Bonnie Walker / January 12, 2019
After years of therapy in the VA system and the private sector, I had that moment. That moment when I experience a complete 360 degree turn in the direction of my life. My roller coaster that came to an abrupt stop.
I’ve always have tried to live by the importance of honesty in my life. I’ve taught my daughters that there are only two things one person truly owns in this world- “Their name and their word.” Without being honest your name means nothing. You’re not credible, people can’t trust you. So, I have lived my life encompassed by that. But what I have most certainly had a difficult time with is trusting other people. I keep people at an arms distance and make them work hard because I just have always had such a difficult time trusting others. How long have I been like this? As long as I can remember.
After my assault, I reached out to anyone who could to save me or help me forget. It worked for the moment but reality is now it came with a whole other list of problems. I am cautious, I don’t trust people and I am not tolerant of people who overwhelm me. Routines are my best friend and I love my safe zone. Communication with others is only out of necessity, and trying anything new is almost unfathomable.
It’s not surprising though that I struggle with that. Who wouldn’t have difficulty trusting others after experiencing what I have. So, what happened that caused me to have a 360 degree turn in my life? What caused me to have an abrupt stop on my own personal roller coaster? I’ll tell you. When I realized-
I Am Not Alone.
I had the privilege to attend an incredible retreat, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I was close to wrapping up my CPT therapy with my therapist at the VET Center and I had just told the VA for the first time since recalling my trauma, NO to group therapy because I just didn’t have time. I didn’t even know that I could actually tell them NO until the Psychiatrist told me I could.
I had started my blog, started the MST Survivor Project and doing some what well in school with a path to nursing school. But I still had this emptiness; a loss I couldn’t quite put my finger on. That’s when my phone rang. I had reached out earlier in the year requesting to go on a retreat with an organization. It was a whirl wind. I was in the middle of my semester at school, kids, dog, husband, appointments, exams. But I didn’t care. I had to make this work, and incredibly enough all the pieces fell into place. Professors understood and worked with me and my husband said- GO!
I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly grateful I am that I had the privilege to go on that retreat. I learned so much about myself, but most importantly I learned that I am not alone in this. I am not the only one that this has happened to and we are all at various points in our healing process. It was incredible to have the support of another veteran sister can give you a hug and tell you they understand what they are going through. And likewise, helping them to see that they to have the ability to take the reins in their own healing. So, going back to my initial statement of trust and honesty: This is the first time that I chose to be completely honest with myself.
After a very difficult personal challenge I have felt a lot of hurt, I felt lost and I didn’t know what I was going to do. That night it didn’t matter what medications I took I could not sleep. For the first time I felt lost in my own life and I needed to figure out what the fuck I was going to do. I have spent so much time trying to live the goals I had in my past and what I thought others expected of me, that I had absolutely no control over my life. I had to find some way to let go of all this anger, sadness and loss that I have felt for so many years. So, at 5:30 am in the morning, I got up, showered, got dressed and went running.
I hate running, but after running I was starting to let go enjoying my surroundings and all of a sudden, I started crying and I couldn’t stop. Then I would walk, then run and start crying again to the point of collapsing. It was in that moment I realized I am so done running away. I have spent over half of my life running away, and I realized I just can’t run away anymore. It was then that I had the most beautiful strangers come into my life and help me pick up the pieces. And to this day I owe them so much to who I am right now at this moment.
I am not broken.
It doesn’t matter what others think. I have the ability to rise above this, to let go of the anger and most importantly, I have the ability to change course of my life. I realized that I have a bigger purpose in this life. I have a voice. I love to serve others and help them find hope in their journey of something better. I have greater purpose!