When life leads you to the truth
Last summer 2022 I found out that I had a trauma disorder called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). This knowledge came after a relationship abruptly and shockingly ended, launching a life changing period of deep soul healing and ongoing transformation. Sometimes we must be thrown into the most desperate of circumstances, to discover the truth about who we are and how we got to wherever we are in our lives.
My C-PTSD had come from spending decades in a cycle of toxic and abusive relationships, over and over again. I found a therapist to help me when my year long relationship began to turn into a repeat cycle that I recognised from years of abuse. Having got out of a very toxic long term relationship just a few years previously, I was hyper vigilant and sensitive to the signs of abuse. I had been horribly damaged by trauma and cognitive dissonance caused by repeated gaslighting and confusion. C-PTSD actually affects the chemistry of the brain and my therapist saw that my issues were clearly related to having this trauma disorder. Finding her has slowly but surely changed my life.
C-PTSD is very common in people who have suffered abuse over a long period of time. The abuse causes the trauma and the trauma itself continues the cycle. Trauma attracts trauma.
(If you are currently experiencing C-PTSD scroll to the very bottom of the page for 13 steps to emotional flashback management)
Unhealthy denial & coping strategies
Up until last summer I had managed myself fairly well, considering, and had created a mainly high functioning life. My lovely work has always been a joy; I have a yoga retreat and therapy business that generates enough to sustain and provide stability for my lone parent family. My three children are amazing and continue to bring me great happiness and pure love. Romantic relationships, however, have been a complete disaster; some might say carnage….
C-PTSD survivors commonly struggle with boundaries, are chronic people pleasers, co-dependents, and fawners who struggle with reading others’ intentions or motives. We typically ignore red flags, we make excuses for others rather than expecting accountability. We allow ourselves to be treated horrendously until one day it gets so bad that we have no choice but to wake up, take responsibility and begin the journey to getting well and finding our inner source of power within.
My life earthquake
I call what happened last Summer Solstice 2022 my ‘Life Earthquake’. It came and shook me to the core and as everything around me and inside of me crumbled, I was left to search the rubble and find out why. I needed to take full responsibility for the shattered mess that my life had become. There was no rescue team coming, this was up to me and as I went into trauma regression, another strong part within me was determined that this had to stop.
My relationship ended abruptly and without warning. I was ghosted. This came a few weeks before we were being evicted and moving in together, to a house I couldn’t afford on my own.
The shock was profound and took months to recover from. Last summer, after he got out of my car and walked off in the rain at the beach, I sat there for over an hour, staring at the sea through the rain covered windscreen. Unsure about what had just happened, stunned about how I’d just been treated by the man I had been convinced really did care about me. I was unable to think, move or even pick up my phone to call a friend for help. This was the beginning of the shock and devastation that would last for months.
A bravery came over me for a day or two, a resolve that I wasn’t going to let myself be treated badly again. Little did I know those first few days of courage would not last and I was about to nosedive into a four-month C-PTSD regression.
(A trauma regression is an extended period of the intense emotional flashbacks that characterise C-PTSD)
The reality of regression
During that time I managed to work but had to significantly cut back. Teaching yoga has always been a channelling of energetic source for me; a ‘space’ I go into, a place to access a higher source for my clients and yogis no matter what is occurring in my personal life. Thankfully, this continued to be the case throughout this traumatic healing time, and many people have commented on how surprised they were to learn what I was going through, as I continued to work, heal, and share. I call it love!
We were moving house in August and the shock was so enormous; it was such a struggle to get my head straight. I didn’t go into town once in that time, I didn’t step foot in a cafe, pub, or supermarket. I remember going into a shop with my daughter and having to leave and go back to the car. The C-PTSD symptoms made me agoraphobic for a long time.
As the trauma symptoms continued, so did the trauma triggers. For months the shocks and events surrounding this horrific break up continued. It was clear that my trauma was attracting trauma and would continue to do so until it was healed.
My ex used many classic abusive tactics as well as ‘stonewalling’ and ‘ghosting’, also called the ‘silent treatment’, after abandoning us.
During the last weeks of the relationship he’d ‘gaslighted’ and ‘manipulated’ me into believing his behavior was my fault. He’d raged, screamed and shouted at me and I’d struggled to comprehend what was happening, looking back I can see how the shock of that mask falling off, affected me so badly.
