Do Trauma Survivors Really Hold Onto the Past?

It is said that we trauma survivors most often hold onto the past, ruminating over it in our minds and manifesting it in our behaviors and dysfunctions.

Our past is a map of who we are. It is our personal history book. For many of us it is a manifesto of survival and the treacherous terrain we have travelled over.

But I say this…

I do not believe we hold onto the past. If we could wave illuminated wands or erase our minds back into a clear palette of beautiful memories and loving childhoods, we would maybe then, believe in miracles. I would most likely take that option without question.

No, dears, we trauma survivors do not hold on. Instead, the past holds onto us, and we spend a lifetime prying it’s fingers from our skin, rebuking its haunting voice in our heads and clambering over the piles of images and dreams it randomly throws into our path.

Reversing language, instead of asking trauma survivors, “What part of your past are you holding onto?”, which implies that the survivor is almost enjoying the trauma of their past, a better question would be, “What part of your past is holding on to you?”

There is too much victim blaming language being thrown at trauma survivors. So, I ask myself, what part of my past holds onto me the strongest?

I’d have to say the sexual abuse and the mental fear fragmentation. It makes my stomach revolt when I’m around certain types of men. I cannot stand to look at them or even have them touch me or act intimately towards me. My mouth will water with the urge to vomit.

I am hyper vigilant in all aspects of my life, no different than a military trained soldier or police officer. I am hyper aware of possible dangers around me at all times, hence the urge to stay at my home where it does feel safest.

I speak to my past often. I tell it, “Don’t hold me so tight. You are squeezing my breath.” And it complies, easing just enough for me to move. Our pasts don’t want to release us. The automated aftermath of trauma has been extensively trained by our abusers to keep its spindly fingers gripped into us like puppets.

And we spend time cutting the strings as the spiders continue to weave. We race against time to stay ahead of them; to clear the webs. Sometimes we get tired. It takes work to stay ahead of a spider. They are dutiful and focused. So we must do the same.

“We do not hold onto our past. Our past holds onto us.” Vennie Kocsis

Child Abusers Rarely Take Ownership of Their Crimes

If my mother were alive, and you were to ask her if she allowed her children to be abused or if she abused her children, her answer would most likely be (with Bible in hand), “Absolutely NOT!”

She would then most likely go on to tell you what difficult children my siblings and I were to raise, along with a myriad of other excuses to support the gross denial covering the guilt she couldn’t face.   This is what abusers do; blame the child, and all too often, naive adults actually believe it.

A couple of years ago, a friend who grew up in the same cult as me had a conversation with a woman who knew me when I was a child. My friend asked the woman about my time as a child at the second compound I was taken to in Alaska, and the woman said this:

Well, she was quite a boisterous child and was always in trouble a lot.”

She victim blamed a child who she witnessed be abused and yet still, thirty plus years later, the denial runs as deep as the ocean. What should we have expected? That our abusers would admit to their crimes? What a ridiculous notion. Child abusers rarely admit to their crimes unless they’re caught. Given the chance, they will quickly blame the child.  Witnessing child abuse and doing nothing is just as criminal as participating.

Victim blame a child abuse survivor, and that’s where my patience, kindness and association ends.

I do not ever condone a child abuse survivor having to defend themselves against the abuse they suffered. My fellow child abuse survivors, we’re not mentally ill. Our abusers are. Those who would attack your abuse are in serious need of psychological help themselves.

They lack empathy and understanding. Attacking someone’s child abuse is an extremely apathetic action. I feel we must use our voices to stand against those who would deny the atrocities that we endured as children and that children still endure. We have to stand our ground and not allow children to ever be blamed for the neglect and/or abuse they endure.

Tonight I sit in contemplation, knowing where my passions are, and what makes me feel in a space of forward movement.   I am aware of where I put my time and my energy, for my goal is to always be focused on believing and supporting child abuse survivors.

The Interview Is Here: I Talk “Sam Fife’s Move of God” Cult on Ridder Radio

Click the player below to listen to the two hour interview as I talk with Janaki of The (Not So) Sacred Radio Show about my childhood growing on in a bible based cult.

A Startling Recovery

Yesterday while heading home from an appointment, my head was swirling. Things are changing in my life so quickly, and not all of it is “bad”, per say. It’s just that change in general takes some time for me to balance into.

I’m a planner.
I like lists.
I need schedules and reminders.

These changes happening are not allowing for any of that. I am forced into a space of waiting things out without any surety of what the future holds.

Back to yesterday. Moderate freak out. My mind went into victim mentality immediately. Shut down. It sounds something like this:

“Fuck it. I am exhausted. My emotional body can’t take another blow or another surfing wave.”. and on and on letting myself just feel the emotion of it all.

Then I spiraled down into thoughts of why really, I’ve pretty much accomplished what I’ve come to do. “I’ll be famous when I’m dead.” grandious kind of thoughts.

Critical thinking (I call her Knowing) stepped in. She whispered in my left ear as she always does.

“Come on, Ven. Gratitude.”

And so it was that I found myself verbally, out loud, listing all of the things and people I am blessed to have in my life.

By the time I arrived home, my emotions had made a startlingly quick recovery.

I ended up soending the evening finishing posts to submit as a guest blogger for two blogs. AND I worked on a painting that I have not touched in over a year.

