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Messages - ah

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This is a question I've been grappling with for many years. I have no answers but I've been thinking about it too, what it means to be "sensitive".
I've used it to try to explain myself in the past and I noticed it always got me a shaming or derogatory response from others. As though being sensitive is a vice. So I stopped using the word but kept thinking about what it means to people.

I get the sense sensitivity is nowadays seen as weakness, but it's not a weakness at all. Our feelings are our way to sense danger and safety in our environment, there are no "good" or "bad" ones. Sensitivity is beneficial in context, and maybe harmful in a different context.

It's as though nowadays to be a good citizen / person you need to be 100% extroverted, 100% confident all the time, perfectly self assured all the time, and happy all the time. But that sounds a lot like mania  :doh: if we walked into a psychiatric hospital and displayed that sort of behavior we'd probably be given psych. meds for bipolar disorder... so I personally don't know if our current beliefs about feelings are very wise. I think they're too extreme. Sensitivity, and all feelings, can be both good and bad. Maybe they're harmful when they're really narrow, one dimentional. When there's only one feeling and no flexibility. Then we don't react differently to different situations and contexts, we just respond in the same exact way always. That sounds to me quite a lot like a harmful habit.

Whereas if you're very sensitive in some situations, that's normal, universal, very human and justified. Especially if "sensitive" means other things. To me nowadays "sensitive" is so shaming I think about it in other terms. Like: self aware, cautious, making effort, temporarily withdrawing when appropriate. That sort of thing. Sensitivity that's a behavior that comes and goes.

Also, sensitive in response to what? For example, I'm super sensitive to being ignored because I'm ignored all the time so it's a very sore spot. In context, that's not super sensitive, it's just a normal reaction to circumstances. Are you sensitive to things that warrant sensitivity?

And does being sensitive also include finding things you like, or only things you dislike?

Introverted people are often more sensitive, and they're easily shamed for something that's actually a beautiful, important asset. There would be fewer poets, philosophers, artists, and paradigm changes if there were fewer "sensitive" people.

For me, I usually can tell someone is more sensitive than the average by looking at their eyes. It's related to so many different things, but when I see someone is more sensitive I feel closer to them because they're more like me. And they feel safer, there's less chance they'll shame me or totally misunderstand me. Also, talking to them will probably be interesting and stimulating  :bigwink: it's just my personal preference. I'm drawn to sensitivity.

Many people say they're sensitive but what they really mean, maybe, is that they're sentimental. I had a friend who would burst into tears if someone else was crying, unaware that others' pain isn't hers. She thought by doing that she'd seem like a compassionate person but really it meant if someone else was in pain, she'd become the center of attention so it was anything but sensitive. It was the opposite. Real sensitivity allows you the freedom to also step aside and let others take the lead role when circumstances demand it, it has humility in it. Maybe.

I hope I didn't end up confusing things even more.

Just Having a Difficult Day / Re: Drowning
« on: March 23, 2018, 11:55:09 AM »

Since I moved back in to my M's house she has been on her best behavior to get me to dissociate who she is again. Like the hoovering thing full force esp because I avoid almost all interaction and don't give her any info about me. Just hide in my room. But this is bringing me back to reality. Which is hard to face. I get suicidal because in order to be a part of this family my truth isnt allowed to exist, therefore I am not allowed to exist unless I pretend with them and I can't really do that at this point.

Artemis, that's awful.
I know how painful that is, and how crazy making it can be :hug: I'm so sorry you have to go through it.

Write here, we read it and we know the truth. No one, absolutely no one makes up such stories of violence. Only violent people can even imagine them. You're not dramatic, you have every right to be scared and worried and to dissociate when you get no support.

When I outed my F for some things the response was brutal. So delusional, like yours. I was supposed to keep all of FOO's secrets like a locked vault and be poisoned by them for the rest of my life but it's your life, not his.
My F says this and I think it's actually nice to turn some things these people say back on themselves once in a while, in my own head that is.

I hope you say more and more here, not less. Things you remember and what they mean to you. Use us to help you ground yourself and remember who you are. You're not the abuse, or the creepiness of others' behavior. You're going through terrible things but you aren't terrible. And I want to hear this.

