Trauma, Mental Age, and Style Evolution: Musings on the Healing Power of Clothes

Those of you who have followed my posts for a while have probably noticed that they have been much less frequent since my workplace was burgled. The incident involved various types of violence, and I have been diagnosed with PTSD (it feels really weird to say that when the same diagnosis is applied to war veterans, but I'm not the professional) and put on a few medications, but those things haven't in themselves stopped me from posting. The bigger issue is that I feel this event has altered me as a person - and as a different person, my previous style no longer fits. I'm adrift and in flux, shedding old clothes like old skin. 

Mental Time Warp
I always felt that I was an old soul, but my body and mind felt young. I've only had two serious boyfriends. I only started travelling out of the country after college. I simply had not experienced that much outside of novels - and I can see now that my style reflected a lot of that innocence. Yes, I still dressed for an impending apocalypse - but I did so with flair! and short shorts! and Forever 21! And now many of the things I loved feel silly and twee on me. As Deb put it in a recent message, I feel grown. Aged. Mentally shocked with a streak of white hair. Nothing like a brush with death to suck the whimsey out of your closet, I guess. Maybe it will come back one day but, for now, it is how it is. 

Disease of Avoidance
My doctor calls PTSD a disease of avoidance - the mind wants to avoid the bad memories at all costs and becomes agitated when it can't. So in relation to my wardrobe, beyond the fact that I feel I've outgrown some things, I also can't stand to look at others. The coat I was wearing during the attack, for example, is still 100% my style and able to be worn in a mature way... but as much as I love it, I also harbor a bit of hatred for it. Poor coat! It's just a coat, yet I seem to be angry that all it did was lay in a pile with everyone else's coats. I am hanging onto it but may just have to sell it in the end. Even items that had nothing to do with that night are being purged, because they belonged to that person - the victim. Sometimes I think I want to sell it all, move away, and start a whole new life as a whole new (stronger, safer) person.

Change and Control
If being angry at a piece of clothing sounds weird... immediately after the incident, I would fly off the handle if someone suggested eggs in the morning. Mybreakfastismychoicegoshdarnitandhowdareyoutakethatawayfromme! Well. I'm not quite that sensitive anymore, but I do set out to make my own mark. I chopped off all my hair. I sold things. I bought new things. I've always loved shopping but, wow, does it ever feel great to buy new stuff now! I think this must be how some people create behavioral addictions, and I need to watch out for that since I do have a history of hoarding in my family. But. I will watch out for that later. For now, I like - and I choose - to feel in control. 

Retail and Rebirth
After all this talk of aging and avoidance and hoarding, you may be wondering where the healing comes in. I have always felt that style and identity are closely intertwined and that I never feel great about myself unless my clothes accurately describe who I am inside. So the theory - the hope - that I (sometimes subconsciously) work under is that editing my style will help strengthen my soul. Every day that I put thought into curating my closet and dressing myself helps reinforce the basic fact that I am still here. I still have a living body to dress. I still have a choice in how to dress it. I still have a job and a choice in how to spend my money. I can change my look - and my outlook. With a little time, effort, and therapy (retail and otherwise). 

I'm sorry I haven't been here as much and haven't given as much attention to all of your lovely posts. I am distracted and depressed and a little selfish right now. But I don't think I will always be that way. :)
This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Mochi replied 8 years ago
    So powerful, Rae. Astonishing insights. Hugs. 
  • replied 8 years ago
    Oh, Rae.

    Please don't feel like you are unworthy or puffing up something -- PTSD is not just a soldiers' plaint. You endured and survived a very stressful traumatic experience, and it is completely normal to feel rocked and out of sorts, and your poor brain is trying to make sense of it all.

    Clothes are armour, and I hope that you are able to paper over the cracks and get on with things while you heal.
  • Suz replied 8 years ago
    Rae, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us here. You've been through a great deal of stress -- not only with the incident at work but also with changing jobs multiple times and even marriage, which while a happy event, is not stress free. Your mind, heart, and soul need time to adjust, and no wonder. 

