Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 10/31/2022
For Halloween I am going to talk to you about some of the scariest moments of my life. I’m hoping that this can serve as both an outlet for myself as well as some teaching moments for anyone that can relate. Some of these traumas are going to be serious and triggering, but I can assure you that I am absolutely more ‘okay’ than I have been in a long time. Life get’s scary, but I am happy that it get’s balanced out with joy. We are lucky that scary and suffering are fleeting. But, trauma does live with us forever, we must manage it daily. The road to recovery is not someting to take lightly.
MY SCARY Moments:
My Mother used to leave me alone with strangers: My mother was addicted to both Alcohol and Methamphetamine. For years, my memories of her were often long drawn out comas where myself and my older brother had to ‘fend for ourselves’. We fed ourselves, we sought out neighbors that had food. We were very much alone. Cosurvivors. In the three years of our mother having custody, we collectively remember at least 12 different homes. She only stuck around when it was a boyfriends home, but she did not always supervise. Without going into too many details, we (My brother and I) were exposed to traumatizing things. I was physically abused by one of my mother’s boyfriends, I also witnessed molestation. I saw porn too young, I saw people getting intimate in the same room… again, I was way too young. There are accounts from some of my family members on my mothers side where they were afraid for me; they saw me with many daiper rashes, & head lice. I did not receive formal education until I was six and I was behind on reading. My teeth were so rotted by the time I was rescued and brought to my grandmothers, that I required 5 caps… on my baby teeth. I have been terrified of the dentist ever since.
My Brother Attempted Suicide: Yes, the same brother that endured neglect and abandonment & abuse with me developed mental health issues. He reported our bio mother hit him a lot, she never did hit me. This could make all the difference. My rage was implosive vs explosive. I feared my brother for years, his anger got the best of him and he took quite a bit out on me. But I also learned to be a fighter very early on. Unfortunately some of our fights escalated to some very toxic levels. We both had suicidal gestures in our preteen to teen years. We both threatened suicide toward each other. But nothing compares to the scare of almost losing him, when he almost did end his life as a young adult; with alcohol and pills. I am so damn proud of him for making it through everything. Now he is in a happy marriage and has a job he enjoys. He also gave me a beautiful niece and nephew.
I Endured Bootcamp: Bootcamp was stressful and scary! But oddly enough it’s quite comical to think about now. I left my hometown eager to ‘never return’, only to be crying on my first night of bootcamp and thinking to myself ‘maybe my parents weren’t so bad after alll…..’ (My Dad and stepmother). I really had a disdain for my parents at the time, but they taught me to endure everything I had ahead of me. Growing up in a bootcamp type of household can absolutely prepare you for Bootcamp. My father was a marine after all. Bootcamp involves sleep deprivation, starvation, a gas chamber (tear gas), shooting guns, getting verbally abused every single day, getting physically tested to your limits. I remember being put on my face so much during 120 degree weather on asphalt, my hand skin started to burn and peel off. I was threatened to be ‘fired’ from the Air Force and shipped home. (That’s just a mental game they play, but it feels so real in the moment) My whole life flashed before my eyes as I feared the ‘failure’ of returning home with nothing accomplished. But, I DID get through it.
I deployed to a Combat Zone; Afghanistan: My Dad told me many times that Bootcamp has to be HARD, because they are preparing you for WAR. He was right. War is scary. The intrusive memory of walking off of a C-130 with my Ruck sack and stepping onto Afghanistan soil is permanently etched into my memory. What can I say other than we never forget war? I won’t forget my base getting bombed, I won’t forget my combat stress team and I losing a patient to suicide, I won’t forget indirect fire from enemy combatants. I won’t forget seeing the man on a stretcher that died from a mortar attack. I won’t forget when Afghan locals stared at me eerily (while also armed), as they had never seen females with uncovered faces until they worked on a U.S. Military base. I won’t forget dozens and dozens of helicopter rides over combat soil, with the anxiety of knowing Helos get shot down all the time; just 1 week before my first travel, a marine was shot in the neck while midst Helo ride. It was six straight months of off the wall scary things, but we don’t talk about it.
I was a Social worker in Brooklyn during the COVID Pandemic: I was able to go into the pandemic calmly, a war zone prepares you for everything. But my hopelessness and helplessness feelings were exacerbated for the next year or so. I also remember a lot of anger. First off, in NYC, you are going to get COVID. There was never any doubt in my mind that I was destined to get it, and I did. Twice. Taking care of patients through the pandemic; that was the real nightmare. Imagine countless hours, anywhere from 6-8 hours a day of listening to people while their mental and physical health deteriorates freak out and talk about Covid and Trump. All day, everyday, for 1.5 years. In your ear, on the phone, while construction and Demo are going on all around you. I started developing severe migraines. One of my patients died, pnemenia or covid? Or perhaps both. I developed covid symptoms and took time off, I never did get tested. Why not? The hospitals in NYC were so overpacked, I refused to be a part of that problem, since I was young ish and healthy. Also, being a social worker meant helping people through the terror of facing job loss, financial crisis, homelessness and a rise in domestic violence.
I survived Domestic Violence: My Ex fiancé (I’m ashamed to even call him that) took me through the worst three years of my life. I would say 80 percent of that relationship was misery. From experiencing an extreme amount of verbal abuse (he name called, blamed, manipulated), to constantly feeling confused due to his compulsion to pathologically lie. Anyone that has lived with a pathological liar can attest to this: they make you feel insane. You question your reality, also because they will gaslight you on the regular. He had very creative ways to use me, he found my vulnerabilities and exploited them to his advantage. Such as triggering my savior complex. He was even physically abusive a few times (shoved me to the ground, threw things at me). He decided to end the relationship with a beautiful cherry on top: left me for our Martial arts Trng partner (who was also ten years younger than us). He wanted me to stay in NYC & still be in a “casual relationship with him”, I took off back to CA and blocked him. Best decision I ever made.
I experienced a Drug Induced Psychotic Episode: I wont say when, or the exact name of what I took. (As not to incriminate myself) But I will discuss what happened because it’s important to educate the public; I have taken several different drugs to self medicate. And most of the time, nothing awful happened. But, when you take something in a time of mental crisis, that is when you are likely to go too far. I experienced a psychotic break that many refer to as “ego death”. I lost my orientation to who I was, where I was, what time era I was in and more. There was both hallucinations and delusions. I also experienced intrusive suicidal thought, while also fearing death; it was back-and-forth between the two. I am definitely abstinent from this particular substance. No matter what you plan on trying, please please please discuss with a Doctor! (I’ve also sought out substance abuse treatment and I’m not afraid to admit it)
One thought on “BOO!!! (Trigger ⚠️ Warning)”
I am crying tears for all your pain, abuse, and all the things we couldn’t help you with. But I am also crying tears of joy for your recovery, braveness, and ability to fight through, to live again and to be able to share to help those of us who need it. We are so DAMN proud of you!
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