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Topics - plantsandworms

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Successes, Progress? / Thank You, Really!
« on: March 11, 2018, 03:36:48 AM »
I just wanted to make a post making clear my deep gratitude for everyone on this forum. I have tried online support forums in the past (before I knew I had C-PTSD) and I have never felt as seen, heard, and understood as I do here. I feel like I receive more than I give in this group as I am in the early stages of my recovery - but I look forward to sticking around long enough to provide the same insight to others that I have found here for myself. Thank you all for that.

Before I came into therapy for my C-PTSD I would vacillate between extreme highs and lows - during the highs I would operate extremely productively and during the lows I would have periods of chronic daily binge eating and severe acid reflux. Now that I'm in therapy I feel like I'm a low-level triggered state pretty much at all times, and I feel like my binge eating disorder has become a constant (if slightly reduced) state. I brought my eating disorder up to my therapist only once, but in her response I could tell that she wasn't very equipped to help me with this particular issue. I've been trying to find a supplemental resource for my eating disorder, like an eating disorder informed nutritionist or counselor, but none in my area take my insurance. I'm wondering if anyone here has tips for coping with disordered eating when triggered or working through heavy stuff? Thanks!

General Discussion / I am on my side.
« on: March 08, 2018, 08:52:42 PM »
Just wanted to share a quote that really helped to clarify things for me in a fragile moment the other day. I was messaging a close friend about some despair and helplessness feelings that were coming up for me as a result of feeling like I wasn't being seen/heard by others when stating my needs. She sent me back this quote to encourage me to continue being my own ally even when others don't/can't/won't:

"With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my side." - Susan Weiss Berry

Dating; Marriage/Divorce; In-Laws / Why can't I let love in?
« on: March 06, 2018, 05:20:46 PM »
I  am in my mid 20s and I've been single (no dating no nothing) for four years. The last time I dated someone roughly coincides with the last time I spoke with my FOO. I am sure these must be related but I'm not sure why or how. I don't have any problem making new friends and I have a lot of great close friendships. I still experience attraction/interest in others romantically but the second they show any reciprocation the feelings shut down entirely. I experience a great deal of fear and shame and come up with a million reasons why I shouldn't get involved with them.

Now that it's gone on for so long I feel it getting built up in my brain and it feels more and more impossible to get past. I think part of it is just feeling so fragile as I try to figure out myself and my trauma. I think I also have an image of myself as being an intense person with a lot of needs and burden on a partner. When I imagine trying to go on a date with someone, I feel like I will be weird and "not fun" and embarrassingly inexperienced. In my mind I hope for a deep friendship that grows into a relationship - someone who gets me and knows my history and will know how best to support me, and I won't have to worry about being intense or boring because we will already have a friendship base to build from. But that doesn't just happen, or at least it hasn't thus far. I also fear that if I were to be in a relationship I would fall into toxic/abusive dynamics like I used to before. A romantic relationship has been built up in my mind as this massive threat to my safety and stability. It doesn't feel like something fun or easy - just a trap for more trauma and revictimization.

If anyone knows where I'm coming from and got past it (or is dealing with it right now) I would love to hear from you. I feel so stuck and I'm not sure how to crawl back out.

Occasionally (usually when I'm particularly stressed or anxious) I experience this horrible phenomenon in my sleep. It happens as I'm falling asleep but not quite there, and I will begin to see this rapid mental slideshow of unsettling images. It's usually a mix of bad memories, things I'm afraid of or stressed about, and grotesque/disturbing images that I've seen in movies or in the news. Sometimes I pass through this phase quickly and am able to redirect my thoughts more positively and fall asleep. Often these days I leave my TV on to play some lighthearted sitcom and it helps keep my brain from going to this place. For the last few days, though, I feel like I'm seeing these horrible flashing nightmare images all night and never fully falling asleep. Then during the day I feel so exhausted I begin to feel like I'm living in a dream - it reminds me of the feeling I get when I'm disassociating during a particularly stressful situation. Does anyone else experience these nightmares? Does anyone know if there's a term for it, or a cause, or a treatment? I am going to my therapist's office tomorrow but feel like I should schedule an appointment with my primary care doc as well in case there is something more to it. I've never experienced it this often or intensely and the sleepless nights are beginning to accumulate a bit too much for me to function. It also makes me fear that I'm mentally "unraveling" in some more permanent way. Please let me know if you have insight into this! I am at my wit's end.

