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Messages - plantsandworms

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Therapy / Re: Who decided what "healthy boundaries" are???
« on: June 20, 2018, 05:55:17 PM »
Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. This really helped me to think about these concepts in a different way that feels truer for me. I have found during my healing process that I often have a lot of defensiveness come up whenever I perceive something as criticizing my parents (even though I don't even have contact any more because of the abuse) and I think that was clouding my thoughts when processing my conversations with my therapist. You're right that, even if there are good reasons for why things were the way they were,  I still wasn't getting what I needed to thrive. Thank you for helping me over this bump in the road!

General Discussion / Can't Shut Up, Feel Like A Narcissist???
« on: June 20, 2018, 05:14:14 PM »
I talk openly about my trauma/healing work all the time. Even when it was happening, I would tell "funny" stories about the chaos in my childhood to the other kids at school (it kept people from bullying me and turned my experiences into social currency, something useful). Pretty much all my friends and some of my coworkers know my "story" or at least the highlights. I write openly about aspects my trauma/healing on social media when I'm feeling triggered, because I feel like it helps me bring it into the light and not be ashamed. I write poems about it, essays. I go to trauma groups (or on this forum) and speak about it with others.

Honestly I'm sick of hearing myself. Sometimes when I'm talking or writing about my trauma, it feels like a faucet I can't figure out how to shut off. I get mad at myself for being so self absorbed that it's all I think about. I get mad at myself for giving everyone the "TMI" version of everything, of being unable to edit myself for my context. I get mad at myself for how eager I am to talk in cry in therapy -- I feel pathetic that no one ever has to draw it out of me, I just spill it everywhere all the time. I have a deathly fear of being a narcissist, like my mother. I see so much of her in me. I have a deathly fear that everyone in my life is sick of hearing me, sick of my self pity and my sad stories. But I also can't let go of telling it. If I don't talk about it, it eats me up inside. How do I let go and shut up? I just want to learn to shut the faucet off and not feel any pain.

Just commenting to say I, too, am extremely triggered over this situation. As someone who was kidnapped as a young child and not reunited with my mother for several months, I am having horrible flashbacks and am grieving on behalf of all these children and the uphill battle of healing work they will need to do to recover from this if/when it is all over. Sending love to them, and to others on this board who are feeling the same pain I feel over this. I am glad to say that I see many of my friends, coworkers, and community members stepping up to make noise about this issue, as it's hard for me to overcome those feelings of powerlessness and DO something right now. I look forward to assisting with those efforts once I've had a moment to process my triggers and build myself back up a bit. For now, I'm avoiding the headlines until my mind is in a slightly better place.

Therapy / Who decided what "healthy boundaries" are???
« on: June 18, 2018, 04:56:55 PM »
This has been knocking around in my brain for a while. My therapist and I talk a lot about building healthy boundaries, what is or isn't my "responsibility" in inter-personal relationships, and what sort of things my parents were involving me in as a child that "shouldn't have been my job." For the most part I find it to be a great relief and very validating to know that I am able to draw that line for myself and that I shouldn't have to suffer so endlessly at the hands of those closest to me - and that the things that happened when I was a kid were not supposed to be that way. But I feel like I also keep hitting roadblocks in giving myself permission to view my life through the lens of those boundaries because.... who decided what they are?

In an ideal world, they make sense. My parents shouldn't have been counting on me (their child) to meet their basic needs and those needs of my siblings and myself. But I feel like all these rules about boundaries take people totally out of context. For example, my family was very poor. I have ten siblings and my parents were making barely above minimum wage. Adding to that, my parents are also survivors of extreme trauma themselves who were never able to access help due to their financial circumstances and other burdens. Considering all that, it makes perfect sense that they couldn't meet our family's needs on their own and that they leaned on me (the oldest child) for help. I have a hard time looking back on my childhood and saying "They should have done X instead" because the circumstances of our lives were so inescapable. I feel like there are so many circumstances that prevent people from thriving on their own - like I think about communities of people who are oppressed in one way or another and how (by necessity) their social relationships and boundaries look different from the ones we talk about in therapy. Is the concept of "healthy boundaries" culturally bound? Socio-economically bound? Does anybody know what I mean?

