Broken Places: A View From the Other Side (Part 4 of 5)

And in that first phone conversation she wasn’t ready to tell me.

But whether implicitly or explicitly, one thing Wanda told me in our first conversation was that she was divesting of her possessions and giving them to the people she loved.

She had stopped working in an office with people she’d worked with for a decade – to live and work alone at home. Her family even called her “the hermit.”

She was terrorized by nightmares and flashbacks. Symptoms she’d suffered with for years were escalating.

And coping mechanisms that had helped her control
the pain of PTSD were no longer working.

Wanda believed she was broken beyond repair. But it was easy for me to see that everything about her made sense–that from the time she was a child, she had created a way to cope with the pain of her life. But the coping mechanisms were failing. They ALWAYS do.

The problem was, she’d already tried drug rehab programs, eating disorder clinics, counseling, therapy, and cried out to God for years for healing. She believed she was “unfixable.” And she’d had friends for ten years who had never seen her face and who only knew her through Internet relationships.

I wasn’t sure of anything – except one thing: God. I WAS sure that He is who He says He is… and that He loved Wanda more than any of us ever could. And that He was reaching out to her through… me!

In spite of all the efforts Wanda had made to address her PTSD, I believed Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, WV could help her. And not only help her, give her back her life. I believed God had put Wanda’s name in my head, picked three songs that told her story, and urged me to call her. Then a week before I called her, he made sure I knew about Allen, a young man who was healed of a lifetime of  struggle with PTSD at Intensive Trauma Therapy in just five days of outpatient treatment.

I figured God had set everything up in the first place,

and He had the details all figured out.

 

During that first visit, Wanda and I went to a public park and completed the intake forms for Intensive Trauma Therapy. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty.

To be continued…

Broken Places. A View from the Other Side. (Part 3 of 5)

by guest blogger,Shelly Beach
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I “met” Wanda Sanchez when she booked me to talk about my book, The Silent Seduction of Self Talk, on the  San Francisco radio show that she produces. Light_at_the_End_of_the_Tunnel

I guess I did a good job because afterwards she booked me to do a series of shows on my caregiving books.

We never talked, but why would we? I lived in Michigan, and she lived in California. She sent me emails about what time to answer my phone and arranged all the aspects of the upcoming segments.

That was it.

Two weeks passed. A month, and the voice kept nagging.

Out of curiosity, I looked up Wanda Sanchez on Facebook—a woman who had a bazillion friends and certainly didn’t need another one. But I couldn’t find a shred of personal information about her except for one tiny fact: she had a heart for inner-city missions and broken people.

Since it seemed I wouldn’t get any peace until I called her, I decided to pitch a friend to be on her show: Steve Siler, founder of Music for the Soul. Steve is a Dove Award-winning songwriter who’s written hundreds of songs on all kinds of tough issues: suicide, breast cancer, special needs children, sexual abuse, pornography, and other things the church has a hard time talking about.

 

Even though Wanda’s emails told me she clearly wasn’t interested in chatting, she scheduled me for ten minutes. I could tell I was lucky to get that.

Without really thinking, I sent Wanda three songs by my friend Steve: Dead Hearts Don’t Cry—about the pain of sexual abuse, Every Single Tear—how God cares about our heartaches, and Renee is Fourteen—the story of a broken child who runs away from home and hitchhikes from Kansas to California to escape the pain of her life.

Duh.

So I was surprised when an angry, defensive Wanda answered the phone without so much as a “hi.”

Just a single cold question:

 

“Why did you send me those songs?”

 

The only answer I had was the truth. “I read on Facebook that you have a heart for people in inner city missions. So I sent you Renee Is Fourteen because I figured you probably knew a Renee. And if you knew a Renee, I thought you probably cared about her.

 

For the next two and a half hours she spewed her story like water from a broken hydrant on a steaming summer day.

