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Messages - Finding My Voice

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Introductory Post / Re: Support needed
« on: August 11, 2018, 01:33:30 AM »
When I started therapy, I was working one day a week. After a year I convinced my husband to let me quit. Since then it's been one thing after another, either me dealing with/working on my issues or my child having issues. I have days where I can function pretty normally and other days where I don't do much. There has been definite improvement in my life overall, though. My current therapist can tell that I've done a lot of work.

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General Discussion / Emotional trust
« on: August 10, 2018, 09:10:00 PM »
One of the big issues I am being forced to deal with now (and I do mean forced -- I hate dealing with emotions -- but it's affecting my sleep now) is emotionally trusting/connecting with others. Basically, trusting/believing on an emotional level that other people care about me.

I can trust people in other ways. I can trust them to be my friends, to generally treat me well, to listen, etc. I can open up and tell safe people about my childhood issues, for instance. But that's because I view it intellectually: I am sharing data about myself with people that are willing to receive that data in a good way. I can understand on an intellectual, abstract level that my close friends and family do love me.

But when it comes to putting my emotions on the line -- believing on an emotional level that someone truly cares about me -- I can't. Even thinking about it sets off lots of alarm bells and I end up in a rage or panic. My therapist has told me to work on calming my body down, figuring out what is tense and consciously telling it to relax, but this hasn't gotten me very far yet. I can relax, but as soon as I start to think about emotional trust I get panicked again.

I know it's because of my childhood with my borderline mother. My mother was, depending on her mood, smothering, verbally abusive and critical, dependent on me to comfort her, infantilizing me and wanting me to be dependent on her, etc. The only way I had to protect myself was to shut off my emotions and my emotional attachments to whatever extent I could. I even remember making a conscious decision as a young child to not be emotionally attached to any of my toys. My therapist has asked if I remember what my relationship with my mom was like before I did that, but I can't remember. I suspect I shut down as soon as I possibly could.

Has anyone else had a similar issue and made any progress with it?

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Introductory Post / Returning member
« on: August 10, 2018, 08:50:28 PM »
I joined this site when it first started as an offshoot of Out of the Fog. My life got pretty hectic after that, but I'm now in a second round of dealing with my CPTSD issues.

In a nutshell, I was the only child of a borderline PD mother (who I believe had CPTSD as well from her own childhood) and a benign but enabling father. There was no physical or sexual abuse, or physical neglect, but a lot of emotional problems, including enmeshment, isolation, insults, etc.

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Introductory Post / Re: Support needed
« on: August 10, 2018, 08:41:39 PM »
Welcome!

I understand how you feel. You're definitely not alone in the things you are dealing with. If you haven't seen Pete Walker's website, http://pete-walker.com that's a good place to start, it helped me a lot in dealing with emotional flashbacks.

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Medication / Update
« on: October 16, 2014, 02:40:06 PM »
I'm entering the world of medication today -- took my first (generic) Effexor.  My mom was on it for a long time so my dr. and I are trying that first. 

This comes just in time to help me deal with DD (age 10) being diagnosed with depression and her T recommending that she start meds as well.  DD has been displaying more BPD traits lately, saying things that sound eerily similar to what my mom used to say ("I don't understand why anyone would like ___", "I feel like staying inside and not seeing anyone again").  The T says these things are due to her personality/genetics and that I'm a good mom, so I'm holding onto that thought and hoping medication will help her.  She had a rocky session and the T said she gets overwhelmed with negative feelings to where she can't pull herself out of that mindset (thinking everyone hates her).  She's been having a lot of drama at school -- telling the class she doesn't have any friends, crying because she thinks people are laughing at her when they're not -- and I worry she will end up driving away the friends she does have (she has 3-4 friends at least, but she gets herself convinced that no one likes her).

On top of that, DD is finishing up intensive physical therapy (her legs are rotated inwards and the way she walks has started causing her pain) and has to do a lot of daily exercises for the foreseeable future, and it's hard to get her to get her homework done, do all her exercises and take her shower, etc. so she can get to bed on time.  Trying to get her to do anything she doesn't want to do is like herding cats.  And she's starting cheerleading, and I'm not sure how we're going to fit everything in.  She was on the volleyball team but had to stop when she started PT, and volleyball was time-consuming but seemed to be really good for her in terms of getting exercise and building relationships.