Also, I get the sense that seeing your M more and more clearly is incredibly important for you to learn how to break out of the cruel cycle of retraumatization. Learning how to recognize safe, good enough people from those who just aren't. It's a pain you may be able to gain a lot from... maybe.

I'm surrounded by abusers too, I know how rough it can be. It's far from easy to get clarity under these circumstances. You aren't your circumstances. There's so much more in you that I can see.

Religious/Cult Abuse / "It's your fault"-?
« on: March 23, 2018, 11:23:28 AM »
Not sure where to put this  ??? but I thought here would make sense.

So, sigh, people like saying pain is your fault. They like the oldie but goodie "it's your karma, you should lovingly accept it" and other similar things :blahblahblah: but the worst I heard was an admired spiritual figure who just openly said to me "You need to understand that it's your fault. It didn't just happen for no reason. You may be trying to do good things now, but you need to realize that nothing is happening to you for no reason, you caused this."
Acknowledged people are lying about me but turned it right back to me and said it's my doing.

I've been chewing on it, EF'ing on it, trying to throw it out of my system but it stuck like a plague. For a few reasons, maybe..? One is it was said by an authority figure and shaking off my implicit respect for them would be so painful. I'd much rather beat myself up and see them in a positive light. But I'm failing and trapping myself in such a cognitive dissonance I can't get out.

It's also hard because when I look around, I do see cause and effect all the time. Am I blind? Trying to ignore reality the moment it doesn't suit me?
I try to separate supposed responsibility from blame but I can't. Nobody ever sees anything good in me. Only bad. If you knew me and heard all the smear campaigns about me you would too.

I don't think I could say something like "It's your fault" to an abuse victim, let alone continued, non stop, lifelong abuse. Let alone in front of the abusers. But maybe I just don't understand the complexities and subtleties involved. Maybe I simply can't see any of my own faults and so on.

It just goes overboard and turns into a message of absolute hatred because saying that to someone who was told from birth they should never have been born is like pouring gasoline onto a flame. Or maybe saying it to just about anyone would be painful, but doing it to someone who's clearly got as much self confidence as a crumpled lettuce leaf is.... is.... I don't know what it is.

My self hatred loves this. It's not just a field day for ICr, it's paradise. But I also feel bad if I just shake off an argument because it hurts me or triggers me. That's a really biased reason to disagree with something.

I guess I'm asking: what do you think?
I've been trying to get out of this dead end for a long time now but I can't crawl out. Everything I can see is blocked.

I think you're an amazing person, Ah. As is DR. You put effort into feeling better while I don't do anything, and just complain instead.

DR is amazing, not me... my ICr won't have any of that, nor will my present abusers who would be horrified by that. Where's the blushing face? Can't find one, I think I'll just vanish instead. :disappear:

Okay, erm, sorry about that. Back to you.

I think you're in really good company here, and your pain makes perfect sense. You have every right to feel it. Many people here know much more than me about different topics, I feel like a baby compared to them.
It's hard work managing long term trauma, we all know it. And sometimes you have more energy, sometimes no energy at all.

For me, because the trauma is ongoing, I keep struggling with cptsd resulting from past trauma but also with newly created cptsd because of current trauma, so if I can't do a tiny bit every day to manage my distress it just buries me under its weight. I don't want to make any effort but I've learned I suffer more when I don't.
Paradoxically, pushing myself to do things even when I feel no motivation at all ends up giving me a sense of control and ability, whereas if I give in to my hopelessness it just grows and grows like a fungus and I'm in more pain than ever.
No one ever taught me any of this, I had to learn it by myself through lots of trial and error. You're not alone.

I really don't like it, to be honest. I wish I could just take a pill or get help and feel happy but in my experience, I have to actively do a little bit every day to see change. Very little but consistently so it turns into a habit.
Some days/hours I can't do anything and I let hopelessness wash over me. I don't try to do the impossible, I realize it's too much right now. I submit to pain. Other times even though my misery and helplessness are just as strong, I have more strength and I do what I can even if it's very, very little.

I think if my life conditions were better I'd be able to overcome a lot of cptsd symptoms and learn to develop boundaries and live better. So I think there's huge potential and every reason for you to have hope.  :hug:
That isn't to say it's going to be easy. In my experience it's one step forward, 9 steps back... but that's so much better than no movement forward at all. I take what I can.