Once he’d disappeared, (known as a ‘discard’ when you are no longer useful to an abusive person). He embarked on a ‘smear campaign’ to one of my closest friends at the time, he used his own ‘flying monkeys’ to abuse me further with cruel texts and he left me with 20K debt as I tried to salvage the plan to move into our rented home with my children. After 2 years of searching for a home, after being given our eviction notice in 2020, I was left with very little choice.
For months I didn’t share with any of my clients or yogis what had happened. I avoided some really good friends and my amazing reflexologist until November because I just couldn’t find the words to tell them what had happened. I knew they would also struggle with the news.
Adrenaline was pumping through my body continuously, I found various ways to lighten this, and I list them below for you. For those first four months, June to October, I was in a permanent state of extreme trauma which I can only describe as wanting to climb out of my body and get away from it. I did venture out to a lovely yoga event in September, but cried every time I saw anyone I knew, until a dear friend took me aside, sat me under a big willow tree hidden from the crowds, and let me cry until we transmuted it into laughter in the rain.
Just as I thought I was really getting better, in early 2023 I regressed into an intense six weeks of C-PTSD symptoms; I couldn’t be alone at night, my trauma responses became overwhelming. Friends and family were amazing and helped me cope, coming to stay in my cottage or putting me up for the night.
I’d been ignoring these feelings of despair for years, allowing myself to be treated so badly for so long. I’d never talked about it, not even to friends, hiding what was happening, pretending all was fine, making excuses to my children and myself. I’d allowed shame, guilt, and self-blame to build so profoundly that I’d locked myself out of my own heart and refused to feel the pain.
Until that day at the beach when he got out of the car, when I had to move a few weeks later with no explanation or understanding about where he’d gone, when it got so bad it was impossible to excuse. He was just another ‘he’, another version of the same man who had been abandoning, betraying, smearing, and abusing me for decades.
I realised it wasn’t about him per se, it was about life giving me exactly what I needed, to ensure I woke up and faced it all. This was now or never.
C-PTSD – My way out, not a way to stay stuck
I believe I am a very lucky person. I have beautiful, solid friends who I’ve known for decades, who have seen me through many ups and downs, and I feel incredibly loved. I have a supportive, kind family and parents who are always there for me.
For seven months after he left, not one day went by without someone getting in touch to ask how I was doing. I had a support team around me constantly checking in, who felt like a rock supporting me.
The fact that I am here today; healthy and well, writing this, is proof of how beautiful life can be and how privileged and grateful I am to be living it. If there is one thing I am certain of it is that I have no reason to feel sorry for myself. I am not a victim.
Finding out I had a trauma disorder was not a ‘get out free’ card for me. It wasn’t a way to give in and make excuses for poor choices and horrendous mistakes. There was no part of me that wanted to move on and declare to future partners that I had an issue, that I had no part in my behaviour. I wasn’t going to play the ‘poor me I’ve had an awful time, I can’t help it’ game, ever.
For me, finding out I had C-PTSD was a gateway to deeper healing. This was what I needed to better understand myself; to research, read, find experts, and commit to therapy. This was a way out for me, I was going to move forwards with this, not give up or stay stuck.
C-PTSD is not something I have, it is something I am recovering from, something I am healing from by doing the work. My true intention is to get to a place in the future where I do not suffer with C-PTSD, it is not something I intend to carry forward with me. It is my healer, not my truth.
It is my way out, not my way to stay stuck.
Tips to get through a day of C-PTSD
Last summer I had some wonderful, wise souls who helped and guided me, including my life-changing therapist.
One day at a time, one breath at a time….
Here is a list of a few practices that helped me in those early days, as I dealt with the shock of the breakup, packing up boxes and making huge decisions about finances and whether to move to our new cottage, or into storage. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me and stayed with me through that time, their guidance and wisdom was invaluable.
• Gather your good friends close – those who never judge you, who love you to pieces no matter what state you are in.
• Be prepared to retreat – hide and stay away from people, places and things that trigger you. This is about healing, not about keeping up appearances. If you need to go AWOL for a while those who care will still be there for you when you are ready.
• Cold water therapy – I have been swimming all year since last April and it has been a huge part of my healing. Sea swimming in December/January in the UK has been the most euphoric and deeply healing experience ever for me. It lifted me out of trauma over and over again last year and continues to be a huge part of my life now. I can’t tell you how good this will be for you!
