What I had learned in that one moment of sudden awareness when I was reading Echkart Tolles book was this: as long as I was focused on and living in the pain of the past in my mind - I was forfeiting my present moment, I was sacrificing all that life held as I suffered internally in the painful memories of the past trauma and the avoidance behavior associated with PTSD.
I resisted experiencing life and shut myself away in a prison of my own making as I avoided more and more of life in an effort to stifle any memory that could trigger those intense emotions of loss, anger and grief at the hand that life had dealt me. Life - the world and the people in it - was to me, completely black and white, good or bad.
This was a big deal for me. After years of therapy I had not gained an understanding that I had the power to change my life. I was convinced that I was defective and broken and there was no cure, no ending to my misery. I had no understanding that my obsessing over the past and my efforts to avoid any triggers that might open the vaults of my memories and stir the pot of misery that I held in my mind was in fact stealing my life, or that there was anything I could do to change this.
The journey and included work has not been easy by any means. In making this decision to learn to live in the present moment, I had to reconcile that I would be opening myself to feeling again. But once I understood this idea - that I had a choice in what I thought about and that these intrusive symptoms could be overcome - I made the decision that I would find my way out of this living hell and take control of my mind and therefore my life.
There is no way for me to communicate this process in a simple outline of steps - there are many overlapping things - ideas, tools, skills - that I have learned and each one builds on the next to provide me with the skills and tools to change my life from one of isolation, avoidance and misery to being open, willing - and in great anticipation - looking forward to experiencing the full range of color that life holds.
So today let me just say this one thing that kept me going all these years: I knew that as long as I kept searching that I would find my answers. I determined that I would find a way out. Giving up - suicide, self harm, addiction, dissociation, depression - was no longer an option as the solutions for the intrusive thoughts and feelings of PTSD. There is always a solution.
If you or someone you know is experiencing troublesome or intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or someone else please contact your local emergency 911 number or go to your local emergency room and ask for help.