The Phoenix rising out of the ashes. I painted this on a wall in a house I rented. The house was sold and the wall destroyed, but my phoenix lives on. Don’t feel like I’m doing much rising out of the ashes today. It’s hard to see that there is a bigger picture than the snapshot of this moment, of this time in my life. Everything I long for seems very far away from me and fear stubbornly encroaches at every opportunity.
Recovery from bankruptcy is harder than I thought it was going to be. I guess I was in shock at first. It ‘s been unbelievably difficult to pick myself up from the ground. All the things that hold a person intact in society, everything I trusted, everything I took for granted, everything that held my world together is gone. Out of my reach. No money for food, rent, no job, no prospects, no credit card, nobody to turn to. My dignity and my belief that my life was going somewhere are obliterated.
I’ve had nothing to hold onto. I’ve had to scour the recesses of your shattered being to find the seed of faith in a better future, in my capacity to turn around when every material thing in my experience tells me it’s impossible. Every waking moment I’m faced with the material reality that I have nothing – and worse, the reality of where I failed myself.
As time goes by, I see more and more clearly that it’s really about a core, entrenched belief that I deserve what happened to me and that my bankruptcy is all my fault, and I didn’t deserve protection or back-up. Which is the reason it all happened in the first place – the belief, I mean.
As a child my needs were never met adequately. Bed-wetting, molestation, statutory rape, heart valve problem, epilepsy, failing at school – you’d think somebody would have noticed but nobody did. The conclusion I drew was that it was because I wasn’t loveable. I thought I was hateful, ugly, stupid.
The belief was formed in childhood, but I carried it into adulthood, unawares. Until my world blew up in my face because I didn’t know I could protect myself, didn’t know I deserved accurate information, back-up, help in my business, to have people keep their word, flourish, get ahead. Etc.
So that’s what I’m changing. It’s taking longer than I thought it would. Somehow knowing that recovery from anything is hard for anybody helps. It reminds me that this length of time it’s taking me isn’t because I’m an idiot or a failure or don’t deserve, it’s because the challenge is big. That’s it, that’s all it is.
When your world blows up the trauma of that loss at so many levels is massive, and the fear of it is triggered at the smallest provocation, all the time. Post traumatic stress syndrome can be about emotional trauma as well as physical. It affects you for a long time. Reconstructing your world in every way takes time, perseverance, courage, backup.
Yesterday my therapist reminded me that recovery of any sort – major or minor – IS NOT ALWAYS FUN. It can be crap. It can be agonising, terrifying. But you do what you have to do. You fight to get out of the hole that is essentialy an abyss in your own mind.
I suppose you could say that recovery is just learning. The steeper the learning curve the more powerfully rewarding the recovery. This is hard but it isn’t impossible. One day it will be over and behind me and I’ll be all the stronger and wiser for it.
- NI post traumatic stress highest (bbc.co.uk)
- Chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in women linked to history of rape, child abuse (eurekalert.org)