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Blog: Survivor Stories

Hope in the Most Unlikely Places

D.F. had a difficult childhood and his family struggled financially. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were self-sufficient and took care of things ourselves.”

While they did get by, it wasn’t that simple. A stressful and traumatic childhood was made more stressful with the traumatic loss of two pets at a young age, both dogs.

“It all started in 3rd grade. I can’t explain what happened, but I remember I was angry and would fight. I got in a lot of trouble in school and with the legal system because of fighting. I was either levelheaded, or angry, no in between.”

And not knowing what to do with all his emotions, D.F. constantly reverted to anger. “I didn’t know what to do with all the emotions and anger I felt, so I fought. Anyone, anywhere, it didn’t matter, I even got into a fight with the principal. There were times I would get reprimanded at home for not sticking up for a kid the bully was pushing around and taken to go fight the bully. I have 18 assaults on my record, that’s all I knew, to fight.” These episodes of violence left D.F. with multiple brain injuries.

In adulthood, D.F. was married, and raising children. When his mom died, he turned to methamphetamine to cope. His wife was also using.

“Maybe things will get better I thought, if we were doing something together, it would make a difference. I have struggled with abandonment and boundaries. I worry about what others think of me, these issues have gotten me to where I am today, in jail.”

Interviewing D.F. made it clear – he finally is working on growing emotionally and has learned some valuable lessons about coping and reacting with the long term in mind. He’s got a more positive outlook and has some valuable advice to anyone who is struggling.

“Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do. Moving forward I want to help others. I want to do something besides carpenter or mechanic work. I want my success to be seen as rehabilitation and show others they can be successful, too.”

While everyone is affected by trauma differently, one thing remains the same, trauma affects the brain and makes changes in the way information is processed, leaving us with behaviors that are unacceptable, impulse control issues, and even addiction, as we learn to hide our pain in substances. Remember those words of wisdom spoken by someone learning a new path and focusing on each day moving forward, “Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do.”

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