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Letters of Recovery / I Need You to Go Now ...
« on: August 04, 2020, 02:16:46 PM »
Dear Inner Critic,

I'm beyond wanting to know what your apparent role in my life was supposed to be about. I've run across various theories of how you penetrate one's psychological swirls. Still you feel like the uninvited guest. You've been here a long time, so I'm thinking it may be time for you to, umm, retire?

Where once I wanted to thoroughly understand you, I don't really care anymore. Or I'm just tired -- you're pretty draining, all things considered. You needn't take that personally -- all I'm saying is 1) I accept that you've been in my life and 2) I accept that your role, if any, is beyond what I most need NOW.   My life has to shift focus -- to self-love and self-compassion, building on what I can contribute myself. It's not to say others can't help, but if that's what you supposedly were about, I'd like to relieve you of that burden, for you and for me both.

I don't require your protection, if that's what you were about  ???. Your harshness in doing so only rings as unwanted echoes of those horrid harsh voices that reinforced my loneliness, heightened my fear, and tortured me with shame and self-abasement to the point of not wanting to even live if this was all life had on offer. I'm finding out there's more, but it's still a struggle. If you left, this might relieve some of the pressure to want to attain perfection.

Perhaps it's not all on you, and I figure it might take you a while to fully comprehend what I'm saying. But please understand -- I have to follow my own muse, not the screams, taunts, and cajoles of those who first abused and then abandoned me. Perhaps that's where you swooped in, but please -- if you thought it might be for my benefit, I have the right not to agree with that. Perhaps you think it's bold of me to request that you leave, that I'm actually requesting a sort of reverse abandonment, but I know I need it and this time I can choose it.

To be clear -- yes; yes I am asking that you leave me alone, once and for all. And while I might be alone, I actually might be less lonely without your voice in the mix. After all, I was quite used to not having anyone, except for your repeated visits.

Plain and simple -- please go away. I don't have any patience for any more lengthy explanations. Perhaps I could somehow still understand you. But I seem to recall a saying that talks of peace beyond understanding. That's where I need to be -- at peace, away from the strife of being savagely criticized. Like always, I'm afraid you won't understand, but I simply had to take this chance that, whether you fully get what I'm saying, please/please/please back away, or just go away entirely.

I've been working on how to say this without hurting you. That's so typical -- here I am ultra worried that you might not understand. I've done that so often, and so many have taken that as a signal to walk all over me. It's more the other way around this time -- I need to stop the hurt from my side, too; as I have to live with myself. I no longer can wait for this freedom.

Thank you.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Losing it; back to 'normal'
« on: June 04, 2020, 06:15:43 AM »
The more things change, so goes the old cliche, the more they stay the same. That's the ton of bricks   :fallingbricks: I find myself under. Again. Normal. Never changes. More of that and why bother looking for it to be any different ... it's my life story. Which, as I was told endlessly from the start, is all my fault. It was so obvious I was totally unwanted, and that feeling forever haunts me if nothing else does. Worst is when I join them in hating me.

Oh sure, there's glimmers here and there. I'm pretty good at boosting myself with pep talks and other yadda-yaddas, before settling right back into the next round of self-hatred and sense of failure. While not wholly true, the feeling was planted like an irreversible tattoo and overrides decades of trying to get out from under those bricks. Called coping, this quickly reverts to resignation that I really can't turn the corner, that I was and still am unwelcome in a world I don't understand and don't want to be a part of, with its hatred and spite.

Go figure -- my T tells me my mood has seemed better lately. Maybe that's even true, for a while. I'm not sure it matters; I've already lost out on life, anyway. Actually, even improvement scares me -- it's like the old notion of watch out for the other shoe to drop even if some things occasionally seem better. Whenever I start to feel good about myself, the tiniest hole in my balloon will pop and I flounder in pain yet again. I know it can't be real -- some of this happened decades ago -- and yet it won't give up its hold on my psyche. I'm still ruined or ... is that just the perfectionism I'm desperate for?