    But your style just keeps getting better and better, from what I can see. I am glad you are enjoying the process of rebuilding your closet and your life. 
  • Mo replied 8 years ago
    Wow.  You've been through a lot but being able to so honestly describe how it's changed you and relate that to us is very powerful.  I had a life or death moment with a handgun in a hotel room years back, and it does change you.Loss of innocence is a good way to describe it.  Makes complete sense that the short shorts F21 look does not fit your sense of self any more. You are looking every bit the strong, capable woman these days.  Big hugs that with time this will be one of many life experiences that make up who you are, but becomes more distant, less painful.  
  • Angie replied 8 years ago
    These feelings are very meaningful Rae, part of your ongoing style journey, and journey of self-awareness. They have also coincided with an older you, which is in itself a transition of note despite the addition of the traumatic incident.

    Our outer styles perpetually reflect these inner changes, and that's what is happening to you right now. It's all good, and you are managing the process beautifully :).

    You also have our support every wardrobe item along the way. xo

  • JulieJohn replied 8 years ago
    Rae, thank you for sharing your feelings in this lovely post. As sentients, we all share the craving to communicate. Sometimes it is appropriate to communicate a "keep out" sign, or at least "handle with care". Your "shock of white hair" comment makes me think of you in long gloves, a la young Rogue in X-Men. Have fun with your wardrobe, and say hi to Wolverine for me.
  • ElleH replied 8 years ago
    Rae thanks for sharing with us. I'm sorry you had to endure the attack. Even though I have never met you in person you have my support. I have PTSD from various incidents. I loved your style before & now. Don't feel you need to post or comment more often. As much as I like to help others I don't think YLF is an obligation. Life gets in the way for a lot of us. I know it does me. 
  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago
    Rae, you are a remarkable woman. You're still processing a traumatic experience, but, judging from your post, you are obviously emerging from these experiences with a great deal of wisdom and insight. It's no wonder that you want your outside to reflect these internal changes.

    I'd say go with your instincts and don't be afraid to shed an outer skin that no longer reflects who you are and what you've become. I have no doubt that you'll emerge from this period an even stronger, wiser woman. If changing your wardrobe helps you with this task, then I'd say go for it. Re-invent your style for the woman you want to be going forward instead of hanging on to the girl in your past.
  • Elizabeth P replied 8 years ago
    Thanks for sharing Rae. Don't feel you have to apologize for anything, just let yourself heal. 
  • rebekahphoto replied 8 years ago
    Hi Rae,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, it is so good that you are able to write out all of these feelings, perhaps just the act will empower you even more.
    Your comments resonate with me as well, as last year my family experienced a horrific event. Throughout this last year, full of more stress that I ever could have imagined, I have thought a lot about identity, what is really important in life and how we relate to the outside world. and yes, I also feel the strength of We are still here! We have choices to make on a daily basis, some are simple and some are serious, but I also believe the "joy of style" can be so helpful as we redefine who we are. I love seeing your fashion choices, and reading your thoughts on why you choose what to wear are very inspiring!
  • Peri replied 8 years ago

    Amazing Rae. I've always admired your style, now I admire the whole you.

    You remind me of the article I submitted to the links last week, how the author used clothes and fashion to manage her depression. Sometimes we heal from the inside out and sometimes we heal from the outside in. As long as we heal.

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago
    Big, big hugs, Rae!!  I have noticed your absence and you have been in my thoughts on a daily basis!

    It seems like you are doing all the right things to help yourself heal from this horrific trauma.  It just takes time. 

    I do want to cast my vote for "throw away or sell the jacket that was in the pile with everybody else's jackets during The Event."  If you still love the style, you could even get a new one that wasn't there for the awfulness!

    Love you!!!  XXX OOO
  • replied 8 years ago
    Rae, this is really powerful and I give you huge props for sharing. Last fall, I also went through a traumatic event and can completely relate to how it changes your sense of self and style, too. I'm not sure my style evolution has had nearly as much panache as yours, though! I really relate to what you're saying about whimsical stuff not having a place in your closet right now. I've always expressed myself through color. Right now, some of my favorite springy colors -- pinks, corals and lavenders -- are getting neglected because they don't feel right for how I feel inside. They feel girlish, and boy, do I feel anything BUT girlish and light these days. I've been going for outfits that convey quiet strength -- lots of black, white and gray mixed with "stronger" colors like green, red and cobalt. 