The backstory here is that I've been no-contact with my entire biological family for over five years due to prolonged abuse/trauma in my childhood. My family has never taken this well and for years they have tried everything they can to get at me, from threats to stalking to pleading to pretending nothing even happened. Over the last year I've had some contact with my little brother who has been going through a really hard time and was considering going no-contact as well. However, he's still young (17) and seems to feel like he's being pulled apart at the seams between me and the rest of the family. I've told him that I'm firm in my choices/boundaries and that I love him but will not go back to that abusive family dynamic, and I've told him that he has a right to his own boundaries/choices and however he decides to proceed (or not) with our relationship I understand.

Cut to midnight last night when he passed on a message from my mom (he has done this before and I told him explicitly that I am not okay with getting these messages and he doesn't have to be the middle man). Included in the message was a one minute long video clip of me as a toddler. As much as I am pained by the violation of my boundaries, there was a part of me that was so glad to be given this video. I don't have any photos from my childhood, really nothing from my past. I watched the video over and over last night and cried.

When I got up this morning I watched it again. It's really nothing at all, just me smiling and playing around with a camcorder in the living room in my pajamas. I feel like I'm trying to read into this video for some deeper message or clue but there's nothing there to be found. Watching that video made me starved for more information and more mementos from my past, but at the same time I hate myself for wanting it because I feel like I'm not allowing myself to move on. I wonder if I gave in to those desires for information if I would ever feel satiated or if I would constantly long for something more or something different. I hate that I can't let go of any of it. Everything feels so unfinished. I wonder if it's possible to truly work toward healing while still allowing myself to hang onto this nostalgia and this want. I feel like I'll never be done grieving and I don't know if that's okay.

General Discussion / My Dog Gave Me An Epiphany About My Mom
« on: February 20, 2018, 04:14:14 PM »
A year ago I decided to adopt a dog. I thought having a dog would help me to 1) get out of bed every morning because I have always been better at taking care of others than myself, and 2) improve my mental health by giving me purpose and emotional support. Having her this past year has been really amazing in a lot of ways, but I was interested to find that it has also been incredibly triggering at times. When I'm having trouble with her or when I'm feeling so exhausted, I feel 11 years old again - alone and helpless as I try to care for my younger siblings while my parents work long hours. There are times when I have scared myself with my capacity to feel hatred for my dog during those moments of overwhelm - frightening to me because it reminds me of the contempt my mother sometimes showed for me. These moments are very rare and brief, but they give me a glimpse into how my mother might have come to treat me so abusively. When I feel that anger and resentment toward my dog, I wonder if I would be an abusive parent and it makes me feel like a monster.

With the help of my therapist, those moments with my dog are more and more rare and I feel like I'm finally learning how to love and be loved in an unconditional way. These days I love spending time with her so much and she has so much trust in me and no fear. I feel like I am unlearning all of these abusive patterns of behavior and unlocking this other way of being and it's so encouraging to think I might not become a monster after all. And I know that dogs and people are different, but as I was walking her this weekend I had an epiphany - my mother never experienced unconditional love. And she never got to practice it, because she was a single mother making minimum wage with multiple children by the time she was in her early 20s. She had (and still has) untreated PTSD from her own lengthy trauma history. And as her first born, I took the brunt of that lack of experience in showing love. As a child I either felt like my mother was my best friend or my biggest bully - never my parent. I really believe things would have been different if she had known unconditional love, and if she had been given the opportunities to treat her PTSD like I have. Her life would have been different if she did not have to be responsible for so many living things before she was ready. I am one of 11 siblings - I can only imagine how triggered she felt every waking moment of her life. I am grateful for this new understanding of her experience.

