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Topics - movementforthebetter

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Or words to that effect. I'm sure we've all heard them.

As I've been dating again I've been thinking about how inadvertently cruel such words are. How they imply that only people at a certain level of health are worthy of love.

In fact, I'm pretty sure people suffering from C-PTSD need a stable source of love more than anyone other than children and the severely developmentally or physically disabled. And while it's different, our condition does cause functional impairments.

I can only truly speak for myself, and I suppose I'm mainly venting. Loneliness is loud these days and I resent that because of the situation I was born into, I may have to spend a long, long time alone until "sufficiently healed" to be considered a viable partner.

Hi all,

Had a rough day last week in which I became very upset and was unable to calm myself using grounding techniques. Every time I started to quiet a thought would pop in and then the tears would be leaking out again. This lasted about three hours. It occurred to me that I was triggering, perpetuating or repeating an emotional flashback just by thinking of the situation I was in. I can't see much way around it except that some days are better and grounding or meditating actually work on those days. This particular day, my stress levels were higher than normal and thought-stopping wasn't possible as I was already too far gone.

Wondering if anyone else can relate?

I've been thinking lately that it's possible my M cannot acknowledge she abused me because she may have been in a dissociative state while she was doing it.

Something my SF said once stuck with me. She once tried to give me a bunch of clothes that were way too big and he said something along the lines of "You know she can't see that". There's two or three things I've pulled from that statement over time.
  • she is completely blind to and incapable of seeing truth if it dissagrees with her version of reality
  • seeing something outside her version of reality would cause her to shatter
  • she spends most if not all of her time in this alternate reality as a defense mechanism and it is a permanent limitation meaning she will never change, ever

Given the insights above coupled with the belief I developed through my own journey that she was also sexually abused as a child, I'm having a tough time recconciling my feelings.

On one hand, I despise her and everything she did to me. On the other, assuming my inferences are correct, I feel terribly sorry for her. But it doesn't change the damage she caused and her refusal to acknowledge it has been further abuse in and of itself.

Has anyone come to a similar place in their journey, and if so, how did you move forward once reaching this point?

Holidays & Other Important Days / Just Noticed...
« on: January 15, 2017, 08:27:22 AM »
The most members online was 77 on Dec. 24, 2016. That's sad. Hugs to everyone.  :hug:

Employment / Possible TW - EF at Work Leads to Regrets
« on: January 12, 2017, 03:04:03 AM »
Hi all. Not sure if this is a question or an annecdote. Just wanted to share something that I did that I'm not proud of. At least I know the why. Just not sure how to stop from doing it again.

At work one person is particularly grouchy. This person doesn't want to do extra work or is going through some stuff. I don't know; not my concern. This person is part of a team. My work involves bringing work from everyone on my team to her team. I called the team and asked her coworker if I could bring in a bunch of items for them. This other coworker said no problem, so I did.

I made a mistake on some of the items, and the grouchy person (instead of talking to me directly) complained to her superior, who then started questioning my team members one by one. She got to me, asked if I brought the work down (I did), who I spoke to (her coworker) and if I knew anything about a few of the items. This is where I let myself down.

I EF'd back to being a kid and being terrified to answer my M for fear of a beating. And in an instant I lied - it was out before I knew it and I regretted it immediately. "No, I don't know about those items - our team all submits work together so it could have been anyone." But in this case I don't know if she believed me but she let it rest, and I will too so I don't make things worse.

I have learned from this but it hits me in a weak point in my character - speaking with integrity in the face of negative consequences for actions I need to own.

I need a way out of EFs in an instant, like in the middle of a conversation, but I'm not sure that exists. So barring that, if I can recognize this trigger in the future, I hope to be able to know that any trouble I could get in at work will not be as bad as what I used to get at home.

This incident has bugged me ever since it happened yesterday. Thanks for reading and to this forum for helping me untangle what has repeated more than once in my life but I only see now.

General Discussion / TW - Guilt/Fear/Shame Re: Illness and Having Needs
« on: January 04, 2017, 01:18:31 PM »
I thought I'd share this here as I think others can identify with aspects of my experiences.

I tend to feel intense guilt whenever I get sick and need to take time off to look after myself. Up til last year I was the poster child for presenteeism. I even went to work once while having an adverse drug reaction that caused extreme nausea, because I didn't want to miss more work and be thought of badly. I know how rediculous that is now.

I am sick with the flu because my coworkers came in while sick and we share workstations. I have taken a day off and will take at least one more today, but it took me not sleeping well til 3am to decide that. I couldn't get into the Dr yesterday as so many are sick after the holidays, but I have an appointment today. I want to ask the Dr how long I should stay home and get a note for work. I suspect it may be the rest of the week. I work in a place where I come in contact with everyone from babies to the elderly, although it's possible to limit contact somewhat.

