never learned boundaries. Even more questions that I deal with and seek answers for and don't think I will truly ever find the right answer.

     Previously in this post, I asked the question of whether or not it was normal at the time or not. You see in the years of our parents, things that happened were not to be talked about or ever mentioned to anyone outside of the family circle. While in today's society it is taught and encouraged to speak up and tell someone about any form of abuse, in society as a whole we have become more familiar with different types of abuse that takes place behind closed doors. There are mandated sources who are required to report any suspicious marks, behaviors or comments made by anyone that they see or hear. Yet in decades past these requirements were not in place and often, well, people just did not want to get involved. An example of things being kept behind closed doors was that of my older brother (my perpetrator) who would sneak underage boys into the house through his basement bedroom window and photograph them nude. Knowing what I went through as a child, I can only imagine the real reason for sneaking them in at night. However, in my younger days we had Poloroid cameras that would print out instant photos within seconds the photo was taken. He had a collection of these and one day my Grandmother found them, took scissors and cut off the heads only to place them back where she had found them. My Mother was aware of the sneaking and the photos but did nothing to stop the activity from happening, just as she knew about the abuse to my sister and myself.

     So as you see the questions I have are very complex by the mere manor they were created. Was it normal at the time because as my brother always told me, "Everyone does it", or was it something more that allowed it to go on for seven years before it stopped. Almost everyday one hears on the news of older men seeking out photos and videos of younger children. Were they part of a generation where this was normal activity and just kept quiet or does it really go deeper then that. Is it an illness that caused them to act out or is it just some type of an attraction that causes these things to happen? Either way it happens without concern for the victim who is almost always convinced, if not by force, that it is normal and is okay. And it is only now after the many wars that we have been in, we truly beginning to understand the effects of PTSD caused by these traumas that can happen to both young and old. 

     Does a day go by where I wish I could turn back the years of my life, you bet there is. Does a day go by where I do not suffer from the deep depression caused by years of trauma, you bet, and I wish I could see a light at the end of the tunnel for me but currently I cannot. There are days I wish I could just wash the pain away and others where I wish I could end it all and be done with it, but I can't do that. I can't walk away like quitting a job I don't like or leave a situation because I am uncomfortable with it. PTSD is something that will be with me the rest of my life and even after years of trying will be the hardest hill to climb. Will I ever see the top of that hill, I do not know but I do know I have to keep fighting my hardest everyday to stay on track or I will never reach it.


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Unknown said...

Hi My friend!

I truly feel and understand the pain which you would have undergone during and after this trauma. Voicing out your feelings is one of ways of healing I guess. Yes, there would be days when you would feel you would change what happened with you. However, we can't change what happened to us but we can change what will happen to us. In designing PTSD Workbooks , I realized that majority of people around the world undergo these feelings of helplessness wherein they wish to change what happened to them, though at a lesser degree. I appreciate your strength in expressing your feelings and facing them while writing the blog posts.