My name is Linda, and I’m 46 years old. When I was about six, my mother’s boyfriend began molesting me. He would come into my bedroom at night, while my mother was working. He told me not to tell anyone because it would ruin our family and no one would believe me. Six years later, my little sister turned six, and I found out he was molesting her, too. I told my mother, but she didn’t believe me. She told me not to tell lies about people or I would go to Hell. I was devastated.
I felt alone and thought it was somehow my fault. I started missing school, smoking marijuana and drinking. I was in and out of detention for a couple of years. By 16, I had dropped out of high school. I got pregnant by a guy I thought I loved, but he left me as soon as our son was born. I thought about ending my life but had my son to consider. I went back to alcohol and marijuana to “comfort” me, which led to my inability to hold a job. I became homeless. Soon after, my mother got custody of my son, and I woke up and realized I had to get serious. I got my GED, stopped using drugs and cut back on alcohol. I got my son back and began working as a home health aide. But when stressful events happened, I’d still drink really hard.
I had trouble in relationships, too. It was like I had a sign on my forehead that said, “Abusers and losers, pick me!” I’ve had so many physically or mentally abusive men in my life. Once after a huge argument with one guy, I got a bottle of pills out of my cabinet and seriously considered overdosing. I hadn’t done that for years. I felt like that scared teenager again, like that 12-year-old who was totally alone. I called the pastor at my church, and she told me about Coleman. I started counseling, and my counselor understood what I was experiencing. Thank goodness, because at that point, I didn’t.
Through counseling, I’ve learned that I have had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for years. Even though I had been sober for a long time and I was working, my life was still a mess in some areas. Except for work and church, I had cut myself off from people. I’m uncomfortable in public places, but that’s starting to get better. I am learning coping strategies, including specific skills to deal with my emotions. I’ve even learned how to interrupt panic attacks and calm myself down.
I think the best part is that I understand why I did a lot of the self-destructive things I did, and I am starting to forgive myself. Just coming to understand that I reacted to trauma in a “normal” way has helped my self-esteem a lot. I’m hopeful about my future again. I’m about to become a grandmother, and I’m really excited about that. My life has improved so much since coming to Coleman. I am strong and growing stronger every day.
True story of a Coleman Behavioral Health – Stark County client.