There's lots to unpack as usual in your posts, but I just want to focus on one aspect, the notion that money equates to true wealth.

If the acquisition of goods is the pinnacle of one's desires, then piling up all the money possible seems quite noble. Or does it? Is it just exchanging one form of deity for another? No need for guilt if that's the case, but once one's eyes are opened all that striving for money seems to fall flat. Whereas striving for peace within can pay for itself ten times over.

For me, I see riches in wisdom, which doesn't exclude the financially well off, but doesn't require it, either. Far from it.

But back to you, Decimal Rocket. Your sharings here are filled with wisdom, wit, scholarship, and a deep desire for learning. Even if it takes learning from the rough spots you've encountered, the contradictions, the formidable challenges to building a meaningful life. It's been up and down, sometimes a struggle but often enlightening too.

You have access to money, but not many have the access to the wholeness of body/spirit/mind that you have shown here. The saying is that money doesn't buy everything, and you've shown that in action via your writings here.

So give yourself some credit, too--wisdom has little or nothing to do with financial success, but is its own form of wealth.

I agree with every word of woodsgnome's.

I guess the difference is that you and Ah knows love exist to yourself because you feel it. I guess I don't. I'm so numb I don't feel anything aside from anger and bitterness.

I put effort into love too. I do loving kindness meditation every day, itís my medicine, literally. I guess for me itís a cause, not a result. And when itís too hard I definitely feel numb, like you. Very numb sometimes. When I'm able to do it I feel more grounded, less numb.
I can't feel it for myself though. Maybe one day. Or not...

Love isnít easy for me. I guess it takes work when you need to teach yourself how to feel it because no one showed you. I had a friend once who told me he ďnever knew that beautiful animal, love, growing upĒ so he had to discover it on his own as an adult.
Hatred is easy, in my experience, love is harder but oh my is it worth it.

Also, I feel so disgusted by my abusersí behavior, so disgusted I feel I just refuse to be like that and that pushes me to try to investigate this unknown ocean (unknown to me, maybe not to others who had an easier time).

I think the opposite of hopelessness isn't absolute hope, but rather cautious, partial, gradual hope. Itís sticking just the tip of one toe out of the utter hopelessness that Iím used to, and testing the waters again and again.
Maybe it's hope that takes a view that begins by being 100% black, and says "Okay, I'll experiment. Try" and starts trickling just 0.0000001% of other colors into the mix.

Slowly, one step at a time is how I'm trying to do it. I'm with DR on this, it's okay if it takes time.
And it's okay if you just try considering trying it out here and there, without committing to believing in it. Numbness and anger are extremely familiar, don't give them up too fast, they've been taking care of you your whole life. It's okay if it takes time, it takes time, and we'll still be here for you.


My partner isn't very open about his feelings and when he lived with his parents he was in a drug addiction. I think drugs was his only way to cope and he has never been able to speak openly about his thoughts it seems. Since he went NC he completely stopped with the drugs though. He also seems happier.

Sounds like a really good answer for most of the questions, in my mind.
I agree it's so difficult to reach this point when you give up on someone that deeply. Seeming happier, stopping the drugs, it all says he's made the right decision. Extremely difficult and painful but very right.


I've noticed my partner gets triggered during holidays but also meeting my family, so he doesn't. I thought he just didn't like my family but then it might instead be connected to his FOO.. I've tried to ask but he doesn't talk about it.

That sounds very familiar to me, too. Think about it this way: whenever I see a family, see or hear people relating to one another as a family, it breaks my heart because it reminds me of what I never had and then lost. Yeah, I know I know, it makes no sense to see something that never was as having been lost, but of course I feel it was my doing that I lost it. I feel guilty, I feel bad. I think "See? Everyone deserves it but you because you're evil filth." I flash back to specific instances of domestic violence and abuse and life long abuse. All of these emotions and images come up in my mind when I see parents and children acting normally toward one another. So I can really understand how meeting your family can be difficult for him. Meeting any family can be difficult.