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Maintaining my life - for what?
« on: June 13, 2018, 05:51:47 PM »
I have always felt like an outsider in my own life - probably because I began disassociating and engaging in escapism from a very early age. My own story has never felt like the central story. The central story was the book I was reading, or my damaged parents, or the character on TV I was over-identifying with that week. I used to sob when I was done with a book or a movie because there I was, back in my horrible and chaotic life again.

In adulthood, I've found stability. Cut off my family, found my chosen family, threw myself into therapy and finding a career. I'm having major dissasociative breakdowns less and less frequently (though the PTSD and depression are ever-present). Two weeks ago I closed on my first home. I am the first person in my family to ever own a home and I never thought I would make it to this milestone. I thought I would feel.... relieved? proud? accomplished? safe? Instead, I feel a mix of emptiness and fear. I've gotten to a point where I've learned how to secure and maintain a "normal" existence and all I can think is FOR WHAT? I know that's an awful and ungrateful way to feel. It's just that I still feel like an outsider in my own life. I still feel more engaged with people in books or on TV than with myself. I still feel emotionally lightyears away from the "chosen family" people in my life. I wake up every day and go to work and come home and call the electrician or argue with the cable company or shoot the * about the weather in the elevator and it all feels so empty and pointless? What is the point??? I'm not even sure I'm really alive unless I pinch myself???? And then there's the fear - this feeling like everything I'm building is just a tower I've locked myself inside of. I feel trapped and alone, like I've always felt. I don't know where to go from here.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / At Least I See The Signs
« on: April 09, 2018, 08:09:01 PM »
One of the hallmark features of my C-PTSD is that sometimes when I'm triggered or lonely or exhausted I fall into these deep depressive disassociative episodes. The world (and my own identity) will start to feel not real, like a dream or like I'm underwater, and the basic framework and obligations in my life start to feel flimsy and trivial for days or weeks. It makes it really hard to do things like fight for a parking spot downtown for work for example, because it's hard for me to remember why it matters or what I used to care about. It makes it hard to cook good meals for myself, or meet deadlines, or be a good friend, or show up to appointments. This used to happen about once every six months, and I would always be blissfully unaware until my life was in shambles around me. Then I would wrestle with my guilt and my shame until my survival instincts would kick in and I would right the ship that is my life.

Over time, I've tried to learn the signs that I'm about to slide down into the abyss. I know that if I give into wanting to stay home from work one day, it will be even harder to go in the next day. I know that if I don't eat a single home cooked meal in several days my self-esteem and feelings of wellness will plummet. I'm not saying I've figured out how to stop these problems at the source - it's hard to listen to and take good care of myself all the time. But the more I try to pay attention during the rough spots, the less appealing it will be to give in next time (I hope).