    Anyway, I'm wishing you lots of good thoughts for healing and happiness. I'll leave you with a great quote I read earlier today: "Sometimes the cracks that a broken heart makes and leaves are the very portals to the greatest light and love and learning that we will ever experience."
  • catgirl replied 8 years ago
    Rae, your insights and thoughts are incredibly wise, and I think you are farther along in the healing process than you may know, just by virtue of having these thoughts and articulating them.  I fully understand the need to have clothes that function, protect and ground you somehow, along with the desire to shed an old persona.  For entirely different reasons I'm going through a similar wardrobe struggle and posting less as well - just not sure where I'm headed or how it will pan out.

    (My own brushes with death have involved bear and moose, and while terrifying, somehow they are not the same as a brush with evil, in which you are made into a victim as you were.  That sense of powerlessness must be so frightening, but you can wrest back your power, you really can.)

    Know that you have all of YLF's strength behind you as well as your own strength and resourcefulness.  Yes, you're a wounded warrior, but you will fight through and on, and I have no doubt you'll continue to lead us in inspiration along the way.
  • Vicki replied 8 years ago
    Dear Rae, my So. Cal. kitty, you are wise beyond your years and that's what I admire about you so much, along with your sense of style.

    Yes, you are still here and dealing with the fallout from a very traumatic event.  But, you are seeing it for what it is and seeing yourself as you are, in a state of flux, which means you are working through things, with the help of your therapist.  As Robert Frost said, "the only way out is through," and we are pressed to see things as they are, even though we don't like what we're seeing sometimes.  We've all wanted to be on Team Chuck It All; that's probably a universal feeling.  We can be depressed when things are good and we can experience well-being when times are tough.  If we can declutter (not hoard) our mind with thoughts and emotions and not cling or grasp at anything, we can move a step closer to a more spacious way of living life.

    You are well-equipped, brave and insightful, my friend, and you will get through this.  Believe in yourself and know that life goes on.  This is a transition time for you, as we all have these transitions.  We all face this wall of impermanence and resisting change.  Just be open to what you're feeling and know it's okay.  One more quote:  "you already have everything in your own pure quality if you understand this ultimate fact, there is no fear."

    Rae, you are a lover of life and I can't wait to see your next phase, because I'm with you all the way.  Big hugs!! ^_^
  • Ingunn replied 8 years ago
    Rae, what a strong and powerful young woman you must be, maybe even without feeling it yourself at the moment. You have the power to articulate traumatic feelings and experiences, and you are definitely grown in the best, positive way. Your excellent skills and features will aid you and support you trough the process you're in. I'm confident that you will leave this behind you, and I wholeheartedly support getting rid of anything that holds you back in the sore feelings you described so eloquently. You have killer style, no matter what, and it doesn't hurt that you are very beautiful, too. Big, big hugs!
  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago
    I think you are one of the strongest women I know (well...cyber know). You have not only been through, but SURVIVED a horrific ordeal. I suspect you are feeling and going through everything that goes along with experiencing something like that. You are doing everything right by seeing someone who can help you sort through the emotions.

    You will come out of this on the other side, I truly believe that. It only makes sense that your style is shifting because your outlook on things is shifting. We will be here for you along this new journey, both celebrating your successes and ever increasing KILLER style, as well as hold your hand when you're feeling shaky.

    Thank you for sharing such personal insights with us. It is a privilege.

    And FWIW, I say get rid of The Coat.
  • shedev replied 8 years ago
    Thank you for a very meaningful and well spoken post. My own trauma last year changed the version of me that I want to show the world. Some of the things I loved before feel very foreign to me now. I'm not sure they will ever feel right again. It's good though because this new version feels somehow truer to me. I'd replace the coat, FWIW.
  • replied 8 years ago
    Rae, I so admire the effort you took to articulate your feelings to us and I was very moved by your post. You have been to hell and back and are now slowly trying to regain a sense of 'you'.
    I can't tell you how much I admire you and your sense of style and I will follow your transition now as well. Sending you (hugs)... and telling you to ditch the coat as well. It'll be cathartic to get a new one!
  • Beth Ann replied 8 years ago
    Thank you sharing so much of your thoughts and the internal and external changes that are happening in your life.  I'm so glad you are doing the work needed to heal and become stronger!  We miss your presence, but don't mistake self-care for self-centeredness. 

