You Are Capable
You can and are capable of being a person of goodness, bravery, honesty, and authenticity; no matter what has happened, no matter what you have or don’t. You can and are capable of pursuing, learning, obtaining, and achieving anything you choose. And you can face each loss, fear, goal, dream, purpose, growth, and change with empowerment with your own mind and heart. These are my words said with conviction.
Today I am 41 years old and have experienced the deaths of 14 people in my life, 12 of which occurred after 32 years of abuse and beginning with my brother’s passing, two months after I got sober.
Each death was sudden; from 8 hours to 5 months; from murder to COVID-19. Like what most of us assume we’d be granted; I wasn’t allowed presumptuous time to spend with each; to say and do everything I probably would’ve had any of them died from the naturalness of old age. Yet I remained sober experiencing it alone because my childhood friends were not supportive of me and I was already estranged from most of my family for the following reasons.
I grew up in an abusive home; blood, bruises, broken skin, topped with verbal and emotional abuse inflicted by both parents. It was often my mom said how stupid I was while she knocked on my head or a worthless, piece of shit human I was. Particularly harmful was that I was too repulsive to look at because I had my dad’s blood in me.
However being a God-believer, not in the religious sense but simply a higher power, I know God made me a spiritual warrior. I say this because what I have overcome almost seemed insurmountable. Had it been up to me, a typical human, my spirit could’ve stagnated inside a living corpse and my soul might’ve wandered Earth seeking a different body to possess to escape what’s happening within. Or perhaps I could’ve allowed my addictions to bury me alive.
While yearning for any kind of peace and witnessing the ‘crazy’ that people do to each other, our planet, and our animals, I wondered “Does peace exist? If so, where does peace begin?”
After I worked through the anger, entitlement, and victimization issues, I came to a place of more inner peace and realized there is a bigger picture. Retrospectively, when things seemed unfair or hopeless, my life took a phenomenal upswing, and harnessing those memories keeps me moving through the traumas.
A few months after my friend Mikey died, I was walking my dogs around our neighborhood until a woman runs a stop sign and hits us with her car. A few months following that, I was sexually harassed by a co-worker, stalked and physically threatened by him, reported to Human Resources, and then laid off 3 weeks later.
My brother died two months after I got sober, Mikey was the ninth to pass, and his brother Thomas (the seventh passing) died 18 months earlier. They were a part of my chosen family whom I spent holidays with after I no longer spent it with my blood family.
My sanctuary family kept dying but I chose to continue to work hard on my sobriety and career because I had plans. I was going to pay off my debt, buy a place for myself and my canine companions, and create time for self-care.
My mind and body were nagging me for a mental break – to decompress from an abusive family and grieve from the nine people, by that time, that passed, whilst remaining sober. But when Mikey died, I felt and heard something in the right-side of my brain jolt, shake, then shift. It was in that moment I knew innately, consciously, “I was never going to be the same.”
I was diagnosed with C-PTSD; confirmed by brain MRIs, therapy, doctors, and a book I love “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
Before my diagnosis, C-PTSD had a negative, uncontrolled effect in both my personal and professional life. But today I’m learning more about it and moving forward with awareness whilst finding and applying tools to manage my life with more control. Yet of greater importance, my God (or my angels or whatever is looking out for me), having a support system, and those who hang in there with me by not taking things personally are all what keeps me here, intrepidly.
Never Give Up on Love
Despite what I went through; I never give up on my love for others nor myself. I never give up on being honest, growing, healing, and learning. I never give up on being a good person; doing what I feel is best for myself, others, and the world around me. And I never give up on having a new family and new friends whilst doing my best to live in the present with what is.
I take full responsibility for my life and learned not to blame others nor God for what has happened. I also take full responsibility for the hurtful effects it has on my loved ones when I disassociate because from what I have been told, “You’ve been gone for 10 years!”
The couches I slept on, families of friends who took me in, therapists who put their academia aside and showed me love, support, care, and acceptance helped shape my internal perspective. If it weren’t for all of them, I’m unsure if I’d believe in love and people as if no tragedy occurred. I’d like to think that I’ve walked through hell and back like I owned the place.
Today I have people who support and respect my sobriety and/or also sober. Today I am building healthier relationships with people who want the same as me. Today I have a workplace that understands C-PTSD because they experience that with their family members and that helps them deal with me. I meditate for 1-hour, do Pilates, read, and write almost daily, socialize and help others when I’m able and am a total beach bum. The most rewarding is enjoying a home that I created that’s safe, supportive, and peaceful.
C-PTSD is part of who I am, not who I am.
I am proud of who I am. I trust how I live.
My abusive past reminds me who I don’t want to be, who I’m not, and what I don’t deserve. My past regarding the people who have died, helps me remember that I can and will have again, a family and friends to lean into; safely, peacefully, and happily.
Yes, I have flashbacks and triggers which can throw off my day unexpectedly. I still tend to disappear (disassociate) because I think a threat is lurking, so hypervigilance and adrenaline take over until I feel safe.
This is part of my story and whether people admit it or not, want to be seen. They want to be understood on a “this is me” level and our world needs more love beyond people holding onto their family, friends, and careers for dear life as if nothing else matters.
From my personal experiences, no one died from opening their hearts and homes wider for me, let alone humankind. Acknowledging with gratitude, this radical acceptance is what helped and helps me thrive wholly as someone who lives with C-PTSD.
“Life happens with or without my willingness to participate helpfully or destructively. I’m capable of sitting with how shitty things feel and transmuting it into something beneficial for myself and my surroundings. I’m responsible for my life no matter what has happened.” – Monique Nguyen
Monique Nguyen is a California Native. Construction Project Manager by day. Writer & Humanitarian by night.