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Topics - kdke

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1
Recovery Journals / kdke's journal, part .o2
« on: April 04, 2020, 02:21:46 AM »
I've decided to start a new journal since it's been quite some time since I've been around the forums.

Lots of things have changed for me. Mostly for good, but with the coronavirus epidemic, some not so good.

First thing's first--Linda and I are still together. I say that as the first thing because I've never had a romantic relationship for this long and still wanted to be with the person I was with lol. Sounds terrible when worded that way; that's what happens with a dismissive/anxious attachment style, though. And yet, here I am. I feel like I've worked through some feelings and thoughts that really needed it to get to this point. I adore Linda and appreciate every day she's in my life.

Second, I am now the owner of an associate's degree! I finally finished college, but am already determining either getting another associate's, a certificate, or just going straight for a bachelor's lol. In the meantime, I'm saving up for medical coding school.

I have a new job which I started in November. I work in a lab and process specimens for screening, confirmation, and storage. I also do data entry for those specimens. I genuinely like my job, even though hours ahve been cut due to the epidemic. I am, however, considered an essential worker due to the nature of my job.

That has been a cause for anxiety and some depression, but I'm getting through.

I've been contemplating how to best spend this time in part quarantine, part just working when I can. I have four days off, every week, now that clinics are suspending drug testing--some clinics have completely closed and won't see anyone. I've thought about all the productive things I could do right now, only to find myself still jsut as overwhelmed as when I had less time. Still dealing with the same hesitations, anxieties, feelings of not succeeding to overcome the way I'd like to.

Saying that, I'm back here where I feel safe. This is a good space, and I'm grateful to have it and appreciate the people here.

I've decided to do some therapy on my own, since I feel safest staying indoors and traveling as little as possible. I've started to read Self Therapy by Dr. Earley, since a past therapist (the trauma therapist who diagnosed me with cPTSD) said IFS would be a good therapy for me. We never got to because she had to leave the clinic; having learned that IFS can be done on one's own time and effort (as long as one has a good headpsace for it), I've decided to start where that therapist had to leave.

Besides that, it has already helped me to see certain parts of myself in a way I've never thought I could--or should. Such as the part of me that can be very rude and dismissive of people's feelings and needs, so rude to the point of being condescending and patronizing. This part leaves me feeling annoyed and even disdainful. I always thought it was a part of me that I had to get rid of, or if not, I was deemed unlovable. But with IFS, I can see that part as having a purpose--its purpose being it was trying to protect me during my most vulnerable states of depression and anxiety. It was doing its best and in the only way it knew worked, even at a cost.

IFS is teaching me to appreciate that part, and others, for working hard to protect me. It feels strange, but then it also feels so freeing. It's like, "Wait, I don't have to hate myself? Is this how I can learn to love myself? Woah." lol

Of course, I'm just starting and I know it'll take me time to get to a place where I feel better about a lot of my parts. But right now, it's my Self just wants to connect with all the parts and make all of them feel loved and appreciated. My Self says, "It's about time we find all these parts the jobs they've earned after decades of struggle and battling through." Indeed.

2
Poetry & Creative Writing / The Invocation
« on: July 17, 2018, 08:49:01 PM »
In my last topic, I shared a poem I had written a few years ago. I wanted to share one more piece of writing I did around that time, too.

I'm really into flash fiction and enjoy using that form for my creative writing. This piece is a bit of flash fiction I wrote after my mother's death.

This isn't about EFs or triggers. Instead, this story is about the grief and strange, conflicting emotions of being severed from the abuser that I was so enmeshed with that I didn't know who I was without them, and then facing a world I wasn't prepared for.

*****

She called me to the forest. It was gray and damp, and as I stepped on the dried twigs and bark my nose stung from the smell of burning wicker. The red wicker from elsewhere she said she'd burn for me that day -- the day I missed you most.

I could never move on, so I brought salt from the sea to the West. The West is strongest in this season, she said, it's the West that will hear our invocation. The Invocation of Wicker and Salt.

There were no beasts to hear us nor the crackling of the pit. No one wanted to witness this gathering. I left my fear behind at the hedge. Grief was my lover darkly, holding me tightly among the smoke. I hadn't noticed the sweat from my hand made the salt burn into my flesh until I handed the woman the pouch.

