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This is a concept on everyone’s mind at certain times of the year. During the holiday season especially it can be a concept that creates a battle of wills for many with a year ending and another fast approaching. Being both disabled and a survivor of many types of abuse in childhood starting over fresh is something I’ve become a bit of a pro at doing. I’m certainly no stranger to the concept!

My fresh starts were not always limited to the holidays. In my case due to surgeries that often left me unable to do things that I once could or a lengthy struggle to get back to a place close to what once was the harsh reality that it was never going to be 100% possible in all situations felt pretty consistent. This developed what seemed to be a never-ending loop of letting go of or redefining who I was or had now become. Always starting fresh and learning how to navigate the world in a whole new way.

I was born with a birth defect called Spina Bifida which simply put means the spine split or divided and for each living with Spina Bifida depending on which subtype means the effects are greatly different. In my case, that means I’m currently confined to a wheelchair but that wasn’t always the reality. I am paralyzed from the waist down with limited mobility in my legs as well as no feeling or control over bodily functions requiring the help of an assistant for dressing, bathing, and some other daily living chores.

Until the age of ten I was able to walk with the assistance of a walker or crutches and throughout most of my childhood several different types of bracing. It all changed when my curved spine caused concern for my life and needed to be corrected with a rod. During that hospital stay, I had a friend of mine in as well battling a brain tumour who unfortunately lost her life. Unaware to me at the time she passed away the day following my surgery but it wouldn’t be told for several weeks once I was able to be out of bed. Though it would be years and way into adulthood before making the connections it was during that time that the abuse and my disability intertwined itself one became the belief it caused the other. Cementing me in what I know today as CPTSD. It was the “fresh start” that changed who I was and would become.

Facing the reality of my situation at such a young age was for me something that was part of my world but looking back now I realize something no child should have to face and surely wasn’t part of any form of a typical upbringing. Having an understanding of CPTSD that I now have also brought with it the awareness that my disability and medical challenges were enough to bring forth a diagnosis of CPTSD.

My abuse history is way deep and much too long to get into in full detail in one article. But it’s also too great not to mention the impact it has on me and who I am. The awareness that I was abused came at around age 15 when the bathing and bathroom help required by my disability was still being done by my father. Most people are probably cringing at this point thinking OK WTF and you are totally right. That in and of itself was totally messed up and wrong. My awareness that it was abuse came around that time because the touching and fingers in places they don’t belong now had sensations they didn’t have before and were unwanted (trust me as a child I didn’t like it nor want it either) but it was the icky feeling I now had that made it abuse for me. The truth is it was all along.

Many people who haven’t been through it are quick to ask the question why didn’t you just do… Remember I am physically disabled and confined to a wheelchair. I’m here to tell you everything in me wanted to run, scream, escape but here comes another word often looked at as bad…brain wants to run and the body goes “wait, you CAN’T” your not going anywhere!!!

The thing is most of my experiences were so well hidden or “just part of my life” not always violent, that one would even likely argue if they were abusive or not. I still have moments where I wonder but my body reminds me of floods of emotion, sensations, and urges to hide or escape that its all the proof needed.

This time of year when one is ending and a new one approaching id like to encourage those who have the joy of experiencing those as positive things to stop for a moment and consider those whose experience is nothing at all like yours. The battle they face with a fresh year and a fresh start with all it could mean for them. Change and starting over isn’t always equal to experiencing joy or excitement. Those things for me bring forth much frustration, heartbreak, and hurt.