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Messages - plantsandworms

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Family of Origin (FOO) / No Contact & Just Learned Iím Gonna Be An Aunt
« on: September 26, 2019, 11:16:25 PM »
No contact with any of my family and my baby brother just wrote me out of the blue to say his girlfriend is having a baby. This will be my first niece or nephew and the emotions are hitting me hard. Iíve always wanted to be an aunt and I lost that opportunity when I went no contact. Now that itís really happening the loss isnít theoretical anymore and Iím feeling it hard. But my reasons for going no contact with my family havenít changed. Feeling very sad today. And guilty and all kinds of things.

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I am really trying to cut back on TV watching because I find that itís pouring lots of fuel on my disassociation-prone fire. It got to the point where I was spending days at a time glued to shows I didn't even care about, drifting in and out of sleep and ignoring the outside world entirely and feeling generally helpless and hopeless.

I have switched to reading lots more books. However, I worry that Iím just disassociating in a more socially acceptable way. I find myself getting very absorbed in what Iím reading to the point that I will neglect other life responsibilities until I finish a book, and then feel very empty and depressed when the book is over. It almost feels like grief or despair.

So I guess I want to know, is my great love of reading something I also need to distance myself from while I work on my issues with disassociation? And are there other relaxing activities I can turn to in the evenings that will allow me to still be in my body? Iíve tried various fiber arts (crochet, embroidery) but they hurt my eyes and my carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Friends / Struggling to Support Newly Disabled Friend
« on: June 25, 2019, 06:28:25 PM »
I have a best friend of many years who I consider to be my chosen family. We both have CPTSD from childhood abuse and do not have contact with our FOO's. Our relationship has been one of mutual support and empowerment and we are both in therapy and working on our trauma.

Over the past couple of years, however, my friend has developed a debilitating disability. She is in constant pain and is unable to work or complete daily tasks. The medication she is on clouds her brain and makes it hard to do even the things that don't require her body. Going through this process has been deeply triggering for her, as a person without a traditional safety net or support system having to navigate all the complexities of being newly disabled. She also feels as if, on top of having her childhood stolen from her, she is now having her adulthood stolen as well. It's a very dark time. I am doing my best to support, however it is also deeply triggering for me as well - feeling like it is once again up to me to ensure the safety and well-being of my loved one or something terrible will happen. I struggle even to care for myself most days due to my CPTSD. And my relationship with this friend is incredibly important to me, and I am so worried and frightened about what will come next and how we will be able to handle it. Meanwhile all the debts she racked up when she lost her ability to work have come calling, and she is being sued in court on top of everything else with no ability to afford a lawyer. She frequently expresses to me that she can't take it anymore and can't keep going like this. As a person who grew up with frequently suicidal parents, I am so so frightened. It feels like this situation has been going on forever and like it will never get better. I don't know how to get us the support we need, and I worry about how to walk the line of supporting this chosen family member and also caring for myself. I want to help her get to a place of stability, but I don't even know if it's possible. We talk about this and she expresses how she understands that I have to care for myself and she doesn't want this to become my life, but it's been hard finding consistent additional support. She seems to be doing everything she can do to improve her situation, but new things go wrong every day. I just don't know where to turn anymore and I wish one of us had a family to help us but we don't.

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Had my first appointment with a nutritionist trained in intuitive eating today, due to lifelong cycles of starving and binge eating that have always been a fixture in my life from my first memories. For this first week she's asked me to just go about my life as I normally would and just take the time a few times each day to jot down where I'm at on the hunger/satiety scale and how I'm feeling physically/emotionally so that I can start to notice my own patterns and body cues. I am hopeful about what I will learn about myself and my body but I can already feel my CPTSD bearing down on me. I think it's going to be a very triggering week, having to "be in my body" enough to take note of these things. I am very much a disassociative type and have gotten to a point where I'm checked out most of the time and just going through the motions and focusing all my energy on my work to get through to the next day. Wondering if anyone else has experience in handling an eating disorder while they manage their CPTSD and might have tips on things I can do or things I should alert my nutritionist of so that I have the best chance of success possible?

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Hi all, thanks very much for your replies and for checking in with me. I am still plodding along, trying to fight through isolation and depression to make forward motion in my life. The warmer weather has been helping, because it means I'm spending more time outside planting in my garden. But other than those small cyclical changes, things feel very much the same.

I've been thinking about the origin of this isolating behavior and realized I have always done it for as long as I can remember. I was truant all the time from school beginning in early grade school (2nd grade or so), staying home under the covers all day because I "felt sick" (really just nausea from anxiety and an inability to get out of bed from depression). In college, I ended up going to class less and less until I dropped out. I've leaned heavily on sick/vacation time policies of every place I've worked - I never really get to take a vacation because I use up all my leave time on days I can't get out of bed. When I think about how long this has been going on, I feel shocked that I've made it this far and afraid that things will never be different for me. I realize that I don't have a very strong attachment to my life and always feel like I'm "just passing through" whatever my current circumstances might be. Each day feels like a thing to be endured so I can survive til tomorrow.

