Who are You?

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself, “Who are you?”

Somewhere along this journey called Life, I forgot who I was! I’ve mentioned this before briefly in my other posts. But I wanted to get more into this because I am going through a new transition in my personal life. I know I can’t move forward without diving deep down inside and finding the new me. It’s like saving yourself from emotionally drowning. No one can go through this discovery phase or save you but YOU.

A lot of times we just want someone, anyone, everyone to do all the work for us because we are stuck. Don’t be ashamed of feeling that way. That stuck feeling is the big “F” word, FEAR. Facing our fears can be so frightening that we would rather drown. I am scared to know myself because I disconnected from myself so long ago. It’s like when you first meet a stranger. A little awkward, not sure you can trust them, sometimes you feel invisible or we belittle ourselves subconsciously. Strangers are like new countries with a fascinating history and knowledge.

What if we gave ourselves a chance? Yes, you might feel like a stranger to yourself but through no fault of yours. We disconnected because of the trauma to survive. Reconnecting with yourself will be a beautiful journey. You may discover you are your own BFF (best friend forever).

Today’s a new day and I can’t imagine giving up a power that I can’t explain. What if this internal power I feel is an abundance of love for the little girl that was neglected so long ago and the woman I am becoming. I can’t let that power go because it belongs to me. But what I can release are those thoughts that try to control me.

When you think you don’t have much to give to anyone because your emotionally drowning. Invite them over to your “country” and give them the history and free yourself.

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My Uncle Molested Me

I started writing this specific post about a year ago. It’s taken me this long to write, re-write, delete, cry, find the courage and finally publish it. Even if it’s baby steps I will continue to share every incident that happened to me. Why? Because how can I encourage others to speak up, come forward and be brave, If I can’t do it myself. I want to walk in my own journey, it’s very important to me!

Disclaimer: I recently in the last year or so reconnected with some family members (YAY! so happy and Blessed for that happening) and I struggled to share the “name” of my uncle. However, I have 5 uncles and I don’t want anyone accusing the wrong person. The uncle that did this was Robert Renteria!


(Me and my two sisters) We have only a handful of pictures of us as kids. This is one of them, blurry but still a photo I cherish.

 

It started with him paying a lot of attention to me, telling me I was his “girl”, giving me beer (yes beer!) in my bottle when I was an infant. I had a very close relationship with him and he was my “favorite” uncle. I wasn’t old enough to know what he was doing was grossly wrong/sexual abuse/molestation. I’ve struggled with the emotions that I genuinely loved my uncle and how I could love someone who did this to me.

The incident that happened to me when I was 17 years old has been one of the most difficult to open up about. I believe part of it was feeling ashamed and I never wanted to upset my grandmother. I remember moving out and getting my own apartment at the age of 17, going to school to finish my Senior year and having a part-time job. Things seems to be heading in the right direction and I was pretty proud of myself. After living in my first apartment for about a month, I heard a knock on my door. I run to the door thinking it’s a friend stopping by. I open the door and there stood my grandmother, who I had not seen for eight years. The last time I saw her I had been placed in foster care at the age of 10. I remember her trying to get custody of me and my two sisters. We would go and visit her on the weekends. I remember going to a few Court hearings and expressing that I wanted to live with my grandmother. I loved her very much and I remember her always trying to protect us from her own daughter (my biological mother). However, on a scheduled weekend visit no one could find my grandmother. It’s like she had vanished and we didn’t know what was going on with her. After months of not being able to track her down there was nothing we could do. So my sisters and I remained in foster care for the next 7 years.

Fast forward to the age of 17 and that knock on my door. There stood my grandmother! I was beyond happy to see her because I had missed her for so long. Standing next to her was my uncle who was my molester. I never wanted to disappoint my grandmother or upset her. So I did not say anything to her and I just pretended like everything was alright. I invited my grandma and uncle in to catch up. My grandmother explained they had nowhere to go and they were here to stay. This was very typical of the way my family lived. They would literally pack up at the drop of a dime and venture off to wherever with no real plan. I remember telling my grandma she could stay with me since I had an extra bedroom. At the age of 17, I didn’t know what else to do and I was also conflicted with wanting to be with my grandmother. I ignored the fact that I also invited my molester/uncle to stay. This same night my uncle came into my room and molested me again. It’s still difficult to think about and talk about what happened that night. For so many years I blamed myself. I felt like I had to grow up pretty fast when I chose to move out at the age of 17. So I held myself accountable and felt like I should of been mature enough to make adult decisions. I looked at myself as an adult and I repeatedly asked myself why didn’t I say no?

The truth is even though I had my own apartment. I was still a young kid trying to grow up into an adult world quickly. I have to remind myself of this because I can easily fall back into the bad habit of blaming myself. I will fight hard to never fall into old patterns again.

I have never publicly shared this and I have only told 1 person because of the shame I felt. There are incidents I remember and some my brain has blocked out due to the trauma. As hard as this may be to write or for YOU to read, please don’t feel sad. I want you to know that I am Surviving and Thriving!

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Struggling but making things happen

Petra Clarke PTSD survivor

It’s been some time since I updated my blog and I sincerely apologize to anyone who visits. I have had some ups and downs since my last post. At the beginning of this journey, I was adamant to share my story and I still am. However, I have realized I need to pace myself because part of my PTSD can easily be triggered with remembering past events. I do know how important it is to “talk about it” so I’m not going to allow my PTSD to get in the way of my goal. I will continue to share my story, the struggles and everything I conquer!