This is all so familiar. Tired, overwhelmed, and ... no, I don't want to go any further. It's pretty bad when the best one can hope for is a teeny little bit less 'progress' lest it turn into yet another dead end and false dream. Always being afraid is just so discouraging; maybe that's a good sign. Probably good/bad is just irrelevant -- no one can ever say I didn't survive. That's often all that holds me together, yet even that seems so flimsy, so artificial. Neither good or bad, but I wanted so much more than mere survival. Like love, and all that; no one cared then, and it's never going to happen now. Another misfit bites the dust.

This seems like it may be useful to many on OOTS. Despite the gender specific title, it appears geared to cover areas that both women and men who've been abused can relate to.

At any rate, if interested, the link for info and registration is:

As of the moment, I feel useless. Intelligent, maybe. Somewhat logical, perhaps. Unique -- oh sure. And ... useless.  But wholly circular as to who my life affects. I once touched many, but the operative word is 'once' -- albeit I still have a hard time acknowledging any inherent goodness to the effect I had.

The present time seems only to contain the daily limited painful movements, ongoing almost pathetic self-boosting pep talks (I'm alright, not my fault, etc.) and still ... it all hurts all the time. I know -- just thoughts. Knowledge, in this case, sure doesn't equate with feeling useful. I'm at a low ebb, for sure. And scared -- mostly of myself. Like I so need my dear old friend, fear, to even notice my existence.

I have no other friends without stretching the definition. Only a distressed body whose every movement hurts. I spend hours thinking how it all hurts, every bit -- inside and outside. I know those feelings can be false. Then why do they feel so real? And why deny it anymore? Do I dare share this with anyone outside of my therapist? When will she give up on me like everyone else has? And will my next dose of hope be just as temporary as they all have been? Can I let go of this dark cloud hovering around me?

Questions abound. And the biggest is too obscure, probably even narcissistic like all those people I couldn't stand who used me as their rag doll when I couldn't defend myself. The very thing I never wanted -- but then I was told never to hope, and it was ripped from me anyway. Why do I try anymore?

Frustrated? Set Backs? / My Pity Party
« on: December 21, 2019, 07:00:20 PM »
Christmas always struck me as the holiday of extreme hypocrisy; it's also associated with times of some very gloomy personal memories. For years, though, I've been pretty good at obscuring those memories and developed my own brand of an alternative take on the season. Finding there's lots of folklore and music that I find appealing, I've been able to endure and even thrive on aspects of the season.

It's still avoidant, though. And in place of obvious direct threats to me it's like there's more sinister explosions that threaten to roil my fragile emotions into a raging inferno. My tendency has been to guard against this; to the point of hyper-vigilance. But this year the whole mess has boiled over, or caught up, or something that's set in and I'm not even sure what precisely triggered it.

I'm awful, per usual, at fishing for words to describe the utter futility that accompanies this mostly numb feeling of seasonal angst. The words that seem to fit the best are familiar, though; so I'll go with those -- sadness, ripping anger, frustration, failure, and worst of all -- self-hatred. I grieve that I could fall into this pit again; that my careful guarding failed. That I thought I could wholly avoid deep sadness, that I was only confirming my own hypocrisy.

Sorry for the extended rant, broadcast live from my pity party. Held in my 'party room', atop something I came across in a dream. In the dream, I was living in a creepy old house that provided minimal shelter. One day I discovered a secret passageway leading to an upper roof I hadn't been aware of. For a while it just seemed too scary, like everything else in that place (and my life).

Finally, though, curiosity won out. I opened the hatch to a stunning mansion featuring another ladder leading to a magnificent sky. The whole scene spoke of possibilities, close in and further out. I think I've found my Christmas wish for this year. Can this be -- do I feel the 'pity party' shifting from numbness to anticipation? Dare I call this my 'dancing day'?

Julie Brown Yau is a U.S.-based therapist who has dealt with a range of trauma-related issues during her career.

This recent interview appeared on a site known as "Buddha at the Gas Pump." Despite the name, the site is NOT geared to pushing any religious or spiritual views; it features interviews with relatively unknown people (with some exceptions) who aren't famous but are very well-attuned to the fields they represent -- with special emphasis on how spirituality and psychology (loosely defined) intersect.

