Tuesday Talks with: Robert Stephenson.
The House on Horror Hill
Reposted with Permission from PtsdEdu http://wp.me/p6i7Fg-50
This piece is reposted with permission from Roberts blog, where he has been dealing with C-TR-PTSD (Complex/Chronic, Treatment Resistant-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) based on severe, frequent, violent physical and mental abuse at the hands of my father, and neglect at the hands of my mother for over 35 years.
“I want to contribute what I have learned, share treatments that have worked for me, and give back. It comes with ‘trigger warnings” (Robert).
I post this not to sensationalise domestic violence and child abuse but to help you understand the life long process that goes on for some abuse survivors who choose to take the very courageous journey of healing. Robert says it so eloquently in the last sentence of this blog post.
“I am trying to help him now. I am trying to lead him away from the house on horror hill”.
For many of us who have survived trauma and abuse. This is the job of healing. It is working through the dissociation, finding the child in us who is still a child, still frozen in time in that place of horror, and helping them move out of that place into the place of safety in which we dwell now as adults.
You see, when you dissociate, as I have explained in other posts, you fracture, you fragment.
“More pathological dissociation involves dissociative disorders with or without alterations in personal identity or sense of self. These alterations can include: a sense that self or the world is unreal (depersonalization and derealization); a loss of memory (amnesia); forgetting identity or assuming a new self (fugue); and fragmentation of identity or self into separate streams of consciousness and complex post-traumatic stress disorder” (Wiki).
Often part of us, the child part of us remains in that place. This is why for so many it is so difficult to go back, to even contemplate reliving, rethinking what happened. To re-visit the pain, the trauma, that time of horror is almost incomprehensible. However, for healing to begin we need to help that child move out of that place of unfair responsibility and confusion.
As Robert says: I am trying to lead him away from the house on horror hill.
Can I assure you if you are in this space, that it is worth the risk, it is worth the pain. Healing is worth the cost. It was for me a personal revelation. In one particularly gruelling session, where finally after 10 months of avoidance of this particular incident, I finally agreed to go back to that place. For me it was a bedroom and I was 5 years old. Its difficult for me to explain, but it wasn’t the end of the world, I didn’t cease to exist. The first part was the hardest, then I realised that the panic, the fear, the pain was at the level of a 5 year old. You know, when a small child is scared, or falls over they scream their lungs out. They are terrified beyond conscious thought. As an adult you have a different understanding and comprehension and you are able to rationalise.
When the 50 year old Lisa came face to face with the 5 year old Lisa I was able to help her, sooth her, protect her, comfort her, take that responsibility and weight off her and as Robert says, help to lead her out.
By telling his story, by having his voice heard, Robert is taking a huge step in his long journey of recovery.
Robert – we hear you. We grieve with you, we applaud your bravery and your courage and your eloquence.
Thank you for telling your story.
Robert Stephensons Story:
**Trigger Warning** The House On Horror Hil
This is where the worst of it happened. This is the house where I heard his dress shoes pacing the wood floor hallway below. He would shout threats, largely incoherently. I would cower in the corner upstairs, under my bed, or sneak into the crawl space near the eves of the house. His tirades laced with the same recurring threat — come downstairs and you will die.
When the sound of his shoes moved from the wood floor to the carpet of the steps leading to the second floor, it was sheer terror. Would he have his gun with him this time? Am I hidden well enough? Can he hear how loud and hard my heart is beating? How will I survive?
This is the house where I positioned my stuffed animals under my covers to appear as if I was sleeping in my bed, when I was really sleeping underneath it or in the closet. Hoping to have a little extra time to find safety should all hell break loose. This is the house where he cut off the telephones so we could not speak to the outside world. This is the house where he taught me, indirectly, hate. This is the house that his young son thought long and hard about trying to cut the brake lines in his car so he would die – even though I did not have the faintest idea how that could be done.
This is the house where my sister, at age 12, put a noose around her own neck in the garage and attempted suicide as my parents drove away, only stopping briefly to roll down the window and criticize her for doing it wrong. The house where I, at age 9, had to get the noose off of her neck.
This is the house where the migraine headaches started. This is the house were we fled in fear of our own safety countless times, only to return within a matter of hours because he was sorry. This is the house where I first, at age 8, stared down the barrel of a rifle. This is the house where I lost my youth, the house where I lost my trust. The house where I learned that everything is scary and can be taken from you in a minute. The house where I learned that my life was of no value.
This is the house in my flashbacks. Somewhere inside that house was a scared little boy that needed help but received none. I am trying to help him now. I am trying to lead him away from the house on horror hill.
Thank you Robert.
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