After Trauma can you be who you were before?

woman-wondering-750   Lately I have been pretty hard on myself.  I have been looking back on my journey of healing from my abusive marriage and I have been pretty harsh with myself.  Some of the things I have said to myself are; “Why aren’t you better yet?”, “Why don’t you act like you used too?”, “What is wrong with you?” I have to admit I have not been my own best friend. Nor was I being very fair to myself. After breaking down and shedding many tears it dawned on me, how could I be who I was before I married my ex?  Who I was before had not been abused by her husband for 15 years. Who I was before had not been hit, pushed and endlessly screamed at. All by a man she trusted. A man she had committed her life to in front of God, her friends and family.  I realized how unfair I was being to myself when I thought back to another trauma I had been through.

The previous trauma happened when I was a child. The first 10 years of my life were happy years. I played with my friends, rode my bike and ran in the park. I was a happy child. I was free and felt extremely loved by those around me. Then my life changed. When I was 11yrs old I was in a tragic car accident with my parents and my best friend.  My mother sadly was killed in this accident.  Myself, I broke my lower right leg, pelvis, sacrum, and my left jaw.  I was in Intensive Care for some time, heavily medicated to handle the pain. Due to the broken pelvis I was bed bound so I lost muscle mass.  Due to my broken jaw I lost a lot of weight. I was not a large girl to begin with. I was tall like a string bean so the weight and muscle loss was not what I needed. Recovery took time.  Eventually the pain medication was decreased and I was moved from the ICU to a regular room.  I wasn’t able to think about walking yet though.  I had to wait until my pelvis had healed and I had gained strength.  Eventually that did happen.  I was moved from my bed to a wheelchair cushioned with pillows.  Then slowly the pillows were removed. In time I was moved from the wheelchair to a walker.  After that I started  to use crutches and then one miraculous day I took my first step with no assistance! I was so happy, so proud of myself.  Now I was by no means ready to run a marathon. In fact I walked with a heavy foot for awhile and a limp, but every “step” forward was simply that a step forward.  A positive step forward.  Yes there were times I did not want to go to my physiotherapy and there were times I slipped and fell. There were times I cried in pure frustration because I just wanted to be “normal again”. I wanted to be able to ride my bike again, to go swimming with my friends. To be free, not weighed down with a heavy awkward cast but this was my life now. Everything had changed and I could not be the girl I was before. She was gone.  I could not pretend that the car accident had not happened and I definitely could not bring my mum back to life. In time I was not so heavy footed and the limp lessoned. I was able to play with my friends again. I still cannot run properly. Skating and skiing are painful, but I have adapted.  I work around these lasting scars. They are a part of who I am now, just like breathing, I don’t really think about it unless someone points it out.

Recovery from abuse is much the same as recovery from an accident. When my ex and I separated for the last time I crashed mentally, emotionally and physically. For over a decade I had held it all in.  All the insults, all the pain, all the fear for myself and my children, all the shame and all the pretending that my marriage was perfect to the outside world. Once he was gone I let the weak stitches that held me together break and all the pain came out of me like toxic poison. I could barely get out of bed. Everything around me was a trigger. I struggled to function in the most basic manner. Similar to the car accident I was back in the ICU. Thankfully there were doctors, Psychiatrists, therapists, family and friends who helped me heal. Eventually, like before, I was able to get out of bed. Slowly I stopped starring blankly into space. Slowly I “moved from a wheelchair to a walker” again.  I am now  “walking on my own” but I have to say it is still will a “heavy foot and a limp” and that I realize is ok. I will get better. With every day that passes I “limp” a little less.

I am not who I was. Thinking I would be is unfair and unrealistic to myself. I have experienced traumas at the hands of a man I trusted. Of course I have changed on every level. If I don’t socialize like I used too because it is now hard for me to trust that is ok. If I have to leave an event because it is too loud and I get scared and overwhelmed, that is ok. If some days all I want to do is cry and the next I want to get out into the world that is ok too. I am recovering. I am “learning to walk” again.

I am learning all about the new me. It is very exciting!  Who is she? How does she work now? Hmmmmm….. I think I am being my own best friend again. 🙂


Peace & Blessings on Your Journey,

Janet B

About Janet B

I am a Domestic Violence Survivor, who battles PTSD. I share what I know to help others on their journey and to help educate society. I also Supervise a Mentoring Program at Verbal Abuse Journals ( This program matches Survivors who have been out of the abusive relationship for a few years, and are now Mentors,  with Survivors who are either still in an abusive relationship or have just left. A mentoring relationship is set up via email where the Mentor offers guidance and support to the Survivor for as long as they need. Please feel free to sign up for this free service at

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