I think EFs are definitely playing a role, but I'm having trouble specifically identifying the source. I keep my therapist updated on how I'm feeling, and she usually recommends things that feel too tall an order for my perpetual state of exhaustion, like joining a weekly group therapy. I did finally get up the energy to try out one group, but it turned out to be a bad fit and definitely left me feeling more depleted.

I also notice that I don't have a vision of myself in the future and I wonder if somehow cultivating one could help me feel more connection to my present. And definitely part of this is that I have such a hard time being present in my body - maybe I am experiencing a low level disassociation at all times? Maybe if I valued myself and my life, being present in my body could be more possible? These all feel like very big questions and big problems...

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WideSargassoSea, sending good thoughts your way. My M also stalks me (on and off for the past 6-7 years) and when it's actively happening I feel like my barest senses of safety and sanity are coming unglued and it's really hard to do anything but freeze. I had a very similar experience to yours in which I was asleep in my bed with the curtains partially open, and I woke up to her truck parked right outside my window and a note detailing how she watched me sleep. So frightening and horrible!!!

I have not had success with police reports or protection orders (although I hope that you do!), but something that has been absolutely essential for me is having a few brave local friends who are briefed on the situation who I can call when my M pops up and who aren't afraid to come over and act as advocates/witnesses/protectors. My M has always left quickly as soon as backup has arrived, and once I had friends stay with me for a week and she stayed gone for nearly a year. My M counts on me to be alone and frightened without resources so she can try to exert power and control, but if I can show that things have changed it seems that slows her down quite a bit. And slowly, my fear response when she pops up is becoming more mild and I'm hoping one day that I won't need the backup anymore because I can handle her myself (or more ideally, that she just stays gone forever).

It sounds like you are handling the situation well as well as anyone could, and I hope you are able to find support with the police in the courts because what you are experiencing is REAL and you shouldn't have to be experiencing it at all.

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I have such an extreme fear of conflict with others and of being vulnerable that sometimes I feel like the only solution is to completely remove myself from society. I'm in my late 20s now and it feels like it's only getting worse as I age and the list of ways I have been mistreated grows longer. I'm really struggling to imagine a future for myself in which I don't feel this way until I die, and that's a pretty hopeless picture. I've been in therapy and it helps with a lot of things but not yet with this. I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and be a different person but I know that I can't, and I don't want to live this way forever. How do I begin to deal with my complete lack of self-esteem and my extreme social fears?

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Hello, I've been on this forum for a while now and have so much gratitude for the support that has been shown to me here. However, sometimes I struggle with the nature of a message board - that it can take a long time to hear back from folks, that I sometimes get lost in all the subcategories, and that sometimes it's hard to really have a full conversation on a topic before it fizzles out. I'm wondering if yall have tips on other places on the internet where I can be in more immediate dialogue with people about these topics.

I know there's the Exceptionally Difficult Day thread for emergency situations, but I wish there was a place I could just drop in when I'm online and immediately be in conversation with others going through similar things without it being an emergency. I've heard about big Facebook groups for trauma where you get feedback right away but I'd prefer to hold onto my anonymity. Does anyone know of places online where I can find community in real time? Or are there ways that I can better utilize this board and find real community here? Again, I am so grateful for those who have responded to my prior posts and been so welcoming - just hoping to have as many tools and resources on my side as I can get!

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Employment / Built A Career, Now I Need Out
« on: March 25, 2019, 07:35:17 PM »
My driving focus since childhood has been finding stability in my life for the first time. I poured all the energy I never really even had into clawing my way out of poverty, while trying to undo the impact of my CPTSD on the go (not effective). Now I'm a few years into my dream position in my dream career and I'm realizing the career I chose is too much for me to take with my CPTSD. It allows me to live comfortably financially, but what is that worth when it drains me in so many ways? I'm perpetually emotionally exhausted. The workplace culture is toxic. I'm triggered and tired all the time. I use my limited energy each day to do my work and I have nothing left for any other part of my life. I'm trying to find a new job but everything that sounds interesting either seems like the same exhaustion trap or it pays not nearly enough to cover my bills. I'm really really feeling my lack of familial safety net right now, and it's crazy to think how easy it would be to go from being in this dream job to being homeless and penniless. I barely have any savings because I've been paying all my debts, I couldn't last more than maybe a month without an income. I don't feel confident that I'm gonna find a way out of this situation, and I know I can't continue living like I have been. I'm scared and I don't know what's gonna happen to me. Hoping I can find some shred of hope and motivation when I see my therapist this week, but also hoping that someone on this board might have been in a similar situation and could tell me about their experience.

