Emerging from the Shadows

Over the weekend, someone 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 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 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, but 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.






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



49 thoughts on “Emerging from the Shadows

  1. Really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for your courage and honesty. Emerging from the shadows is no easy task and I think you’re right that reminding ourselves daily of who we want to be helps us know what steps to take in this moment,right now, to move towards that future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thelifeofaflowerchild

    I have a loved one who suffers with PTSD and sometimes struggles to come to peace with it all, it breaks my heart to see such beautiful souls suffer. Your story will inspire many, including myself, currently trying to get through my own mental health issues, thank you for sharing your story. Much love

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well thought out words that come from deep inside of you. I still have PTSD and sometimes feel as if I have been given a life sentence. I have had PTSD since I was eleven and I am now sixty-five. Writing my memoir was cathartic for me, as I believe yours is to you. I identify with each line you wrote. I keep a trigger log which helps me somewhat. I needed to read this post. Thank you, Alexis. We are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with your therapist. Its always okay if that is how your journey is unfolding. I think the memories come when they are ready to be processed. At least that’s what my therapist tells me. It has taken me 8 years to talk about some stuff. They werent ready to be unpacked and I wasn’t ready to remember them. Its all a twisty turny process. Isnt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My therapist told me that the memories that I had blocked might never come back and that it was okay. I’m not sure. It feels like an itch that you just can’t reach and sometimes it drives me mad.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. no face woman

    It took me a few weeks to finish but it was such a powerful book. And now when I read your blog posts I feel like I know you that little bit better 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  7. no face woman

    It took me a few weeks to finish but it was such a powerful book and now when I read your blog posts I feel like I know you that little bit better 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t how I missed this! Thank You so, so much for reading my book and your feedback. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful that feels. I really appreciate the time you took to read Untangled and to let me know. Have a wonderful day! 🙂 Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank You! You’re right, 8 years ago I wasn’t writing or talking to anyone about anything. Through a lot of hard work and trusting that I’m safe I’ve found the courage to come out of the shadows. The blogging community is a wonderful place for us all to know we are in this together. Have a great day! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I don’t know your entire story, but I suspect that 8 years ago you were not blogging about your life and giving others the permission, the strength to also look inward at their own lives. We ARE all in this together, we are all wounded souls in one form or another and the courage you have shown inspires others to look within and forgive.There is much light and joy in your core waiting to emerge. And the wise ones say that it is through those wounds, those cracks, that the healing light emerges in all of its glory. Keep up the great work! Namaste.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. And vice versa Alexis.. thank you for the support you’ve give to my blog as I’ve been on my learning journey with it through the last 9 months.. I’m so glad you moved onto a path that takes you along an interesting and wonderful route now.. long may your journey to continue and that you see many rainbows and sunny days along the path.. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Content and empowered sounds like the perfect place for you to be.. at this moment… and recognising those moments when you feel happiness is so important and yet often we miss them.. You’re such an inspiration … thankyou! x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Its such a process isnt it! Today I had some very old tapes playing in my head, until I got some perspective and pushed the pause button. You do such a wonderful job of expressing yourself in your posts and with your poetry. I definitely know what you mean and how it feels to barely step out. So grateful we’re in this supportive community together. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  14. bethanyk

    I am truly happy for you that you feel content. That is my goal. I dont need joyous happiness cartwheels. I just need to feel content. I feel like i am barely stepping out of the shadows and i know that you will know how that feels. Im always grateful for your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. And you would be welcomed with both arms outstretched, I would make you something really special and we could sit outside under a shady tree and trade stories. that’s really cold brrr….stay warm my dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is so real and honest. I think our culture places so much emphasis on so called ‘happiness’ which can come at the expense of a far deeper realism and truth and openness to pain that is informative for us. This is what comes through in your post. You are sure to gain more and more followers because you are a person who has authentically and honestly faced and dealt with the struggles your life has given you. You are a true heroine Alexis. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is great insight Liz. Its amazing how the journey unfolds. Blogging certainly helps with sense of community and validation. It can help normalize so many confusing situations as work to heal. Thank You so much for your insight. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Liz

    As you know from my blog, facing it head on, after a counsellor realised it was my childhood past affecting my present, I kept facing it on. Through the counselling sessions that helped and through my own journey after, it’s taking each day at a time, letting it come if I ever have flashbacks again and whatever else, rather than block it, helps. I thought also that dealing with it meant I was fixed, but I realise it will be there, it is just how I deal with it. Blogging has helped. A couple of posts that was rather empowering for me to just write what I feel about stuff.

    Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank You, Shelley. Its been much easier to speak it, or write it, even if Im surprised what comes blurting out of my mouth/fingers. I feel like we grow and change as a community (I think?!?) I love your daily photos by the way! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Gina…Thank You…Im so glad we are connected. Its negative 6 outside today (brrrr), Im thinking life on the equator is much warmer. So Im vicariously coming to have lunch with you. 🙂 💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Shelley

    This writing is empowering for all who hear your authentic voice within the words! Thank you for inspiring us on our own journey, to be real. Even if “happy” isn’t the feeling of the day, we can recognize the value of discovering our personal truths. Thank You!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. You give hope to so many that there’s a way out of the darkness, and triggers can be managed and life can be good. Lovely Alexis how sweet is your soul to want to nurture others even while you are still healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Its a bumpy road. I just came out of a really, really dark place. I just kept telling myself it’s a process, although honestly during dark times it helps to hear someone else tell me its a process. I think healing comes from giving each other hope. 💕💕

    Liked by 3 people

  24. dbest1ishere

    Very nice post and I am so happy that you feel content and empowered with it all. You always give me hope that some day I can get to that place as well and come out of this darkness.

    Liked by 1 person

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