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Messages - plantsandworms

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Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Locked In My Office Crying
« on: September 14, 2018, 07:18:11 PM »
I'm locked in my office right now so I can cry, after being involved with the HR dept at my office for several weeks due to boundary violations by a supervisor. I feel totally exhausted  from having to navigate this bureaucratic process in order to keep myself safe in the workplace, and on top of it I feel humiliated and like by the end my concerns (which were taken seriously initially) have been completely minimized after conversations between HR and said supervisor. Again and again I had to advocate for myself throughout this process and I feel like it was all for nothing. All it did was take my focus off of my work and force me into repeated conversations about violations that were ultimately dismissed as "freak occurrences" by someone I have had repeated issues with. This person is much older than me and in a position of power and I'm having a HUGE EF over it because of my FOO and all of the times I was interviewed by CPS or the police and ultimately nothing was ever done to protect me. Except now I'm an adult and people care even less. I feel like a bullied child.

General Discussion / Is Unconditional Love Even Real?
« on: September 07, 2018, 02:43:26 AM »
I must be at the denial stage of my grieving process over the neglect/abuse I experienced growing up with my FOO, because all of a sudden I can't stop wondering: is unconditional love even real? Am I really missing something that other people have or are we all just walking around feeling like we're missing this thing that doesn't actually exist? If it is real, is it really true that the only way to get that unconditional love in adulthood is from yourself? Can you even give it to yourself, is that enough?

Books & Articles / Recommendations for Childhood Trauma Memoirs?
« on: September 04, 2018, 04:59:17 PM »
This probably isn't healing for everyone, but I find it incredibly cathartic to read memoirs centered around childhood trauma. Hearing someone own their story and make sense of what has happened to them helps me to reflect on my own life and my own story in a way that creates meaning out of a lot of pain. I'm wondering - does anyone have recommendations on particularly moving/well-written childhood trauma memoirs? Most recently I read The Liars Club and really enjoyed it, and of course I read The Glass Castle years ago. I would appreciate any tips on what to read next! Thanks.

Going Low/No Contact with Abusers / Neverending Nightmares after Years of NC
« on: September 04, 2018, 03:47:03 PM »
I've been NC with my FOO for about six years now. In so many ways it has been the most freeing thing I have ever done for myself. In other ways it feels like a wound that will never close. My FOO is huge and I've always existed within the context of my many family members. Now, being a family unto myself leaves me feeling deeply deeply alone. I have chosen family and I love them and often they are enough, but they do not fill the wound.

Anyway, I am plagued by nightmares about my parents. Often in my nightmares I am being chased by them. Sometimes in my nightmares one of my parents commits suicide and I discover it and believe I am the cause. Sometimes it's just nightmares of flashbacks of abuse, or frightening memories. But then last night I had a nightmare where I was a teenager again, and my mom was being her usual verbally abusive self. But in the dream I start berating her, so much so that she is stunned into silence and begins to cry. In the dream it's coming out of my mouth like a flood and I just continue to verbally eviscerate her just to see her pain. Dream-me gets a deep satisfaction and a feeling like I am better than her and like I have won. I woke up feeling horrible, guilty, disgusting. It left me feeling like... like the only way I know how to seize my own power is through taking on the role of abuser and seeking my revenge. It left me with a lot to think about, but mostly it left me with a lot of pain and guilt and self-hatred.

My therapist talks to me a lot about techniques to reduce my nightmares - but I can't help but feeling like my dreams are trying to tell me something about myself or clue me into something I need to do or reflect on. Do others experience these types of dreams? Do you find them insightful, or are they just a symptom that needs managing? Are they useful at all?

Poetry & Creative Writing / Failure To Thrive
« on: August 18, 2018, 03:08:51 AM »
I am the child
of a miserable man waiting to die
and an angry woman so desperate to live that
life just slipped through trembling hands,
I am the self-centered daughter
of eclipsing emotional black holes
born through starving,
I am chaos. I am a hungry void,
there is no end to what I am missing.
I donít need anything
or anyone, just this familiar state of wanting,
this inertia forever waiting
for life to start in spite of me,
what kind of child gets kidnapped,
just like that?
What kind of kidnapped child
gets returned?
I am unwanted baggage,
too old now to claim.