• Dance – make a playlist of 3 songs, at least one really upbeat tune, maybe a dance/old school rave track. Set an alarm on your phone each day to remind you to dance. Stop whatever you are doing, shut the curtains, put on headphones and let it out, even if you end up in a heap on the floor, DANCE! Here is mine on Spotify
• Shake – shaking is a well-known way of releasing trauma from the body, do it once a day at least. You may not feel like doing anything as structured as yoga when your CPTSD is really bad, so shaking is a way to transmute the negative energy.
• Find a really amazing therapist – Internal Family Systems (IFS) is amazing and totally unlike regular counselling. Think Shamanic- Meditation-Talking therapy combined. Not all IFS therapists are trained Psychotherapists so think about what your needs are, I wasn’t comfortable with working with anyone who hadn’t had full training. Check the IFS directory and find someone that resonates for you
• Read Pete Walkers book C-PTSD, From Surviving to Thriving – his tools for emotional flashback management and understanding of the trauma spectrum ‘Fight-Flight-Freeze-Fawn’ is invaluable and life changing.
• Energy Healing – this is my work and my soul purpose here in this life, so I am lucky to know some incredible healers from around the world. Here is my top list of amazing healers (all work on online) who helped me through this journey:
• Adrian Lee – amazing Akashic Record Clearing, soul contracts, past lives…think miraculous! So glad I met this man!! The link will take you to his website.
• Corley Magnusson – beautiful rich healing energy and deeply wise guidance, Corley was with me all the way last year, I am not sure I could have done it without her support x email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ho’oponopono – a Hawaiian practice for self-forgiveness, recognising the pain we cause ourselves by reliving traumatic memories over again and offering love, forgiveness, apology, and gratitude to the divine light within that wishes us to move forwards and feel well.
• Body work- massage & reflexology – your body needs to support to get itself back to balance. Body work will help to shift toxins that become stuck when you are flooded with adrenaline. You need help to regulate your nervous system which is completely knocked out. My reflexologist who I am hugely grateful for Annabelle Turner based in Dorset
• Tinctures & Supplements – the adrenaline flood that comes with C-PTSD means you need to antidote.
• Vitamins are vital especially C, B and Omega oils.
• To sleep take Valerian tincture.
• CBD oil is amazing (I ended up having to take the more hardcore THC oil for a few months just to be able to rest for a few hours at night and anything is better than pharmaceuticals sleeping pills).
• Rescue remedy and Bach flower remedies Mimulus, Aspen and others suitable for your specific needs.
• Guided meditation & Yoga Nidra – it’s impossible to silence the mind when your symptoms are intense which means silent meditation could be re-triggering. YouTube is full of lovely trauma-sensitive meditations and distant healings that will support you.
• Nature & Prayer- trees are so healing and magnificent views are transformative. Sometimes all there is to do is get down and pray to the Divine for release and guidance.
• Sacred Sites – I love to sit in ancient churches, standing stones and energy portal sites, reminding us of our pasts and our ancestors.
There is much more, and I will share in another blog soon. My recovery journey is ongoing. I came out of the intense regression last October and continue to feel the healing lifting me further up and out every day.
Exploring the Dark to be of service to all
If you are a Lightworker, a Starseed, you are likely here to learn and evolve so that you can be of greater service to humanity. I believe that I have had these dark, challenging experiences in my life to learn from experience, so that I can truly and authentically know how to help others.
Some of us are not just Lightworkers, but LightDarkworkers; we came to work with Darkness too. I went into the darkest of places last year, I saw and sensed energy unlike anything in my life before – and I’ve been working with energy for over 20 years. I believe nothing happens to us that we can’t handle, so long as we stay strong and courageous. I feel certain that what I faced and overcame has given me a true and authentic ability to understand the uncomfortable and unspoken energy of darkness, that humanity is being released from at this time on our planet.
I believe I have been ‘exploring’ dark energy in my life as part of my soul’s evolution. It can’t always be pretty and fluffy! I am sure that what I have been through has been an ‘initiation’ of some kind, a sacred rite to take the Heroes Journey within and discover my true self.
Since finding the courage to accept and flow with this journey, my energy healing has become dramatically more abundant. I am having incredible results with my clients and channelling a beautiful Light energy that is helping people in many profound ways. Clearing out and detoxing from the shadow and unprocessed parts of my soul have created a way-in for a beautiful new energetic flow of Light. I hope to be of greater service to the Divine and to humanity and help others heal.
