The next few months were the scariest time of my life. I wasn’t ready to face the truth, I couldn’t get past the whole, “there’s no way something like this could’ve happened without me knowing. How could I possibly not remember something like that?” In actuality, this is quite common. Dissociation is a God-given coping mechanism that allows the core personality to go on in tact by separating the trauma from the conscious memory.
I was going through what is called a “denial stronghold“. Unfortunately, running away from the truth made it worse. I was so afraid of the truth, afraid of what letting that memory in would feel like, but inside was a little girl screaming to be heard, begging for justice and someone to believe her. My daily struggle with never-ending anxiety and panic attacks were taking it’s toll. I was constantly on high alert, fighting for my life. This state of hyper-vigilance was exhausting, as I was constantly, day after day, putting all of my effort into fighting the worst intrusive thoughts one can imagine, and battling daily just to survive. “No weapon formed against me will prosper” became the anthem of the life, until after hours of doing intense warfare every single day, I would collapse in exhaustion, only to begin the same process again the next morning.
I could be in the middle of doing lessons with the kids and have to retreat to my room, devouring Psalm 91 over and over again, tears falling until there weren’t any tears left, until eventually I felt stable enough to move on to the next task. My kids didn’t know what was happening to their mommy, or why I would suddenly need to go be alone. I can, however, see God’s faithfulness through that time as even on the worst of days, somehow, I was able to do what needed to be done and meet the needs of my family.
One thing that really took a hit was my ability to cook decent meals. Aside from the typical fatigue and nausea of pregnancy, getting through each day was so much work, and this was the area that I struggled to keep on top of. My husband had no idea what I was going through, so this was a cause of tension at times. All he knew was that he was working two jobs, sometimes gone 14 hours a day, and coming home to frozen pizza. I couldn’t possibly tell him what I was experiencing when I couldn’t understand it myself.
I remember my midwife trying everything she could to help me with this anxiety. The supplements she recommended couldn’t put a dent into fixing this. She told me about how the baby can feel what the mother feels, and the consequences that come from a baby whose prenatal environment is filled with anxiety. I desperately pleaded with God to protect my child from any harmful effects of what I was going through. I’m not choosing to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way, please Lord, watch over my baby.
The fear and panic manifested in different ways. I could be driving down the road and just suddenly feel my muscles jerk or seize up and it was like I had no control over my body. I would pray religiously over every.single.thing out of fear that if I didn’t cover all my bases just right, the ground would come out from under me and the worst case scenario would happen. It was impossible for me to relax. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. It’s like something wouldn’t let me.
One of the worst incidents happened on my 31st birthday. My husband took me to see “The Case for Christ” and I so badly just wanted to escape for a little while, to forget my daily struggles and watch a movie like a normal person. It was a sold out show, we ended up in the very back row, surrounded by strangers. I couldn’t get comfortable no matter how hard I tried, and though I typically enjoyed movie theater popcorn, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Just thinking about it made me feel disgusted.
Not even a half hour into the show, extremely terrifying intrusive thoughts popped into my head and I really thought I might not live to see the end of the movie. Typically when someone is having a PTSD episode, they will enter fight, flight or freeze mode. Flight was always my go to, like I was trying to get as far away from my reality as possible. However this time I couldn’t get up and leave. There was too many people, too many stairs. I felt dizzy, sure I couldn’t make it to the exit without falling. I stayed put for the remainder of the movie, frozen and unable to escape, shifting in my seat and unable to stop fidgeting, trying to somehow make it to the end. Whispered prayers in desperation got me through, though it may have been one of the longest hours of my life.
A year and half later I would have a memory come back that made sense of this whole incident, and it involved being in the back row of a movie theater watching “Rescuers Down Under” in November 1990, when I was four years old. But in the meantime, I was left feeling like perhaps I was going crazy.
Am I going to survive this pregnancy? Is this ever going to end? I would lash out in anger at the Father I thought had good promises for me. Why are you doing this to me? Where are you? You told me to trust you. Yes, the faith I thought was so strong was now being shaken to the core of my very being, and I hadn’t a clue what the outcome would be. It took everything in me to muster enough faith to trust at all, to believe in a good God when everything inside me was screaming the opposite. Scripture became my lifeline. It was quite literally, all I had to hold onto.