I am my own,
and most days I rebuke this gag gift,
donít you know?
You cannot nurture a life force
that was never there,
you cannot reach inside yourself
and find something never given,
not everyone is born
with all the tools inside of them.

This is the story I tell myself.
This is the legacy I lead,
but somewhere inside me
still lives a seed.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Struggling To Feel Worthwhile
« on: August 18, 2018, 03:05:35 AM »
I tried first to talk to someone on an online depression support chat but they didnít have any volunteers available. Then I just called a suicide hotline and they left me on hold for 20 mins before I got disconnected. This all comes after feeling the urge to email my therapist to ask if I could come in for a weekend appt but Iím too scared sheíll say no and I canít take that right now. My two closest friends are out of town and anyway I will feel too guilty to wreck their vacations with my endless melodrama by calling them.

The only area of my life where I have good self esteem is at work. And lately I havenít been feeling good enough there, which means that Iíve lost the one thing worthwhile about me. Just feeling very pathetic and unlovable and stupid and useless and like Iím just a pain or annoyance to have around. And now Iíve cried and panicked myself into numbness and sleepiness so Iím just gonna try to go to sleep. Posting here because I donít know where else to go right now for encouragement but I really need some encouragement to keep going tomorrow. Feeling like a slow motion car wreck that nobody cares to watch.  Feel like a self absorbed black hole that greedily sucks up any positive attention but I donít know how else to get what I need.

General Discussion / Some Kind of Mental Paralysis
« on: July 30, 2018, 01:50:25 PM »
When I was a kid in the thick of my traumatization, I missed a lot of school due to "sickness." I would be sick to my stomach, often to the point of puking, and would feel so certain that I was going to die that I felt my only option was to hide under the covers in my bed and try to fall back asleep. I know now that the sickness I was suffering from was psychosomatic - brought on by the complete emotional overwhelm I was experiencing in my home circumstances. I had always been at the top of my class in school (I was thrilled to soak in any positive attention from teachers) so my mom let me stay home with this sickness whenever I wanted - which ended up being two or three times per week for YEARS until I finally graduated high school. I would only be able to bring myself to go to school if I felt that there would be significant consequences - like missing an important test that would affect my grade significantly. It's as if I was waiting for the last possible second to break out of my mental paralysis, fueled by fear that overhwelmed the toxic shame and anxiety that kept me from living my life - fear that finally helped me to move my body.

It's an exhausting cycle and it continues to this day. The stomach upset has gotten better, but I still lay in bed waiting for death to strike me when I can't seem to move my body and get to work. When I have deadlines, I am only able to start my work when I feel that any second more of waiting will spell certain doom. I know people call this "procrastination" but I think it really is just my toxic shame and crippling anxiety. I look back and I wish my mom had made me go to school - taught me how to face the anxieties in my life instead of isolating endlessly to avoid them. Or even more, I wish someone had recognized how much I was suffering, how badly I needed guidance in learning how to regulate my emotions and manage my stress.

Does anyone else experience this? How do you work with it? How do you get yourself out of bed? How do you break the cycle?

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Re: There Is A War Going On Inside Of Me
« on: July 27, 2018, 09:15:37 PM »
Phoebes and Blueberry,

Thank you for your messages. I'm not thinking about death anymore but still in a deep fog of depression and hopelessness. I've been thinking about something my therapist said to me. She said, "Sometimes, feeling like you want to quit your job just means that you need a vacation." I think that might apply here too - I don't really want to die, I just need to find a way to make life a little easier to bear. Maybe by reducing my stressors or increasing my support. But my job is a big part of my stress and I have so many other factors in my life relying on that employment. It's going to take a big burst of functioning and energy to get me through making any career changes if that's what I need to do. But I'm taking it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.