So yeah, I guess I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I want DD to be happy and well-adjusted and to have enough free time, but also to learn whatever skills (sports, art, music) will benefit her later in life, but it seems like it can't all work.  Mainly I am concerned about DD being depressed and looking more and more like she's on the BPD spectrum.  Her T says she has made improvements and that her starting T early is really good (she has been going to this T since she was 7, and this is the same T who worked with me and my parents when we did family therapy).  I keep telling myself that she is my child, not my parent and that I know I don't have to be responsible for her emotions.  But it reminds me of the suffocating despair of growing up with my BPD mom and feeling responsible for her, and then I just want to retreat and avoid everything.

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General Discussion / More on being alone
« on: September 28, 2014, 10:28:43 PM »
Today I had a fuller reaction to the memory of my BPDm coming in my room to be emotionally abusive (either criticizing me or wanting me to comfort her).  She used to say, "Knock, knock, knock!" in this cutesy "I'm just pretending to knock because we're so close we don't have boundaries" voice or say my name with this annoying "I need you to do something for me" inflection to it -- it still makes me cringe to think of it.  Even though I spent a lot of time alone, I couldn't truly get away from her.  I had the physical ability to lock my door but I knew that I had to let her in any time she wanted to talk to me.  And it's like I can't ever be alone enough or be far enough away from her.

Being alone is the only time I feel safe to be myself.  I spend a lot of time alone and rarely feel lonely; I think I suppress feelings of loneliness so that it's hard to recognize.  When I'm around other people, my mind tends to go blank and I semi-freeze.  (I don't think I'm hypervigilant, but maybe this is my version of dissociating rather than being vigilant?  Does anyone else do this?) If I'm talking with someone (especially party/large group conversations or on the phone) I tend to wait for them to dismiss me when they're done talking to me, as if they're BPDm.

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General Discussion / Re: Social anxiety and medium chill
« on: September 23, 2014, 06:50:47 PM »
You know, I could copy and paste your own words with a new post that has my name on it.    I am going through this also.    And, this is fairly new with the extent of these symptoms for me.   This is the "people are dangerous" symptom.  Meeting other people's needs in over listening, which is a defensive technique as to not expose ourselves.   All the crap that NPD / BPD mothers force on their children.   Gracious, our mothers were dangerous.   How pathetic is that?

I had to listen to my mom's monologues, I'm guessing you did too.  As a teen I thought that's what my purpose in life was, to listen to other people and understand them.

I had gotten slightly better with socializing after starting T, but it seems to be something that comes and goes based on how much I'm dealing with my emotional backlog.  If I'm in the middle of dealing with old emotions, I want to hide; but oddly, I've noticed recently that if I deal with intense emotions early in the day and then have time to recover from the resulting exhaustion, I'm more able to be friendly and socialize.

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I think this is what "healing" looks like with CPTSD ...complex.  Panic attacks and all.

Maybe it is like our lives on "rewind" with a cassette player.    This crap unwinds out of our bodies as we are able to deal with, and only WHEN we are able to deal with it.

I think so.  I have a definite feeling of getting a little piece at a time to deal with.

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I have taken a year plus off to deal with this "crap unwinding" which has me showing anxiety, panic attacks, symptoms I have never seen before in me!

I have a theory, based on what others have said, that those of us with CPTSD get to the point where we just can't anymore -- we have been running and doing, taking care of parents, siblings, ourselves, trying to be "good enough" and avoiding the emotional baggage we carry for so long that we finally sort of break down and have to either heal or go bonkers.

I get what you are saying about the weirdness of it all -- I can't get over the weirdness of feeling emotions about long-past events that I had no idea I felt, yet I can tell I felt it all along.

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Hopefully there is an end to all this "crap unwinding" ....I have to think there is.   I do know that I cannot keep carrying this trauma inside me ...I'm on constant "alert" without even knowing it through all these years.   

I have a good friend who is in his 70s and had a verbally abusive mother, and he told me recently...I couldn't remember exactly, so I had to look it up, and here is his quote: "After a time of rest, maybe your mind feels strong enough to work on it all again? I hate to say this, but I feel you won't be able to stuff all this back into the box for long, and will have to deal with it. As a "survivor", let me tell you that the calm seas are worth battling the storm."

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The Inner Critic has made sure to keep me in crisis mode all these years slamming me with my parent's negative programming, so I am heavy duty crushing the critic.   Currently, I have banished him to the Moon! (he talks and I cannot even hear him as there is no sound on the Moon ....hahaha!).

Ha, good image!

