I was sexually abused from about age 8 until I was about 12 years old. I began self-harming at about 9 years old. I would bang my head on any hard surface I could, smash pots and pans across my head as hard as possible and pull my hair until it came out in clumps. I became an unruly and disruptive student at school especially in the first few years of high school. I complained of various somatic problems at school, which eventually nobody believed because they couldn’t find anything wrong. I couldn’t concentrate on anything – especially at school. This lead to bad grades that lead to being labelled ‘stupid’ or ‘lazy’, which reinforced al adverse feelings growing within. Trying to escape these feelings wasn’t easy but what I set out to do.
I became unhealthily attached to woman I admired and actively stayed away from boys or men. I started smoking cigarettes at age 12, binge drinking by 14, smoking marijuana by 15. Taking ecstasy by 17, by 19 I was snorting coke and crystal meth as far up my nose as I could get it. Some days I’d just mix all this together because it felt good. I did not have sex, nor did I have any kind of teenage love relationship. I moved overseas when I was 19 and was raped in a flat days after my 20th birthday. I was quite badly injured, but tended to the wounds myself and got on with life as it were. 6 months later, I landed up being sent home to my parents. I couldn’t walk very far without falling to the floor. I couldn’t move my limbs in the morning without help because of numbness in them. They needed to be shaken awake. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
I had all the classic symptoms psychologically, emotionally and somatically of PTSD. A psychologist was brought in to help me. I worked with him for a while but as soon as I turned 21 and had no legal obligation to carry on, I stopped going. The pain of facing my problems was too much. I ran away and drugged it up and drank until I eventually I over-dosed. Damn nearly killed myself. As I lay convulsing and foaming out the mouth, I remember thinking how much I actually wanted to live. Thankfully, somehow I survived and I moved to an Arab country where there were no drugs and no friends or family to distract me. I made new friends and made a new life, far away from home. For the next 10 years of my life I kept running convincing myself I was healed. I wasn’t though. I wasn’t even remotely close to being healed.
I had a hugely exaggerated startle response, I would scare exceptionally easily, and my response was always over the top. I was scared of everything – flying in a plane – driving in a car – walking on a bridge – all were activities that were exceptionally stressful for myself and those around me. I didn’t sleep very well, either I didn’t sleep at all, or I’d sleep for hours on end and never felt refreshed. My hands shook continually. I had unexplained physical aches and pains continuously and was always getting sick or feeling sick. I had trouble in all my relationships – with friends, boyfriends and family and co-workers. I didn’t function well sexually, on many occasions having disturbing thoughts and ‘flashbacks’. I was perpetually frustrated and unhappy. I would get very depressed for weeks on end. I would often tell people what happened to me. I seemed to let these events define who I was. I became more and more ‘a victim’ as time went on whilst hiding behind a ‘I’m a survivor’ mask.
I was very angry – most of the time I was like a little time bomb waiting to explode. I’d get angry and then hurt myself. I was emotional and over sensitive. You could ‘hurt my feelings’ very easily. I spent hours analysing things people said to me, or about me and more often than not I’d come to some wayward conclusion that they hated me, or were out to get me or other such nonsense. I doubted everything and every body, particularly myself. I had no self-esteem at all, I was exceptionally insecure and I had no boundaries. I didn’t even know you could have a boundary! I allowed people to treat me unkindly. I had no self-respect at all. I didn’t take care of my body, I abused it on all kinds of levels, I didn’t bother with dressing nicely, or looking pretty, in fact more often than not I went out of my way to look drab. I lived in the past and in the future, never in the moment. I was always planning things and never happy with anything I had achieved. I could never let go – of anything. I didn’t know how to have fun. The list could go on and on…
Luckily for me, I found Steve Gunn’s website and did his PN course 3 years ago. These tools have been the most powerful changing agent to my life. I want to spread the word to other people who have suffered sexual abuse, and PTSD that there is a way to heal properly, and permanently. 3 years down the track I can testify that it has been the happiest, most peaceful few years I’ve ever experienced. I have felt whole. Steve’s PN techniques gave me my power back and essentially gave me a chance at life, to live it fully.
The change within me is remarkable. I am calm and centred most of the time. I have a confidence I never had before. I no longer have shaking hands, or an exaggerated startle response, I no longer have flash backs to disturbing events. My fear of heights is gone – I can go on roller coasters, dance on tables, climb ladders and walk on scaffolding without wanting to pass out! It’s amazing!!! My ridiculously severe fear of flying is a thing of the past, I’m able to fly long distances very often without crying or screaming with turbulence or dealing with thoughts of dying all the way to my destination. I now enjoy flying and wouldn’t mind learning how to fly!!!
I don’t take things personally any more and I don’t take offence to things. People don’t do or say things that upset me anymore. On the rare occasions they do, I question them politely and keep my power. Now I won’t allow people to treat me any other way than with respect, honesty and consideration. Nothing less. I have boundaries that are firmly in place. I don’t accept things as easily as I did before. Having boundaries has changed the way I relate to others and how they relate to me. My relationships are healthier. I don’t spend hours analyzing things anymore and I don’t plan the future. I’m physically well. I don’t smoke anymore, I haven’t taken any drugs in over 3 years, I rarely drink and I rarely get sick now. I exercise and I enjoy my body and I’m not afraid to shine anymore. I have not hurt myself in 3 years and cannot imagine doing anything like that to myself again.
I am LIVING and I enjoying life. I see beauty in things I never saw before. Most of the time I feel happy and peaceful inside, when I don’t, I know how to get my energy in the right place and it’s never long before I feel content again. I’m secure in myself and I like who I am and I like how my life has gone. I’ve grown in ways that are unimaginable. Most of my friends and family have been astounded by the change. It has been a liberating experience and I hope that anyone reading this, who is looking for healing of any kind, considers taking the PN course. It is hard work BUT the rewards and the freedom are priceless
Sam, South Africa