Emerging from the Shadows

Over the weekend, my dear friend, who is also going through a healing journey, asked me if I was happier now than I was eight years ago when my PTSD took over my life. I was surprised when my answer without thought was, “no, I’m not happier.” The answer stopped me in my tracks. I have worked my ass off to find some semblance of health these past years. I have gone from having a repressed, all dark past, to a congruent timeline with all puzzle pieces filled in. I know the who, why, when, how-the-heck these things could happen, all of it. I know the big picture and the minutiae. But I had mistakenly thought that my PTSD would be gone, (like my cancer was gone after treatment) cured, and I would be skipping back to work with no lingering symptoms. No one put that in my head but me. My symptoms are still rampant and active, and that’s the way it is right now. PTSD has left me with a disability. Is it forever? I don’t know, but it’s right now, and that doesn’t make me feel happy.

But…I feel a sense of contentment! I emerged from the shadows.

Eight years ago, I had a life with no past. I was a high-functioning trauma victim whose symptoms were coming out sideways in the form of perfectionism, control, drama, being everyone’s friend, super-mom, super-worker, super-wife, super-happy, let’s go on a road-trip and never stop until I come down with some bizarre physical illness that puts me in the hospital person. Whew, I have to shake off the frenetic energy just writing that.

My life turned upside down because of my post-traumatic stress disorder and I had to decide, both consciously and unconsciously to heal, to change, or I would most probably die. It’s a sobering thought as I sit down to write this, but it was true. One day, very early on in therapy, my therapist and I were discussing the book The Alchemist, and he asked me to go home and think about what I wanted my personal legend to be and report back to him next session. I took that homework very seriously, and I decided that my personal legend was to know the entire truth of my past, live with my eyes wide open, blinders off. To continually operate in a place of self-discovery, growth, and change.

I know the definition of my life’s purpose is who I want to be. I know I’m the author of my own story, and I get to choose how I want to be in the world. At this point in my life, it’s about choices and being proactive rather than reactive. It’s about aligning my personal values and beliefs with my actions and words while maintaining my integrity.

At the beginning of my endeavor it often looked like a question/answer session. What does it mean to live life with my eyes wide open? Is it about knowing and accepting the past without forgetting it, so I can become my version of complete? Or is it a metamorphosis of who I was, who I am and who I will be? Maybe it’s all three. As I think about how I want to spend my life and who I want to be, I am guided by a more mature and spiritual self because of the time I spent in therapy, meditation, growth and self-reflection.

I love that we live in a time where self-discovery is an accepted way of life. I spent so much time in fear and hiding, squelching any dream of a life lived, only a life survived. Now, most times, I am able to live, speak, listen and learn from a place of safety and truth. Discovering the wonder and accepting of life and what it has to offer. Not getting in the way of who I am, and instead letting myself be who I am, without my ego reminding me of the should haves, did nots, or can nots.

Self-discovery also comes with the knowledge that the truth often hurts and is uncomfortable on many levels including physical, spiritual, emotional and mental. There were times when I would begin processing a memory and I had to fight not to ignore it, or repress it again. I learned that by repressing what I had painfully remembered was making a choice to live in fear. If I wanted to live my life’s purpose, I had to begin to learn to forget how to forget. It wasn’t an easy path or the path of least resistance, but it was the only way I could see to begin to create the life I wanted.

My PTSD was the catalyst of change for me. I had to face certain truths about myself and was forced to look at the direction my life was going. Was I going to continue to allow my perpetrators to define who I am and how I live my life? Or do I find the strength to uncover who I really am at my core and how I want to live my life moving forward?  My illness gave me the choice to put my foot down and say, “enough is enough. I am not going to ride the tide of fortune and misfortune anymore. I’m going to make different choices because I have the power to do so.”

It’s been a very painful, yet purposeful journey the past eight years. I am resolute on my goal of living with my eyes wide open, blinders off. To continually operate in a place of self-discovery, growth, and change.  Emerging from the shadows helped me create and restructure my life’s purpose. Choosing who I want to be is a life-long, ever changing, non-linear journey.

