Post Traumatic Stress Survivors Anonymous

Post Traumatic Stress Survivors Anonymous

by Lily Payton

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Overview

Right from page 1, Lily engages the reader to want to know her story and how she came to heal her trauma. People often refer to it as a real page-turner. Even with some of the more difficult passages to read, her courage and determination shine through.

This book can be a lifesaver for you just as her PTSD recovery work has been for her.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982211639
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 10/05/2018
Pages: 108
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.26(d)

About the Author

Lily's background in nursing, psychology, and her own path of recovery, bring a unique perspective to her personal journey of healing. Sharing it with the world speaks to her courage and her ability to inspire others to find their truth and transform their history.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Step One

Admitted we were powerless over our trauma, that our lives had become unmanageable.

EXERCISE

This is a two-, part step.

Part One In what ways have I been powerless over my trauma?

1. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Part Two In what ways has my trauma made my life unmanageable?

1. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

CHAPTER 2

Step Two

Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

EXERCISE

We're told that insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results.

How am I manifesting this in my life?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

Do I believe in a Higher Power? If yes, what does it look like?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

Is this Higher Power good, benevolent, loving, caring, protecting, nurturing? If not, it's time to find a different God in your life. Start being open to a power greater than yourself that is full of wonder, grace, love, and support. What does that look like? If you don't believe in a power greater than yourself can you make a commitment to just be open and willing to the concept?

CHAPTER 3

Step Three

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

This is an action step for sure. It's about making a decision, on a daily basis, to turn things over to something or someone more powerful than me. The Serenity Prayer helped me with this step more than anything.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference"

For a person who has had no Higher Power in their life for years, this is a daunting task. I thought I could change everything and everybody if I just worked hard enough at it, so to give up any control was terrifying and felt like a failure. To really look at changing the things I can might mean giving up something, which I find really hard to do. It might mean being willing to leave a relationship or a job, which can be very hard to do, and the wisdom to know the difference takes time, patience, and practice.

This little prayer is about learning a whole new way to be and live. But I don't have to do it all at once. There's no thunderbolt. It's about one step at a time. It's about learning how to accept things I have no control over. It's about walking through fear, and surviving on the other side.

EXERCISE

What can't I change in my world today?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

How do I feel about this?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

What can I change that needs to be changed?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

What's the predominant feeling(s) around this?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

Suggestion: Do this exercise every day for 30 days.

CHAPTER 4

Step Four

Made a searching and fearless and moral inventory of ourselves.

I have noticed many people in recovery become ill once they stop drinking. Many stop drinking and do the steps on their drinking but don't touch the deeper stuff. It began to make sense to me that if I didn't speak about what had happened to me I would internalize it until it made me ill. In other words, my body would do the speaking for me. I was also reading John Bradshaw's, "Healing The Shame that Binds You", and doing inner child work. My inner child, always had dirty, stringy hair that hung in her face. She was always cowering in a corner. I did many sessions of connecting with my inner child, through drawing, coloring, listening, and writing with my non-dominant hand to give her a voice. I re-parented her and affirmed her until the images became positive. She looked happy, with clean curly hair brushed away from her face. She played outside and spread her arms out wide taking in the fresh clean air.

EXERCISE

What does my inner child look like? What kind of family did she/he grow up in?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

How did my inner child cope with her/his life?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

What were my feelings?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

How did I react?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

How did I cope as a teenager?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

What were my feelings?

______________________ ________________________

______________________ ________________________

______________________ ________________________

How did I react?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

How did I behave as an adult?

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

What were my feelings?

______________________ ________________________

______________________ ________________________

CHAPTER 5

Step Five

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I finally became strong enough to write my brother a letter. I told him what I remembered and that it was important for me to tell him my truth. Susan Forward's book, "Toxic Parents", helped me write to him in a non-threatening way. I love my brother, I just needed to tell my truth and to set that little girl free. Two weeks later, I received a letter from my brother. He acknowledged the abuse and apologized for any harm he may have caused me. I was sitting on the couch and a sound came out of me from somewhere deep inside of me, something between a wail and a moan. My cat jumped on my lap and started kneading his paws into my chest. I cried like I had never cried before, releasing years of pain that I stuffed way down deep inside me. I am so grateful to him for his courage to tell the truth and help me heal.