His mother sounds terrifying  :aaauuugh: I'm so glad you left quickly, it was the right thing to do.
Please give yourself a little metaphorical hug, you're so supportive to him and caring so deeply is what he needs right now. Well, we all do. Be there for him, whether he's silent or talkative. He's made an enormously courageous and difficult decision and that's more than enough. Sometimes talking is harmful, and silence is a source of strength. Sounds like he's making choices that are good for him.

Yeah, some parents aren't people at all, he wasn't exaggerating when he described his M  :blink: Been there.

He'll maybe continue to be in pain regarding this area of his life, like carrying around a limb that hurts him. I hope it will become less and less painful but it's just how it is, I guess. Family is so triggering to some, with periodical pain and triggers. No rest for the wicked... :whistling:

Not sure I can square love and kindness with my instinct, which is 'Bash the unkind'

You know what, I think maybe they fit together very well. You aren't about to get a T shirt that says 'Ridicule the kind' any time soon, right? Kindness is a topic that engages you, whether it's there or it's missing you think about it as something that exists and is worth mentioning.

A person who's unkind doesn't, in my unhappy experience they see kind impulses as pathetic and to be bashed, not even worth a mention. When someone is unkind they enjoy it, with no urge to intervene unless it's to make matters worse for everyone.

Might start a new religion.

Probably won't.

If you do, please make it a hilarious one. Dark, beyond ridiculous, and beyond redemption.  :whistling:

P.S. You could be a prophet. You've already got the big mad hair and beard.

Just Having a Difficult Day / Re: Some wisdom needed today...
« on: March 20, 2018, 09:59:30 AM »
Hi Shankara, welcome!

I think this is a really good question, and I've got no answer. Being assertive is something I struggle with too. I wonder, how about this: maybe being assertive is about responding to a situation with the minimal amount of force required?

So like San said we have a clear idea of our boundaries, what we like and dislike, and we do what needs to be done, then we stop there and go back to "patrolling" our boundaries rather than actively defending them from invasion.
Or something like it  :Idunno:

For example: when I'm really triggered I easily over-react. Then I can get angry but being assertive doesn't include anger, it includes less energy than that. Just a response to what's going on right now, not adding in my whole long history of pain. Which is far easier said than done.

It does still mean we need to respond. Freezing or fleeing isn't a real alternative to assertiveness either. And fawning definitely isn't. But I think for me, assertiveness isn't power and lack of assertiveness isn't weakness. It's less about power and more about safety. When I'm less assertive, I'm more afraid and less safe. It's different in that the way I experience it in my own mind, assertiveness isn't a cause of safety but the other way round: when I find ways to be a bit safer, I can also be more assertive. In a quiet way, that may seem weak or strong to others but what matters is how it seems to me. How afraid I feel in that moment.

Another thing is that maybe it has a lot to do with being strong enough to bear conflicts, they're part of life. For me they're terrifying because I never had conflicts when I was small, I was always subdued so I didn't learn that conflict and abuse aren't the same thing at all.
So maybe it's perfectly okay to feel temporarily upset during / after a conflict, we all do. People who enjoy conflicts scare me :blink: I think disliking conflict is realistic and universal.

Another thing I was thinking was re. Pete Walker's 13 steps for managing flashbacks. Have you tried using some of them when you feel triggered and not sure how to react to the situation you're in? It sometimes helps me if I can "catch" myself being triggered. And then my reaction is more assertive, less reactive. I need to do it over and over again. And not all the points he mentions work in my situation so perhaps if you find a couple that work well for you, then focus on those; and if you notice other things that ground you and help you, add those to your list too.

Hope this makes sense.

I'm sure it's very complex, and I don't know enough. Only my own personal experience.
I bet it's always such a tough choice with a lot of long term pain involved, and self doubt.

In my case it was an act of self care, probably the first I ever made. When I reached the point of NC with FOO it was a question of life and death. I didn't get there out of strength, it was a necessity. I felt I was with my back against the wall, and NC was my only option. I felt the only thing worse than not talking to these people was to talk to these people, they're just that dangerous.

Society has such a huge blind spot when it comes to emotional abuse but it's extremely dangerous and violent. So is neglect. They're really no small thing... so what others who haven't gone through it see may be very partial. The only person who really knows is the person in it.