Many of the interviews on this site are extremely long -- this one runs just shy of 2 hours. I found that it wasn't 'til after the first half hour that the focus seemed to flow better.

The emphasis is on Yau's experiences and keen observations from her 30 years or so of practice. It's not mentioned extensively 'til right at the end, but she has a recent book (I haven't seen it yet but it sounds great) just out called "The Body Awareness Workbook for Trauma: Release Trauma From Your Body, Find Emotional Balance, and Connect with Your Inner Wisdom."

The interview itself is #526 in the "Batgap" series and was recorded recently. There are tons of other interview there but only a few are specifically geared to trauma as this one is. The style  is wonderfully relaxed.

The link to the interview:


*TW* -- there's nothing overt or graphic here, but there is a hint about abuse that could trigger a reaction.

I tried to stick with a meditation the other day (or was it 15 minutes ago?); and, as usual, felt taken over by my constant habit of falling into hyper-vigilance, even in the safest of surroundings, in this case my home -- specifically designed to be calm and peaceful. Yet this happens all the time. The inner dialogue runs something like this:

I better pay attention.
I start to meditate ... this is going well
Wait --- what was that?
Just a random faint noise.
But I better pay attention.
It might be them
Coming to get me
Whatever will happen
it won't be good.
That was years ago, I remind myself,
but still feel a panic closing in.
Doesn't matter -- I better pay attention
But they're not really here
are they?
Please ... but I've failed to ever have that work.
I'll still try, though; somehow I have no choice.
Until I know they can never get to me.
I better pay attention.
But I'm so tired.
I wonder what it's like
Not to have to pay attention.
Must peace alway be only a fantasy?
When is my ongoing prayer
pleading for peace to be
answered? How will I know?
I better pay attention.
Do I know?
I'm afraid I do...but I have to pay attention.
Tired ... can't sleep ... hopeless, again.

Inner Child Work / The Child at Your Door
« on: October 02, 2019, 02:34:35 PM »
Among the regular places I visit for inspiration, a favourite is called "A Loving Healing Space". Today's entry (Wednesday, October 2, 2019) I found to be a wonderful reflection on inner child to which I'm sure many of us can relate.

If you link within the next couple of days, this entry titled "A Temple of Refuge" will be at the top, but will change in the future as he adds to these regularly (not necessarily daily). So if you come across this in the future you'll need to go to the link and then make sure you look for the October 2, 2019 entry. The link is:

Your inner child(ren) will feel welcomed, and you'll have found yourself as a good friend you can treasure.  :hug:

Ideas/Tools for Recovery / Playing With Options
« on: September 26, 2019, 05:55:19 PM »
Some years ago I picked up a book called "Taming Your Gremlin", by Rick Carson. It's a rather light-hearted, short but to-the-point discussion about all things inner critic. It even has several great cartoon illustrations showing the gremlin/icr in action. My fave shows the snide-looking critter seated in a theatre, critiquing the on-stage actor (very apropos image for me as I was an improv actor for many years).

This snorty fellow is smug, as if he's ready to pounce on every word or movement that will, inevitably, not be to the gremlin's liking. I found this book to be a nice alternative to all the serious reads I go through in my frantic search for better ways to handle the aftershocks left by so much trauma. So I survived -- what now?

One takeaway from that book was this simple 3-word suggestion -- "play with options". Make no mistake, getting a grasp on all these symptoms, flashbacks, and associated hurts is always work in the ultimate sense. Yet even changing that one little word -- from work to play -- can perhaps make a dent in one's attitude while dealing with these perplexing issues.

I've probably experienced more lows than highs in my struggle to escape and/or live with cptsd, and still tend to  run into  walls at every turn. I've wanted to give up and somehow find myself just keeping on. Maybe 'keeping on' is a habit, too -- and I won't chase that one away. I'll play with keeping it around, now that it seems stronger. Playing with that option, I can visualize/play with it as a person or archetype, a symbol (e.g. sea-shell), or a feeling of 'can-do' to replace the 'this will never pan out' expectation.