We whispered, prayed something without an echo. It cannot be repeated again what was prayed. The salt sparked and turned black. She cooled the offering and dropped it in my hand. A bitter, primal sacrifice.

You wouldn't have wanted this, I know. My tongue blisters and the pit turns to ash. Grief crushes me in its terrifying affection. She left me here. And you never returned.

3
Poetry & Creative Writing / Applying for Life
« on: July 17, 2018, 04:02:38 PM »
I'm not really a poet; I've never really got into poetry, and the few times I tried were back in high school and done for humor's sake, lol.

But this was a poem I did attempt about four years ago. I forgot I had, but found it on another account I have. I didn't have a name for it then but gave it a simple one here. I thought nothing of the poem as I started to read it, but as I got further in, I realized how much it created a keyhole into my cPTSD.

*****

Sitting in a cafe,
feeling so generically chic
with my iced americano
but not really caring
about any of it.

I just wanted a job,
to send out five more applications
which happen to be
those same applications
I meant to send out
seven
days
ago and....

Yeah.

It's a struggle.
I get lost in the past,
thinking about that
one single moment,
the one that happened
for twenty-seven years.
A singular moment.
Stretched.
Thin.
Aching and
bellowing at me.
Wanting to not be, what...
simply forgotten.

Because it knows -
to be forgotten
is to not have power,
to fade away
like ashes melting
in sea water.

It's amazing,
how something so dead
can live so loudly
in my head.

4
Letters of Recovery / Dear Little kdke
« on: July 02, 2018, 06:07:03 PM »
Little kdke,

Hey you. I'm sorry we don't get to talk much. I'm working on that, and so I want to tell you something really important now that I'm trying to fix that.

I want to thank you very, very, very much for being who you are. You're just... so amazing, and smart, and full of energy and creativity. Whenever I feel you try to show me something cool you've noticed, I'm just in awe with how much life is in you.

You've gone through so much and you just keep trying. You're my hero, you know? It's because of you that I'm still here. It's you, isn't it, that reminds me of all the great things that I want to do before I'm done on this planet. You're right--those things are great and important enough to keep trying for.

I know it's also you that I feel when I walk around my apartment and want to sing until my throat is sore, or write until my eyes burn from the computer screen, or draw until my hands turn black from lead and ink. I remember you doing those things a lot, so many years ago. You still try... and it's hard to now because I'm scared to let you.

I'm really sorry, I want you to know that. I don't mean to make it hard. You know... I was told these things were waste of time so many times over so many years that doing them is hard. I can tell you understand because you're just super smart like that and have enough patience to keep trying. It's been hard because adults taught us we couldn't trust ourselves, and we started to see that we couldn't even trust them after they hurt us so much.

That wasn't fair to us. We were always good enough to be taught how to trust ourselves to understand things, so now we are going to learn how to do that. You and me, ok? I'll be the grown-up that you can trust, and I will tell you that you can trust yourself, too. You're strong and can do a lot, more than I can do right now. So if you can do it, then so can I.

I believe in you so much, my little one. You are pure and deserve the universe, with all the other little ones in this world. So I will start to trust you more and more. I'll sketch more, and write more, and sing more, like you always did and still do in my soul. All I ask for is your unending patience so I can take one small step at a time. If you give me that one gift, then I will do everything I can to give you so much more.

You deserve the room to stretch your wings and be free. That's what I want for you, is for you to be exactly who you are nothing else.

I love you with all my heart,

kdke  :hug:

5
Recovery Journals / kdke's Recovery Journal
« on: June 21, 2018, 06:16:08 PM »
A little bit of history: I started talking to a therapist through TalkSpace about a year after my mother died. This T helped me to understand some of the depth of the trauma I've experienced. About two years later, I almost attempted to end my life but instead overdosed on sleeping pills (intentionally). There are a lot of nuances that led to this, as it is with most depressive states. This prompted the reality that I needed therapy more than ever and began to see a therapist face-to-face at a clinic. I'll name her Jordan. As I started to see Jordan, I also got back into college. There I met Aiden, the college counselor; I began to see Jordan and Aiden as I wanted to be as active as possible in my recovery. It really helped.

