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Discovering the Truth: I was Never Possessed by a Demon

{Photograph of Me from 10th Grade, Age 15}

~ Discovering the Truth: I was Never Possessed by a Demon ~

People couldn't explain where thoughts came from. There was generally very little understanding of the human mind while I was growing up. I was raised in the Christian religion in a way that God-discussions attempted to explain life occurrences rather than fact-based science or health. So, when thoughts that felt unfamiliar and "not my own" arose, the explanation for the experience came solely from religion. It must be the devil; it must be Satan at work; you must be hearing a demon. The experiences were downright terrifying. The worst part? People suggested that it was my fault the experiences were happening: that I somehow must have "given the devil a foothold" for this occurrence to be possible. Self-blame spiraled into self-loathing, on top of the petrifying experiences of hearing someone in my head that was "not me." I could not find language for the experience beyond that, and I felt deeply, truly, terrifyingly, helplessly, hopelessly alone through it all. I soul-searched, journaling and reading and praying and crying as I fought to understand the religious explanations for my experiences. The voices suggested killing myself at age 14. The intense conviction displayed by these suicidal voices continued to increase. By age 16, they won, and I experienced my first suicide attempt. When the attempt failed, I felt like even more of a failure: I can't tolerate living and now I can't succeed at death either?! The spiral continued to thicken. Little did anyone realize that those years of intensive internal torture were caused by traumatic-stress from molestation at age 4. Everything I went through---the pain, the despair, the madness---it was all real and valid: not from a religious perspective but from a MEDICAL-HEALTH PERSPECTIVE. Everything I went through was happening INSIDE OF MY BODY, not my abstractly conceptualized mind. From collapse of my vagus nerve to autonomic nervous system dysregulation to brain wave dysregulation to severe dissociative episodes where my brain-body system was no longer operating in unison, the experiences completely stemmed from my physical body the entire time. Above all, NONE OF IT WAS MY FAULT. I did not cause the experiences, as had been routinely suggested. I did not "open a door to evil" that activated the horrors. I was not deserving of the terror. I was never to blame for the petrifying experiences of soul-shaking, body-trembling, heart-breaking pains. I always coped to the best of my ability, somehow finding ways to thrive even as I felt like I could barely survive. Even during years of chronic self-harm as I coped with the unbearable night terrors, insomnia, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and psychotic-type-symptoms, I sustained a 4.0 GPA in high school, continued my active involvement in projects and leadership roles in the 4H club, and had written works of mine published in a variety of books and newsletters. I even published my own book at age 16 and taught myself to play guitar on a 12-string Gibson. There are always two sides to stories of trauma-surviving warriors: what happened to them, and how they moved through it. When we turn the focus to the miraculous inner experience of courageously pushing forward through it all, while simultaneously validating the pain experienced, there is an increased opportunity to heal, grow, and reclaim personal power. I couldn't heal until I discovered the truth of my traumatic-stress roots. I also could not heal until I acknowledged the bravery of childhood-me who kept living life despite the horrific, unconscious repercussions of the traumatic events. Reframing the pieces of my story, bit by bit, I am slowly, gradually, tediously reclaiming power within my own life narrative. It's painful as hell. It's more terrifying than anyone could imagine. But every part of my consciousness deserves a true chance at this life stuff, and that can't happen while my brain-body systems are trapped in chronic traumatic-stress. We are worthy of being free.🌟

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