 

And, then, the jaw-dropping fact that she’d hitchhiked across the country and back as a fourteen-year-old teenager. She was not only Renee, she was every song God had directed me to send her.

These were the facts: Wanda was planning to kill herself–soon-and she needed trauma treatment – fast.

 

But God had a plan… even though neither one of us couldn’t quite see it yet.

 

(To be continued…)

 

* To receive free downloads of the songs mentioned above, write to steve@musicforthesoul.org.

** If you haven’t downloaded your COMPLIMENTARY copy of our e-book, The Truth About Trauma, click here  to go the download page. Great information and a valuable resource. Download  your COMPLIMENTARY copy today!

Broken Places, Part 2

woman-with-head-in-hands.2

The darkness. The compulsion to die. I couldn’t shake the obsession… no matter what I did.

I prayed.  I read the Bible.  I ate. I ate more.  I got high. And tried to get higher each time I used. I got numb. I zoned out.

For months, my prayers had been short and to the point: 

“HELP!”

Even though I was emotionally numb, I was also in intense emotional pain, and that confused me even more. In order to simply move through my days, I had to “go away.”

 

Moments ran into moments ran into minutes ran into hours ran
into days ran into weeks ran into months ran into years.

 

And no matter what I did, I was drowning under the crushing feeling of hopelessness. I didn’t feel that I had one single reason to be alive. I was loved, I knew that. I had a wonderful family, immediate and extended, and they loved me. But that means nothing when all you feel is a deficit of hope. I felt a bottomless emptiness.

 

At the end, I was constantly battling to simply stay alive. I was battling NOT to swallow a handful of pills. I was battling NOT to blow my brains out. I was battling NOT to drive over a cliff or step off the curb into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler. 

 

I was exhausted from the never-ending battle. Nightmares were a regular occurrence, so I stopped sleeping.

 

I was nearing fifty, and nothing I was doing was working anymore. All of my coping mechanisms, unhealthy and/or dangerous, were failing me. The darkness pushed me into a corner. I felt like I had to remind myself to merely take a breath.

 

 I was in trouble, and if I was going to live, I needed help.

 

Enter Intensive Trauma Treatment… 

(to be continued)

Broken Places, Part 1

broken-mirror001I’m a survivor of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For over four decades, I struggled to find a way to live my life looking like I was doing great. And most of the time I did that successfully. I was the executive producer of the longest-running conservative talk show in one of the top five markets in the country. I had a comfortable savings account and traveled when and where I wanted. I was the eldest of a large clan of siblings–none of whom had the slightest idea of the emotional minefield I was tiptoeing through every single hour of every single day.

 

Broken places.

 

I had plenty of them…and I just didn’t know HOW or WHERE to get help, I didn’t know how to ASK for help.

 

But I did. Everyday. In my prayers. I prayed the shortest prayer in history:

 

“Dear God, HELP!!!!! Amen.”

 

 

The dark times and my addictions kept me hidden from most people. I was privileged to have a job that allowed me to work from anywhere in the world as long as I had an internet connection. There were weeks when I didn’t see another human being–even loved ones I was connected to.

 

Because of the narrowness of my world, I kept giving everyone around me the ol’ heave ho, and things continued closing in on me until I was living almost constantly in survival mode – emotionally and physically. I felt ashamed and guilty. In my eyes, I was a failure, unworthy to be alive. No matter who my famous friends were or how great my job was or how awesome my family was, I simply wanted to die.

Broken places.

 

                                 I knew I was broken.

 

                                                                               Really broken. 

                                         And I didn’t believe I was fixable.

 

 

I’d tried EVERYTHING over the years.Multiple residential drug treatment programs. Residential eating disorder units. I think I single-handedly supported the families of at least a couple of therapists/counselors over a period of years.

 

 At the end, right before I entered intensive trauma treatment, I was pretty clear on the fact that something was horribly wrong with me and that I was in deep, deep trouble.

 

Little did I know that God was about to answer my prayer.

(to be continued…)