Over the past few years I have been trying to rejoin life, trying to put myself back out there. I knew it would be hard doing this after recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but I knew this is what I needed to do. I clearly underestimated the difficulty of this process. After trying to put myself back out there, I realized I can’t relate to people my age. I can’t relate to having a job, having children, having a husband/significant other, etc. I had the harsh realization that I don’t know how to socialize with others my age that well. I have no problem socializing with people much older than me, but when it comes to people my age I’m lost. While recovering from a traumatic brain injury & recovering from my physical injuries, I lost my twenties. Now I’m 33 and still feel as if I’m 23. The age I was when I had my wreck, my life stopped & I was forever changed. I go up to meet people only to find out that I am 10years older than them which is so surreal because I feel as if I’m their age. But then I remember the 10 years I’ve lost. I feel defective. I feel like a lost toy that has been found again, but I’m out of “date” or “trend” now, so I’m looked at from a far, never played with & sat away from the other toys. This is a gut wrenching feeling. It is a feeling of hopelessness that I will never fit in again. That I will never be able to assimilate back into a group of people my age. I don’t identify with my age. My mind is still believing I’m 23, & my body feels as if it’s 70. Where am I supposed to go from here? I do not know.

I do know I have to keep taking one baby step at a time, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to get over the fear of being seen as odd. The fear of being rejected or hurt again by someone I care for. But I know I can’t allow these fears to hold me back. But even writing that seems pretty lame to me as I’m reading what I typed because that fear for me is quite significant. A phrase most people use when trying to overcome fear or trying something new is “what do you have to lose?” For me I know far too well what I have to lose. I may not be in my best place or living my best life yet but compared to where I was 3, 4, 5 years ago, I am living in a way I never thought I would, & the idea of losing the self I have gained or even risking the little bit of happiness I do have now is nonnegotiable to me. But once again here I am in another predicament. Do I allow the trauma from my past to steal happiness from my future? Do I allow my past heartbreaks to steal my future loves? No, that will not work for me, so I guess this is the current journey I’m now on. Learning to navigate my thirties without allowing the trauma, pain & heartbreaks of my twenties to interfere. If I’m being honest, I think navigating through Jurassic Park would be much easier than this new journey, but one thing I have learned from the past 10 years is I just have to keep moving forward no matter how small the steps are & no matter how long I might be stalled in one place. To anyone who is also struggling with these issues or just struggling through daily hardships just know you are not alone. These feelings of inadequacy can be overwhelming but just know they are not true. Just because we might feel we are lost does not mean we are. Feelings are not facts. The truth is we are all worthy, & the fact is keep moving forward.

Trauma should be a 4 letter word

Trauma. In my personal experience trauma should be a four letter word. My trauma has strengthened my faith & it has shown me how strong I truly am. But it has also brought me to my knees, it has brought me irrational fears & it has made me go through the past ten years just surviving & not living. Recently something has triggered my trauma. I’ve been having irrational thoughts about dying & causing my own death. When it starts to get dark outside I go into complete survival mode. My chest tightens & I feel I’m on the edge of a panic attack. It’s now gotten to a point where I cry. I start crying because I just want it to be morning. I cry because I just want to survive the night. I cry because I don’t want to be like this. I know this response is caused from trauma. I also know these thoughts are irrational but that doesn’t make them feel any less real. I also know this response is strengthened when I keep my thoughts secret. But it’s hard to admit to these “secrets” when you are a 33yr old woman who cries when it gets dark. How do you tell someone that at 33years old you cry because you want it to be morning? How would that not cause shame? Wouldn’t you hesitate when thinking of talking about this out loud? It seems only right to keep these thoughts secret.. right? No it doesn’t.

This current battle I am battling does not make me “weird” or “weak” like the thoughts in my head try to tell me. This current battle is unfortunately completely normal for someone living with PTSD. I know there are others out there who experience irrational fears & thoughts that are brought on by their trauma. It’s hard for me to write this but I know I’m not alone. But at the same time it’s not hard at all for me to write/confess this secret because what do I have to lose? Nothing.

I’ve learned over the past 10 years while recovering from a traumatic brain injury that the most important thing for us to be as humans is vulnerable. It’s in our vulnerability that we reach others & we can offer community. If we kept our secrets or our “shame” hidden then we would all feel alone. We would all end up feeling like the only “weirdo” or person who has ever dealt with struggles, irrational thoughts/fears & well that’s just simply not true. We all have our struggles & hardships. And it’s in these times that we quietly try to reach out or mention what we are dealing with while not completely outing ourselves because we are scared if others heard or saw how “broken” or not okay we are they would judge us. But that’s not true. When we show others our strength by being vulnerable they will respond in kind. It’s in these times that we find & build a community. If you are currently struggling or battling through hardships know you are not alone. Today is the day to open up to someone & start building your community.