MY TRAUMA RECOVERY STORY
I share with you how I transformed my life thanks to therapy. I believe it is important to talk about it because there are many of us who don’t believe that the struggle can end and feel lonely in their pain. There are also many of us ashamed of their stories. I was one of them until I met Sonja, a woman who shared with me her story of abuse and recovery. She built an amazing life for herself and it let me believe that healing is possible. I had a picture of her in my mind during every struggle and that’s why I didn’t give up. Today I am a proud survivor. A thriver. And I share my story.
I talk honestly about what happened to me because abuse is a part of my story.
You can feel triggered but then continue reading. It is about where the story goes!
The more darkness to face, the more light to shine
WHAT HAPPENED TO ME
Meet little Kasia born in the ’80s in Poland in a village where a father who drinks every day and beats his wife and a child was a common thing. I remember the feeling that I swallow saliva too loudly. A pillow on my face when I was crying. Pain in my body. The fear that my mum is dead.
When I was 4 we started escaping from him. New places. Him founding us and burgling inside at nights. Me being given to him to spend time because he was my father. Him not wanting to give me back. Later divorce. No more contact with my father. My mother talking that he wanted me only to hurt her.
Everybody talking to me that my responsibility was to take care of my mother and support her after what happened to her. She saved me. I could have stayed with my father. And no one noticing that while living with her I was emotionally and sexually abused for years. She was a narcissist. Same as my godfather who constantly visited me. And in my nightmare, I had to prove to everybody that my mother raised a perfect child.
Everything was always about my mother’s pain because of what my father did to her. When I didn’t meet her expectations, it was obvious, I was like my father. She felt hurt by me and punished me with silence while she was talking against me to all the family. They reminded me to apologize. No one listened when I was saying that I apologized many times, but every time I heard ‘Apologies are not enough’.
I remember the nights when I was thinking about how it would be after death. I remember how I wanted it all to end but I was responsible for my mother. I remember how difficult it was to speak loudly at school. This feeling that words were inside me, and I couldn’t take them out. I remember how I was hiding when my friend’s father was around while we were playing together.
And the paralysis that made me feel that I was just an observer of what was happening. As if I hadn’t been there. The pain in my body after sexual abuse. Thinking that it was all my fault. Hating my body. The constant shame that I was like my father and trying to be better.
When I became a teenager the new me was born. Sexual abuse finished and I started secondary school. In front of new friends, I was a different person. The shy child became a girl who pretended confident. Outside best student and always ready to rebel teen. Inside the ugliest girl with no chance to be loved.
I had a schedule full of additional classes to be the perfect child of my mother. In the meantime, I drank alcohol with friends and killed my body with crazy strict diets. Fasting and bulimic episodes over and over.
That time I forgot about everything that happened before. No memories about my father. Just the drama of my mother as if I hadn’t been there. No memories about sexual abuse. Like it never happened. Just a teenage life with a difficult mother who needed to be comforted all the time. A lot of freedom because she was not interested in what I was doing until I had the image of a perfect child and until I said something wrong and the silence treatment with bulling repeated again.
A TURNING POINT AND PAINFUL AWAKING
It was like that until I was 26. Just school changed into work and boyfriends into a husband. And I didn’t live with my mother. A call every day to check her and visits. And all the adult duties that make life difficult. Hard-work mode driven by fear and anxiety or a paralyzing depression in turns.
Then my godfather died. He sexually abused me as a child but that time I didn’t remember. He was the only person who wanted to know how I was. He repeated ‘You are my child and you are great’. I loved him and it broke me. The grief and problems in my marriage pushed me into learning about psychology and therapy for couples.
One time a therapist drew our genealogical trees. I remember the tension in the air when I was answering the questions. Alcoholics and physical abuse, a sexually violent grandfather, my father’s suicide, schizophrenia, depression… The list was long… My mother always talked about pathological families around us highlighting that we were not like them. That day I realized it wasn’t true…
I stopped the therapy for couples with a thought that we both needed individual therapy, and I started digging into my family story. I spent two years gathering the parts that were changed to serve the narcissists or not spoken. I observed and understood everybody (except myself) connecting stories with mental and physical symptoms. Psychology became my passion until I realized that my godfather was a pedophile and he sexually abused my mother (his sister) for years.
Just after that, I was on a therapeutic workshop and something broke in me. I became flooded by memories, emotions, and pain as if every trauma I forgot had been happening in the present moment. For months I just wanted to stay hidden under the blanket in my bed. Every sound and move made me scared. Food made me noxious and I had to vomit. In this state, I was sexually abused again and not able to stop it. Sharing what was happening in my life and asking for help seemed not possible. I was that speechless child I removed from my memory.
That time I met Sonja. The woman who shared her story with me. She tried to support me but my state was worse and worse. I just wanted to wake up from the nightmare and I had no idea what therapeutic work meant. She stopped the contact with me saying that it was for at least a year of constant psychotherapy. It broke me. She was the only person I trusted and I tried to tell her what was happening, just every time the words stuck inside me.
I was unable to support my mother. I told her I needed time and space for myself and said that she could have texted me when needed but no calls and visits. All the narcissistic games started. Pleasing and hurting in turns. Until I said that I remembered sexual abuse from childhood. ThenI heard that it was not a big deal and I had no right to ask for space and time for myself. It was the only time she didn’t deny me. Until now she talks that I am a liar.
Months after that I recalled she also sexually abused me. I even found another victim of her. I cut ties after many tries to make this relationship work.
