Stop This World

Gracefully going from victim to survivor to servant

Jayme Closs is home.  Praise be to God!  After 88 days of being held in captivity and watching her parents be brutally murdered, she found a way to bravely escape. I can’t imagine all that she has been through, but I am so happy that she is safe with her extended family now.  It appears that she has so much love and support from her family, friends & community.

If you are not familiar with the Jayme Closs case you can go here.

When I heard the breaking news that Jayme had been found I was transfixed to the television and crying tears of joy.  The news reporters were also crying because of this miraculous event.  This 13-year old girl had been found safe.

After crying tears of joy, I continued crying.  I realized that I was also very sad and scared for Jayme.  My anxiety kicked in and I was trying to figure out what was going on in my mind.  It’s not like I watched my parents murdered and was held captive for 88 days. 

So why was I so sad even after Jayme had been found?

Well, I realized that I am so heavy with sorrow for her because the grieving and healing she needs to go through will be hell on earth.  Literally.  My mind goes back to the depression, anxiety & PTSD that I suffered from for nearly four years.  Every single day I not only replayed my assault and the aftermath in my mind, but I asked God when this will all end.  When will I not have these thoughts every day?  When will this not define who I am?  I really just wanted to wake up one day and it all be better.  Couldn’t it just be a bad dream?

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a bad dream, but reality.  The hard work never got easier.  Doing the work is hard and repetitive.  I really didn’t know how the brain functioned (still don’t) and didn’t understand how trauma affects the brain.  After 1 year, 2 years, 3 years why couldn’t I get better?  Why?  It was so frustrating because I was putting in the ‘work’ of therapy, mindfulness training, yoga, support groups, etc.  I was working hard and getting nowhere.  I’m a hard worker naturally, but typically when you work hard at something you will have a tangible goal in mind.  Graduating from school, getting a raise, finding a new job.  Getting better isn’t the tangible goal I thought it was.  What is getting better?  What is healing?  Does healing have an end?

I kind of at least wanted a ribbon or medal for my efforts along the way.

I’ve written in previous blog posts that I was very confident that I would be over my assault and moving on with my life within 6 months.  Totally doable in my mind.  What I didn’t realize is that after 6 months I was just getting past the shock phase.  Some people are in shock from trauma for a few days.  Others, like myself, are in the shock stage for months.  I really thought I was making really good progress, and I was, but it was slower than I ever imagined.  The brain doesn’t recover from trauma like a broken bone does.  You can put in all the work, what I term physical therapy for the brain, and still not feel like you are making any progress.  Or, you know you made progress only to have something trigger you into the depths of despair again.  It might be something as simple as a smell or something as big as a detective calling you. 

Fortunately, my therapist started pointing out to me that I was making strides in my healing after several months.  When I would get triggered during the first year it would typically take me 5-7 days to fully recover and feel like functioning again.  As time went on she pointed out that it was only taking me 3-5 days to recover and then 1-2 days.  My mind was building resilience and that is a good thing.  It didn’t feel like I was making any progress at all, but I was getting there.  Slowly, but surely.  There was light.

I just wanted a silver bullet.  That one thing that would make all the awful thoughts go away.  Would yoga do it?  Accupuncture?  Sound therapy?  Hypnosis?  Where was the silver bullet or magic potion that would take it all away?  The silver bullet was myself.  I had to invest time in myself to get better.  I didn’t choose to be raped.  I didn’t choose to bear this cross in life.  But, I could choose not to be a victim and not let this define my life.  Sounds easy, but is really hard.

 I’m still working on it.

Nobody else can put the work in for you.  You may have all the support in the world (like I did) and still struggle 24 hours a day.  In our society of quick fixes, we want things to be better immediately.  If I can get a pack of antibiotics to make my sinus infection go away in 5 days, then why isn’t there some quick fix for trauma and PTSD?  I was trying to find the holy grail of recovery.  I just wanted to snap out of the funk.

Granted, there are some quick fixes out there like drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.  Quick fixes indeed, but they won’t give you long term results.  Several times after a therapy appointment or having a good cry at church I would wonder if this would do it.  Would I have finally done enough work for God to take away my suffering and for my brain to heal?  Did I put in enough work? Did I suffer enough?

I felt like I had to suffer.  I deserved to suffer. That is part of the shame and blame of being assaulted.  I felt like I deserved it for some reason.  Like I had to suffer even more to make sure that I was fully engulfed in shame and guilt.  Why?  I don’t know. 

Something I didn’t realize along the way is that you put in the work of talk therapy and all those other things, but what you really need is time.  Time to just be.  Your brain can’t heal itself quickly and you need to be patient.  I consider myself a fairly patient person, but when it started taking years to recover from my trauma I was losing hope fast. 

Thinking about Jayme Closs, I’m so very happy that she is safe and sound.  I cry because the work ahead will be almost as bad, if not worse, than the trauma she endured.  I never thought that was possible until I went through it.  You get retraumatized and have to live through the awful things over & over again.  It just doesn’t stop.  Then the questions will start, “why didn’t you do this, why didn’t you do that?”. This makes me sad for Jayme and her family. 

What would I tell Jayme? 

Be patient with yourself
Be patient with your family & friends
Let those you love take care of you
Sleep
Sleep some more
Cry
Take bubble baths
Slow down. Healing isn’t a race
Write in a journal 
Hug your pet 
Smile when you feel like it
Ask for help
Accept help
Take care of yourself through doing your favorite things
Go to therapy
Move your body-dancing, yoga, anything that makes you feel alive
Do what makes you feel safe

Know that you are a loved child of God.  There is so much evil in this world, but God has given you the tools to find your way through. 

Don’t let anyone tell you when you should feel better.  You will feel better when you feel better.  There is no deadline on healing.  Period. 

Your journey is going to have points of great darkness and also points of profound light.  Don’t let the darkness get you down.  Work through it and find your way.  Take a break when you need it, but never quit.  I had months and years of long darkness but knew somewhere deep down that I was making progress.  I promise you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I never thought I would find that light, but I did. I’m here to tell you that I have faith in you, and I pray that you heal wholly and at your own pace.

Finally, I would tell her that you are so loved by thousands of people.  I would give her a big hug, cry tears of joy with her and tell her that she is going to be better than okay.  It might not be tomorrow or next month, but someday in the future she is going to feel great again and this awful crime will not define her life.  It will be a chapter in her life, but the great novel of her life will be so much more.  To Jayme, I’m proud of you and I pray for you on your journey of healing.

Jayme, this is where the healing begins.

-J.Lynn

Here is a song by Tenth Avenue North that I listened to & meditated on a lot over the years:

One thought on “This is Where the Healing Begins

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