    God bless, Rae!
  • rachylou replied 8 years ago
    I should say, everything you've said Rae is true. I suppose now I wonder what you will make of your identity, your life, and your style.
  • bj1111 replied 8 years ago

    Healing is a prolonged process. I'm not sure if healed rae will even be close to the same place as unbroken rae. But i think, wherever that place is, you will be stronger.

    Just as the outward reflects and is influenced by the in, the outward can also influence the inner. Aspirational dressing --aspiring to show the new improved rae 2.0-- can help the inner you navigate there.

    Good luck on all of your journeys.

  • Thistle replied 8 years ago
    You are a wise and thoughtful woman. Wishing you a speedy healing, and the refinding of "you". You are a beautiful and stylish woman, both inside and out.

    FWIW, get rid of the coat and replace it. I do not know how it could ever make you feel fab while wearing it again, and you deserve only items that make you look and feel fab.
  • Rambling Ann replied 8 years ago
    Have you considered taking some of your blog posts on the topic and refashioning them into an article for a magazine? I am sure that's the last thing you expected out of the incident, but your words are powerful and better crafted than most stuff I read in the national press. 

    I might actually subscribe to a fashion magazine if it had a column from Rae the spunky SA (undercover of course). I can only imagine what you see all day at your job. 

    Thank you for sharing your talents as part of your healing.
  • annagybe replied 8 years ago
    You can get through this. It will be tough going but I have faith in you.
  • Inge replied 8 years ago
    I'm a little lost for words right now, Rae, your post has really moved me. Thank you for sharing these meaningful thoughts with us. I think it shows great strength, courage and insight to be able to deal with everything that has happened in such a brave, smart and adult way. What you write here shows that you have come a long way already, and we are here to support you whichever way we can.
  • Debbie replied 8 years ago
    You are a wise young woman. You are evolving from a situation which you had no control. You are taking control of an area you can control. IMO this is healthy and shows that you are moving towards healing. We are here for you and I vote get rid of the coat.
  • DonnaF replied 8 years ago
    Thank you for sharing your insights; I feel privileged to read them.

    I am another voice to get rid of that coat even though I was raised to be uber frugal.  But I will add this:  However you send it on its journey, whether by fire (burning) or donation, send it with a note that you will also read aloud describing what you are releasing.  That coat and other symbols, for that is what they are, require a more intentional release than the usual drop off at Goodwill.  JMHO.

    This sounds incredibly trivial, but consider reading Stacy London's The Truth about Style.  I checked it out from the library.  It delves into emotional aspects and the healing power of style.
  • deb replied 8 years ago
    I vote to let the coat go when you are ready. Throw it over the side of a bridge. Stomp on it, Hug it, then let it go. 
  • K. Period. replied 8 years ago
    (((big hugs! lots and lots and lots of hugs.) 

    Rae, I don't have much to add to anything else that everyone has said. I can only say that I think you are a fabulous, strong person. Actually, I do have something to say: get rid of your coat. You can buy a new one free of the memories. It may be an innocent coat, but that doesn't keep it from reminding you of something traumatic. There was a recent post on this very topic by Biscuit's Mom.  Lots of us have walked away from items that were just too strongly associated with bad things. Symbolic actions are powerful and getting rid of something that has bad memories associated with it is a good thing to do.  Ceremonies serve a purpose for us humans.  "Smudge" the heck out of it with a sage stick and tell it you are sending it along where it can make someone else happy and get rid of it.  
  • replied 8 years ago

    Rae, first and foremost, I am feeling like i should hug you (hug)
    As you know, I was left with PTSD as a result of my medical trauma of a couple years ago, and heck, do I feel silly saying so. I think the common denominator is surviving a near death experience, and boy have we! I did struggle for a long time with trying to find my old self and as such, I share a lot of the feelings you have so well described here. You will find the old pieces of you coming back. For instance, yesterday, for the first time in three years, I thought of looking into camping sites for the summer. That used to be my favorite activity in summer. You will see the old pieces of you surface and mesh with that new person.
    I still cannot tolerate the show Dr. Who, which was playing in the background during one of my worst panic attacks and I did get rid of all of the casual stay home clothes I wore when I was home sick. This is all part of the process of finding out who you will be, and that is OK.
    Please know that I'm here if you ever need to talk.