Jordan eventually left the clinic and set me up with a new therapist named Jesse. Jesse wasn't like Jordan in that Jesse was much more focused on having an active dialogue with me. Jordan was more of a quiet-listener-type therapist, which is great but I need a more proactive therapist because of my personality. Aiden already plays the role of my "I'm going to be silent and contribute a little here and there" therapist, and she and I connected better than I did with Jordan.

Anyway, Jesse was the therapist that diagnosed me with PTSD, but she explained it as being complex since I've had multiple, prolonged traumas in my life. PTSD was something that continued to get dropped into my conversations with other therapists, including Aiden and the Talkspace therapist, as the disorder was very similar to my symptoms. (Jordan diagnosed me with MDD, and the psychiatrist at the clinic diagnosed me with GAD with depressive episodes.) I had already been aware of cPTSD through curiosity and a little bit of research, but through my new PTSD diagnosis and talking with Jesse, she and I agreed that cPTSD fit all the criteria I was struggling through.

Jesse started me on EMDR to find the roots of my traumas, and I continue to see Aiden for more general counseling and college stressors. Therapy has been a huge help for me and has encouraged me to take a more active role in my recovery. Before, I'd read about mental illness and didn't know how to relate, or felt too inadequate to really make any progress. Now I understand that getting better is a skill that has to be built upon; I have to keep trying, have to keep learning.

6
Family of Origin (FOO) / Went NC with GrM
« on: June 14, 2018, 08:54:00 PM »
My father's mom and I had lunch yesterday after over a year of silence. I was wary of her after a previous encounter where she tried to force her authority into my life, even though she hadn't bothered to be a part of my life before then. I wasn't having it and went NC with her for some years.

Anyway, after a two-hour argument and getting a good idea of her covert narcissism nonsense, I blocked her number and decided she would be NC indefinitely. GrM had said she wanted to have a relationship with me, but that whole meeting proved that she didn't really want a relationship--she saw the mess I left with my mom and dad and saw that it was an opening for her to try to gain control over me. But while she was trying to gain the upper hand during our meeting by patronizing me and trying to shut me down, I pushed back even harder. There were a couple of times she sat back with a look of "are you seriously speaking to me that way?" while I told her she wasn't going to rob me of allowances that she assumed from me, or our conversation would end right then and there.

Usually, those kinds of confrontations send me into flight/fawn mode, but this time I was just frustrated and so done with her manipulative attitude and false compassion. She didn't really care about me, just about whether I could be another supply in her life. And when I denied her access to those things, she resorted to trying to get me to break down about my traumatic past. And when I didn't give in to her, she just kept laying it on more firmly. "I just feel so sorry for you! You have all these issues that you will carry forever! I just have so much sympathy for you!" And when I pushed it back on her saying, "If you want to pity and feel sorry for me, that's your problem, not mine," she just sighed and stared at me for the longest time. Just... stared.

Her last resort was to ask about my religious belief, of which I don't follow any real belief system and am not a Christian. GrM decided to use that to attack me one last time and said, "You're going through all this suffering now, but it won't be anything in comparison to the eternal suffering you'll endure in *." I replied, "You can believe that if it makes you happy, but just like you have your belief system, I have my own. Whatever makes you happy in this life. And if it'll make you happy to feel sorry for me, fine. I don't feel sorry for you, though."

She said, "Of course you don't! I have everything! I have a home in heaven!"

Yeah. That was the end of that lol. So delusional.

7
I feel myself kind of going through a low period right now, and it started a couple of weeks ago. I've gotten better and seeing the signs that I'm stressed: increased distractions, hyperfocused on my own mental illness, getting triggered more easily. I'm just on edge. I know why I'm stressed but it still sucks.

One of the things that really made me somber was reading more deeply about cPTSD and the effects on one's character it can have. I'm like... a textbook cPTSD sufferer. It's like reading about my own life.

