The cow that saw me and my PTSD

My blog title has two purposes. 1. Abuse is not my secret to carry 2. The shame put on me by abusers is not mine to carry either.

I have been brutally honest about the things that have happened to me, that were done to me, the things I did after as a robot going through life mindlessly with PTSD. I have shared the secrets that were put upon me. I have shared the shame that I did carry but that I let go.

I have moved through many areas of recovery from abuse from anorexia to attempted suicide to therapy, then more therapy, then more therapy, medications, hypnosis, etc. A year ago I embarked on a new phase in my recovery which was seeking out joy and beauty to balance the bad memories and flashbacks.

I’ve shared triggers, reactions, coping. I’ve shared my mindfulnesss pictures. I’ve shared my fears, vulnerabilities, abandonment, and more.

Last night something happened.

I experienced a triggering memory that did something.

I encourage and ask anyone who has experienced this to please share in the comments.

As I am currently feeling extremely alone.

I remembered an event.

As I remembered it I heard I high pitched noise in my ears. Then it was like there was a suction in my ears and I went completely deaf. I could see. I could see my daughter. I could see my room. I knew exactly where I was but I could not hear anything. I have no idea how long it lasted. I last looked at the clock at 4am. I still could not hear.

This morning the residue of last night slapped me right in the face. I could hear. I felt the weight of so much though. Almost as if I am in shock. I tried to shake it off. I went to visit the animals on the prairie. I watched the sunset. I played music. I was completely dissociated though.

It was not until I saw a cow. She reminded me of my sweet Jess who passed away a year or so ago of cancer, my dog. Something about this cow’s eyes and the way when I talked to her, she pinned one ear back. I immediately showed my husband when he got home and asked him who she reminded him of. He said Jess.

Jess always made me feel seen.

He alerted me to seizures but was far more than that. He was my constant companion for 14 years NEVER leaving my side.

Seeing this cow look into my eyes made me feel seen. I became present again. I blew her a kiss. I don’t know that I’ve ever blown a cow a kiss but I did.

I came home and the residue slowly seeped over me like this thick tar or sludge smothering me.

I’ve always told THE secrets of abuse. I’ve always talked about the secrets of my life. I want to share this memory.

I can’t.

Not because of shame.

I am just mortified at the additional memory that my body went through. I thought the first time I experienced PTSD or dissociation was much later. This memory took me to a mirror where I was looking at myself. I’ve seen myself looking in this mirror before but never knew why until last night.

I didn’t tell my husband other than that I lost my hearing. He thought perhaps it was my brain that wanted to stop input, protecting me.

It’s just so odd. I have come so far with removing the layers and layers of hands that were on me that I did not want. Layers of men. Layers of abuse. Layers of years and years I have removed. Then one memory has made me feel worthless. Useless. Pointless. Dirty. Disgusting. Unsaveable. Uncleanable. I wish I could cut off my own breasts so that I never knew what it felt like to have them touched again. I wish I could remove all female attributes especially my vagina that has been penetrated so many times unwillingly that I wish it no longer existed. I wish it was not even part of me.

I am logically aware that it would not erase the feeling my body has or the memory that is stored.

This memory though, it makes me think there is really no hope for me.

No hope for true recovery. There was just too much in my life. Too much done.

Here I sit knowing I can never utter these words.

Here I sit in my bed alone wondering if anyone ever went deaf with a high pitch ringing at a memory.

I sit here wondering how I will survive the past that won’t leave me.

While dealing with my fingers painfully typing since this lyme disease flare up.

While dealing with this muscle disease that has had me almost paralyzed for days.

I just don’t know how I can do it.

I still have to get up and fix my daughter food somehow.

I still should check on so and so and so and so as I know they are suffering and need someone.

I sit here feeling like I’ve been raped all over again.

Thinking no one would understand.

Feeling no one understands.

Feeling incredibly alone.

I wish I had that cow…think I will just look at her for awhile…it’s really all I have right now.

