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02.07.18

{Part One} This is my Story, Rewritten.

Photography credit: My beautiful and talented friend: Maya, find her work @Mayamaitri

I would like to start by introducing this series to those of you who are new here! Chasing your whole self is a blog series I’ve had in the works for many months and is dedicated to helping and empowering women to find hope and healing whether they are working through depression, suicide, sexual trauma, anxiety, or anything of that vein. I wanted to be able to share my story and my healing process, and to empower other women to do the same. My hope and vision for this series is that it will open up the stagnant, dry, and bitter places of your heart. I pray it would empower you to confront your fears, to stand tall and proud in the face of shame, and to look yourself straight in the eyes and say “I am enough.” I am so excited to have some very close and special women guest-blog on this series to bring fresh perspective to each topic. Let’s dive deep into the waters of hope, healing, and self-discovery together.

Vulnerability. It’s a word I’ve come to be close with, to explore, and to declare as a safe and wildly important word to emulate and become. It’s been a long road; the kind filled with fear and shameful thoughts, on which I was harboring bitterness deep in my bones, wondering why, becoming a victim to shame, fear, and the pursuit of a wrong version self. My story is mine alone. One I’ve tried to become one with, to believe that I am not what I’ve thought I was for so long. I so badly wanted to detach myself from my haunted memories of sexual trauma, so badly wanting to let go, soften my fists, relax my shoulders, and relax my body to embrace love and trust. But it wasn’t working. Everywhere I turned, every time my body felt tense, memories flooded. Fear gripped me and tossed me into many anxiety attacks. I was crippled. I was alone in my thoughts and shame. I was scared. I was broken. I was slowly becoming someone I didn’t want to know. It was affecting my marital intimacy. It was affecting the way I viewed my body. I needed help.

And so my story of healing begins the day I was born. You see, I was born redeemed, bought and paid for by a love that never shames, never doubts my existence, never lets me go. My whole life I’ve been sought after by a love so deep and wide that I could cry great tears of joy. I could bask in the glory and holiness this love has transformed me into. I was born into a family that loved and accepted me for who I was. A family that cultivated the important things in life such as quality time, connected conversation, and a whole lot of love. My family was and is incredible, supportive, and constantly cheering me on. But just like you, I believed the lies.  I became what happened to me. I often relived the memory of being blacked out on a pile of rocks, waking up in a car, hurting, crying, wondering what the hell had happened to me. I relived the memories of a girl taking advantage of my eight year old self, doing things that were never meant to be done to my body. So today I am opening up about my sexual trauma, things that happened to me that we’re never meant to be that way, for the sake of humans just like you and me that are flawed, secretive, hurt, and in pain just looking for a way out like me.
 After years of not knowing what to do, I truly believed it was time for me to seek therapy. A lot of people are fearful of therapy, and I too had that fear. I cringed at the thought of exposing myself to someone that I didn’t know. Sharing memories/secrets I had never spoken out loud. My husband and friends and family were a huge support walking through this season of my life. They helped me get to a place of accepting that I needed help. And so I walked into my first therapy appointment at the hospital. I sat and waited for them to call my name. I was tense. I was afraid. I filled out many papers, answered what seemed like a million questions, feeling shaky and disheveled I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had never thought of that affecting me.  I thought it was something that was only associated with soldiers coming home from war. And so we talked about the therapy they would like to try. This particular therapy is called “Prolonged Exposure Therapy. I have included the Goodtherapy.org definition and uses of this therapy.
          Types of Exposure:
  • Imaginal Exposure: In this type of exposure, a person in therapy is asked to mentally confront the fear or situation by picturing it in one’s mind. For example, a person with agoraphobia, a fear of crowded places, might imagine standing in a crowded mall.
  • In Vivo Exposure: When using this type of exposure, a person is exposed to real-life objects and scenarios. For example, a person with a fear of flying might go to the airport and watch a plane take off.
  • Virtual Reality Exposure: This type of exposure combines elements of both imaginal and in vivo exposure so that a person is placed in situations that appear real but are actually fabricated. For example, someone who has a fear of heights—acrophobia—might participate in a virtual simulation of climbing down a fire escape.

My particular therapist suggested “exposure therapy” for me. My exposure therapy was spread out in eight sessions, once a week. I am not going to lie, there were weeks I dreamed of skipping, making excuses for why I couldn’t get through the homework, and through the pain. But with support of loved ones and my own stubbornness, I pressed on. I remember in each session wondering if it would get easier, but the truth is.. it was so much harder than I could have ever imagined. Opening up about such personal and intimate things are painful. Reliving memories that I had stuffed down deep hurt. Seeing myself a crying, moaning mess in front of another was bittersweet.

I faced many fears in those eight weeks. I revisited many dark memories, and I paved a way for hope, healing, and restoration to be opened back up in my life. The very things that haunted me, the fears I had never tested were now all reminders to me of how far I had come and will go. For the first time in years, as I finished up my “Exposure Therapy”, I was FREE. Wildly free from shame, bitterness, and fear. There is something incredibly healing about diving into the face of fear.

A few thoughts I have for those of you processing the thought of therapy:

-It wasn’t until I realized how hurt and affected I was by past traumas that I sought out therapy and took a big step with “Exposure Therapy”.

-The only way to experience a better, whole-hearted life, is to get deep into the mess of things. Opening up, and beginning to let your raw emotions be seen is what it takes to get there.

-Past traumas do not disappear overnight. We all know this is a process. It’s in deep connection with ourselves where we learn to discover our story in a new way.

-What if I told you YOUR story could make a difference, impact another, free another from the bondage of self hate, depression, and a tortured mind? When you choose to look fear in the eye, you are choosing another woman, another scared and hopeless woman. You are choosing to become a part of your story that once hurt, and turning it into something that will bring restoration to the hearts of many.

Through the process of healing, I also turned to Yoga. I began my certification to become a yoga teacher and during those six months my life was changed in so many incredible ways. I learned that the movement and breath of my body was a tool in my healing process. I learned that breath work was not only good for energy levels and lungs, but that it could calm down my anxiety, center my emotions, and help me feel incredibly peaceful. I become closer and more self-aware of what my body was capable of. I became aware that there was a tremendous freedom in discovering the art of movement and breath. I became more aware of who I was. Yoga was one of my saving graces while I was working through some pretty deep things.

Lastly, my friends, I want to provide you with some resources/tools for you to look into! These are tools I have used in my healing process, including books I’ve read and communities of people that support and make this world a better place.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Here on this website you can type in your zip code to find a therapist close to you.

Restorative Yoga: This is a yoga practice is usually only a series of five-six yoga poses supported by many props to make you as comfortable as possible. The purpose of this deep practice is finding stillness within your body and beginning to become one with your breath.

Expectful : Expectful focuses their efforts on the  impact that mental health and well being have on the journey to motherhood. They believe the mind-body connection isn’t just an idea — it’s the key to navigating the physical, mental and emotional aspects of every stage of motherhood from the moment you decide to conceive. I used their services with my second pregnancy for anxiety and fear, it was tremendously helpful. I continue to use their meditations for everyday life.

Brene Brown:  Author and Public speaker. My top suggested books: “Daring Greatly, The Gift of Imperfections!”

Stay tuned for next weeks blog post featuring a very dear friend, Deanne Ziadie.  She will share her incredible story of healing and continued restoration of owning her own beautiful story.

xx,

Sophia

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. So sweet of you to share this. You are so strong 😉

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