After I got out of a toxic relationship and had nowhere to go, I moved back into my mother’s house. I thought, “oh, I’ll move home and heal myself.” That whole you can’t go home again, is completely accurate. The place I grew up that was once a sanctuary for my soul felt foreign to me. I found myself desperately searching for a place that felt like home.
I soon realized that I could continue to search for “home” in a million places or people, and I would always be disappointed. That feeling of home, that sanctuary for my soul, would only be able to be found within myself. I had lost myself, and that’s why nowhere and no one felt like home.
I started the steps to finding myself again. To rediscover who I was after such a toxic relationship and life-altering events that I chose not to deal or cope with properly. I had a lot of healing to do. I put myself in therapy and began to face all the trauma that happened throughout my life. Some of that childhood trauma I had already healed from without realizing I was doing it. All of that medical trauma that my body held on to and my mind protected me from was my most significant feat. The relationship that left me with severe self-esteem and intimacy issues was a cakewalk to heal from compared to the damage living with heart disease has caused.
I started to set boundaries and work on processing the dark thoughts and emotions that came from the bad news. I began to truly understand who I was as an adult and after a lifetime of chronic medical issues. I found a sanctuary within myself. I found my sense of home. It took three-plus years and a fantastic therapist, but I was genuinely comfortable with myself. I had a strong sense of self. I was happy and content. I did not want to disturb it either. I wanted to ignore anything medical-wise that was going on because it threatened my peace. I was also against letting anyone in that could disrupt my home. I was heavily guarded and selective. Then things changed.
After multiple ER visits and failed medications, I could not ignore my health and the disturbance it was creating. While I felt like things were starting to collapse, I worked feverishly on keeping what peace I could within my home and sanctuary. I worked on what I could control. Then came along a guy. One that caught me completely off guard. Someone who had been right in front of me and I didn’t think twice about. I honestly wouldn’t have even given him a chance had he not shown he was interested in me. I was adamant on not wanting to be in a relationship.
Shortly after we started to date and moved more toward the serious side of things, my health started to implode. Heart surgery. A minor surgery but nonetheless another trauma-inducing situation. I was still guarded and working avidly on trying to let him in. Trying to be open about my mental state and my fears, but it felt like I was swimming against the current. I was trying to navigate familiar but rough waters and let someone help me swim. I only knew how to swim by myself.
Things started to calm down and return to our “normal,” and then the beeping happened. Late one night on the couch, I heard it. It’s crazy to think how a rhythmic beeping can completely derail someone, but it did derail me. Once I realized that beeping was coming from within my chest, I completely panicked. I was paralyzed with fear because no one told me what happened after the beeping. I was expecting to get shocked again, and I laid on the couch trying to prepare myself to be shocked again with tears soaking my face. That beeping lead to yet another surgery. Again a minor surgery, but it left me with more trauma. This trauma was my final push over the edge. This trauma and that damn beeping triggered my flight or fight mode. I haven’t been able to turn that flight or fight mode off since surgery. My nervous system is in a constant heightened state, causing me to be on edge ALL of the time. This is also known as PTSD.
Chronic PTSD is common when someone suffers constant medical trauma. I’d say ten surgeries in total could be considered constant medical trauma. Needless to say that my home and sanctuary I worked so hard to build has been absolutely demolished. I have been an absolute disaster since February. I have been on edge, filled with anger and rage. Things that would have never bothered me before are now setting me off. Then I have days when I can barely keep myself from falling apart. All the while, I’m trying to figure out my relationship and how to let someone else in, how to communicate what’s going on with my body and in my head. How to have a normal functioning relationship when right now nothing about me is normal and functioning. Anytime I’ve let someone, who wasn’t biologically programmed to love and care for me, see this extremely vulnerable side of me, I’ve been disappointed. As much as I loved them and wanted them there at that moment, after the surgery, when things got really tough for me, I was always let down. I was shown that it was easier to depend on myself. Creating a sense of hyper-independency.
Hyper-independence with the inability to ask for help and PTSD makes being sick and in a relationship so easy 🙄. And now my health is getting worse. Memorial Day weekend, I ended up in the ER. On my way to work, I had to pull over because my heart was going crazy, and I was so lightheaded I thought I would pass out. Then I ended up in the ER again a week later. No real answers and a ton of questions. Multiple conversations with multiple doctors later, I had an echocardiogram, wore a heart monitor, had a tilt table test, and downloaded the data from my new pacemaker. In the meantime, I had done my own research and could already tell from my symptoms what was going on. Then I got the call of, “you have decreased function in your right ventricle,” on my birthday with no further explanation. I had to wait a week for the final confirmation that my pulmonary valve was leaking again and causing all my issues, well, I think most of my issues.
Here I am, sitting in my house on my couch, three dogs and a boyfriend sleeping on me, and I’m happy. I’m happy at this moment. Happy that I have someone who is willing to be there when things are bad, to be patient with me when I’m an emotional basket case, and to ask questions to do his best to understand. I’m letting someone into a home that I no longer have. My body and my mind are out of my control. I’m once again in medical limbo. I know what’s to come, and I think that makes it worse this time. I know how bad things will get before they get better, and I know how hard the recovery is, not just the physical but the mental recovery. I’m going to have to rebuild my home, my sanctuary, and figure out life with a new valve and a new scar.
Trauma changes you. It re-wires your brain. Recognizing your trauma and working actually to heal also changes you. The amount I have changed and the person I’ve become is astonishing. Mental health is so essential for a taboo subject. Your trauma can spill over into your relationships. Identifying it so you can communicate it properly is equally important. Remember that you can look for that feeling of home in another person or different places, but you’ll never truly find it until you realize you are your home.