  • Janet replied 8 years ago
    Just popping in quickly, so I didn't read all the responses, but I just had to chime in to say you are not being selfish now at all. Or if you are, it's totally justified. You need to take care of you first and foremost. You went through something very difficult, and change in the wake of that is inevitable. Thank you for sharing all of this with us, because expressing vulnerability like this is not easy. You will be fine, and we will be there for you! 

    I say let go of the coat. I hung onto items from the night my mother died for way too long. I finally got rid of them and felt an enormous weight lift from my closet. 
  • rae replied 8 years ago
    Once again, you have all floored me with the genuine feelings and support here. I really need to respond to some thongs individually when I get home, but for now: thank you for all shared and said. If I ever do make this into a magazine article I have to add our wonderful fashion community as part of the healing forces.
  • Raisin replied 8 years ago

    Oh my, I just want to give you a big hug! You've been through so much and your feelings are very insightful. Thanks for sharing, that was very moving, and no need to apologize for anything. You do sound like you're headed in a healing direction though, so keep up the good work and I hope you feel like yourself again soon.

  • Sona replied 8 years ago
    You have some amazingly wonderful responses already for sharing  bits of your soul with us. I will only add: I totally relate. Style, fashion can be very healing. You might hate certain 'items'-clothing, hair etc. at the current time but they are just parts not the whole. Crawling out for the 'hole' to becoming 'whole' will be long..... but each day can make it better even a teeny tiny bit. Spoken from the heart and soul. fly with whatever your heart chooses for now.... the dust will eventually settle and a more semblance of normalcy will prevail.
  • replied 8 years ago
    You are wise beyond your years, dear Rae.  Big hugs.  
  • Caro in Oz replied 8 years ago
    Your post has really touched me rae. Taking care of yourself is not the same as being selfish - right now it is what you need to do most. 

    I say get rid of the coat & anything else that has negative associations for you. They are replaceable:)
  • Eliza replied 8 years ago
    Rae- So sorry to hear about your trauma.  Given how much I learned from just reading your post, I can imagine how far you are coming in your own process.  Best to you and thank you for the capacity to share. 
  • MNsara replied 8 years ago
    Such wise insights, rae!  Your inner strength and instincts are serving you well on this tough healing road.

    By all means, let go of the coat, if that seems to be the best choice.  Or find a way to conquer the coat, if that would be a symbolic victory . . . whatever works best for you, now, where you are at in this process.

    No one will think you selfish for fewer posts, or other changes you need to make.  YLF is here to support and encourage you, not make judgments about participation!

    We're all rooting for you :-)   and hugs too!

  • shevia replied 8 years ago
    It is not the events that define us but our reaction to them. You went through a terrible experience and are emerging a stronger, wiser, more insightful person. Our style, clothes and so on are something we can control in a world we so often cannot - it makes sense that you are taking control of that now and changing. Post when you want. And get rid of the coat!
  • Jenava replied 8 years ago
    Rae, you are so articulate!  You have helped me start to think about some things that I need to address.