I believe in two parts of therapy with fervor:

Gratitude
Creativity

Today I woke up feeling charged and focused, knowing that the next couple of months will be a great emerging; morphing more into my future.

http://venniekocsis.com
“Cult Child” – the novel
“Becoming Gratitude” – the journal
“Dusted Shelves” – the poetry

Sea Angel

This video of “Sea Angel” is an audio poem from my poetry book and accompanying spoken word cd, “Dusted Shelves”, which I published in 2011. This particular poem was written during a time when I was deeply depressed. I was in the cusp of writing out childhood trauma in “Cult Child”, my memoir. I listen to this piece now and what strikes me is that my suffering was so debilitating, the thought of being taken under by the sea felt like a comfort to me. Yet, life and hope have always called, and so the emotion became this piece instead. To those who suffer with depression, PTSD, anxiety and more, keep fighting. I remember you daily.

There Is Not Always Gain With Pain

I have been in physical pain for two weeks now. I pulled a hip muscle while out jogging. I attempted to leap a stair and failed horribly. This pain is ebbing and flowing. My kidney was questionable, but after some examinations, I find my immune system is deeply fighting this injury and pain.

I am frustrated. One way I work to keep my mental health intact is to clear my head through exercise. This pain has forced me to take medication I don’t really want in my body. It’s forced my body to a halt. It has been exacerbated by moments I had no choice but to use my hip muscle, like walking through the airport to send my granddaughter back home. Like walking in general.

Aside from already dealing with anxiety from the airport lines, one line at the ticket counter, the other at the security check, my granddaughter and I were allowed a pass around the body scanner, and when I told the Caucasian security guard that my brown skinned son was with me and my safe person, he ignored me, making my son stay in line anyway to go through the scan machine. I did not like how that made me feel. My son has a way of laughing off people’s stupidity. I admire that ability.

Today, I am stuck with my legs propped up beneath me to raise them up and try to relieve my back pain. I have cold compresses beneath my back.

Pain pushes me into depression and frustration. It puts my life on halt. It arrives unexpectedly. Usually, I move through physical pain head first. I have dealt with it since childhood. In some ways it just becomes a part of my living. Yet, because of the longevity of this hip muscle strain, being on week three now, I feel utterly exhausted.

I Received a Beautiful Award!

Once a Victim Now a Survivor Award

Award

I’m really honored to be payed forward the “Once a Victim Now a Survivor Award“. Thank you so much, Darque Thoughts

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my emotional vomiting. If one reader feels less alone, then all the retching is worth it. Thank you guys!

I was asked these five questions as a part of this award and have passed this award forward to five more survivors below.

1. In what ways do you feel that blogging can help people with psychological trauma or mental illness?

Writing therapy is a great way to clear the mind. Instead of bottling up the pain, flashbacks, nightmares and myriad of emotions, we are able to give it to the virtual page. That is a great clearing for me. I call it “language letting”.

2. How has blogging helped you with your healing process or your personal journey?

Blogging has been both a great outlet for me to write my emotions, document my moments as well as connect with others who have experienced trauma and came out on the other side surviving, just like me.

3. When did you start your blog and what motivates you to write?

I’ve been blogging for a while. I started in the days of Live Journal, then to MySpace, and now, with WordPress, since 2012. WordPress has afforded me a great connection with like minds, and I happen to dig their mobile app. What motivates me to write the most is the knowing that I cannot hold all of this inside of me.  It’s constantly pushing it’s way out of my fingertips in some fashion, be it poetry, stories, essays or whatever else comes out. I don’t often blog for the sake of anyone else or with readers in mind. I write to get it out. If someone reads and relates, then that is a great added bonus. If no one reads, I got it out. Either way, I come out ahead.

4. If you could encourage other victims to become survivors what would you say to them?

Learn the skills of coping and soothing. Don’t try and erase the moments that feel overwhelming. Face them head on, and understand that it is okay to cry, to feel, to hurt, to grieve and to know that afterwards you’ll still be able to find that laughter; that some days are really awesome and others really fucking suck, yet what makes us survivors is that we come through. Reach out to others like you; who can understand your pain and don’t let your pain define who you are. You are in control now. Your abusers are no longer running the show. You get to choose what feels right and good for you. Lastly, never, ever, silently suffer for anyone.  Seriously, tell anyone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind, or who doesn’t care about your needs, to take a hike.  It is OKAY to say no now. 

5. Since you started writing, what has been your favorite or most positive personal accomplishment(s) and/or achievement(s) in the “blogging world”?

My greatest personal writing accomplishment is my novel, Cult Child. I’m equally proud of the other publications I’ve published. My favorite moments are always, without a doubt, when someone tells me they’ve read something I’ve written and it made them know they’re not alone. That is the beautiful side of this internet blogging world. Knowing I have touched a heart is very rewarding. Sharing our trauma experiences is an intricate part of our healing process.

Aside from the one who payed this Award forward, here are five amazing survivors I read; who make me feel understood and whom I believe are equal candidates for this Survivor Award.

1. Refractory Ramblings From the Darkside
2. The Not-So Secret Life Of a Manic Depressant
3. Leaving Fundamentalism
4. Healing From Complex Trauma and PTSD/CPTSD
5. Survivorship – for survivors of ritualistic abuse
You may pass this Award forward. Below are the four steps to do so.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Nominate your own bloggers to pass the award to
3. Post the 5 questions below for your nominees to answer (also answer them yourself)
4. Inform your nominees and post a comment in their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated

The questions:

1. In what ways do you feel that blogging can help people with psychological trauma or mental illness?

2. How has blogging helped you with your healing process or your personal journey?

3. When did you start your blog and what motivates you to write?

4. If you could encourage other victims to become survivors what would you say to them?

5. Since you started writing, what has been your favourite or most positive personal accomplishment(s) and/or achievement(s) in the “blogging world”?

Paying forward our Survivorship is a wonderfully uplifting circle. Thank you again, Darque!