The most important question for me, that helped me figure things out in my own head, was: how does contact with my FOO make me feel?
When I know I'm about to meet them how do I function? Am I in pain emotionally and/or physically, how is my health, how do I sleep 'etc.? Signs of distress I needed to lean on because I was so totally distanced from my emotions.

Does your partner feel differently after talking to his F? To his M?
Does his F do things with him just the two of them alone, or is his M always there too? Do his F and M always show up everywhere together as a unit? Does he have a relationship with his F? Does his F seem to be like his M in lack of empathy, callousness, all the narcissistic traits?
Sadly, his F will may stick by his wife if there's a conflict, so there may not be that much of an option to just not talk to one of them. 
In my case, my parents were separated so it was less complex in that sense, I had to deal with each one separately. But together they may be stronger.

For me, my body's reaction was the really telling thing that drove me to NC. Whenever I had contact with my F, after meeting him I'd always be violently sick. I may have taken on his abuse because I didn't know I could refuse, but my body was more transparent. Always the same physical response. It went on for many years. Finally it dawned on me that I was gaining nothing from this repetitive torture, and I didn't have to keep submitting to it. The concept of saying No was a really new one for me.

My F only become more and more incensed as I stopped responding to him in my usual docile way, so it really took a lot of strength for me for a long while to keep up not talking. I caught myself a few times longing to be loved and stopped myself in the last minute before writing miserable emails begging for forgiveness. But also, to my surprise, NC gave me new found strength. I started changing and eventually reached the same conclusion re. the rest of FOO too. The distance gives me a bit of breathing room to analyze my own feelings for once.

Very low contact is also really possible, maybe. Just the bare minimum to keep the appearance of contact and polite normalcy, without rocking the boat - and no more. Less direct than NC, so it may be easier. More vague so less questions may be asked, less attacks too.
I never told any of my FOO I wasn't in contact with them anymore. I didn't share it with them because there's no one to share it with.

It's probably never easy or clean. Human beings are such a messy, painful business. NC with FOO has been one of the worst things I have to endure, and also the best. It's still both.

General Discussion / Re: Fear of the obgyn...
« on: March 19, 2018, 12:27:53 PM »
This is really, really hard for me too. Never got used to them.
Bad experiences with doctors don't help, either.

Just in case this helps, for when you're ready to give it a try:

I have heard from a gyn. once that it's entirely possible to do the same exam lying down naturally, in other positions and even on your side, so you're not in the awful chair. :blink: I was so surprised. He said a good doctor will do the necessary exam more than one way, and the quality of the results is still the same so it's apparently more than doable and quite okay to ask. The use of the terrible chair isn't the only way.
Even without the chair it's still a terrifying exam.

I found an article to give doctors with details about different options they can use, it's under "Patient Position and Stirrup Use", here:

Treatment - General / Odd difficult conversation mixed with relief
« on: March 19, 2018, 12:04:06 PM »
Had such a strange experience in the past few days.
I had to talk to one of my least favorite abuser accomplices who has been hurting me with relish for over a decade, and it was so different from any time I spoke to this person in the past. After a few years of absolute silence and withdrawal, they may not have changed but I really did change, apparently.

I saw really clearly how... well, sorry to say this but just how stupid, deeply blind and stupid they are. They're not sadistic, just so stupid. So limited. So habituated. So repetitive. Without any glimmer of change.

I used to think it was all me, kept begging and hoping to be forgiven for some horrible sin I must have committed to be treated so hatefully. But to be honest, I saw relatively little of myself in the conversation we had this time.
I was quite open, the topic wasn't a happy one but I was direct and the response was blunt. Over and over.
At some point, to my surprise, it was so blunt and repetitive and silly that I just raised my voice (Me? Raise my voice at people? Who ever heard of such a thing?) ever so slightly and said in a constrained sort of way that this makes little sense, reality is such and such, I'm sorry but that's where I am and what they're asking is unattainable.
We ended the conversation without me trying to be forgiven for setting this boundary or wanting to die for knowing it was never seen. Things that were said and would have left me crushed by my self loathing a couple of years ago left me disgusted, thinking darkly "What? Trying to manipulate me into feeling guilty and thinking I'm evil in such a transparent way? Yuck, ma'am."

Really very ugly conversation that left me reeling. But still.