I never realized that a person struggling with PTSD can also struggle with commitment issues. When you think of PTSD the main things that come to mind are; nightmares, anxiety, irritable, flashbacks, hard time sleeping to name a few. Right? I’m bringing this up for a reason, I’ll explain toward the end.

PTSD involves many symptoms that can and does interfere with relationships. I can say this to be 100% accurate because I live it daily. The main issues I have emotionally battled with myself are; emotional closeness, communication and responsible assertiveness. Whenever a conflict arises I respond to it from a sense of responsibility and my need for control.  When this happens your significant other may feel controlled as a result. I am currently working on this because to be part of a relationship you need to focus on what you can do for each other. You know what this action does in return? You start to feel like your doing something productive and you feel joyful. It’s always… always the little things that can truly bring you joy. I recommend that you find ways to bring happiness and joy into your life. PTSD is going to keep sneaking back around. So when you set yourself up with goals of achieving things that make you happy. I know that it will help you on those dark dreaded days.

I am so extremely happy to announce I am getting married next month! Why am I sharing this news? Well it pertains to PTSD and my journey. This is where I explain my point about commitment issues. I have been engaged for almost 3 years. I am now able to truly understand why I was never in a “rush” to get married. It all boils down to “giving up control” If you have PTSD, you may not be aware of how your thoughts and beliefs have been affected by trauma. For instance, since the trauma you may feel a greater need to control your surroundings. That’s exactly what I have been doing with my relationship subconsciously. I am absolutely happy that I took this time to figure this out for myself. I wanted to be in a better head space and begin a path of healing. I can honestly say that this “healthy path” I am on has been worth everything that I have gone through. I feel like a better person and my heart is happy. When my heart is happy my emotions begin to match. Please watch my video “PTSD emotions not matching my brain” so you’ll understand the importance of being alert about your emotions.

So I leave you with this… be happy… be joyful… understand yourself… and take your time! It’s ok to take your time and learn about yourself.

Petra Clarke

 

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Having a supportive and positive network

Support for PTSD Depression Anxiety

One of the best things I have learned through my journey is having a strong support system with positive people by your side is a MUST. I kept using the excuse that I’m an introvert and that no one understood me. Yes, I am a bit of an introvert and no one understood me because I didn’t allow anyone to close. I needed to recognize within myself when I truly needed alone time and when I need someone by my side to talk to. I can’t promise it will be easy but I can tell you from experience. When you find the right people in your life. Things become more clear and easier to handle.

Finding friends and family who can relate to you and what you’ve been through is difficult. That’s okay because we all have been through different walks of life. We can’t possibly make someone understand the shame, guilt and ugliness that we feel inside. So it’s up to us to find people who can relate. In my city I have been unable to find any support groups to attend. It made me a little sad and frustrated at first. Then I had a light bulb moment. If I’m trying to share my story with the world. Why can’t I find other people who struggle with PTSD, anxiety and depression? In 2016 we have the power of research and the World Wide Web. I’m surprised at all the groups I found, how quick I felt welcomed and how many connections I’ve made. The groups I have found are on Facebook. Go to the top of your page in the search bar and type short keywords like: PTSD support, child abuse survivors, adult survivors of child abuse, anxiety and depression support, anxiety help etc… After you enter the keyword make sure you’re searching under the “group” tab to find all the groups using those keywords. Join multiple groups to find the right ones for you. Please be discreet and do not give out your personal information. Stay safe and don’t fall into vulnerability situations.

You are NOT alone and there are others struggling who also need a listening ear just like you. Let’s build each other up. Let’s not shy away from each other and engage in what could be long lasting friendships. For a very long time I felt I had nothing to offer anyone. That’s until I started to believe in myself and the person I was meant to be.

Yes, what happened to me was horrible but it doesn’t define me. I was stuck in this vicious cycle of hopelessness. I was crying out for help deep down inside. I am not that little girl anymore. I am a strong, caring, empathetic woman who is thriving each and every day. I am on a mission and a path I never thought I would be capable of traveling. I have no idea where this will end or what doors are opening up for me. All I know is that I want to be an inspiration and empower others to take back control. You are Beautiful!

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My PTSD and Triggers

PTSD Awareness

I was molested as a child and the emotional wounds have affected me into adulthood. I did not trust people and my surroundings. I also have issues with emotionally connecting at times. I’ve learned to shut down as a coping mechanism. I still struggle until this very day. The only difference is now I recognize some of the damage. For example, if I hear someone drop a fork (I know that sounds silly) in another room. I am instantly on high alert and asking “what is that noise?”.  My tone can come across as aggressive and that’s due to being on high alert and/or scared. To some people it may come across as angry or annoyed. This is a PTSD trigger that I learned about myself.

I also get easily startled and it brought out this fire of anger inside me. Literally, I would get angry if someone came into the same room as me and I didn’t know they were entering. It’s like my mind was so concentrated on something else and just the surprise of anyone coming in made me very uneasy. Even if it was a person I knew. For those first two seconds I could feel my rage inside me manifesting. The rage was from the anxiety…

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