I started this blog on February 14th, 2016, as a way to help share my story as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It was born out of a desire to no longer be silent, to reach out for help, and maybe in some small way help inspire other survivors to do the same.
That first post, “What it’s like to me be, living with Dissociation, Anxiety, and PTSD” was nothing more than dipping my toe into a larger world that would forever change my life.
Now in March 2020, some 4 years later, Surviving My Past has grown into a place of validation, growth, and encouragement for not only me, but for many other survivors who have come alongside as guest bloggers to share their story, and the 10’s of thousands of you that have read these stories over the years. I never would have guessed in a million years that the survivor community would accept me just as I am, hell I didn’t even know there was a survivor community until I started writing and reaching out on social media.
The posts started out from the perspective of a guy in his early 40s who was just discovering that he was a survivor, after seeking the help of a therapist to deal with a recent divorce at the time. Little did I know that making the call and scheduling the appointment with someone to talk too would lead me down a road of realizing the childhood trauma that I suppressed for nearly 3 decades was still affecting me as an adult. In ways, I never would have guessed possible.
Over the years, my writing shifted from someone who barely understood what being a survivor was and was just trying to get through each day, to someone who has embraced every aspect of this ongoing journey, as difficult and painful as it’s been, and doing my best to learn and grow.
Painful and difficult, yes that’s an understatement. At times it’s been downright hopeless, with no end in sight. I figured I was always going to feel this way, I was destined to be caught up in the victimhood of being a survivor. Therapists, Coaches, and the handful of safe people I opened up too would tell me that there was hope in healing, that this was a season and that things would change as long as I kept trying and didn’t give up. I didn’t believe them and wanted to just give up and go back to being blissfully unaware of how my past was affecting me. That would have been the easy road.
I figured, if I started this, I had to give it an honest shot and see what happened. After all, it’s not like the alternative was anything to look forward too. I mean, look where it got me so far in my life.
I kept writing, kept working with the same therapist I started with back in 2013, kept reading trauma-recovery books, watching videos, reading blogs, engaging in survivor chats and support groups, and over time things began to change. I was able to see the healing paying off in small shifts throughout my life. Realizing those shifts, acknowledging them, and building on them helped propel me forward and encouraged me to keep trying, keep learning, and keep moving forward even when I felt like giving it up.
In the summer of 2018, I left my engineering job of 17 years (in the computer industry since 1994) and I’m now an Anxiety Coach & Survivor Coach, working with private clients and as Director of Operations for CPTSD Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. I wanted to do something that I felt would make a difference and help others in the way that I was helped, and continue to be helped. I say that not to brag, because if you know me, you know that’s not my style. I say that to help encourage you, who are reading this, that putting in the hard work of healing can make all of the difference in your life. Healing is different for everyone but the results that come from it can be life-changing.
That’s been a big key for me over the years, realizing that this healing thing is ongoing. There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, at least not in the traditional sense. The reward of all this hard work is waking up each day knowing that it may turn out great, it may turn out craptastic, or it may be somewhere in the middle, but whatever is coming, I will figure it out and handle it. I don’t have all the answers and never will, but I have developed tools and awareness along the way that equips me to navigate life as a survivor.
There will always be triggers, struggles, toxic people, stress, and days where I just don’t feel like I want to get out of bed. The difference now is, I know how far to push myself and when to reign it in and regroup. To not numb and avoid my feeling and emotions, and if I do, to acknowledge that, learn from it, and move forward.
Yep, I still stumble, fall down, get knocked sideways, and struggle just like everyone else. That’s just life on this planet, but at least now it doesn’t keep me down as long and I have tools, knowledge, awareness, and a support system in place to help me.
For the longest time, I felt like being healed was the absence of struggle. Turns out, it’s how I respond to those challenges that make the difference and use those experiences as a learning opportunity.
Now, Surviving My Past has run its course as an actively updated blog. These stories will remain as a source of validation and encouragement for all survivors of abuse, and those living with dissociation, anxiety, and PTSD.
Thank you to all of the readers who have been here with me since that very first day I reached out on Twitter to the survivor community and shared my first blog post. Thank you to all who have found these posts over the years, and for those who are finding them for the first time. I hope you see them as a journey of validation and hope.
Rock Your Survivor Journey.
Matt, I’m so grateful to have found your resources and to have your footsteps of recovery to follow in. Thank you for all you have shared to help people and for all you do for CPTSD foundation. You are amazing. 💪🏼
But how does one break free from their freeze/fawn response?