But it's been hard to accept, as I have a very loud inner critic that likes to make me doubt my own illness. Like, "You're only looking for a way to excuse your own &*^%$ behavior. You're just a narcissistic ^&%$ like your mother and grandmother. You're a mess and no one will ever accept you for who you are. You're awful on a visceral level and there's nothing you can do to change it. You're a monster. People can sense that there's something wrong with you. They just tolerate you but secretly regret ever knowing of your existence."

Those are the thoughts I've been dealing with a lot, and they're obviously not true. It's just hard to remember that when they feel like a genuine reflection of reality. But these are clues to my trauma; this is a voice that developed through my childhood and teenage abuse. But yeah... blugh.

8
One of the things I've noticed is a potential issue for me is how difficult it is for me to stay attached to people. Getting attached isn't an issue as I'm still recovering from the toxic enmeshment my mother put me through (I tend to let people in too quickly and have been taken advantage of many times for this), so I'm learning to make better boundaries between myself and others.

But then, a weird switch turns off after a while. I start to become... bored? Bored isn't the right word; it's not that I lose interest, but I start to feel a bit overwhelmed. I feel like my personal space is being taken away from me, and I become isolationist. I will even ghost people entirely. It's upsetting for them and honestly, it's upsetting to me, too. I'm not sure why I feel this way and why the urge is so strong.

I've tried to stop this behavior and rationalize it. "Oh, I'm just not used to all this company. I'm an introvert." And so on. Granted, my mother isolated me and her from our families and others at her discretion for many years, but I'm wondering if it's that and something more alarming going on. I know I've identified some fear I have about letting others get too close, like distrust, abandonment, and abuse.

Well... maybe that's the answer right there, and now it's just manifested subconsciously. Maybe this "omg so stifling" behavior is a defense mechanism, something to give me an excuse to avoid worst-case scenarios. I don't know. I guess I just needed to voice that.

9
I just needed a place to get this off my chest. It's not always enough for me to talk about these things in therapy if that makes sense.

When I was 17, my mother suffered a stroke that caused a personality change. It was like she was a teenager again and she became opportunistic and reckless, but she also felt broken. She started to seek out sexual experiences with as many men as possible to validate herself, cheating on my stepdad in the process. It was hurtful to watch; it was like I had lost my mother and was suddenly living with a destructive older sister. But things started to become worse...

At one point, she pressured me into taking sensual pictures of her in lingerie, using fear tactics and lies to get me to do it. She told me it was for my stepdad, I guess to quell my conscience about it, but then started berating and attacking me for resisting. I was a very vulnerable teen, already beaten down through years of bullying. My mother started to isolate herself and then befriended one of my high school friends. I started to get more upset as they both dove even deeper into online sexual escapades together and then turned on me. They bullied me for not being ok with what they were doing, calling me a frigid *, a child, and telling me to "run off, the adults are playing."

I felt so abandoned and betrayed. I had no one to protect me from what was happening; my stepdad was allowing it to happen and told me to just deal with it. He was also emotionally and verbally abusive towards me. For me, I had to kind of choose which parent I wanted more in my life: my mom, my dad, or my stepdad. I chose my mother and did the only thing I thought I could do to win back her affection. I forced an interest in what she and my "friend" were doing and started to go down that rabbithole.

My mother started to introduce me to men she found on the internet so I could sleep with them... even men she had slept with already. She started sharing intimate details of her sexual experiences with me, and I was expected to participate in these conversations. She would buy me underwear, sex toys, condoms, and porn to use in my experiences, but after a while, things got even darker. I became competition, and she started to "befriend" a crush I had. They would talk a lot online, and she would threaten to sleep with him when I one of her sex buddies implied sexual interest in me. I would joke about the possibility since that was the dynamic I had become used to between me and my mother at that time, but she took it as a threat.

My intimate life was no longer just my own but was decided and manipulated by my mother for her own desires. I would try to escape and go my own way during this time through running off with a couple who held parties. Unfortunately, the girlfriend sexually exploited me, as well, by pressuring me to do things with her friends. My first time with another woman was through the coercion of this friend and it was traumatic.

All of this happened consistently for three years when my mom finally started to settle down. She ended up HIV+ and realized she had made some very bad choices to get herself there. It was sobering for her. I was deeply enmeshed in her life at that point, so I was relieved.