Psychologically, I've come to accept the likelihood of not finding a full cure for all of cptsd's  long-term effects; I tense up just thinking of all that would involve. Yet I've noticed slight deviations, too; and looking back, I have to credit those 3 little words -- play with options -- as suggesting that there might be ways to detour around the inevitable frustration of always working so hard. And while not seeking an inevitable cure, maybe I'll find some healing along the way. This speaks to the idea of the journey being more important, not the past, and not the destination.

At least that's been my experience, thanks to a slight shift in how I use words. And how I translate those words into feeling better inside, just by playing with options -- inner child especially likes and deserves that.  :bigwink:

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Out of sorts as a way of life (Ugh) ...
« on: August 16, 2019, 07:20:52 PM »
I used to think it was weird -- that I haven't ever been able to live a whole, single day and not slip down a peg, or two or three, from any good vibes I've got going.

It's as if I check good stuff off, as if I'm not  supposed to have those, and that having them is not allowed, for a whole host of reasons. And yet, all of those reasons were planted in my psyche/soul by outside sources, coming under the blanket term of heavy years of abuse from FOO, to schools, to a bunch of ruffians disguised as holy church men (and women).

Toting up a day as leaning, say, 10-20% positive is enough to set what I call a reverse trigger -- I don't feel real unless I feel down or trying to fix a wrong; stuff like that returne me to my steady state.

The point being -- I DON'T WANT THAT ... ever. Yes of course there will probably be setbacks, but why does my life feel incomplete unless I'm suffering?

No answer. Probably best that way. But inspiration is always nice. Anyone? I keep hoping, maybe beyond any reasonable hope, that a corner can still be turned, but defeated and (of course) that only revs up the blame myself engine; and if/if and if fills the regret barrel and can't/can't can't takes care of the future.  ???   :stars:

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Stranded on the EF roller coaster
« on: June 30, 2019, 05:47:35 AM »
**TW ahead; very brief/slight  non-active suicidal ideation reference ...

I find someone to trust; now that confidence has been shaken, violated, or something equally dire, and I've been completely undone for several days now. That's what's going on with me as these thoughts transfer into inadequate words. Call it a massive EF rehash of  all the bad stuff that I internalized and which stays close to the surface. And, every so often (any time is too often, however) any self-love, anything that I've slowly built up in my fragile recovery efforts seems not to  be working for me.

I'm okay, I tell myself or try to, blinking behind tears. If I really know I'm okay, I wonder where the okayness hides in these times of absolute panic. When the person I trusted with the empathy they said they possessed isn't there; when they twist things in hurtful ways while destroying all the slowly built self-esteem, and more, to shreds. When they blamed me for creating my own victimhood. When they thought hurting me was helping me. Or worse -- in their smugness had no idea what they were even saying, not caring if or how deep it would cut to my core wounds.

TW***This is one of those times when the giving up life option seems like a close call. For sure it's a time when self-hate can seem like the only true friend I've ever had anyway. But is it -- my only true friend? I don't know, and thinking seems rather hopeless right now, having had all my emotional scars renewed to where my body literally tingles in shame, anger, and more. Helplessness is so real, again; so now, so all that I know.

But this is senseless; as it would require further explanations. However, I think anyone reading this far will be able to share in the despair I feel. Also realize the hopelessness that this can ever truly change. So I'm scared. I'm so scared to sense that I can ever make it out of these cycles all returning to self-blame and guilt that I'm even alive. Is it too much to ask, if I seem worthwhile anymore? That indeed I can have a place here that's not filled with sorrow?

I think I have one last gasp, and this might save me yet. Given all the grief that my pseudo-friend has foisted on me, I have the ace -- I survived! And survived! It's more than they'll ever understand. My road may be lonely, but survival itself is the one certainty I can hold close and not need recognition for ... it's here, in this heart. See? I have my integrity intact, and that's all I truly want.