One of the things I read about healing from trauma was to find a safe place, physically and mentally. I carved out a nook in my home that was just for me. It was cozy, with a view of the outside. I started to consciously spend time there each day and just be with myself. I also started to meditate. I created a safe place in my mind that I would go to. It was a white gazebo with a beautiful white adirondack chair. I would visualize myself relaxing there, dressed in white, with a gentle breeze on my face looking out onto the water. After that I remembered many childhood sex abuse memories. I'm told that it's not uncommon for a child to repress these memories when your mind and body become overwhelmed by the trauma. My father was an untreated alcoholic. My mother worked nights and we were left with him staggering through the house at night. I had very few childhood memories of him but I remember I used to tell people I remember my dad picking me up from the couch, where I had fallen asleep and carrying me upstairs. I loved that memory, because it was one of the few times I felt my dad close to me. Imagine my horror, when the memory came flooding back to me, at around three years sober, that my dad had taken me to his bedroom that night, not mine, and performed oral sex on me. The memory was particularly disturbing because all the feelings I had felt then, returned, and my whole body felt sexually excited. It was in that instant that I had a personal and profound relationship with God, as I understand Him, I Post Traumatic Stress Survivors Anonymous was feeling complete embarrassment and shame when I heard a calm, loving, voice in my head say, "I am here, Lily. I am with you. Don't be afraid." I sat and wrote the whole memory down. Even though I was shaking with fear, I put it all down. How freeing to finally be rid of this secret I had been holding in my body all these years. It took working a fourth step to understand that the embarrassment and shame were not mine to have carried and I gave them back to my father at his graveside. But it was two years later when I connected with the PTSD symptoms of how trapped I felt that night, a little girl around 4 years old, when my father passed out on top of me. I couldn't get out from under him. I could barely breathe. I was terrified. As a child I thought he was going to crush me to death. I used to have a recurring nightmare that I was trapped under a car and couldn't get free.

Soon after that I remembered one of my other brothers holding me down on the floor in my bathroom and grinding back and forth on me till he had an orgasm. He told me not to say anything and he went out and closed the bathroom door. That door always stuck a little. I was little and kept trying to open the door unsuccessfully. I was crying, panicked, and scared. I yelled but no one came. Exhausted, I laid down on the bathroom rug on the floor and cried myself to sleep.

My next memory that surfaced happened when I bt 5 years old. I was being held down by my brothers and orally sodomized by a Fresh Air child from inner New York City, that our family hosted for two weeks one summer. Again, I felt trapped, had trouble breathing, and thought I was going to die. Once that memory surfaced, most of my hair fell out, I lost twenty pounds, and couldn't eat meat for several months.

The Iraq war was beginning about this time and I was having difficulty watching the news. It was the Veterans in the program who helped me so much during this period. They told me they understood my feelings and to hang in there, it would get better. They suggested that I turn off the news and stop reading the newspaper for a while until I felt stronger and more healed. They told me I was probably being triggered by the news back into my own violence. It was then that I realized that I had PTSD. I felt shame about that too. I felt like I was a weak person who couldn't just "pull myself up by the bootstrap" and get on with it. I wasn't "Jane Wayning" (based on Jane Wayne Syndrome) myself through this. Those vets told me how courageous I was to tell the truth and stand in my truth. How grateful I was for them. It became clear to me that trauma is trauma, whether in your cellar, or on the battlefield. The feelings we had were similar and we could help each other heal. I did not feel alone anymore. Looking back, I had been in denial about my trauma symptoms for so many years, because I tried to control them with my drinking.

The most difficult memory, however, came a few years later. One of my brothers used to take me to the attic. It had been finished into a dormitory of sorts for the boys. There was a crawl- space for storage up there. It had a little latch on the outside of the door. My brother would lure me in there when I was little. It was completely dark inside. He'd sexually molest me, tell me not to tell, then leave me in there alone. There was no latch on the inside so I was locked in until he opened it and let me out. Besides the confusion and shame of the molestation, I was terrified in that dark space. I thought I was going to die in there and no one would find me. No matter how hard I tried or yelled, I couldn't get out. All of these assaults shaped a large part of my personality.

I was driven, a hard driving go-getter. I always wanted to be noticed. I was never happy where I was. I always wanted to move, to get ahead, to get out of where I was and be in another place. I couldn't wait to get out of my town and go somewhere else. I was restless, antsy, and never wanted to be alone. "The more the merrier" was my motto. It all made sense to me now. There seemed to be two sides to me. In my professional life I was fearless, rebellious, challenged the status quo, and relentless in my pursuit of excellence and climbing the ladder to success. In my private world, however, I tended to be docile, approval seeking, and needy. I couldn't seem to keep a relationship together. I would fall madly in love but once married, I started feeling trapped, bored, and would start "pining" for someone else, always in secret, never really satisfied with where I was or who I was with.

In recovery, I was just as rebellious. I will not find a God. I will not say the Lord's Prayer. I will not stop going to bars. I will not get a sponsor, etc. But the longer I was from taking a drink, the more I came to realize that the rebellious nature was covering up something much deeper in me, fear and shame. Shame comes from a root word meaning "to cover" and I had been covered up for years. My body language was stooped shoulders, averting eye contact, crossing my arms and legs, all closed body positions. It took a long time to heal the internalized shame from my childhood.

CHAPTER 6

Step Six

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these negative survival skills.

CHAPTER 7

Step Seven

Humbly asked God to remove our negative survival skills.