It took me several more years before I acknowledged these traumas and realize my mother had sexually abused me. I had always dismissed it called it a "wild" period in my life. But as I kept revisiting those memories and how she treated me, the men she threw me at any chance she could find; the complete loss of boundaries and things she would say to me, it became very obvious what I had gone through. It's been very difficult for me to accept this reality, and I'm still trying to piece things together and get used to revealing certain details (I didn't write down everything here, sadly). But yeah... thanks for giving me a place to air these kinds of things.

10
Friends / Letting go of friends
« on: May 17, 2018, 06:34:09 PM »
I know this is long, but I had to get it off my chest. Thanks for your patience~

I have two roommates. They're a married couple and we've all been through a lot since each of us deals with mental illness to some level.

Unfortunately, putting three people with mental illness and poor coping skills together for a year really amplifies some toxic behaviors and thought patterns. Some very precarious situations manifested between us and now we've decided to kind of go separate directions.

I think what really bothers me is that each of us has had to acknowledge some very poor choices we've made in the past year, and I've had to learn to let go of the treatment one of my roommates (we'll call her Emily). Emily began to bully me fervently after a while as we started to clash; it turned into a pattern where I was constantly apologizing and taking the blame, and she would treat me very poorly. All of this started to get worse, and Emily took a turn towards some pretty narcissistic behavior I didn't know was there: blaming me for her choices, only feeling sorry for herself but not really wanting to acknowledge my hurt, and also demanding I take responsibility for her and her partner's failure to communicate (effectively) by always being the one to initiate difficult conversations.

It was always my fault, and then Emily started to taunt. Now... all of this interaction was mostly happening through chat, and she was very enthusiastic about telling me exactly how she felt. It was all very toxic and hypocritical, such as taunting me about being in my room all the time... while she would be in her room typing, with no intention to confront me in person. Double standards left and right, and so I started seeking her out and end these squabbles in person. I eventually told her that if she has issues with me, she needs to tell me in person and I won't tolerate being attacked online anymore. Emily hasn't bothered me since.

She and her wife (Hannah) both have some narcissistic tendencies. Hannah's manifest as wanting to be fawned over, to be seen as awesome and wise and desired, and when those things are challenged or criticized, she falls apart and suddenly she's the scum of the earth. She has expressed having serious issues with just being like everyone else; she can't accept that maybe she isn't incredibly special and fated to do something great. The idea that she can never be loved by everyone really tortures her some days, and has lamented to me that the world would be a perfect place if she had the power to control everyone. Now... I don't believe she's narcissistic, as I've seen her be truly remorseful and empathetic. The narcissism she does have is very obviously a coping mechanism, as she has also suffered from some serious trauma growing up. It's a very, very poor coping skill, but it's only that. I don't belive she has NPD.

I don't believe Emily has NPD, either. I think the three of us have caught some of those narcissistic fleas and they just really jumped out in the past year. I've learned to coped in healthier ways and have gotten much better--I think Emily has gotten a little bit better (sorta), but Hannah hasn't made any progress. She still choose to escape into her narcissistic spells and seek out admirers and people to "counsel" as she says. She's very afraid to progress herself, and Emily still battles with accepting responsibility over her choices. I know this because what conversations that have happened on the subject play out the same for them as it has since last May when they moved in. Nothing has changed for them--they're still pretty much in the place.

As I've learned to cope with the past and progress with my mental health, I realize that they are persons I can no longer be close with. I completely understand the depression they deal with, the frustration towards trying to gain control over their mental illness, but they continue to not take a stronger hold of it. It always goes to the backburner, excuses keep being made, and I'm tired of having people in my life who demand certain things of others but can't be asked to do the same.

It's just also very hard... but yeah.

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Dating; Marriage/Divorce; In-Laws / Afraid I'll mess it all up...
« on: May 17, 2018, 03:14:43 PM »
I'm dating a new person; we've been steady for three weeks now and are getting comfy with each other. I know he's head over heels for me, and I feel very safe and happy with him.

I don't think I'm as in love with him as he is with me, but I love being with him. Like I said--I feel safe, comfortable, and like I found a really great guy. I feel very fortunate and I respect that. I do have very strong feelings for him and they steadily grow; there's just some hesitation that lies in my way.