    Look at you, how hard you've worked to come this far.  I applaud you; you are showing the world how strong and amazing you are!
  • sarah replied 8 years ago
    Rae, I am awed by your insightfulness and your ability to articulate everything you are going through. You are one strong, resilient woman. And most definitely you are not being selfish by taking the time/space you need to work through what you need to work through.
  • CocoLion replied 8 years ago
    I have been thinking about this all day and don't even know where to start.  I wish we could talk in person!  Let me just say, I think you are very wise to deal with things now, rather than 20 years later.  When undealt with issues evolve into all sorts of new problems.  Maybe this is also a time to deal with other issues in your past (now that you're doing the work).  And by all means, purge that closet if it feels right.  Even if you end back at the same style point.
  • Deborah replied 8 years ago
    Rae I am not sure what to say but I will say that it is incredibly special that you are able to articulate as you have and feel comfortable sharing so opening with us.  I personally feel very privileged that you have let me in your world in this way.  I also think that your process is brilliant and healthy.  Much better to work through these things now than later.  And I completely relate to how you feel about your outward appearance reflecting what's inside... it's brings about an authenticity.  Sending you a hug.  You are an awesome woman.
  • rae replied 8 years ago

    Ceit, I like thinking of clothes as armour. And now I am having a new suit of armor made to repel a threat I hadn’t imagined before.


     Suz, you are right – it seems like I’ve had two years of nonstop stress. Just when you think you’ve adapted…


    Mo, I’m so sorry that you had to go through something similar. But seeing you so strong and happy is very heartening. Thank you for sharing your experience.


    Angie, yes… I have a milestone coming up, too. I am sure that is weighing on my mind as well and influencing my style.


    Julie, thank you for the Rogue comparison. Not only is she strong, but she has that whole thing going with Gambit. ;)


    Elle, I am sorry to hear you have PTSD, too. It sure isn’t fun… but like Mo, you are an inspiration to pull myself up by the bootstraps and endeavor to be a cool chic despite it all.


    Gaylene, I like the term “re-invent” a lot. Like I am the product of my own design – and not a Vonnegut-esque victim of a series of accidents.


    Rebekah, my heart goes out to your family. I hope that you are all healing and finding yourselves again. Hugs


    Perl, I read that article in the links! Thank you for submitting it! Even though I was not to the point where I didn’t care about my looks, the part about self care really resonated.


    Mary, you have been in my thoughts as well! It does take time… preferably time spent at happy hour with good friends and mini sliders, right?  <3


     Stacey, not you, too! I hope you are doing better and that your strong colors are lifting you up. Beautiful quote – I hope the cracks do let the light in.


    Una, you hit the nail on the head… there is something extra icky about a brush with evil. But yes, I am trying to wrest the power back. It is easier with the YLF army at my back. J


    Vicki, you are a treasure trove of inspiring quotes (I collect quotes, too, but mine were usually funny or obtuse). But the best thing is just that you said, “it’s okay.” You know, sometimes that’s all you want to hear.


    Shannon, thank you for your kind words. I know I don’t feel too strong most days. I appreciate the hand holding immensely.


    Shedev, thank you for sharing your experience – it is good to know someone else felt the same way.


    Rachy, I wonder the same! Don’t let me become boring, ok?


    BJ, very well-said. Aspirational dressing as part of the navigation process sounds exactly right.


    Rambling Ann, I am very flattered by your suggestion. Seriously. It used to be my dream to write. I wonder how I would even go about pitching something like that…


    Inge, you are so articulate, it is hard to think of you as lost for words. I am glad you saw meaning in the post – I am always afraid it might be seen as whining or begging for attention. Thank you for the support.


    K, you are so right. I definitely hear you about the power of symbolism – especially since I tend to think symbolically naturally. And I do have sage in the freezer. J


    Zap, I am hugging you back. You are another fine example of Someone Who Survived – not only an initial incident, but you survived the PTSD as well. Thank you for sharing your triggers, as it makes me feel much better about my own.


    Janet, thank you for sharing about your clothes. There is a little voice that nags me to keep the coat, but what you say about it keeping a weight on the shoulders rings true.


    Sona, you are yet another woman who I especially look up to during this time. I know you had your own trials this year, and you somehow emerged even more beautiful inside and out. I love your use of “hole” and “whole” – they are just one letter apart… that isn’t much difference at all, right? I can do that, like you, one step at a time.