Conflict is still atrociously painful for me, and having to anticipate talking to this person left me very anxious, but this was a liberating one in a way. Never knew how deeply flawed OTHER people are. I don't mean unkind, or selfish, I mean just ... well...  :Idunno:  :stars:   ??? Huh...? Are they really THAT stuck in their own little skulls of sadness? Was I always so terrified of them that I didn't even see they're so unworthy all on their own, unrelated to my unworthiness?

Odd experience. Not sure what to think.

Hi Madebynature,

I'm so sorry you're so alone. I am too. It's a really heavy burden, that. Always leaves me feeling flawed and inadequate and it just feeds my self hatred perfectly. It's a loop that's hard to break.

Age is definitely part of it. I'm not in my 20's anymore so looking for new friends isn't what people do anymore. Other circumstances play into it as well. Things I can't control, or change at all. Totally out of my hands. Yeah, self loathing is always difficult for me too... we're social animals and I desperately need to be seen, but I'm never seen. Everyone I know is either an accomplice or an abuser. It's crazy making. Trying to escape it leaves me exhausted. I'm looking for ways to stop trying to escape the inescapable.

I know it isn't quite the same as being able to see and hear a person face to face, but you sound like someone I'd befriend in a split second. Introspected, gravitate toward serious conversations, yep. I would invite you for tea and we'd be talking for 4 hours before either of us noticed it, I bet.

In my experience, a life full of trauma has been so much worse than just the trauma itself. It left me like a bit of an alien, with knowledge about the dangerous aspects of life that I shouldn't have learned at such a young age. It left me cynical but also very naive at the same time, willing to submit to every abuser and accomplice who came my way in hopes of being seen. So now in the past few years I've been intentionally changing myself, by myself, talking less to people and reading more, learning about trauma and personality disordered people, and watching my own habits.

I still have self loathing to work on, it's a lifelong habit... but it's not as all-powerful as it was before. I still can't change circumstances, but I now am better at picking and choosing the sort of people I really do like and relate to. I'm getting better at saying No. At not being seen, and feeling the pain of it, but being able to bear it and learning to be alone with myself and almost like myself, or be able to imagine one day liking myself. Well, sometimes.  :Idunno:

I find it easier with people who've gone through hardship, any sort of hardship.

I agree with Jdog, when I'm able I work on projects for people who do suffer. Social housing projects and volunteering with people who know pain, like me, whether it's loneliness or also physical pain or poverty or all of it together. Being their friend reconnects me to what I know. It lets me be empathic to others not because my empathy was exploited non stop in the past, but because I consider my empathy an asset and I use it to help someone else a bit. And vicariously, it helps me a bit too.

Just between you and me (and the entire web  :bigwink:) I find the happy people really dull. They have nothing to talk about. No insights. No personal growth. People who have "met" real life, harsh life, are more interesting to me. They don't leave me feeling empty and alien.

All other things aside, you've got a friend here.  :heythere:

Treatment / Self-help / Recovery / Re: Psychiatrist, really?
« on: March 19, 2018, 06:13:07 AM »

What you describe is really familiar to me, too.
I guess if we could escape the situation or fight back, we would. But when we can do neither we can eaasily sink into deeper and deeper helplessness, and lose our freedom to dislike abusers or mentally separate from them. Not liking them / disliking them but just being totally indifferent and forgetting all about them is lost. I've read a bit about trauma bonding and it sounds a lot like what you're describing.
Like we're linked to them in some twisted survival instinct standing on its head, needing them to undo their actions. Needing their approval?
Though... who are they to give us any approval or withhold it? They're not up to the task at all, as their behavior has shown time and time again. :Idunno:

Treatment / Self-help / Recovery / Re: Psychiatrist, really?
« on: March 18, 2018, 03:33:21 AM »
Some people really are vile.

For decades I held on to the notion that people are never evil, it's all just ignorance or confusion. I tried getting along with my abusers, which now leaves me in horrified disbelief because sadly, some people really are vile and evil. They'll destroy you because they enjoy it.
I'm so sorry you had to go through that.
What a confusing mess of emotions for you, I bet. The documents must be incredibly triggering on the one hand, but also helpful because you have objective evidence to back up your feelings of betrayal. You were betrayed.

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