I've had attachment issues for a long time because of my cPTSD. Getting close and staying close is difficult for me; it's not so much that I lose interest as it feels overwhleming and I tire out after a while. I start to doubt myself and sometimes I just get scared to let my potential partner get too close.

I'm not always the best person ever when I'm too familiar with someone. My triggers express themselves more freely because I feel safe, and those have been overwhelming for others in the past. Granted, I've gotten better, but people are not stupid; they can hear the strain in my voice, the frustration and irritability that I'm trying to control because something unimportant set me off.

And I guess that's the problem, is that I'm very mindful of the fact that my reactions to certain triggers are irrational. They're based on trauma that happened long ago and haven't happened again. So when I get irritated or upset or snappy, I've taught myself to try my very hardest to acknowledge it and apologize. I don't want anyone to feel victimized by my behaviors, even though my behavior is a result of cPTSD. I'm still responsible for those things.

So I'm scared right now. I'm scared that as I get closer to this amazing guy, everything will start to come out. He knows that I have cPTSD and has told me that it doesn't change his mind about me; of course, it's easy to say such things when you've yet to experience it from a loved one. I'm afraid I'll have a bad day and he'll be like, "Yikes."

Part of me is scared of making his life darker because of my illness.

12
General Discussion / Divorce: My parents never told me
« on: April 19, 2018, 08:35:42 PM »
One of the EF's I deal with from time to time is my parents' divorce. I remember sitting in the back of my mother's work (she worked for Check 'n Go at the time) and she asked me if I wanted to live with her or my dad.

Now... I understand many kids are smart enough to understand what this could mean, but with the stress I was under all the time with home and school, my comprehension levels were crap. I didn't really understand what she was asking me at all, so I answered very simply: her, of course. I was a mama's girl.

It wasn't until the moment that we started driving away from my father that I realized what was happening. I cried so hard, I felt so hurt and scared. No one walked me through what any of it meant; I don't think it processed until I and my mother were in our new apartment. I was 11 years old.

I know this is an EF for me because any time I remember it, I feel utter, nauseating, instant distress and heartbreak. I dissociate and feel ready to bawl; I can't focus until it goes away. I start to feel very upset and angry that my parents had done that to me.

But that was kind of the story of my life, and really, it was probably my mother who chose to control what information I'd have about the whole incident. She really had an iron grip on me for many years, until adulthood. Not knowing major events until the last moment was a common occurence in my life. Talk about jarring. Considering how I was treated because I was a child, she probably thought at some point that me understanding the divorce wasn't important. I was a kid--who cares, right?

I can't remember anything between that question my mother asked me and then the drive away from my father. Nothing at all. There are lots of chunks of my childhood memories that are like that.

13
Introductory Post / Hello
« on: April 17, 2018, 08:52:54 PM »
Hi there. I'm Cadie from the lovely PNW. It's just starting to really feel like spring--I can feel it all up in my sinuses, haha.

Anyway, I'm brand new to this forum but have been off and on visiting the symptoms of C-PTSD. The disorder has been suggested to me by three different therapists in my past and the third recently diagnosed me with it. After explaining four traumatic, prolonged events that happened at different points in my life, I guess it was pretty obvious what I was dealing with every day. And the more I read about the symptoms of C-PTSD sufferers, the more I'm able to put the puzzle pieces together myself.

There's been a lot of denial in my past in regards to my trauma--lots of excuses for my abusers, refusing to think what they did had affected me so viscerally and for so long. It's been rough and I am now just able to really understand where many of my behavioral problems stem from; anxiety, irritability, anger, paranoia, nightmares, emotional flashbacks, dissociation, major depression, suicidal ideations, isolation... the list goes on, as you all might very well understand.

However, I'm in a much better place than I was a few years back in spite of just discovering my diagnosis. I have a few good coping mechanisms in my belt to deal with my harder emotions and triggers, but there is still a while for me to go. I understand that my C-PTSD may never truly go away but I am willing to learn how to cope and gain control over my symptoms so they don't control my life anymore. I'm very happy to be here.

I'm not grateful for our suffering, but I am very grateful for this forum. Thank you.  :heythere:

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