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Found out through a random FB message that my grandma is in intensive care. She had a stroke but it looks so far that she will be able to recover. I find myself feeling so grateful that she's still alive, but also in pieces because she might as well have died because these are the inevitabilities of my no-contact choices and there's nothing left in the future for us. I will never get to talk to her again or care for her or visit her at home or in the hospital or ask her questions or hear that she loves me. All that's left for us is for her to die and for me to hurt from it. Being No Contact, every family emergency that makes its way to me through the grapevine is another dagger in my chest and another choice I have to make to stay away. I'm on the other side of a barrier that only lets the pain pass through.

A year and a half ago, I lost my grandma on my dad's side. I got one phone call that she was sick and then a text that she was dead and that was it. She had no obituary, no funeral, no memorial post on social media, nothing. And here on the other side of the barrier it's almost like it never happened. How is a phone call and a text supposed to feel real? And now with my other grandma's failing health, I have to wonder - what closure is available to me? How am I ever supposed to find peace with these things, here by myself with barely any information and nobody to process with who knew and loved my grandmas too? I'm really really struggling to cope.

I'm also very fearful that if my grandma who is in the hospital dies, this will trigger my mom to make aggressive contacts with me as she has in the past after significant events. I can't handle being stalked and harrassed again right now, I feel so fragile.

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I'm only in my late 20s but the self-isolating behavior I've always had has gotten worse and worse and worse. I go days and days without leaving my house or speaking to anyone. I ignore all my messages, calls, emails. When I hear the calls coming in or see the texts I feel an intense feeling I can only describe as "MAKE EVERYTHING STOP RIGHT NOW." I feel exhausted like I need rest but no amount of rest or alone time rejuvenates me. When I fight through the isolation and go out in the world or talk to a friend, I return feeling drained and wishing I hadn't overextended myself. I'm pouring from an empty cup day in, day out, with nothing to replenish me.

The worst part is that this behavior is also a trigger for me. My dad has lived in a basement his whole life and has never had a job. He just sleeps all the time. I'm terrified that what small life I am able to live will slip away soon and I'll be trapped in the same waking nightmare that my dad lives in every day. I want more in my life than this but I don't know how to get out of this feedback loop. I don't know how to access connection or joy. I'm in therapy and it helps with a lot of things, but I feel like I'm hitting a wall with this. I need help.

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Family of Origin (FOO) / Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
« on: January 06, 2019, 06:03:00 PM »
Thank you to all for your responses and support. I did some journaling and reflecting after posting on this forum yesterday, and that combined with the insight I found here has been hugely helpful. Re-reading my mom's very long email, I saw some red flags that didn't register with me initially. For example, she says she "doesn't know where it all went wrong" and she doesn't know who I "believe her to be." She owns up to having "made mistakes" but reading the response from SJ helped me to remember that this is a gross understatement and mischaracterization of what actually occurred in my childhood - cruelty, neglect and abuse. She says she has been in therapy for four years, which felt so hopeful to me initially, but looking back at letters she sent in years past I see that she is still taking a position of bewilderment to my decision to go no-contact. She also says in her message that two of my other siblings have shut her out in recent months, which says to me that she is possibly continuing to behave badly and not taking responsibility for her role in the breakdown of THREE parent-child relationships.

I think this has been a valuable experience for me because it has helped me to realize how much I am still waiting to hear the "right things" from her and how eager I am to reconnect at the slightest glimmer of hope, even if it could be detrimental to my current stability. After years of NC I have felt so solid in my choices and it's shocking to me to see that part of me still holds on so tightly. But even so, I have developed the coping mechanisms and insight to carry me through this situation and do the best thing for me. I am struggling not to be angry with the hurt child inside of myself that still wants to be loved by my mother so badly. I am trying to forgive myself for a very basic part of my humanity - vulnerability. Especially when the person I'm really angry at is my mother, and she is also the person I'm really trying to forgive.

I do think her email shows positive developments, even if that warped thinking is still there. I hope she continues on in her journey. I will probably always hold onto a shred of hope that we can sit across from one another one day and have a real conversation about everything that happened between us, but I will work on wanting my own health and happiness more than that chance.

