(This was Thursday, January 28, 2016 Topic on Periscope)
My name is Bree Nowacki.
I am an artist, a writer and a public speaker. I write as Bree N. about my personal journey with PTSD and Life Beyond PTSD while healing from a Traumatic Brain Injury alongside the uncertainty of life with Multiple Sclerosis. I have been a featured PTSD blogger for 3 years at the United States First Responder Association. Through this association I had the privilege of being part of the Roundtable discussion “How to Fix FireFighter PTSD.”. This discussion is published at the digital version of “Fire Chief” magazine, volume 2 number 1 winter 2016 and was written by Retired Battalion Chief, Robert Avsec,
My blog at WordPress is called simply “Life Beyond PTSD.” It is about transitioning out of PTSD/TBI therapy. In November I began writing a novel called “The Licorice Whip Girl”. My daughter and I publish weekly installments online of this book and all those links are accessible via the clicking the link in my bio which will take you to the webpage graciously donated by Open Bottle Society for my endeavor #Cookies4Scopers.
Today I’d like to talk about the person I know myself to be.
I have never been one to stay silent. Hidden away yes but silent? Never. Because I have chosen the hard path of not remaining silent in the face of unbecoming behavior, there are people in this world who believe –I- am the reason they have lost their job, their careers or are in prison. These are people who do not take any responsibility for their own behavior but instead place the blame on me for reporting them.
Most people are taken in by the happy persona whose mask I regular wear and embody. They would also be underestimating the depth of the person I am. Because there is another side to me.
In my writing the subjects have covered sexual harassment on the jobs I held. They have discussed on the job issues of porn addiction, hormone addiction, relationship addiction, and drug addiction. Other topics have spoken about the even harder subjects of torture, water boarding, abuse and predatory behavior of a sexual nature. There is nothing which is held taboo for me. This is because I believe words are important. They hold power and in this power there is a responsibility to speak out about the brutal truths. These are truths everyone knows, yet will deny they exist. They will say they do not need to be shared, they should remain private, hidden away like the ‘dirty secrets’ they are.
I would argue this is why they are ‘dirty secrets’ it is because we do not put the light of day upon them until the person has been ‘caught in the act’. It does not matter if they have been doing this behavior for years, bullying for years on end, abusing for years on end. Destroying lives for years on end. It only matters if
THEY GET CAUGHT.
What I have learned from the experiences I have encountered and endured since my 20’s is this. We are complacent to the ugliness in the world. We want to only see the happy, the joy, and to cover up the ugly side, pretend it does not exist in the first place.
I have also learned it is NOT my job to save everyone, I can only save myself. This particular lesson I did not learn until the day of the brain injury and after I had lost several years worth of memory. From that point forward my journey has been about saving ME. The struggle to recover, the ridicule, the embarrassment of being unable to follow conversation, the horrendous embarrassment of being unable to censor the words which would come out of my mouth nearly ended me.
It seemed I would never recover. It seemed life would move on without me and I would remain hidden away inside my home, not living a life making any difference to anyone. Yet, the person I still was, deep inside myself managed to rise up and write. Through the writing I found I was able to express the thoughts which my brain would not allow to come out of my mouth. I could express through my writing emotions I no longer could connect to.
Writing has saved my life in a multitude of ways as I have always been a writer AND an artist. Healing has given back the artist part of me and through this has been the unexpected gift of connecting with emotion again. A journey which is confusing and yet exhilarating at the same time.
Words. It all comes down to words. My credo is to NOT stay silent, to NOT allow myself to be knocked down by those who will strike out with no regard for their behavior and do not see me as a person. I am only an object in their view, one which has caused them a lot pain. Whether it be via my former jobs, via my words in my blogs, or via the eleven years of weight loss surgery support. There will always be people who blame me for their situation or be envious of where my journey has taken me.
This is their issue not mine. I am VERY clear about this.
My path, my journey, the person I am inside. I am a person who has worked hard to become whole in her life. Being a whole person means I can be joyous in spite of the ugliness in the world yet still know that it is there.
How did I get to this particular place?
By a LOT of hard work in the past three years and three months. It is not a journey which is over. And yes, there will still be days of dancing in the kitchen.
(Also published to USFRA.org)