RECOVERY TIME IN THERAPY
I was lucky to barely had to work that time. I had a company with a friend who also needed to slow down. It was him who found a psychotherapist and took me there when I was on the bottom. That therapist immediately got where I was. Speechless, full of distrust, and triggered by everything, especially her. She offered me no psychotherapy, just teaching therapeutic tools I could use by myself. I was there 3 times a week for three months learning Jungian and bodywork techniques and practicing them at home. I believed I found a way out and found hope.
Thanks to that I was getting better. I became able to focus and started studying about trauma healing. I started journaling to observe myself. And first of all, I learned from that therapist that coping strategies are just skills to train. And without coping strategies, it is not possible to work in therapy. Because therapy opens just more and more darkness to work on. And it is not just about sessions, but all the processes in between where patients need to know how to manage and continue healing by themselves.
After three months, I felt it was time to start talking. I had questions and doubts if I had been crazy or all the memories and facts I found were true. I tried to talk with that therapist but without trust, it just got triggered and speechless again. The only thing I wanted was a talk with Sonja. Feeling understood and cared for by another survivor. But it was blocked for a year of constant psychotherapy.
I went to the woman with who I had therapy for couples to make it happen. She already knew some parts of my story. I still didn’t feel trust and she triggered me all the time. I was talking hiding my face in my hands and sitting turned away. I had to share it all with somebody. It was extremely hard but I knew it was the only way to help myself.
I heard that therapy for survivors takes years. Sessions were so hard! And it blew my mind that I would have been struggling in life for so long. I wanted a good life soon. I decided to put all my effort into healing and make it happen in a year…
I spent a year just in therapy lucky to have no other responsibilities and enough money, although… When my resources were limited I was selling my stuff to pay for sessions! I continued the talking therapy regularly for a year but in between, I explored other approaches. Depending on a week I had a therapy session three to six times a week plus therapeutic workshops. I tried many methods and I continued what worked for me for longer periods of time. There was even a therapist who I meet every day for two weeks.
I was also journaling every day and after every therapy session to be sure that I noticed and understood everything that happened. I constantly corresponded with an 80 years old psychotherapist I met at one of the workshops. I worked on a self-care routine and I had Zumba classes five times a week to train grounding. I learned meditation and worked with binaural sounds on my own.
I was studying psychology like crazy. A book after a book. I became passionate about trauma recovery and transforming the mind.
To be honest it was an extremely difficult year. Al the sessions triggered overwhelming emotions and just more memories I suppressed as a child. I almost never said stop. I knew that I was already on the bottom and it couldn’t be worse than then. And I knew the therapeutic tools to help myself. I understood the process of healing trauma. I was consciously opening more darkness believing that I would heal like Sonja.
All this work and education made me very aware of what I needed to heal and how to give to myslef on my own and in cooperation with specialists. I got clarity about what I didn’t want in my life and how I wanted to live. I started changing my life and planning bigger changes.
After a year I was a different person. Surviving changed into thriving and healing into inner growth. I became a proud survivor who closed the year of therapy sharing her story in a circle of 50 people at a workshop saying ‘Now I am whole. I’m what happened to me and I’m what I want to become’.
MY NEW LIFE AFTER RECOVERY
2017 was my year of a breakdown. 2018 – a year of therapy. I started 2019 with clarity that it was a year of creation. I was ready for all the changes to start living the life I wanted. I had a clear vision of how I want to live and want I was meant to do professionally.
So I got divorced. I sold my company. I set up a blog. I changed my name into ‘May’, the one I picked for myself and the one that reminds me until today that ‘I may everything when I make a decision and keep trying’. And I left abroad alone.
I started my life over in Budapest. I made friends and built a life routine from scratch. And besides living my life to the fullest and constantly working on myself through all the experience, I built a community of women and organized every week support groups. I co-organized personal development meetups. I gave lectures about psychology in practice. I started coaching people who asked for my support. And I was chosen by SLV Global to provide workshops for psychology students.
I lived happily like never before… Close friends, passions, success at work… I even had a meeting at the University of London and they offered me support in my project of popularizing therapeutic support and measuring its effects.
Then 5 months after I moved to Budapest, I felt a calling to move out and go to Bali. I made the decision immediately. I was grateful for being free to do what I wanted after years of feeling stuck! I bought a ticket, I sold my stuff… And guess what, it turned out that the workshops for psychology students were organized by SLV Global also in Bali!
After a month and a half, I was in Bali. Just a moment before the world froze with the coronavirus. I transferred the support for people who needed me into online sessions. I found a new field to learn about bodywork in trauma healing – acupressure. Of course, as always I started learning through my experience as a client! I mastered self-care and wrote a book about it. And first of all, I grew much more by working on myself through my private experience,
I always say to my students that the inner work never ends. Being alive means gaining experience and learning about yourself through it. Thriving means experiencing life to the fullest with all the emotions that navigate you to become more aware of what you want and what is good for you. Emotions let us build a better inner and outer life!
Where am I now? Still in Bali learning about what I want, dreaming, and planning the future. I learn Spanish because my next destination is Peru. There is an orphanage that I will support as a psychologist. I also work to change the individual sessions into an educational program available for more people. And I take a day after a day singing, building closer friendships, looking inside me, and working to become a more conscious version of myself.
I live 50 meters from the ocean. I swim a lot. I do my work in a coffee place on the beach. Mostly I am happy but sometimes also sad or angry. It makes me still growing and discovering what living to the fullest means!