Facing darkness I found Light, I found truth, and I found healing. I will never be afraid of the darkness again because it has been my healer and I am eternally grateful for it.
I had a dream last summer, in fact it was a nightmare. I was in my house and in every room I went into there was another shock, something jumped out from behind a door or from under the bed, it was terrifying. Amidst the fear there was a kind, Angelic voice that said, ‘We had to get you to here’. I woke up instantly understanding what those words meant. I had spent years limping through life trying to hold it all together; bringing up my children alone, dealing with ex’s and toxic relationships, aggressive men, abuse and trauma. Things had to get so bad that I couldn’t ignore it anymore; I had to nearly be homeless, nearly lose everything, nearly lose my mind, nearly not make it, before I finally made a decision to face it all and take full responsibility for allowing these situations and people into my life for so long.
The search party and rescue team never did arrive, but I found my own and continue to work with my own inner rescue warriors day by day as I heal. I hope you find yours too.
Love Saira xxx
For anyone currently suffering with Complex-PTSD symptoms I recommend seeking help from a trained Psychotherapist. This Flashback Management help guide from Pete Walker was invaluable to me during my 4 month intense regression last summer and I add it here as it might help you today:
13 STEPS FOR MANAGING FLASHBACKS [Focus on Bold Print when flashback is active] Pete Walker, MFT [925 283 4575]
- Say to yourself: “I am having a flashback”. Flashbacks take us into a timeless part of the psyche that feels as helpless, hopeless and surrounded by danger as we were in childhood. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are past memories that cannot hurt you now.
- Remind yourself: “I feel afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the present.” Remember you are now in the safety of the present, far from the danger of the past.
- Own your right/need to have boundaries. Remind yourself that you do not have to allow anyone to mistreat you; you are free to leave dangerous situations and protest unfair behavior.
- Speak reassuringly to the Inner Child. The child needs to know that you love her unconditionally– that she can come to you for comfort and protection when she feels lost and scared.
- Deconstruct eternity thinking: in childhood, fear and abandonment felt endless – a safer future was unimaginable. Remember the flashback will pass as it has many times before.
- Remind yourself that you are in an adult body with allies, skills and resources to protect you that you never had as a child. [Feeling small and little is a sure sign of a flashback]
- Ease back into your body. Fear launches us into ‘heady’ worrying, or numbing and spacing out. [a] Gently ask your body to Relax: feel each of your major muscle groups and softly encourage them to relax. [Tightened musculature sends unnecessary danger signals to the brain]
[b] Breathe deeply and slowly. [Holding the breath also signals danger].
[c] Slow down: rushing presses the psyche’s panic button.
[d] Find a safe place to unwind and soothe yourself: wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a stuffed animal, lie down in a closet or a bath, take a nap.
[e] Feel the fear in your body without reacting to it. Fear is just an energy in your body that cannot hurt you if you do not run from it or react self-destructively to it.
- Resist the Inner Critic’s Drasticizing and Catastrophizing:
[a] Use thought-stopping to halt its endless exaggeration of danger and constant planning to control the uncontrollable. Refuse to shame, hate or abandon yourself. Channel the anger of self-attack into saying NO to unfair self- criticism.
[b] Use thought-substitution to replace negative thinking with a memorized list of your qualities and accomplishments
- Allow yourself to grieve. Flashbacks are opportunities to release old, unexpressed feelings of fear, hurt, and abandonment, and to validate – and then soothe – the child’s past experience of helplessness and hopelessness. Healthy grieving can turn our tears into self-compassion and our anger into self-protection.
- Cultivate safe relationships and seek support. Take time alone when you need it, but don’t let shame isolate you. Feeling shame doesn’t mean you are shameful. Educate your intimates about flashbacks and ask them to help you talk and feel your way through them.
- Learn to identify the types of triggers that lead to flashbacks. Avoid unsafe people, places, activities and triggering mental processes. Practice preventive maintenance with these steps when triggering situations are unavoidable.
- Figure out what you are flashing back to. Flashbacks are opportunities to discover, validate and heal our wounds from past abuse and abandonment. They also point to our still unmet developmental needs and can provide motivation to get them met.
- Be patient with a slow recovery process: it takes time in the present to become un- adrenalized, and considerable time in the future to gradually decrease the intensity, duration and frequency of flashbacks. Real recovery is a gradually progressive process [often two steps forward, one step back], not an attained salvation fantasy. Don’t beat yourself up for having a flashback.