    Denise, I wish we could talk in person, too! From our past talks, I know you have a lot of wisdom. Very good idea to deal with other issues at the same time – the new issues definitely have aggravated some old ones. I get scared that the doctor will say he is only supposed to help with the PTSD, but you never know…

    I know I have missed some of you, and I hope you aren't offended if I did! I very much appreciate all your wisdom, insights, and suggestions. Reading the comments here is a great boost that keeps me going. :) 

  • Firecracker replied 8 years ago
    Rae, thank you for sharing a little of what's going on with you. I had no idea, and I hope you continue to feel stronger and more like yourself each day. Your post is so well thought-out and articulate. I admire your style so much, but also your contributions to the forum discussions. Don't feel at all selfish about time away; we miss you but I can't imagine that any of us would feel you are neglecting us. I'm grateful you're here--a survivor!--and here, on the forum, too, when you are able to be.
  • Ariadne replied 8 years ago
    Oh, Rae.  I've been wondering how you're doing.  Thank you for trusting us enough to share.  Sending heaps of love your way!
  • TraceyLiz65 replied 8 years ago
    You are an amazingly strong and powerful woman, Your insights are incredible, which is a necessary thing for healing.  Loving yourself through this is key, so retail therapy is helpful. Even your awareness of not going to far into hoarding is amazing.  I say anything to extremes can be bad. My advice is that music can be very healing and so is dancing...   Sending you great big hugs and prayers for continued healing....
  • texstyle replied 8 years ago
    Rae, so many great thoughts here - so glad you are able to talk about it. I don't have much to add, except to offer virtual ((hugs)). I can't help but think of that song "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..." And you know, I think I just realized how much use music to heal. So many songs I will sing in my mind to help distract me from stress.
  • T-Rex replied 8 years ago
    Rae, I feel honored that you would share such personal information with us here. That is a sign of strength. Like the others, I want you to get past this feeling of guilt about being diagnosed with PTSD. It isn't just for soldiers. I had a counselor tell me once that despite my issues and struggles, I was essentially mentally healthy. I was just going through a period where my resources were overrun by the bad stuff I was going through. And she told me that it can happen to *anyone*. So don't feel bad about needing help, and don't feel bad because you have this idea that you shouldn't need help. We all need help from time to time.

    As for the changes you are going through concerning your style, I believe that will work itself out in time. You may end up coming out the other end of this with a style very much like what you started with. Or you may have a variation of that style. Or you may find yourself with a completely different style persona. It will just take time, and some experimentation.

    How long has that coat been in storage? I'm going to be contrary here and suggest that you keep it for now. There is sometimes power in "reclaiming" something that may have gone from being loved to having a negative association. Even if you wear it once, then give it away or destroy it afterward. Or, after you have worked through some of what you are dealing with, you may decide to keep the coat in another form. Maybe you could alter it, or cut it up and use the fabric for something else. You may find that therapeutic. In any event, you will know in your gut when it is time to deal with the coat, and with anything else you may have been wearing that day that now feels tainted to you. If you rush it before you are ready, you may be missing out on a therapeutic tool you can use later on.

  • Marley replied 8 years ago
    Rae - I am really glad that you wrote and shared this.  That, in and of itself, is  a really healthy thing that you did  to help you work through the process of your horrific experience - and the resulting PTSD.  The fact that you are opening yourself up this way, indicates that you are making progress - and are in the process of healing. 

    The thing about PTSD is that people sometimes forget that you are suffering from it - because for all outward appearances, you can seem fine - most of the time!  But, you're not - even when you appear to be.  Something has happened that has changed you in a deep and significant way.  I just want to encourage you to keep talking/writing/sharing about it however you can - it will not only help you but it will keep those around you aware and sensitive to your internal world and your needs right now. 

    I'm here if you'd like to get together and talk sometime, OK?  Love you much!
  • Kristin L replied 8 years ago
    Hi Rae,

    I'm sending you big hugs. I was diagnosed with PTSD after a very bad car accident when I was 17. It can feel silly talking about it and thinking about others diagnosed with it, but you can't think about it like that. Your main focus needs to be on healing. 

    Oh, and get rid of the coat. Give it away, sell it, whatever you want to do with it, just get it out of your life. I had to do that with everything, including my glasses, that I wore that day.

