Niggling Through Hell.

hi way road

The country song, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going” was released in 2006. At the time it was released I switched the dial whenever it came on the radio. Its catchy lyrics stayed with me anyway… “If you’re going through hell, keep on going…don’t look back… if you’re scared don’t show it…you might get out, before the devil even knows you’re there…”

Nearly a decade later, my life came to a halt with anxiety disorder, and an eventual diagnoses with PTSD. While learning cognitive behavioral therapy, my therapist instructed me to watch for any niggling things. Then examine those during my daily containment and journaling times. I laughed. Niggling? What kind of word is that. Is that even a word? I wondered aloud. She tried to explain its meaning. I searched niggling on google.

Then I ‘got’ it. I was to mark those moments which caused slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.

Huh. That niggling feeling occurred so much it would have been easier to mark the moments I didn’t have any niggling feelings.

And it was just that–a niggling feeling, that I had the first time I heard that country song about going through hell. A nudge from the Holy Spirit that something significant was just said, or that something is off in my life. A pentecostal friend of mine calls those ‘checks in the spirit’. At the time, it was easier to turn the dial and pretend things were fine. Going through hell? Not me. My life was good! I hadn’t asked directions from a genie in a bottle of Jim Beam. I had found Jesus!

Now I know that I’ve been going through my own private hell and I find the song empowering. Even though I haven’t heard it on the radio recently, it is on repeat in my spirit.

In the early stages of recovery, it was all I could do to maintain some normalcy in my life. To do daily care of my body and get through my work obligations and then a bit of therapy homework. I cut most ‘extra’ things out of my life. Scaled back my work and social commitments. Stopped communicating with peripheral friendships. Tried to explain to closer friends what was going on. Separated from most of my family of origin. And I avoided most known triggers. Rested and took care of my body and tried to calm my mind. Then, bit by bit, I faced things.

Going to the grocery store alone. Going to doctor visits alone. Being left home alone. Owning my story without my voice shaking. Confronting past abusers. Finding some enjoyment in living again. And after each obstacle: retreating to my safe place in my comfortable home with soft lighting, a trickling waterfall scene on the TV Screen, scented candles; and the door locked.

I needed to do that. And it’s strange how so many commitments and people just sort of disappeared and gave me space to do it. I think God had a hand in that.

At this point, the door on our comfortable home has gone back to how it was prior–there are a lot of knocks. And several people who feel comfortable enough to just walk in if the door isn’t answered promptly. Bonus children. Friends. Friendly UPS drivers. It is almost back to how it was before I got sick. So I am digging through the piles of obligations and peripheral associations that I let slide. It’s messy. And I’m changing my job title at work. Doing more leisure pursuits. And looking into publishing some writing again.

It’s overwhelming to reclaim a life. Especially when the life you had prior never really was your own. I was enmeshed with my abusers to the point of not knowing who I was; or wanted to be.

I couldn’t have done this six months ago. And here I am. Doing it. Nothing has been resolved with my family and I’m learning to accept that pain and to not anticipate apologies or reconciliation there. I think part of me didn’t want to get better. As long as I remained ‘too sick to deal with the mess which has become my family situation’, I didn’t have to accept that things might never change there. I stayed in that ‘bargaining’ phase for a long time.

And I am a lot better now. Even though my body is still having stress symptoms. My brain too. The other day at work I could feel the heat rising and the familiar urge to duck and run out the door. I was worried my coworker noticed the sweat on my forehead. Cortisol sucks. I had thought my stress hormones had gone down as I am back to ‘always being cold’ and ‘taking an extra sweater.’

I know what it is to be in the deepest pit. And I’m not there anymore-inspite of some moments where I need to remove my cardigan. I’m afraid that if I do not keep moving forward through the intense heat; if I run the other way every time I start to sweat–that I will never get out of this hell I found myself in.

Strange thing is–I was already in the exact same hell back in 2006. I was just denying that I was there.

Well I been deep down in that darkness
I been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons
Breathing fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled
I’d fall right into the trap that they were laying, yeah
But the good news
Is there’s angels everywhere out on the street
Holding out a hand to pull you back upon your feet
The one’s that you been dragging for so long
You’re on your knees
You might as well be praying
Guess what I’m saying
If you’re going through Hell
Keep on going, don’t slow down
If you’re scared, don’t show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there
Yeah, if you’re going through Hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there



Author: justsaltwriter

I am a writer living in America. A Christian hoping to live up to that name. This is my anonymous blog. I am in recovery from abuse and on this blog I will touch on those topics. I hope to obey Jesus and let my light shine in a world which is growing ever darker.

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