Living with PTSD: I Let my Dad and PTSD Control my Entire Life

Growing up my life was idyllic until I turned fifteen and my world fell apart.  I had two loving parents who gave me everything. I had the best of everything and could not ask for more. I was adopted and because of my situation, grew up sheltered. I didn’t have very many friends and could not even date. I really didn’t mind, because I was very shy and did not socialize very well. My parents were my world, especially my dad.

I was a daddy’s girl. I did no wrong in my dad’s eyes. He spoiled me and I soaked up his attention. He devoted every moment to me. I loved my dad and it wasn’t until he died, all the memories I had of my daddy were shattered like glass. The fantasy world I built around my dad crumbled. The reality was my dad was a monster that hid under my bed at night. Sexual abuse was the reality of my perfect life. My daddy was a sexual predator who took away my innocence.

On the outside, I looked like a typical teenage girl. However, on the inside, I was broken, shattered into tiny shards of hatred, mistrust, insecurity, and isolation. I was alone inside my dark secret. I couldn’t even tell my mother. I knew that she would not believe me. In her eyes, my dad was perfect. In mine, he was a perfect monster who destroyed little girls.

After my dad’s death, I began to change. I withdrew inside myself and my behavior toward my mom became destructive. We fought all the time, I hung out with the wrong crowd and even ran away a few times. All I wanted to do was avoid any situation that reminded me of my dad.

My nightmares of what he did became frequent as well. I wanted to escape the horrors of my mind, so I attempted suicide. My attempt failed and instead of my mother getting me the help I so desperately needed and wanted, she moved us three-thousand miles across country. My life turned upside down when we moved away from the only home I’d ever known.

A few months after my dad passed away, I turned sixteen alone, no friends, no mother. After we moved away to another state, my mother became an alcoholic and I tried to avoid her. I was on my own. I tried to put the memories of what my dad had done to me out of my mind. I tried to forget who he really was and what he really did. I couldn’t.

Once again, I got in with the wrong crowd. I started doing drugs, drinking, and having sex with older men to numb reality and my pain.  This spin-cycle of destructive behavior went on for over forty years. I was numb to reality. I stopped talking to my mother and to me my family was dead.

At eighteen I got married and had a family. My marriage was rocky. My husband and I argued all the time. I blamed him for everything that happened wrong in our relationship. I sought out other men to fulfill a void I thought my husband was not fulfilling. I didn’t care who I hurt or who suffered. In seven years my marriage was over and so was my life. I lost my husband and I lost custody of my children. I also lost myself.

I continued to spiral deeper and deeper into a dark hole of depression. There was no way out of the darkness that surrounded my life. I ceased all contact with my family. I blamed them for not stopping my dad from sexually abusing me, even though they did not know he had done horrible things to me. I blamed myself for what happened to me. If I had just not led him on or told someone, maybe he would have stopped. I tried to block out the darkness, but it kept seeping into my life one ugly memory at a time.

Fast forward to age twenty-five when I decided to try the relationship game again. I met a man who I felt a connection and we became involved. I didn’t tell him what happened to me. I felt ashamed and guilty. I wanted his love, not his pity. Our relationship was rocky. I tried to sabotage my happiness. I had affairs, started arguments, blamed him for everything that went wrong, and tried to drive him away. He wouldn’t budge.

Fast forward to age fifty-eight when I realized what my daddy did to me was not my fault, to when I realized I was suffering from PTSD. I had let what my dad did to me control my life for over fifty years. I let post-traumatic stress disorder control my life for over forty years. I was not only making myself miserable but those I cared about. I pushed my husband and kids away. I didn’t want them to know my shame, the dark secret I was hiding.

I let my dad and PTSD control my entire life. My thoughts, my memories were so attached to what my dad had done, I couldn’t move forward. I was stuck in a quagmire of the past. I needed help and I was lost in how to get it. I know if I wanted to break the chains of guilt and shame, to overcome PTSD, I would have to tell my secret. I wasn’t ready to talk about what happened to the little girl inside me. I wasn’t ready to release my shame and guilt.

My husband tried to talk me into getting help, but I wouldn’t listen and refused to even talk about it. It wasn’t until I attended a family reunion and my cousin said she needed to talk to me. What she told me, shocked me. She too had been hiding a dark secret. My dad had abused her too. We both cried and I broke down and told her that he had abused me also.

I knew then it was time for me to let go and get help to overcome my pain, shame, and learn how to cope with my PTSD. I sought out a therapist that specialized in sexual trauma. The therapist helped me learn to cope with my pain, guilt, and shame of what happened. The therapist also taught me how to understand my trigger points for my PTSD.

My life now is far from perfect. There are times I still struggle with the triggers and have bouts of PTSD. I no longer push the memories of what my dad did to me away. I have learned to let go and talk about what happened. I am in a group of women who were abused by their dads and we talk about how to cope, how to let go of the destruction, and how to live without trauma straggling our lives.

Thanks for reading! Check out my Social Anxiety Story.

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