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I'm sorry we are both going through this.   I soooo relate to your "mild panic attack" on the "idea of being with other people" ...sounds like your therapist wants the "relational healing" bit.   Hard to do that without people...     

I don't think so, we were talking about me being more emotionally expressive in general, she wasn't pushing socializing but the idea of letting myself feel more joy, pain, etc.  We were talking about how much I smile (or not) and how my DD is impacted by my and DH's relative lack of emotion.  (DH came from a similar family dynamic, having to be the mature person because his F was not.)  And I realized that I have a hard time with letting myself be joyful, spontaneous, etc. and in talking about that we also talked about how I have a hard time showing any emotions around people.  I smile more freely when I'm by myself, etc.  The only thing she actively encouraged me to do was the writing exercise, and that was because the meditation exercise she suggested previously wasn't working out.  I think she's more of a "let's try to find something that works for you" sort of T.

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However, I like what Pete Walker writes in Surviving to Thriving book, that there are some people so betrayed that asking them to be with people is additional trauma ...that the relational contact though online groups, authors, pets ...safe venues ...are relational healing.   He has seen success with that.

I agree.  I was recently in a discussion about social anxiety on an unrelated forum, and people with anxiety (that didn't seem to be from CPTSD) were saying how helpful it was for them to have an outlet like a forum.

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Medium Chill ...being safe.   I so understand.    Be gentle with yourself ...as I so try to be also.   This is serious crap we are recovering from.

Thanks.  I know to be gentle with myself, but to hear it from someone else, to know that someone else understands and is patient with me, means a great deal.  DH and I host a small group study in our home every other week, and just doing that has been exhausting lately.  He's made some friends that he wants to have over, and I want to have them over too, but I'm tired just thinking about it, especially when our weekends have been so busy lately with our small group and other activities.  Hmm, maybe I don't know to be gentle with myself after all.

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General Discussion / Social anxiety and medium chill
« on: September 23, 2014, 04:55:43 PM »
As a result of T today, I had a mild panic attack around the idea of being with other people and letting my emotions show, sharing my opinions, etc.  I have made some small progress in this area (e.g. I am more comfortable with posting opinions that may be controversial online) but the thought of being more open IRL still freaks me out.  And yet I don't have what I consider to be true social anxiety, by which I mean I don't get anxious at the thought of being around others or unduly anxious about new situations, meeting new people, etc.  I dislike almost all social situations and make myself go to them rather than wanting to go to them, but I'm not scared or panicky about them, if that makes sense.  I only get anxious in the middle of the night following the social occasion, when I wake up and am convinced that I said/did something wrong and everyone thinks I'm an idiot.

So I was thinking that maybe what keeps me from having full-on social anxiety is that I am always medium chill.  I invented MC on my own as a child and I am MC with everyone most of the time.  This lets me be around people without doing the things that scare me like expressing my opinion.  If there's more than one other person around, I'm mostly silent, and even if it's one-on-one usually the other person does the majority of the talking.

My T suggested that I do an exercise called "morning pages" from The Artist's Way (I will have to tell Sandpiper at OOTF, she's always recommending that book) in hopes that it will help me to be more expressive, emotionally and in general.  The idea (I think) is that you have to write 3 full pages every morning, on anything, without editing or crossing things out, just stream-of-consciousness.

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Emotional Abuse / Re: "Just" emotional abuse
« on: September 23, 2014, 04:42:18 PM »
Rain, I am not experiencing exactly the same symptoms, but I think I'm in the same boat.  I too was "only" emotionally abused and dealt with a lot of criticism.  I too grew up alone in my room (though my isolation was by choice; being alone meant not being around my borderline mother).  No alcohol/drug abuse, my material, physical and educational needs were taken care of, and we looked like a normal family to everyone around.

I started therapy in 2011, ended up going no contact with my mother in 2012, she died in 2013, and now I am back in therapy and having emotional reactions to things from childhood that I never had reactions to before, to the extent that I had thought I just hadn't cared about some of them.  I only started experiencing full-on emotional flashbacks and panic attacks after I started therapy.  I don't shake and tremble, but I have felt like I was about to go crazy and I have had panic attacks where I have felt the need to hide, avoid windows and go into a closet, etc. even though I was alone in the house and live on a quiet street.  You are not alone in what you are experiencing. :hug: 

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Medication / Re: Self medicating
« on: September 21, 2014, 01:42:08 AM »
I agree with allowing discussion of it under the common-sense guidelines that Kizzie suggested.