Anyway, just some things I've been thinking about.

Family of Origin (FOO) / I'm getting better, but some dreams die hard.
« on: January 24, 2018, 07:42:52 PM »
Just stopping in to put words to some things I've been feeling. I've been in therapy for a year now for my C-PTSD, and I've reached a point where I've seriously committed to my healing. I read all the books my therapist recommends, I practice the techniques, I write in my workbooks. Slowly, slowly, I am seeing improvements in myself. I'm starting to feel like I can really get past this and someday experience a different kind of life.

But some dreams are hard to leave behind. I notice that I still have these movie magic fantasies of knocking on my dad's door, of being let in, of standing in front of him successful and strong. And in this fantasy he is proud of me and he is sorry for everything and ready to begin his own healing.

Or I have this fantasy where I call my mom on the phone one day, a decade or two from now. I buy her a house to live out the rest of her days, because she is still poor and struggling. We talk on the phone once per week after that, catching up on each other's lives and exploring our past harms. And we achieve some kind of closeness.

I need to come to terms with the fact that the future will not meet my fantasy expectations. There is no amount of success or wealth that will suddenly make them love me the way i deserve. We may reconnect one day, but it won't be like in the movies. In fact, it may go badly. And they may never pursue their own healing. I wish I knew how to let those dreams go, but it's a hard kind of grieving. And because the future hasn't happened yet, my mind likes to wonder and imagine.

If anyone has tips on how to close the book on these dreams, I would be very grateful to hear them. Sending love to you all.

Family of Origin (FOO) / Brother In Terrible Car Accident
« on: December 30, 2017, 01:43:32 AM »
I am no contact with my FOO and have been for at least five years. As of a few months ago I have had limited contact with one of my youngest siblings (who is still a minor teen) but I have been considering cutting that off again as he has consistently not respected the boundaries I communicated with regard to contact with the rest of the family (feeding them information about my life, passing on unwanted messages).

Anyway, last week the brother Iíve been in limited contact with texted me to tell me that our other brother (early 20s) was in a serious car wreck. His skull was cracked, spine destabilized, arms and legs crushed. In the texts he was urging me to come up to the hospital and support the FOO because my brother might not survive. I didnít go, for a lot of reasons. I didnít even respond to the text, just trying to process everything. Anyway, he pulled through the critical stage and is still in the hospital getting reconstructive surgeries. The brother who texted me continues to guilt me about coming up to the hospital.

As far as Iím concerned, nothing has changed. I still want to be no contact. My family is not a part of my support system and I am no longer a part of theirs. Furthermore, all of the attempts at contact my family has made over the last five years have included the same abusive tactics that drove me away in the first place.

I guess Iím just writing to say that this is the biggest major tragedy that has struck my FOO since I went no contact. It was super traumatizing to be getting these texts and seeing pics of his car all crunched up in the news with the jaws of life pulling him out. Itís terrifying for me to think of what his life is going to look like as he recovers from this. But itís been a pivotal learning experience too. I learned that, even in the darkest hours, I feel confident that we are better off apart. And I learned that my life wonít go totally off the rails anymore when my FOO is in crisis and calling on me to do something. Hopefully next time something terrible happens (there will inevitably be a next time) I will feel more prepared.