Phoebes, I relate to that toxic shame feeling so much. I get it when I first wake up in the morning. Sometimes I can push through it and start my day, and other times I just lay there in my shame all day. It's been going on as long as I can remember, when I used to miss 2+ days of school per week because I had a "stomach ache" that was really just shame and overwhelm from the trauma in my life. It brings me so much hope to know that you've been able to learn to work with those feelings. In all this time I've not been able to learn how to deal with it any better than when I was 8 years old.

Blueberry, being gentler with myself is so hard for me too. I think I get caught up a lot in feeling like I "should" be more stable already or I "should" have done this healing work a long time ago or I "should" be able to emotionally handle things that other people my age handle with ease. I really appreciate your signature: should is never good for me, either. We are here now and we are doing the work and our healing is taking exactly as long as it needs to and that's okay. Baby steps it is!

Deep Blue,

Thanks so much for your response. I can relate to so much of what you said. I work with adults serving long terms in prison for violent crimes they committed as teens. Nearly every single person I work with had an extremely traumatic childhood as well as untreated PTSD. I do a lot of trauma interviewing with both my clients and their family members, and I find myself struggling to stay grounded sometimes because the content is so triggering that my mind begins to disassociate. I begin to feel hopeless at the endless cycle of violence, abused children becoming abusive adults. Sometimes it's very cathartic, though, to help someone begin their healing process and to help a family unpack all of those skeletons in the closet.

 I think you're right that I need to find the balance. Often I feel like I'm on a teeter-totter - either feeling really great about the healing work that I'm doing, or deeply depressed and intense flashbacks. I want to be "strong enough" to do this kind of work long term, because it feels important to me. But I don't know. Maybe it's too much until I've reckoned with all my own skeletons. I have a lot to think about. Thank you for listening and sharing those thoughts with me.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / There Is A War Going On Inside Of Me
« on: July 26, 2018, 06:09:52 PM »
I have been teetering on the edge for a while. Tiny things set me off into spirals of self-hatred, like forgetting to put out the trash bin or failing to return a phone call. Today in therapy I started sobbing because I confessed to my therapist I told a work client I would call them back in 20 minutes TWO DAYS AGO. I told her about how it brought up every single deadline I've blown, ever single phone call I haven't answered, every single friendship I've failed to nurture because I was too busy trying to get out of bed. I told her how it made me want to give up. And then I started telling her how angry I am at myself for crying in therapy over a phone call and how it's so cliche and how I'm so sick of myself. My T pointed out that I'm being so hard on myself I'm not even giving myself permission to make space for my feelings in therapy.

On the drive home from my appointment all I could think about was how much I wanted to kill myself. The funny thing is that I really don't want to die. I really want to live long enough to get better and to experience all the joys of life more fully than I've ever been able to. And I realized it isn't me that wants to kill me, it's the little critic in my head who is always telling me how worthless I am, what a failure I am, what a waste of energy.

I came home and took a long nap, even though I'd only been awake for three hours and I was supposed to go to work after my appointment. Now I'm awake again and feeling hungover almost, drained and exhausted but more emotionally stable. I'm trying not to give up. I feel like there's a war going on inside of me. I don't allow myself any gentleness, any vulnerability, any safety because this voice inside my head says I'm not worth it. I hope I can figure out how to win this fight.

Employment / Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« on: July 24, 2018, 09:34:11 PM »
Does anyone else on this board have a highly stressful job with a lot of secondary trauma working with other trauma survivors? I do and I've really found myself struggling lately with this career path. I feel so driven to do this kind of work and make this kind of difference in people's lives - but sometimes I wonder why I don't just allow myself a job that makes me happy without piling on all the other stuff and reopening my old wounds? Why don't I just let myself heal without trying to help a bunch of other people at the same time? When I've worked clock-in-clock-out type jobs I just feel useless and pointless and like my life has no meaning. Is it better to feel useful and meaningful but also exhausted, re-traumatized, constantly stressed? I really love my job, but my world has become so so small to accommodate the extra emotional work that sometimes I feel like I'm choosing between having this job and having a life outside of it. I would love to hear how others have approached this.