I am feeling guilty about putting my health (and the health of others) above my job obligations. I know I shouldn't but I do anyway. I fear what others will think, again knowing that I shouldn't, and that I can't know what others are thinking unless they tell me. I feel shame that I have done something wrong - didn't get the flu shot (neither did the coworkers).

A lot of these feelings stem from childhood situations I was too young to make sense of at the time. It must have been a major inconvenience for my M if I was sick - she'd have no child care. So she'd be upset if I was sick and not overly concerned about my health. I don't have clear memories of that, just the impression. Most of the time if I was sick I was left home alone. As I started to get better, I would experience intense anxiety about going back to school, and would say I was still sick, so I'd stay home an extra day or two. This probably wasn't a bad thing overall. But I didn't know what anxiety was, really, and was also afraid of my M, so we never talked about my feelings and I never learned how to process them. I didn't understand I was suffering mental illness and neither did anyone else.

As the years went on if I was particularly stressed I would get "sick". Usually a migrane or stomach ailment, and often if I hadn't completed a project, had a major event coming, or had been pushing too hard lately. Sometimes I exagerated my symptoms but I was always afraid of the root cause of my sickness - my feelings. This carried on through my 20s.

There was so much stigma around mental illness that I could never admit what was actually wrong deep down. In fact I didn't underatand what mental illness was until 15 years later. I was so afraid of my reality and M that couldn't face my problems. I didn't know that what I was feeling was a real condition in itself that required treatment.

So this burden of my past still weighs on me when I get sick. I fall into shame spirals and have to climb back up just to feel worthy of calling in sick to work. I don't exagerate ilness anymore - I go the other way now. I do take the odd mental health day, but the guilt  of that makes it almost worthless to do so.

It's not that I want to feel nothing arounf these issues. I just find it interesting that there are people who have no problems with calling in sick whatsoever, while I wade through a lifetime of murk each time. I do think my reactions have gotten less severe, but it's taken a lot of work to get to the point I'm at now. Still feel guilty but taking the time I need to get better.

I'm going to talk about microagressions for a moment. I had one today and have decided the time has cpme for me to speak openly about this stuff here.

I had a very long bus ride from work. A man got on early in the ride. There were many seats open next to other men, and more than a few that were totally free but were sideways. But he chose to sit next to me. I had a backpack and a big jacket and was eating a sandwich because this was the only dinner break I had before an appointment downtown... Practically shouting "#@$& off" in bus body language. But still he chose to sit next to me. And then he spread his legs wide and puffed out his arms so he was touching me in as many places as possible. He smelled bad but forget this clown, he's not about to horn in on me. So I rustled in my bag. I let my jacket flop onto him. I puffed up my arms. We sat like this for a good 20 minutes in a power struggle stalemate. Bus was full so nowhere to move to. And I didn't want to have to give up the seat I was in first. Eventually I couldn't deal with his invasion anymore and shrunk up against the window. He continued to sit that way for another 10 minutes. And then he relaxed. He shrunk. He shifted. And suddenly he was nowhere near touching me anymore. As he could have been the entire time. The bus reached the end of the line a couple stops later and everyone got off. Dude made his point.

Before you ask why I didn't say anything, I have in the past, and my experiences have taught me to not bother because the results are wildly unpredictable. He could become more belligerent or turn violent and there really and truly is no way to know what will flip an aggressor's switch when he's looking for a target.

I was on my way to my Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse group therapy. How ironic. I could give you a story for every day of the week. Some worse than others. Like I said, this was a microagression, and this is the most common kind of power display by men against women, played out in various forms every single day.

I would like to open a space up for the discussion of opression based on nothing more than being a woman. If you would like to share any thoughts, I would welcome them. Thank you.

Employment / Job Anxiety
« on: October 11, 2016, 02:23:54 AM »
Hi everyone,

I start my new job tomorrow after being unemployed for 10 months. I am incredibly nervous and my anxiety has been escalating for the last few hours. I am getting a tension headache from worry and my jaw is clamping up. I did yoga today and have been focusing a lot on my breathing since yesterday. My tension keeps coming back the second I stop being totally conscious of my body, leaving little room for anything else.

I have to go to sleep in a couple hours to wake up early, a new schedule for me. I did not succeed in pre-training myself to get up early. Instead I slept a ton, and seemed to need it.

I have the usual fears. I didn't brush up on my skills like I thought I should. I am trying to be forgiving about that. It was my last non-working week, and I was relaxing.

My last workplace was highly competetive and in the end I couldn't cut it. I am afraid I'm not "hungry" enough, although I was actually an exploited intern in my last job. I felt really traumatised after it ended and my layoff was the main reason I started pursuing therapy, leading to me realising everything else I needed to deal with in my life.