55 thoughts on “The cow that saw me and my PTSD

  1. I keep reading this over n over again,, as we have told each other stories of our past n present,, you know of my sexual abuse , and how I still carry that ,, and death of spouse in my arms n the guilt I carry , and special moment she came to me,, and my health issues,,I do not know all that you go thru,, but I think of you all time, like yesterday and that single flower, I look for your blog , because I feel we have connected they here and I truly care about you and your health…no I don’t know you, but I do know you,I experience many same things as you have..I see you have a good husband and children ,,.but you must know that there are strangers who understand you and love you,,if you ever wanted a stranger friend to just text and chat I would be there,,I know this is long and I apologize for that ,, just wanted you to know you are not alone

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. I needed to hear that.
      Sometimes strangers that choose to connect and listen and relate, can save us more than the person right next to us…
      I do appreciate you sharing your pain, your loss, when she visited, the abuse, I appreciate you trusting me with this.
      I’ve felt pretty bad before with ptsd. With my family disowning me, with my daughter being bedridden, with everything. But this is new. This is I guess too much for my body to remember. Thanks for listening

      Liked by 2 people

  2. One of my symptoms I had for years with my PTSD was my ears would randomly “shut off”. I could see people speaking, but could not hear anything they were saying. It was so disconcerting. And I could never anticipate when it would happen. The therapist said that when I was “emotionally overloaded” that I would “short circuit” kind of thing…. It caused me lots of problems too, like at work…. I remember one boss said “I like you, but I think you are on drugs” from these type experiences I would have, (I have NEVER done any drugs– my brain is enough to handle by itself!). The brain can do funny things. I have always thought of it as an injury… like when someone goes to war and gets injured– the injury may heal, but they may always have a limp or scar to show where that original injury had been. And PTSD is like that– it is a brain injury from experiencing/witnessing extreme trauma; it gets better, but there will always be residual effects like that limp. I had heard of a woman with PTSD that instead of her ears, it was her eyes, and her mind would block out everyone’s face. When she would look at people all she would see was a black blotch where their face was. It is weird how PTSD effects everyone a little differently– all of our symptoms are as unique in some ways as each of our brains. The therapist told me though that it is the strong, healthy minds that develop PTSD as a way of coping– that the one’s with weaker minds just “crack”, so one can take comfort in that.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ok so I am not the only one that has had this. That is what I wanted to know. Because out of all of dissociation experiences I have never had this high pitch ringing and had a residue last this long of feeling so defeated by a memory. My brain kept this from me for 30 years. It’s like half way in it went NOPE SHE CANT DO IT< ABORt MISSION and then everything went blank.
      Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts. I really appreciate it. Usually it is a smell that just turns me into an angry methodical robot. But this…it was different.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a strange feeling– we think we can depend upon our senses; then when they malfunction out of the blue– that in itself can cause panic. No you are not alone! Every day will get better. : )

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you …it helps to read replies and know I am not sitting here with a rare happening with ptsd. Just felt overwhelming. I’m rarely a crier and I want to sob and plead, please make all this stop for just a little while because I am tired. You know?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes I do know. It can be so isolating, especially when no one around you can comprehend what you are feeling or experiencing. Sometimes it even seems impossible to put into words, so how could they possibly understand? And when you try to explain, they just look like you have just lost your mind– which makes you feel even more alone. Just like when I have holes in my memory, and family members tell me I was present for this or that, was a witness to some conversation– and I tell them I have no memory of it at all. And they are like, “yeah right; you don’t have alzheimer’s– you have to remember”… and no matter how many times I would tell them that this sometimes happens, where I disassociate, and have no memory of what is going on–
        they just never “get it”, so after a while ( and this was for decades), I just kept everything to myself. It is a horrible feeling to feel so alone, but part of that is because the other’s that had it didn’t talk either. Thank God for the internet!


      4. I finally spoke and it didn’t matter at all. No one cared. No one changed. No one listened. Everyone left. So here I am with my daughter and husband and I do have friends but honestly no one will get it unless they’ve been through it. I don’t even know how hard they try TO get it. I wish they tried harder. I wish I felt …hmm…I wish I felt looked at like the cow looked at me by those who love me

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Did the memory specifically remind you about being alone and being ignored when you spoke out? My most intense dissociation is often triggered by the helpless feeling of using your voice…and no one listening. I don’t lose my hearing, but it gets weirdly distorted. Like, I hear things too loudly or too quietly or with an echo. It only happens for some reason with memories of reaching for help and getting none, which to me are more frightening then the abuse I was reporting.