Thank you both so much for your replies. I'm trying to remind myself that I have more tools now and that I have built myself some non-family support systems in my life, but I can't help but fall back into an EF of feeling like I'm free-falling and I don't have anyone in the world to take care of me when I can't. I am going to talk to my T more this week about ways I can best self-advocate with my insurance company to get the care I need and fingers crossed that I will find a compassionate person in the company to work with me. Either way it is a great comfort to know that I can still come and post here on my hardest days. Thank you for your listening ear and your support!

My health insurance is threatening to cut off my access to therapy. They said I'm too "high functioning" and they don't want me to become "dependent" on therapy as a maintenance tool. And it just makes me want to laugh/cry at the same time because the only reason I've been so "high functioning" is because therapy has stabilized me enough to keep a job and a roof over my head. Whenever I have to miss a weekly appointment I end up having such a hard time, and I can't imagine what will happen to me if I can't go to therapy at all anymore. I am so angry that capitalistic norms about "productivity" are keeping me from getting the help that I need to maintain a normal life. I am starting to spiral now before it's even happened because I just want to give up at the idea that I will have to crash and burn on a regular basis as they toggle my mental health services on and off. I don't want to keep doing this forever. I don't have family. I don't have a safety net. I'm trying not to feel terrified. I can't do this alone.

General Discussion / Intrusive Thoughts About Danger??
« on: July 12, 2018, 08:26:57 PM »
Does anyone else get really disturbing intrusive thoughts about danger when they're stressed/overwhelmed? I think it's related to the hypervigilance I experience, but basically what happens is that I have these periods of days or weeks during triggering/stressful times in my life where my brain frantically communicates with me about every possible danger under the sun. If I'm outside or near a window in my house or office I think "Someone could shoot me in the head right now." Whenever I drive through intersections I brace myself for impact of a car accident even with no threat in sight, or when driving around curves I see images of myself continuing straight into the ditch. If I'm ironing or boiling water or chopping things with a knife I think of all the million ways I could trip or slip and seriously injure myself. When people walk near me I expect them to attack, when I'm in a crowd I expect there to be a catastrophe. I am able to remind myself when I have these thoughts that "right here right now I'm safe" but my brain can't seem to stop thinking "what if? what if?". Less disturbing but still concerning, in social situations I sometimes get those same intrusive thoughts except it's more like "What if you just slapped/kissed this person right now?"

I talked with a close friend about the thoughts recently and she had a sort of fear reaction like I'm going to harm her or something, which was kind of hurtful. It's not like voices telling me things or telling me to do things or even me having desires to do certain things, it's just my brain worrying about all the million wild things that could happen at any given time. I don't know. Anyone else know about this?

General Discussion / When Did My World Become So Small?
« on: June 24, 2018, 01:54:29 PM »
I spent the day yesterday with a close friend of mine, for the first time in quite a while. We got to reflecting on the history of our friendship and our lives over the past decade and I realized - my world has gotten really really small. As I've gotten older I've picked up more and more triggers, and I can't seem to lessen their effects. I've experienced a few additional major traumatic events in the past few years (major car accident, close family death, terrifying home invasion while I was home), and also have a highly stressful job that comes with a great deal of secondary trauma (social work field). I'm in therapy now with the correct diagnoses (finally) and digging through all this old and new stuff leaves me feeling so raw all the time. In the name of safety and self-care, my interactions with others outside of work the past couple years are at an all-time low because of how exhausted and fragile I feel. There are so many places I don't go or things I don't do because of the memories they are tied to. I barely see my close friends and I haven't dated in years. I used to think I was on an uphill climb to ultimate healing, but I look around me and my world is smaller than ever. I want things to change but don't feel that I have the capacity unless I want to be tearful and numb all the time from the emotional overwhelm. I'm not sure how to proceed. I guess I have some decisions to make.

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