In my early twenties I was treated for bulimia and anorexia because of the emotional and physical abuse I went through in my childhood. After the treatment, things were great for many years. I ate normally, took good care of myself, and I was for the most part happy. I got married, became a mom of two beautiful children, had a job, and things were good.
About 9 years ago, I started getting some strange symptoms in the left side of my body. I sometimes had a numb feeling in the fingers of my left hand and in the left side of my face. Some days it was there, some days it was gone.
With time, the symptoms slowly increased to be also in my left arm. It was often in the mornings I thought I had just been sleeping in a wrong position. But it got worse and, after some years, it was every morning. That is when I decided to go to the doctor. During the next two years I was seen by doctors at “Rigshospitalet” in Copenhagen, who tried to figure out what it was. Now I could not open my left eye when I woke up, and the left side of my face was swollen. It usually disappeared after some hours, and I could function ok after that. But when I slept spasms would start in my left side, so my body was not really resting, and now I needed naps in the afternoon too. I felt like the left side of my body was closing down every time I was sleeping. After two years the doctors diagnosed me with “Hemiform Hypnagog Paroxysmal Dystonia” (a rare kind of Dystonia).
Thinking back at my life, just before all this, I remember having had some anxiety attacks. I remember times where I was feeling lonely, depressed, angry, and even self-destructive. But I had found ways to cope with it. Somehow I just lived with it. I took some medication the days my headache was too tough, and I just continued being busy. But with this Dystonia, now I was forced to slow down. This was very scary for me.
About 4 years ago, I had my first flashback. It hit me hard. I instantly knew that it was time for me to face whatever it was. With the flashbacks coming I totally broke down. I started remembering some kind of sexual abuse that had happened to me as a child. I started therapy and treatment for post traumatic stress. This was a time full of pain, anxiety, anger, and I was very confused. When I got triggered, my world would crash. I would sit in a corner with a big pillow and just cry. My husband sometimes had to sit with me and reassure me that I was safe. My kids did not understand why I was crying so much and I felt terrible about it. In the treatment, I learned to ground myself, accept myself, forgive myself, and heal.
As part of my healing, I decided to tell my family in Denmark about the abuse. By doing that, I lost a big part of my family. I have been told that this is very common in these situations. My families reaction hurt me. How could they get angry with me? I felt victimized all again.
I finished the treatment feeling much better, but I remember thinking: “Now I know why! But what now? How can I move on?”
I started looking into coaching and this is where my big transformational journey really began. For the first time ever, I could make a conscious choice to not have my trauma, my childhood experiences, or my family define who I was. I now had the fantastic opportunity to decide what kind of mom, wife, friend, and person I wanted to be. And I felt so empowered!
In my coaching business I have clients who for years have suffered and felt overwhelmed by emotions coming from childhood traumas. I love helping them move on. It is not your fault if you have experienced childhood abuse in any way. But when you grow up, you do have a responsibility to deal with it and break the pattern and cycle. Of course, I still have days where the emotional pain is very hard. That pain can come up again, and it is a matter of how I deal with the pain. I am no longer willing to let it take over my life. Every day, I set the intentions to have a wonderful day. I do not want to waste the life I have. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. When I went through the eating disorder treatment, I learned to eat among others. I learned not to have the food decide what kind of day I had. The problem was, I just found other ways to be destructive to myself. I could always set myself up for failure, one way or another, because that was a feeling I knew and I was kind of seeking it. In the beginning of the coaching journey, it was very hard for me to feel good enough. I felt guilty if I did. The biggest gift to myself has been learning how to redefine myself and my goals.
Why am I sharing my story with you? My body remembered the abuse, and I got sick. I could have continued not to listen to my body, just accepted the diagnose, taken the medication, and after some years maybe taken even stronger medication. I could have continued to keep myself busy and just tolerated many aspects of my life. The interesting part of this story is, that dealing with the trauma, accepting, healing and moving on has made my Dystonia disappear. So guess what, I no longer take any medication! :-)
By telling about the abuse I have lost a big part of my family. Abuse is often a family secret, like in my situation. But what I have gained is finding myself. I can finally feel free. Everybody has their story, and this is mine.
Today I am exactly where I want to be in life. I love helping my clients to have a better relationship to themselves and the people they love. I love helping them move on from trauma and destructive patterns that keep getting them into failures or feeling stuck. And I love helping people redefine themselves and their goals. You are not your eating disorder, or your trauma. It is possible to move on from trauma and other difficult situations. We all have a story and we all can change it. But it starts with you making that choice! Stop accepting and making excuses for any kind of unhappiness and stop running away.
Just start living your life - NOW!
Smiles, Ingrid :-)
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