She ends her email by saying if she had one wish it would be for me to provide some clarity as to what happened "from my point of view." I still hold some guilt and regret that I never spelled it out for my family when I drifted away, partially because my pain was so great and I was so completely unable to articulate it at that time. Now that therapy has given me the words to my experiences, I wish I could hand my mom a bullet point list of everything that would need to be addressed for us to re-connect. But for all I know, when presented with a list she would continue to not understand "where it went wrong." And really, does an abusive parent need a list? Do they really not know? I struggle with this. Maybe she really doesn't have the tools to comprehend the ways in which she caused me harm. I know it's not my job to do that work for her, but I do wonder if it would help her grow into a person I could have in my life. My heart wonders, what if? But my brain tells me not to take that chance if the results might devastate me all over again, as Libby183 said. If my emotional response to this email is any indication, I think it very well might.

Thank you, thank you again for your well wishes and personal accounts. I'm glad we have each other and this space to support us through these difficult situations.

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Family of Origin (FOO) / After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
« on: January 05, 2019, 08:34:33 PM »
After five years of extremely turbulent no-contact with my mother (in which she refused to accept the boundary between us and did many violating and illegal things to force contact again), I have spent the last year quietly with no zany antics or crazy messages from her. Just now I found an email from her in my inbox that has left me feeling extremely mixed up.

Sheís sent me many messages in the past, ranging from begging and pleading to harassing and threatening to pretending nothing happened at all,  but this one is hitting me differently. Maybe itís because I havenít heard from her in a while and my guard is down. It feels like sheís finally saying everything I always wished she would say. She said she finally is able to accept my boundary and she owned up to some things she has always denied in the past. The message isnít perfect but itís more progress than Iíve ever seen from her. Iím feeling very mixed up and partly inclined to respond, but my therapist is out on vacation and I donít want to do anything without processing with her first.

I never wanted to lose my family but I needed to keep myself safe and process the trauma I experienced in childhood. Iíve done a lot of that work on my end, but thereís no guarantee that my family will ever be any different. It might be that getting back involved would just drag me back into flashback central or maybe even new abuse. Just posting here to hear about the experiences of others, or maybe just commiseration.

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General Discussion / Depression tantrums?
« on: November 20, 2018, 09:05:07 PM »
I have these things I call my "depression tantrums." I call them that because usually when these fits of extreme depression happen they almost seem to be directed at a specific person in my life. They usually happen when I am interested in someone romantically and become increasingly close/vulnerable with them, and then they ultimately do not return my affections. I go through this phase of "Fine, I don't need the affections of someone who isn't enthusiastic about me" and then "Ugh I feel absolutely humiliated that I was vulnerable with this person who doesn't feel the same way about me" and then "God I am so incredibly alone and starved for love in this world and I think I'm going to die this way." It's not something I feel in control of, and by that I mean I am not actively feigning my depression in order manipulate, but when it's happening I find myself hoping the person I am interested in will notice my pain and suddenly love me they way I'd hoped and want to take care of me.

Like many on these boards, I was horribly neglected as a child - I feel like these tantrums are my inner child demanding to be cared for by the ones I love and feeling re-abandoned when the ones I love in adulthood don't love me back. Outside of these tantrums I am extremely self sufficient and somewhat distant with others - so I also feel like I have all these hopes and dreams of being cared for one day instead of having to always be strong and care for myself even before I was ready and when I start to like someone it's like a dam breaks and I just want them to be in the driver's seat of my life for a while while I pick up all my pieces. It's pretty humiliating and pathetic feeling to admit that I feel this way, or that I put these kinds of pressures and expectations on others, or that I'm being this subconsciously controlling toward people I want to love me, but just now is the first time I was ever able to articulate this cycle to myself and I felt the need to write it down and share it with people who might be able to help me make sense of it.

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General Discussion / Breakthrough - Healing Is Humiliating
« on: September 28, 2018, 03:02:25 PM »
I had a breakthrough when talking with my friend last night. We are both C-PTSD diagnosed from childhood traumas and abusive FOO's. But while she's been able to throw herself into healing (personal affirmations in the mirror, meditation, yoga, mindfulness journal, social support, etc etc) I have been very much stuck in a rut and something in me has been unwilling to even try some of the techniques my therapist recommends and assures me are scientifically proven to help. My friend was helping me ask the "why" questions about my resistance and all of a sudden I said "because it's humiliating!!!"

The memories of being abused all my life and mocked and degraded by my bio parents makes my attempts to heal feel humiliating. It's like I'm admitting to everything they stole from me, and how badly I hurt. It's humiliating to admit that I feel unloved, unwanted, unvalued. It's humiliating to think of myself looking into my own eyes in the mirror and trying to love myself after what has happened to me. In my mind's eye, I imagine my parents seeing me make these attempts to love myself and laughing at me. But you know, so what? Why am I allowing the echo of their cruelty to stop me from even trying to feel whole? What's so humiliating about doing everything in my power to reverse the damage that I did not deserve? What's so humiliating about wanting to be loved? I'm going to try to work through this.

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