  • Sveta replied 8 years ago
    Hugs, Rae! You really have been through a life-changing experience and have to give yourself time for healing. I agree with Marley - just writing about your feelings like this must be a healing process in itself. When you can logically think and analyze the feelings like this it means you are taking control.
    Please don't feel and guilt or shame, you are really a little soldier going through the battlefield but there is peace ahead for sure!
    <<< More hugs!!>>> 
  • Adelfa replied 8 years ago
    Rae, so sorry I missed this the first time around. And so sorry for what happened. A close friend experienced a gunman coming in to the ER where she was working, and I've seen how tough that is to recover from. 

    I love the idea that you are honoring yourself and the changes inside by expressing them on the outside.

    I also love what you said at the end of your post: "But I don't think I will always be that way." I think that is so true in so many ways, most importantly in that you will not always feel like this. 

    Thank you for letting us know.

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago
    Rae, I am always up for happy hour and mini sliders!  In fact I am off work next Wed through Memorial Day and would love to get together if you are free!!  :)
  • rosee replied 8 years ago
    Rae, I don't have much to add to what was already well said above.  I will keep you in my prayers and hope for healing.  I do believe this, though difficult, will make you grow in great ways.  You are already very insightful and wise beyond your years.  Thank you for sharing something so poignant and personal.
  • krishnidoux replied 8 years ago
    Big, big hugs to you! Thank you for opening up here and sharing your insightful thoughts. This traumatic event has clearly affected you in more than one way. You have suffered extreme stress. PTSD is very serious! But you are showing so much resilience here. I think your reactions (coat, eggs...) can only be normal. And so is your new awareness about yourself, which you describe so sensitively and with such intelligence. Yes, it will bring about style changes. As you will experience up and downs towards this change, don't forget, during the down times, that your perception might be temporarily veiled, and that you might not see it the same on another day. And that is normal too. It is very scary to walk in a new, unknown direction. And it shakes one to the chore to discover all at once that 1) human beings are vulnerable 2) your own perception of reality is not always final. (That there could be other ones).

    You are doing so well. And you are so beautiful with your new hair and style! My only recommendation through it all is to still watch out for your finances... because sometimes we do things when we are in a certain state of mind that can make the recovery harder later on. You know, like someone who suffers depression and gains 100 pounds, and then when they are better are still stuck with the extra  weight... It is good that you buy new clothes but help yourself by setting limits or maybe opening up another bank account in which you put money aside, or by having an account just for clothes, or another strategy of the sort... 

    Lots of love to you

  • T-Rex replied 8 years ago
    One more thing...

    Keep in mind that your recovery will not be linear. You will move forward a few steps, then one day you may move back a bit to an earlier stage in the process. Be patient with yourself. It's going to be all back and forth when observing it in the short term, which will be frustrating, but you are going forward overall when you look at it from a distance.  

    Please feel free to write about any of this here again if you want to. I am willing to listen even though I'm relatively new compared to most of you. And I can see many of these people care about you very much.
  • rae replied 8 years ago
    Thank you for encouraging me to write about this here; I do find it therapeutic!

    Marley, you are 100% on the money. Even DH sometimes doesn't understand that I am not "well" yet and still feeling the effects of PTSD. 

    Kristen, I'm sorry to hear about your accident, that does sound really upsetting. It is comforting, though, to hear that you did the same thing and had to purge items from the incident.

    Mary, I am off work that Thurs and Fri (23-24). Would love to work something out if you are free!

    Krishnidoux, thank you for your wisdom. Yes, I do have finances on the brain even while I'm replacing and purging and shopping. I am reselling a lot, and that helps, but I also am mindful of my savings and income. Luckily, my expenses are very low. :)

    T-Rex, you are so right! It is definitely not linear. My doctor says the exact same. There are good days and bad right next to one another. It's good to know to expect that so I'm not horrified when it happens. 
  • Carole replied 8 years ago

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. I have nothing more to add to all the wonderful advice and comments but just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and sending good healing prayers and vibes your way.

  • Isabel replied 8 years ago
    Rae, what a powerful post by a powerful and strong woman. Being scared for your life, is being scared for your life no matter where it happens. 

    Big, big hugs your way.  

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