One of the major things that helped me was changing some of the words in the 6th and 7th steps of my program from "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character" to "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these negative survival skills". Defects of character cut right through me. I felt total shame just saying the words. Of course, at first, the shame was covered up with behaviors such as sarcasm, lying, judgment of others and self, isolating, blushing, polarization of feelings from numbness to angry outbursts. It took a while to understand that I already felt defective. As I did more work, I realized that these "defects" were all things that helped me survive the trauma I experienced. I started by making a list of all these behaviors and started working on them, one at a time.

This is where I saw so many people stop working a program. They would make a list of their defects, ask God to remove them and say, "Okay, I've done steps 6 & 7, I'm finished. I knew it wasn't that easy. First I would recognize a negative behavior pattern in myself, (a major feat in itself), I would ask God to remove it. Then heaven help me, I would begin to see it everywhere. And I would ask others if they noticed it in me. Their candor was unnerving and humbling to say the least. So every time I was sarcastic, say, I would begin to stop it sooner and sooner, and apologize to the person. These survival skills, sarcasm, gossiping, swearing, lying, self-deprecation, etc. were really a form of violence. The victim had become the abuser, not only to others but to myself. It seemed like every time I let go of an old entrenched pattern of behavior, a memory surfaced. I was no longer covering it up, so it bubbled to the surface. The other reason they surfaced is that I had finally become safe to myself. I was no longer shaming that little girl inside of me and she finally felt safe enough to speak up, to know that she would be heard and honored. Remember, I had worked steps 1-5 by this point. It is essential to have a power greater than yourself in your life, to do this work. There were times when I felt suicidal. I never acted on it but I felt hopeless, defeated, and the shame was all consuming. If I had not found a Higher Power I would have imploded. The remedy for suicidal thoughts is "to talk them to death". Suicide is part of the abuse secret and carries its own power. When I talk to someone who is safe or to the group about these thoughts, they start to lose their power. So I tell people, if you're having suicidal thoughts, talk about it until it has no more power.

EXERCISE

List my negative survival skills: What was I thinking?

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

What was I feeling?

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

What are the healthy behaviors I want to cultivate in myself? List a healthy behavior for each negative one.

i.e. Every time I find myself gossiping about someone, I will say something nice about them instead.

When I catch myself trying to control someone or something, I will stop, breathe, and say I accept this just the way it is.

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

Lessons in letting go, de-stressing, and meditation began with simple coloring ...

LETTER TO INNER CHILD

A letter of long overdue self-love.

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

LETTER TO ABUSER

Written in non-dominant hand, verbalizing everything you wanted to say to the person, who hurt and violated you.

I suggest you share this first with a person you trust before sending it.

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

Working steps 6 & 7 showed me how much I had compartmentalized myself in order to survive through the years. There were three parts to me. Each aspect of my traumatized self had its own script, rules, and personality, if you will. It all depended on what triggered me as to what script and role I acted out. I call it:

The Trauma Triangle.

It consists of the Victim, the Abuser, and the Silent Abuser. Each aspect of the triangle has its own script, behaviors, and personality.

The Victim script: expresses hopelessness, passiveness, neediness, low self-esteem, approval-seeking.

The Abuser script: physically, verbally, emotionally, or spiritually abuses the victim, through physical violence, controlling behaviors, and/or isolating the victim from family and friends.

The Silent Abuser script: stays loyal to the abuser at all costs; keeps the abuser's secrets; will interrupt the victim's grieving process either by gesture or words to stop the truth from being expressed; minimizes the abuse.

As a child I was the victim for sure. Being untreated for that abuse I grew up to be an abuser also, as all untreated adults do.

It depends how the light, (the trigger of the abuse) is pointed as to which personality trait "jumps into action". There were many times when I would be saying something and part of me would be saying, "Shut up, you're hurting that person". But I couldn't stop. Or a part of me would be saying, "Speak up, this is wrong", but nothing would come out of my mouth. I'd sit there in silence. Or there were the times when I would side with someone on an issue that I knew was wrong but couldn't seem to say so, and instead would nod in agreement.

I wrote out these patterns and shaming tapes and challenged them, then wrote out a new, affirming tape for each one. It was very important to stop shaming myself, which was an ingrained pattern. Every time I'd catch myself doing it, I'd just acknowledge it. It was also important to play the negative tape all the way through, consciously release it, then say the new positive tape.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Post Traumatic Stress Survivors Anonymous"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Lily Payton.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface, xi,
PTSSA Recovery based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, xiii,
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, xv,
1. My Story, 1,
2. Step One, 11,
3. Step Two, 13,
4. Step Three, 15,
5. Step Four, 19,
6. Step Five, 23,
7. Step Six, 29,
8. Step Seven, 31,
9. Step Eight, 61,
10. Step Nine, 63,
11. Step Ten, 65,
12. Step Eleven, 71,
13. Step Twelve, 73,
Suggested Reading, 75,

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