Christmas & New Years / 2018 Goals/Hopes For My Recovery
« on: December 30, 2017, 01:18:00 AM »
Hi all,

Been a while since I posted in the forum, but I found my way back after spending today reflecting on my recovery journey this past year. I received a C-PTSD diagnosis in January 2017 and started treatment with a therapist who I've really clicked with. Together at our most recent session we went over the things I have accomplished since entering treatment, as well as the immediate things I would like to tackle. We talked about how I've been getting really good at noticing my triggers and maladaptive coping mechanisms, but that I'm still having trouble letting go of big chunks of my trauma response. We talked about how I'm learning how to set better boundaries with close friends, but I'm still struggling to make myself vulnerable with new people and romantic prospects. We talked about how I'm getting to a point of being able to talk and write about my past trauma without having anxious/depressive symptoms, but that I still get thrown for a loop when new events crop up with my family. We talked about how we've identified good habits that help keep me stable when I do them, but that I have trouble staying on the wagon with my routine when I'm going through depressive episodes.

Anyway, here are some personal resolutions/goals/hopes I have for what I would like to see in my recovery in 2018:

1. find an affirming primary care doc to help me address my physical health symptoms
2. seek treatment for co-occurring disordered eating, try to eat three meals a day
3. decide on a simple daily/weekly routine that keeps me grounded (and stick to it!)
4. explore my mental/emotional blocks around romantic relationships, maybe date?
5. read a poem every day, and explore my trauma history through creative writing

Does anyone else have any new years recovery resolutions? I know that not everyone finds them helpful (and might even find them harmful) but having some guiding vision for my near future has always helped me to have more purpose throughout the year.

I have been no contact with my entire biological family for the last five years at least due to abusive behavior, boundary violations, and aggravated stalking from my parents. I have always felt a great deal of guilt and pain for leaving behind my siblings (who are still minors), and was half elated and half terrified a couple months ago when one of my siblings reached out to me. We met for coffee, became friends on FB, and have been exchanging text messages. He is still a teenager but is having some realizations of his own about our family and wanted to speak with me about how I escaped.

Anyway, fast forward to my birthday over the weekend. I get a text from my brother asking how my birthday is going and I sent off a friendly response outlining my day. He then responds by saying "I'm at mom's house right now, she says happy birthday too!" While I was deciding how to respond, he sent me a screenshot of a Facebook post from my mother talking about how much I hurt her and how badly she misses me, playing the victim etc etc. I responded to my brother "Thank you for the birthday wishes! But in the future I would appreciate not being shown any messages or posts from mom. I have made the decision not to have contact with her, and that includes seeing things like this."

He then wrote back a long post about how he "can't take being in the middle anymore" and how "I know you think mom has boundary issues or whatever" but that I'm tearing the family apart. He said how he just wants his sister back, and for everything to be okay again. His message totally destroyed me emotionally, because I already feel so much guilt about my siblings and now it felt confirmed. But I also felt angry that he was saying all of this to me on my birthday, and that my mother was likely the one manipulating him to do it. I wrote back to him that I don't want him to feel in the middle either and that whatever contact he decides to have or not have with me is his decision and I would love and support him anyway. I told him that he wasn't responsible for "making it better" and that his only responsibility was to his own happiness. But I also said that I have a responsibility for my happiness, and a right to my boundaries and that I wasn't going to change them for anyone but me.

He hasn't written back. I feel pretty heartbroken, but I know the pain he must be feeling from both sides and I don't want to put him in the same position I know so well. I just wish he were free from her manipulations, and that he weren't being made to feel as if this is his fault or in his control. I hate that he feels like I am the one "ruining the family" but I also know that's just because of what he's hearing from our parents. I just feel so sad all around. But at the same time I feel a little relieved - I was so so afraid about what would happen when one of my siblings came looking for me, and whether all the boundaries and progress I have worked so hard for would just crumble for them. But I kept my boundaries firmly in place, even if it hurt so terribly not to place myself between him and my mother. It's just not my place anymore. Their relationship is up to him now.

Just writing this in solidarity with other people out there who might be hurting over how their other family relationships suffered when cutting off contact with an abuser. It's so so hard, but every day we continue to make choices in favor of ourselves we get a little stronger.