      6. Oh I know that feeling well and I have had it and it is truly awful!!!!!
        No this came with news that was coming into my ears and then me writing to someone asking was it true and reading the reply and it hitting me that this memory was true.


  3. You aren’t alone. I’ve experienced this, too. The high pitched ringing, the loss of senses (particularly sound) at a memory. I thought I was crazy when this happened to me the first time. I text my therapist and asked, “does this happen or have I lost it?” She said, “yes, that’s something that certainly can occur.” I don’t know if that helps, knowing that maybe it’s kind of a normal experience… it didn’t really help me in the moment. Because it doesn’t get rid of the emotional weight of the experience. But, it’s maybe one more small thing to hold onto.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It helps.
      I don’t have a therapist right now. I’ve had tons. It isn’t an option now due to health/driving, etc. so this helps. Yes. Thank you very much

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Bethany:
    MOST IMPORTANT: You are NOT alone!
    I’m having a bad day myself but let me see what I can put together.
    I have stopped being able to hear my T during session – becoming deaf for a while. It is crazy-making, isn’t it.
    Also, I was reminded, reading of your hearing problem, what you wrote to Q on January 9:
    “So I decided to make a soundtrack of my most favorite songs that kept me in the moment. And i put them on my ipad, connected them to my sound blocking earbuds, put them in my ears and tried to have intimacy wtih my husband. It worked. I was able to stay in the moment just with the music playing in my ears.”
    Seems to me there may be a connection …. hope this helps … I know that making these kinds of connections can be like falling down stairs from the top of the Empire State Building.
    Bethany – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
    Now, the second part: seems like you are having a new flashback.
    It feels like hell, I know – My first suicide attempt was when I was six and jumped off a bus.
    What I’ve learnt over decades of therapy is that flashbacks, those bloody nightmares, are actually steps forward. They don’t come to light until I am ready to deal with them [though, HECK, I don’t FEEL ready.]
    No matter how vivid, how hugely disgusting, terrifying and filled with shame, they are MEMORIES that you SURVIVED: they are like scabs coming off old wounds – you LIVED and you, Bethany, became a wonderful living, loving sharing person.
    Holding your hand. TS

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I don’t feel like a survivor. I am listening to the music. It is not helping. I feel like I have failed and they have won. Total honesty and all bullshit positivity aside that I do to cope and to balance I have to say that I am filled with dread from this new memory.
      Thank you for holding my hand

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I know Bethany… I think for people that have never experienced it, they give up trying to understand. It is just so far out of their realm of experience. We might as well try to describe life on another planet in an alien language (in fact that is what it feels like sometimes. lol) I don’t have a therapist either– my insurance only paid for 3 months years ago– like that is going to do a whole lot! But, all these years since, I have found (day by day), coping mechanisms and persisting…. because we are survivors. We have already been through hell and lived. The worst is over. Now every day is better than the one before, because we aren’t in the situations that caused it. We have to learn to love ourselves (warts and all, and PTSD is a huge wart), but it is a part of me. My experiences (good and bad) have made me who I am. And I accept that. I wish I could go back and change a lot, and never have gone through all the garbage, but since I can’t, i just go from here. : )

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That is so sweet. You grew up on a dairy farm. Wow. I’d like to know more about that. Were the cows out to graze? The prairie has the cows roaming on over 100 acres I believe and they have their babies for about a year and then they take the babies. Which I was horrified by and yet glad the mothers got to be with their babies for that time and they got to feel freedom out there.


      2. I’ve heard it is very very sad. I have been out there when a baby was taken and the mother wailed and I sat out there and talked to her forever and ever until she finally stopped

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I see others have experienced the same thing. I have lost my hearing a few times. I remember thinking, “Dale is saying something horrible, but I don’t know what it is.”

    I just read about a woman, who worked at the World Trade Center, who went blind after seeing the bodies outside. Her sight came back after someone guided her to safety. I agree it is sensory overload.