I know this fear will probably prove false in this workplace - it's a very different culture at the new job. It is, however, extremely fast-paced and always changing. That variety and stimulation is something I like. But I don't have the same work speed as people unburdened by a relentless inner critic, dissociation and perfectionism. And now that I understand these things better, these are the source of deeper fears. What if I can't conquer them enought to perform my best?

The good news, I'm unionized. The bad news, 6 months probation. The immediate good news, I probably won't need to do anything of consequence this week besides be an information sponge. The immediate bad news, I can't control the emotional flashback I am having at just the thought of work and workplace politics.

I don't have a question... Theoretically I know what to do. Self care, self care, self care. At the moment that includes reaching out, so thanks for being here.

Hi everyone,

I've been thinking lately about regrets. Things I have done that I wish I had not done, or handled differently.

In the past, I would avoid taking responsibility for my actions out of fear of reprisal. In the last decade, I became beaten down by compound traumas, heavily internalized all criticism, and my inner critic - combined with low self-esteem -  convinced me that everything was my fault. So then I swung to the other extreme and took too much responsibility.

While not feeling consistently stable yet, I am at a place where I am working to accept all of my actions as things I really did, things I chose either through action or inaction, and things with consequences. I want to practice self-compassion and acceptance rather than avoidance or denial, particularly in my interactions with other people, and in reclaiming my memories.

Aside from the 50-50 rule, are there any techniques any of you have used to own the reality of your actions without falling into a pit of toxic shame?

In particular I think this will help with my inner critic, but also when confronted with guilt trips, blame-shifting, and other manipulation tactics. Whether they are external or self-imposed.

I just want to see myself realistically, if that makes sense.


Letters of Recovery / To you, who proved a mistake.
« on: October 02, 2016, 08:31:41 AM »
I don't know if I will send this to you or not, but I am thinking of you. The work I am doing for myself is so deeply personal that it's hard to be vulnerable to anyone, and yet it makes me need connection more than almost anything to heal. I say almost anything because the piece I think I'm missing is self-connection. My reading has taken me into the neurology of trauma and the neuroscience of child development. I think about you and your son a lot. About how essential it is that he has at least you as safe, calm and attentive throughout his life. I'm sure his mother is a good parent too, but I don't know her. I only know you. And you are doing the right things to ensure he grows up imaginative, adventurous, and secure. And the good news is that science says "good enough is good enough", which makes it clear that you are in fact doing great.

I hope, though, that he grows up to treat his romantic partners better than you do. When you first contacted me, I was suspicious. But I decided to stay curious and see what was up in your world. It turned into a connection I didn't expect and wasn't looking for. I felt it intensely, and thought you did, too. At least, that's what you said to me. To get me into bed. And to keep me on your line until I had enough and stood up for myself.

The last text you sent me hurt so much. I know your son is your priority. I would never expect you to do any different in life and if you did I would be worried and probably lose respect for you.

The request I made of you was for that same respect and equality for myself, nothing more. I wanted to clarify a boundary, something I am really not used to doing and something I put a lot of effort into defining, so that I was asking for a specific, reasonable outcome. Not only did you not respond to it, when you did respond, you chose words that ignored my request and instead stabbed right at my vulnerabilities. As both a former psych nurse and friend, I had expected more compassion and a reasonable response to this effort. Instead, your choice left me feeling hurt and betrayed. The safest thing for me to do was to cut off communication with you completely because I need to focus on my own safety. Your choice demonstrated to me that I am not safe with you, as friends or otherwise.

I don't think you actually care about me. You didn't ask about me much in my life. If you had, you'd know I got the job out here, and I took it. But I was only a mirror to reflect you back to yourself. You used me, and were only there for me up to the limits of your barest convenience. Unfortunately, I thought that meant more than it did.

Why am I even bothering to write you, then? Part of me hopes that maybe one day you will reflect on the way your choices have shaped your relationships with people. How you alienate people, and to what purpose.

Part of me misses you. I don't have such an authentic connection with many people. With my best friend that I hardly talk to anymore, yes. I would say that's it. You showed me that it's possible with others, too, and for that I am grateful. But for the pain, I am sad. You are just another guy who violated my boundaries and turned out to be a disappointment. In that way, you are not unique at all.

One of my former coworkers is a major part of why I am here though I haven't talked about her yet.

My first or second day at my job, I ate lunch with her. She was kinda sisterly and I never had a sister so I thought it would be good to know her. She complained about her stepson the whole time and at first I thought she just needed support, so I leant a friendly ear.

That ear turned into every day at lunch, me as her narcissistic supply. She had nothing else to yalk about, and everything was "poor her". And she had kids, so she unquestionably had it worse, right?  :blahblahblah:   

It happened gradually, and before I knew it I was being sucked dry. I had to make excuses for not wanting to lunch with her. I sympathized with her stepson terribly and for her kids, as what she told me of her mothering, I considered abuse. Not overt, just the really painful covert stuff.