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Medication / Re: Self medicating
« on: September 15, 2014, 12:03:22 AM »
I haven't ever been drunk or used drugs.  I tried to get drunk in high school but I didn't like the taste of alcohol, and the one time I drank enough that I could start to feel an effect, I got scared and stopped.  Though at that point I only wanted to drink to try to lose my "good nerdy girl" status.  It wasn't until I started T that I wanted to get drunk just to get drunk.  So now I can fully understand why people drink and get addicted to it. 

I do comfort eat, but I think my fear of being overweight like BPDm keeps me in check enough that I'm not technically overweight.  Now that I am less numb and feeling more of the pain from childhood, I'm not motivated to eat a super healthy diet.  I also use caffeine as a mild antidepressant, though I try to skip it several days in a row so I don't get addicted (I hate going through caffeine withdrawal).

IIRC, EO, you posted something from the same book that said people who don't learn to numb themselves for whatever reason turn to substances, and I guess I learned to be emotionally numb, to retreat into a fantasy world and to distract myself with things.

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Emotional Abuse / Re: Emotional incest and enmeshment
« on: September 08, 2014, 07:25:12 PM »
ETA - in fact DH was trying to understand how it felt for me and in trying to explain it to him I finally said the only way I can think to say this in a way he could comprehend is to use the word rape. Because despite my 'no' she takes without my permission what belongs to me, what is mine alone, and makes it her own. It was a painful realization for me.

I'm so sorry you had such awful experiences, Butterfly.  The N moms who try to upstage their children's problems, s your mother did to you, have stood out to me as being particularly awful.

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General Discussion / Re: The recovery spiral
« on: September 08, 2014, 07:20:03 PM »
Good luck on your journey out of the spiral! You may be revisiting 'places' you've been before, but you are no longer the same person you were then and maybe by revisiting, you can face the demons that were too scary the last time around.

Thanks, that's encouraging to hear.

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Books & Articles / Interesting article on the effect of abuse on the brain
« on: September 03, 2014, 03:07:47 PM »
While surfing (I found this on a site Kizzie mentioned elsewhere) I found this article -- it's mainly about the long-term effects of CSA, but further into the article it talks about the effects abuse can have on the brain, and I thought it was really interesting:

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have demonstrated a 12% left hippocampal volume size reduction among adults who have been sexually abused in childhood as compared to healthy controls. Similar reductions are exhibited among subjects with trauma-spectrum disorders such as depression, dissociation, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. In addition, the amygdala, responsible for emotional and fear regulation, is affected by early sexual trauma, resulting in similar psychopathologies.

Studies suggest sexually traumatized children are also less able to utilize both brain hemispheres to process experiences. The corpus callosum, a longitudinal fissure that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres, is shown to be abnormal in sexually abused children. Generally, the left side of the brain processes positive emotions and logical thinking, and the right processes negative emotions such as fear. When the corpus callosum is not operating properly these processes are unable to function at the same time, thus supporting theories why many abused individuals divide people into “all good” or “all bad” and exhibit mood swings, as observed in borderline patients.

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General Discussion / The recovery spiral
« on: September 02, 2014, 07:26:02 PM »
I've talked about this before at OOTF -- I feel like recovery, for me at least, is like a spiral.  I revisit what seems like the same places, but usually as I revisit something I can feel it more emotionally or address it on a deeper level.  In other words, while it seems like I'm going through the same things over and over, I'm actually making progress.

It's still frustrating, though.  Today was my first real session with my new T (my old T retired).  One of the things she had me work on is figuring out why I hold onto my self-hatred.  Pretty soon after I got home, I figured out that it had something to do with defending my mother and being loyal to her.  And then I worked out that if I hate myself, it means her criticism and treatment of me was justified and I can continue to believe the family dogma that "Mom loves me, she's just trying to help me improve by critiquing me, and her bad behavior is the result of emotional problems that she can't control."  If I don't hate myself, because I don't deserve to treat myself or be treated that way, that means her treatment of me was wrong, and the whole house of cards collapses.

I realized most of this intellectually a couple of years ago.  But somehow, today I'm starting to realize it on a more emotional level, and it's like being shocked all over again, like someone has just picked up the earth and used it like a salt shaker.  In general the past couple weeks I've been having more emotional responses to my childhood, feeling some of the pain I've repressed all these years.  From 2011 on I've been realizing intellectually that my childhood was "that bad" and I was emotionally/verbally abused, but now I'm actually feeling some of the pain of not being allowed to exist as I really was.

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