    I remember when each new revelation about my past came to me I would be devastated. I felt just like you do. But day by day, year by year, I got better and healed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I hope i can move past this quickly. It has been VERY helpful to have all of the replies to this post so that I can feel understood and know that it will pass

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing this. It was beautifully written, and amazingly courageous.. It made me want to help you in some way. I don’t know how. I just want to say that this story was quite moving, real, raw, and frightening. I wish for you courage, kindness, hope, strength, resilience, wisdom, growth, relief, and freedom.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I just want to second a lot of what’s been said already. Not because I think I can make any of the pain better, but just because I care. I may not know you in real life but I have so much love for you and I hate so much to see you hurting. I get the depth of the cow’s eyes, sometimes I feel like that kind of communication is the only valid one for feelings that words can’t ever translate. I am hoping today is a better day, I know I’m reading this late but I think of you all the time and send you positive energy, love, light and peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This post was very difficult for me to read and I’m having trouble keeping the tears back as I type. It’s bringing up a lot of emotions for me that I didn’t (don’t) really want to have to deal with. (I had to walk away and come back.) I get you, more than I’d like to admit. I can’t remember if I’ve ever had the hearing loss but it feels very familiar. I’m beginning to realize there’s so much more buried within me that I’m not willing to face (yet)…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m very sorry this was so triggering for you. My blog is quite raw and honest. It has beena hard few years for me. I’m so sorry you have bee through anything like this that would make it hard to read.
      Facing this has come slowly at times and knocked me out at others. Writing has helped me every time

      Liked by 1 person

  10. ❤ I've had this happen with a flashback and it lasted quite awhile … maybe 10-12 hours. A few other things were happening in my body, as in I felt quite detached and numb and breathing was hard. My hearing wasn't completely gone but was muffled like it had been turned right down. In some ways I 'enjoyed' that part because usually my hearing becomes acutely intense. This way I was able to just sit with it … numb … but sit with it.
    I wondered if it was like a delayed shock … and something I possibly experienced at the time of the event. It was only a snippet of something I remembered and I'm in no hurry to remember the rest. Our bodies are amazingly resourceful and seem to protect us when there is no other protection around ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was like delayed shock. I m hoping to not dwell on it or remember more about it that is for sure. I already have enough memories ive sorted through. This one needs to be filed under :to be shredded

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This post has really hit me hard. I had a bad night last night with a lot of memories and feelings that I’ve managed to keep at bay coming back up. I feel slightly less alone reading this and hearing there are other people who feel so lost and experience the intense numbing, shocking, and sickening feelings of a flashback, or a returned feeling that you’ve fought so hard to move on from. A therapist has not been in my life for quite a few years now, and I’m happy I’ve found your posts to keep me a little more grounded and supported. You are not alone Bethany in so many ways!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so so freaking glad that it can make you feel less alone and that you feel comfortable sharing how hard of a struggle it is for you so that I know I am not alone. It is hard to write about the truth and vulnerability but unless I write about it then other people think that maybe no one would possibly understand the depths of despair it can take you and I have gone way deep. I will support you 100%


  12. Thank you for sharing. We applaud your strength. Writing does wonders. We’ve just started doing the same because we feel it’s important to share our experience so people can get an idea of the daily struggle. When you write about your experience, in a sense you are also reliving the event which in itself is traumatic. You are not alone in this battle. – Brown Eyed Princess

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you for sharing. I have unwanted flashbacks and other disturbing thoughts and feelings from being raped and abused too. I haven’t experienced the loss of hearing/ringing in my ears, but I have felt the presence of lost loved ones in seemingly unlikely sources. I sensed my grandmother’s presence in a swarm of butterflies that were flying around me. It was comforting and I’m thankful that I felt it. Maybe you were also being sent comfort. Please keep writing! It’s great therapy for yourself and it helps others who have had similar experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I very much believe I was sent comfort just like you were.
      I’m so sorry you have been abused and have the suffering that comes after. It is just awful.
      I love hearing about sensing your grandmother in the butterflies. I will pay more attention to things like that from now on since you told me. Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Flashbacks happen in my world regularly. Trust is my number one issue and when I feel victimized it causes the flashbacks to intensify. Much of my early childhood was spent alone so fear and rejection can also cause my flashbacks. All I know at this time is to not let the anxiety and hatred get the better of me. I’m lucky, I have a golden retriever in my life and she comforts me when I need her. Sorry if my message was totally off topic, I just wanted to send you a note so you would know you’re not alone.


    1. Not off topic at all and and you are welcome to talk about anything you want to.
      I miss my dog every day. He comforted me and called me. The ptsd did not hit me hard until he passed away.

      Liked by 1 person

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