Podcasts, Videos & Documentaries / Excellent summary of CPTSD
« on: May 27, 2019, 06:18:58 PM »
I guess there's a couple of places in the forum this could have been posted, but finally decided to at least put it here first. Haven't seen it posted before on OOTS, though I may have missed it if it was. Nonetheless, found the presentation fresh and insightful for those looking to upgrade or review their knowledge of c-ptsd.

As you can tell from its title, it seems to present much of the same material Pete Walker covers in his book. It's especially useful for those who might relate better to a video/narrative presentation than a print format in learning about c-ptsd-related issues. To me it stood out for its relaxed but thorough coverage of  u ic-ptsd, from the Australian perspective of the presenting organization.

Enough babble about it -- here's the connection:

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Surviving even if 'they' don't get it ...
« on: March 21, 2019, 07:12:16 PM »
 A couple days back, I was telling  someone of my excited reaction to an inspiring talk given by a person who'd survived some very deep abuse. The person I was sharing this with (one of only 2 who have much knowledge  of my painful past) reacted by slipping into her standard monologue of "well, people back then were different" ... STOP, I WANT TO SCREAM.  :aaauuugh:

I had just been describing how the speaker I'd heard had very expertly explained how abuse victims hear things differently and -- immediately I get one of those standard "you have to understand them" responses tossed back at me. The sort of line that makes me cringe, shrink from saying anything more about my feelings, and resign myself to hiding my honest feelings yet again. And ... so much for the inspiring talk I'd wanted to share my excitement about with her.

NOOOOO. I will not understand, there's no point to trying; 'they' hurt me, no more need be said. I felt betrayed, unloved, scorned, and more. Still, I DID survive and have been on a long journey ever since. Survival doesn't mean I turn back and throw understanding into what I can't ever, ever understand. Why would I want to? I can only unburden as best I can, on my own terms.

Understand it? Why? It was senseless then; and remains so. But I'm still left with huge chunks of my life shattered. I feel the sting when certain comments get made certain ways that invalidates me. I'm still okay, more than okay; but enduring comments implying I just need to understand better is a form of verbal abuse (even if unintentional) implying I must not be good enough. At least that's how I heard it, and yes, I'm very sensitive. Will someone please understand that? I have to wonder. 

I am okay, and it's all I can be. Okayness is a lot, considering how I could just give up on sharing any part of my vulnerable undercurrent. While the abuse doesn't define my life, its aftermath has left a long trail of symptoms that continue to influence me.  Perhaps I just need to steel myself for unfortunate comments from people who, in the end, weren't there and don't understand (or want to) what it's like to be victimized to the point of raw senselessness.

It's still lonely, though. Very. But circling back to the talk mentioned above, the speaker eloquently spoke of survival as all that mattered, and how the slings of others can never, ever destroy that accomplishment. So what if they don't get it ... we do.

Successes, Progress? / An Alternative to the Forgiveness Trap ...
« on: February 02, 2019, 07:08:04 AM »
I guess this could also fit in resources/articles section but I chose to place it here as I consider its topic very relevant to recovery, not just as a helpful resource.


I've always been bothered by the word forgiveness and its associations. While I understand it's not meant to fully condone or accept an abuser's actions, it still felt like an imposed sort of default to let perpetrators off the hook, while the victims are still left with confusion, heartbreak, and continued feelings of unworthiness.

Well, I recently stumbled into an alternative word I find easier to handle; one that doesn't have so many negatives that the force-fed term forgiveness can trigger in me. The substitute word -- unburdening -- is nicely explained in the following article:

If you're also bothered by the harm that the term forgiveness can generate, you might find it of interest. If you do look it up, be sure to check out the comment section at the bottom of the page. Some of the responses may well resonate with your own feelings.  :bigwink:

I found this article in the October 19 issue of "Spirituality Health" magazine. It speaks volumes about our accepting the depth of our abuse, which is of course so denied by others or even invalidated, etc.

I chose to cut/paste the article so as to avoid the numerous (and annoying) sidebars and popups typical of online magazines these days. If you want to see the original (which is no different than the cut/paste presented here) you can find it at

Either way, hope you find it useful and illuminating.



by Anneli Rufus – October 19, 2018 Spirituality Health Magazine

Disbelieving ourselves only sustains our suffering.