I spent that whole job in a huge EF where I went from helping her do her job to teaching her skills she should have already had to covering for her to arguing with her to staying late on a Friday while she went home because she had to pick up her kids. I'm not saying mothers don't deserve support, but slacking off and making everyone else carry the load is way too far. It was very triggering back to being parentified by my M, who evemtually started taking credit for my achievements while telling me I would never succeed.

I mention this now because she joined a social media site I have been part of for years, where I post my artworks, and one of her first acts was to take one of my images and add it to her profile with a "thanks, mftb" but no link to my profile. She intends to paint it. Didn't ask, just took. I haven't even worked with her in almost a year and one of our last interactions got me so angry I had to leave the building to cool off. I almost got to that point tonight but suddenly remembered the only way to deal with narcs is to not reflect them, be cool and boring. She stole one image. It's happened before. I have more than just one and mine is original thought and vision, unlike whatever she will create.

I still know who and what she is. She is also the first example of a female narc I have been sure of. My M, I'm not sure. This woman, though, is like every bad ex I've had... Come sniffing around later to see what else they can take from you when your guard is finally down again.

Just posting this as a cautionary tale, and advising others to stick to my preferred lunch pass-time - taking 1hr walks ALONE.  :disappear:

Hi all, since last week I've been finding it difficult to stay present. I had a particularly flashbacky EMDR session last week and since then I have caught myself spacing out or "feeling unreal" a few times. Sometimes it's just that I forgot where I was and what I was doing for a second, other times I feel a bit dizzy and things look artificial. I noticed that I didn't mind these states. Hopefully somebody can identify with that, I'm not sure how else to describe it.

The other thing that concerns me is that I keep "losing" my feelings. I get sad, start to tear up, but then on the brink of crying the sadness vanishes. I am on an SNRI about 4 months in, so maybe that's playing a role, but I was able to feel all my feelings before.

I'm going through multiple huge life changes right now and this past weekend was my deceased F's b-day. I "felt" sad and yet didn't fully feel it. More like I was aware of grief but couldn't connect to it. In some ways these things are making it easier to keep going to do what I need to but I worry that it's not healthy.

I wasn't even aware of dissociation or that I did it just a few months ago. I don't have a session with my T for couple weeks. Are these issues something I should worry about before then? Anyone else go through temporary spells like this? Could it get worse or better on its own? Thanks!

I read this yesterday. Very good read about the true nature of resilience. It makes clear that resilience is not an inherent personality trait. Despite that, the article is not a bummer.

General Discussion / Asking Others For Help
« on: August 29, 2016, 08:46:22 PM »
For weeks now (closer to months, really) I have wanted to ask my friends for help but can't seem to do it due to issues surrounding self-worth. I feel intense shame about needing help and fear judgement and gossip when I am vulnerable.  I drafted a letter to send to my friends last month, asking for help, but haven't found courage to send it.

Quick background for the uninitiated is that I "left" my relationship but don't have anywhere to go so we are still sharing a bed and apartment like super awkward roommates.  :thumbdown: I was going to move back to my home city with a friend but her living arrangement is delayed at least 6 months. I found this out too late to hold off on the breakup and other circumstances forced my hand. Family there is the source of my cptsd so they are out.

In my current city I do have a couple places I can crash for a few weeks. But 6 months is too long to be couch-hopping and imposing on my friends and their families. Vacancy rate is extremely low in my city so just finding a new place is out. Also, everyone has small places so space is an issue.

I have reached out to a couple friends in my home city to let them know what's up with me, but only a couple. Friends in the current city are supportive, but unable to help much. The couple friends I reached out to in the home city have offered to help but I still balk at asking to stay with them until I find a job & place. It just feels like I would be asking too much of people who have full lives and families.

I feel unworthy of the help I need to get back on my feet in part because I won't be able to repay quickly if at all and in part because I think I have not been a good enough friend to deserve the help. The people I have confided in are folks I consider good friends, but I have not been an attentive friend from a distance. CPTSD also made me easily triggered and argumentative the last few years before I understood I needed help so I think I have burnt bridges but am too scared to find out if it's true. The other aspect of this is that I am afraid that I could end up somewhere in a triggering situation that is worse than my current situation.

Not sure what kind of feedback I hope for, here. I guess I am hoping by admiting and publicizing it I can diminish the fears into more manageble sizes. Thanks for reading.

Quick question: has anyone found that their inner critic really ramps up after a particularly focused period of recovery?

 I had a week with a whole lot going on, and it wasn't too bad until the week ended and I found some quiet. Then wow, did the inner crittic ever come out fighting, second-guessing, and putting me down! I managed to get beyond it through keeping busy and changing my routine for the day. Just wondering if I should be expecting more of these sneal attacks.

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