Did it leave me happy? Nope, I’m not happy that I’m still disabled by many symptoms that still have a firm chokehold on me.  But I’m content that I know the truth of my life. I’m content that I can choose to live my life with authentic feelings, have hopes, dreams, desires and less shame and fear. I’m content that I can feel  happiness and recognize the perfect moments in a day but I don’t get attached and crave their permanence.

I’m empowered that I emerged from the shadows. Maybe for me, that’s where I need to be right now. Content and Empowered.



Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph




26 thoughts on “Emerging from the Shadows

  1. Am I allowed to say I “enjoyed” this post, Alexis? Enjoyment seems to be the wrong adjective in view of the content. But I empathise with you on so many levels as someone with chronic anxiety and PTSD. Whilst I don’t want people to ever have to experience these things, it helps to know that there are others who are so inspirational in the path of healing such as yourself. I don’t know if I’ve already thanked you for the “follow” on another post, but if I haven’t, thanks so much and thank you for reading so many of my posts. It’s good to be connected!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow thank you, that has truley touched me today as I have been pondering some big questions. In fact, you have given me the courage to hit the publish button tomorrow morning on the post I am writing. So Thank You!! Have a wonderful evening. 💜 Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank You for this! I need the truth of hearing that living with PTSD is a life-long thing. I understand that symptoms will ebb and flow, but it helps me to accept the “now” knowing that this is typical of the illness. It does feel wonderful to be self-aware. A much better realm to live in. I was master of dissociation, which had me living in a world of flux sometimes. Now it’s imperative for my health to stay grounded. Thank you for your wonderful support. I think healing works so much better when we can support each other. It’ a lonely journey because no one can do it for us, but it certainly doesn’t have to be a lone journey. Have a wonderful afternoon! xx Alexis

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This comment means the world to me Terry. I’m so inspired by you too. I read your posts and watch your video’s which are both full of heart and honesty. We are both facing huge obstacles in our lives and we both have love and support both in real life and here. How lucky is that? there is a zen saying, that I have adhered to for about 20 years…”The Obstacle is the Path.” I’m holding you in my heart as you conquer this latest obstacle this week for the next 12 rounds. (hugs to you, and Gary too) 🙂 Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a wonderful feeling isn’t it? To be self-aware and to take steps to improve our lives. Living with PTSD is a life long thing unfortunately and acceptance of that takes time..I still have my moments of wishing it were different but I am generally more accepting..Your recovery journey has brought you to a better place and you have become so much more encouraging & strong because of it! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. i am always a write a way and here to give you the support to move on to the next level, just say the word dear….love your words that inspire and motivate me to be a better person and rise above my issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Alexis, this post is inspirational and I truly relate to it. Though I have not walked in your shoes, I do understand your thoughts and your words. I especially liked your sentence ‘I had to begin to learn to forget how to forget.’ Wow, a powerful sentence for me. Thank you for sharing your life and your heart. I learn from you and this I am thankful for. Happy day my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hélène

    It is healing just reading you. What a journey it is and you are doing miracles along the way. We just don’t see it ourselves. Thank you for being so honest and sharing your guts out with us. You are expressing a lot for me too.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Me too! It makes me sad for both of us, then I think that all people who suffer from a chronic illness or disability probably go through this same sort of acceptance process. I believe it will get better…for both of us. ❤️ Alexis


  10. Thank You. I wish I was so happy I went through this process. But then I remember that if I hadnt I wouldnt have written Untangled and never would have started blogging. Having this kind of support has been a huge step in my healing. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  11. dbest1ishere

    Another great post. I have just realized not too long ago that my ptsd will not go away. That saddens me. It saddens me to think Im always going to live like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. thank you for a heartfelt sharing….how true that finding happiness is not the ultimate goal but power and contentment is….i am still looking….and having all of life’s unpredictability does not help one get there any easier…..your words have filled a gap in my soul…thank you…Gina

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You demonstrate a powerful ability for introspection and making sense of your thoughts and feelings. I think if you’ve found “contentment,” that’s more lasting than “happiness” anyway. Really nicely written.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jacqueline Zeigler

    The truth is a beautiful thing. I’ve yet to discover exactly why repression of the past truths causes anxiety, but it sure does. Life is such a mystery. Thanks for sharing your truth!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s