Electrifying the national news and social media lately has been the topic of trauma — and those who undergo it, survive it, remember it, reveal it, exist with its aftereffects and/or are believed.

The trouble with trauma in this pics-or-it-didn't-happen, everything's-recorded era is the paucity of "proof." Potentially traumatic incidents tend to happen in secret, mainly because traumatizers want no witnesses.

Sure, some traumas are public: Earthquakes. Wars. Smaller in scale but still entailing audiences: being verbally abused by coaches or teachers in packed classrooms or locker rooms. Such experiences can be searing. But finding supporters — and believers — after suffering more or less public pain is relatively easy.

Most trauma occurs behind closed doors. One-on-one, enforcing a steep power inequity in which victims feel helpless, hopeless, worthless — hating themselves for "letting this happen to me," which is just what traumatizers want.

This dynamic applies not only to sexual trauma but also to other kinds — as we who were humiliated, cussed at, spanked or worse for mildly misbehaving, talking back, or not cleaning our rooms well know.

In such cases, maybe our traumatizers thought they had the best intentions, believed they were teaching us important lessons, hurting us only for our "own good" — just as certain demented rapists actually think that no means yes.

Trauma cannot be measured with sophisticated instruments, detected with some high-tech dye, or retro-filmed for all to see via some as-yet-uninvented time-traveling camera that records past events, even in the dark.

Whether our traumas happened in bedrooms or barns or big-box stores, they scarred us. While writing a book about low self-esteem, I came to see the close connection between it and trauma, especially childhood trauma that occurred before its victims had solid senses of self.

Being systematically terrified by those with power over us, particularly those we loved and trusted, made us believe that whatever happened to us was our fault, that we had asked for it, that we were bad. This belief crystallized in our still-growing hearts and minds.

That's why, years later, rather than say that we were traumatized, rather than say we have survived, we tend to instead blame ourselves for "faults" and "flaws" that are aftereffects of trauma — which we refuse to call trauma, because it happened to us.

Whether or not to believe others who say they were traumatized is now political. But to believe ourselves? We are our own snarkiest skeptics, harshest critics and deadliest enemies. Some of us would more likely believe bank robbers who proclaimed I'm innocent! while wearing masks and clasping sacks of cash in hands stained red by dye-packs before we believed ourselves proclaiming almost anything.

This is especially true if we haven't yet traced our self-hatred to its source: if we haven't yet realized how much of our adult lives is shaped by long-ago terrors we believed we might not survive.

Self-hatred trumps self-compassion, so we deny, dismiss and minimize our trauma by saying:

• Other people have experienced worse things. Of course they have. But life is not a competition in which human sufferings are ranked in order of validity. If you hurt, you hurt — whether because of a harsh word or a hurricane.

• I asked for it. We tell ourselves: I ignored warnings. Disobeyed. I was, thus am, nasty or dumb or whatever they said I was. This is how traumatizers want victims to think. We never asked to suffer. Pain was inflicted on us.

• I should be over it by now. We tell ourselves that still being tormented by long-ago traumas proves that we are weak. No: We're survivors. But the same years others spent learning to be strong we spent learning to be scared.

• Who would believe me, anyway? It was so long ago. Many would say they knew and loved my parents/priest/coach/classmate/ex. How dare I accuse those fine souls of harming me? Maybe our traumatizers meant well. Maybe not. But we know who did and said what to whom.

And we must start believing our own memories.

To disbelieve ourselves, to call our trauma anything but trauma, keeps unsolved the mystery of why we often feel fake, frozen, incomplete.

Disbelieving ourselves only sustains our suffering.

Every time we debate our inner critics over whether we were traumatized, then decide no despite glaring evidence otherwise, retraumatizes us. Even if no one else would believe us, we must.

Anneli Rufus’ latest work, Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself, was released by Tarcher Penguin in May 2014 and continues this path, addressing self-esteem.

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