Today did not go as I hoped or planned, and I struggle not to feel guilt, shame, worthlessness over the way I wasted this day and let myself down. But at least I'm paying attention to the lesson. It's not all good days, but I'm getting better all the time.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Re: Why do I miss my abuser?
« on: April 04, 2018, 06:30:20 PM »
Wow really glad to have found this thread at this moment. I just posted in the same section of this forum about similar, related feelings. I also experience extreme nostalgia sometimes for this idealized version of what was honestly a terrible childhood with abusive parents. I get angry or ashamed with myself because I want to stop loving them and missing them and feeling special or interesting or prideful about the insane adventures (more  like nightmares) my parents put us through. But at the same time I feel resistant to letting it go. It's like I don't want to stop wishing or hoping or pining even though I know they will never be different people and my childhood was never a perfect childhood. I think the idea of finding other sources of nostalgia is a good one that I will try, too. Love and strength to all of you.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Spending the rest of my life out of context?
« on: April 04, 2018, 06:05:57 PM »
I think one of the worst parts of being no-contact with my whole family is the fact that I feel completely taken out of context. Chaotic as it was, abusive as it was, traumatic as it was, those are still my roots. And now that I have made the decision to surgically remove myself from my family unit (truly my best chance at survival) I feel perpetually uprooted. And so I bring up my trauma in conversations inappropriately, or I read books about dysfunctional families, or watch them on TV. It's all I want to think about and talk about, because if I stop thinking about it or talking about it I will lose my context. And that context is important to me. I have this (probably inappropriate) pride about being raised the way I was raised and exposed to all those crazy things. It made me resilient, a risk-taker. It also made me anxious and depressed and full of triggers, but it's what makes me ME. I think about spending the rest of my life this way, removed from my context, and I feel deep despair. But the idea of going back to them fills me with even deeper despair.

I have found other context and other chosen family and other community, but it still feels temporary. It doesn't feel as unbreakable as family. If starting tomorrow I went without seeing my friends for ten years, I would move on. But I feel I will never fully move on from my family roots. I hear them calling out to me, all the time. And I try to love my family in my own way, far away and without them knowing. I will love them all for the rest of my life, if we never speak again. I wish that I wouldn't. I'm just so frustrated and jumbled and tired. Forever going around in circles.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Emotionally Empty
« on: April 03, 2018, 06:55:31 PM »
I am a pretty introverted person. I have lots of casual friends and acquaintances but I have a very limited amount of people that I feel truly comfortable allowing them to really get to know me, because I find the maintenance of close friendships to be very overwhelming so I try to keep my circle tight and manageable. There are two people in my life I consider to be my very closest friends and my chosen family. I have known both for many years, since before going no-contact with my family, and their friendships are so valuable to me. For the last two years I have been going through intensive therapy and my social life has all but disappeared due to the fact that I feel triggered all the time, but I still try to see these two people about once per week with some texting in between.

However, both of these people have recently expressed to me that they feel as if I do not emotionally reciprocate or support them in the ways that they need. This came as a gut punch to me. I am still reeling from it. The traumas in my childhood have definitely done a number on me and I know i struggle with certain things, but what I've never been able to say in words I have always tried to make up for in actions or tokens of appreciation. Both of these close friends, separately and at different times in the last month, have told me that they need more from me. The trouble is that I literally don't have anything to give. I have not yet learned what love looks like or feels like or what's abusive and what's not or what's a healthy boundary and what's isolating - so I err on the side of distance. I am either numb or completely bursting with emotion at any given time and it's hard to know what normal emotions are like. I thought all this time that  I was showing love to these friends and that they understand me as I am. I worry that my chosen family is outgrowing me, and that my healing is not keeping up. And feeling rushed makes it even worse.

I'm just constantly exhausted and part of me wants to just give up now and tell them to go on without me because I cannot be who they want me to be. I have always kept an insulating distance between myself and others and the idea of chipping away at that makes me feel like I'm coming apart at the seams. I will lose what stability I have if I try to upend those dynamics before I am ready - and I really am working toward that, even if it's slow. I wish they could just show a little more patience for my journey, but at the same time how can I ask them to sign on for dissatisfying friendship without any idea when I will catch up? I know they are on their own path. It just hurts to have it coming at me from both sides, with no family or anything at all to fall back on. And if these friendships fall apart, I do not have much hope for my future.

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.

Hi bogan, YES!! I definitely consider my eating disorder to be symptomatic of my C-PTSD diagnosis. I know for me that my disordered eating began in childhood, when my parents would call me fat and disgusting regardless of my size or eating habits. When they weren't berating me, they were neglecting me - and I began to develop emotional binge eating out of feelings of being unloved and uncared for. I am so glad my post has been able to bring you some comfort in that regard.

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.

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