It’s okay with me that there are nights that I can’t sleep. It’s okay that sometimes I have flashbacks and I get too scared to fall asleep because I am afraid of the nightmares. What really screws up my days are the early mornings.

This morning I woke up at 5 am. Every muscle in my body was tense, I was sweating, I was ready to fight, I was terrified. I was back in that dark place. I was getting hurt. And I was completely trapped inside my body with no escape. It’s a very strange thing to wake up because of horror going on in my subconscious. Especially when the horror in the nightmare is something that happened.

I think my eyes opened before I even woke up. It took me only a few seconds to remind myself, “you are here, you are safe, it is quiet, no one is going to hurt you now.” But those were some long seconds. And there was certainly not going to be anymore sleep happening. Thankfully, 5 am is a relatively reasonable time to be awake. Thankfully, I have been through this enough times that my automatic response to remembering trauma is to be grateful. Of course, I feel anger and sadness and frustration. However, anger and sadness and frustration rot me from the inside out. Gratitude, I have found, is the best combatant. And it works. I just started listing things I am grateful for until the noise and the tears and the pain faded away and I came back to my life today.

My life today is not a life lived in fear. My life today is safe. It is secure. Sure, I was a little frustrated that I lost some hours of sleep, but I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I went downstairs with my baby blanket wrapped around me and had a dance break.

I just googled, as I have many times (you never know about new developments), “how long does it take for PTSD to go away.” It doesn’t, really. But my life today is so minimally affected by my PTSD because I have done a lot of work to get through the tough symptoms and come to terms with what happened. I will continue to do that work, and I will continue to be a proud survivor of some tough shit. However, I am exhausted.

an open letter to myself

Dear Sim,

I need you to understand that you are worthy of love. You are worthy of this life, and all the gifts that come with it. You are worthy of the good stuff. You deserve to feel safe, I know sometimes you feel lost in the woodwork, lost in the chaos. that’s where you spent a lot of your life. You don’t need chaos. You have never thrived in chaos, and you likely wont now. It’s scary to face the unknown. While you look forward at your future, I want you to do so with the knowledge that you deserve love. You deserve safety. You deserve authenticity. You deserve all of these things solely because you exist. You don’t need to achieve huge things in order to get love and security.

In this moment, I want you to remember that life is unpredictable. You don’t need to live in fear of unpredictability. You don’t need to live your life prepared for the worst. Sometimes, the worst happens. All you can do, and all I am asking of you, is to show up to the best of your ability today. Show up and know within you that you are worthy of love and belonging. You have things to say and things to do and people to help. Let your voice be heard. Speak up. Speak up for the people who are like you, the people who are fearful and unsure. Speak up most of all for yourself.

Take action. Even when the most action you can take is to breath in and breath out. I know the future is freaking you out right now. A lot is happening. Here’s the thing– the future is going to happen whether you are ready for it or not. I know, I know, that sucks. Remember that it’s also beautiful and wonderful. Remember that it’s only going to happen one day at a time. So all you need to do is take it one day at a time. Do what you can today. Ask for help when you need it. Keep dancing.

I love you unconditionally. I am proud of you,