Crying in a hotel room on the night before my birthday, on some half baked road trip to see the place I lived as an infant (nothing but bad memories). It's like I feel this intense desire to "reclaim myself" from my trauma but the truth is that there isn't a "me" without it. It's not like there was a me before trauma and a me after. I have been molded by abuse, poverty, and mentally ill parents since the day I was born. There is no me. There's just this collection of maladaptive coping mechanisms shaped over decades and I feel it getting worse every year. I feel happiest sleeping the days away in my room without seeing anyone or doing anything at all, watching re runs of light hearted TV shows and wishing I were anyone else. Every day more and more things make me anxious, depressed, frightened. I'm just curling tighter and tighter in on myself and I can't stop because I'm like a black hole inside and it's sucking me in. And now I'm hundreds of miles from home and nothing has changed. I haven't changed. I'm still a little kid crying and hyperventilating on the kitchen floor while my home is in chaos around me. My friends love me but you can only be like this for so long until people start to give up on you. Sometimes I think I've given up on me. Hoping tomorrow is a brighter day.

General Discussion / Empty/Overwhelmed
« on: October 18, 2017, 03:37:18 AM »
I wake up every day feeling either empty or overwhelmed. I go to my job feeling either empty or overwhelmed. I'm in check out at the grocery store feeling either empty or overwhelmed. I do my laundry feeling either empty or overwhelmed. I meet friends for dinner feeling either empty or overwhelmed. I try to fall asleep feeling either empty or overwhelmed. It's exhausting, I'm exhausted, I just want to maintain basic feelings of safety and belonging in this world. Everything is so close and just beyond me. I want to so badly to reach out and touch something.

Birthday / My Birthday This Month - Road Trip to C-PTSD Origin?
« on: October 13, 2017, 04:01:02 PM »
It's my 25th birthday at the end of this month. I'm finally reaching the point in my journey with C-PTSD where I am making space for mourning everything that has happened to me, and the breakdown of my nuclear family that may never be reversed. I have previously gone on little day trips to the places I spent most of my childhood years, but I have never been back to the place where it all started - where my mother and I were held captive in a trailer in the forest by her abuser for the first three years of my life, and where I spent another six months alone with her abuser when I was kidnapped at five years old.

To be honest I'm not even sure where exactly it was because I was so young and have almost no memories of it, and as I am now no-contact with my mother and am unable to ask. But I do know the name of the nearby town. It's nine hours away. I'm thinking of packing a weekend bag and leashing up my dog and driving down there, just to face that part of my past. The memories I do have are nightmarish (maybe truly just nightmares?).

I feel like I don't have a home anywhere on this earth. I feel no connection to the homes of my youth (there were dozens). But for some reason, my origin state feels something like home in my mind. It's almost an imaginary place at this point. I feel like I need to go there and see it and then I will either finally feel at home or I can finally let it go and find home somewhere else.

I guess I'm also a little scared. I highly doubt I would run into our captor, or if I did that he would even know who I was. But I admit I feel like there are monsters in those trees. Maybe I would regret what I found.

The winter holidays are approaching and I'm already feeling the intensity. Hoping to weather the storm a little better this year.

General Discussion / Ugggg Emotional Eating?
« on: October 11, 2017, 07:47:01 PM »
Hey all, I'm wondering who else here struggles with emotional eating? Whenever I am overwhelmed/depressed (which is often) sometimes the only thing I have to look forward to is what comfort food I'm going to eat that night while parked in front of my Netflix account watching re-runs. I start to think about it partway through every day like clockwork, and I've been this way since childhood (a time when there really wasn't much in life to look forward to at all). Does anyone have advice for how to redirect those feelings? To have something else to look forward to? I'm embarrassed even writing this, because I do have a lot of rewarding things in my life but they just don't hold a candle. In the past when I've tried to rewire myself I've gone in the complete opposite direction of disordered eating. I just want to... not be constantly thinking about food, whether that's in anticipation or guilt or what have you. Thoughts/commiseration appreciated!

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