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Messages - plantsandworms

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Hi, chiming in to say that I totally relate to this thread! Just sharing my experience:

I couldn't get through college because I would just reach points where I felt frozen and couldn't get out of bed anymore, and then end up tanking the semester and feeling worthless over it. Worked a lot of wage slave jobs for a long time just trying to afford my existence without any family safety net to fall back on and the stress of making ends meet made me so overwhelmed all the time. However, I've always felt an intense pull toward working with people who have trauma of their own - helping others satisfies the grief in me that no one ever helped me when I needed it. I've managed to land a salaried position doing work with trauma survivors and it's nice because I have control over my own schedule and can work from home when I need to. And the people I work with are trauma informed and don't blink when I assert my needs.

Now when I can't get out of bed I can give myself the time I need to get back on my feet, or rearrange my schedule and do my work in the middle of the night when I actually have the energy. The flipside though is that I am dealing with a lot of secondary trauma and even though my work days are satisfying they leave me feeling very exhausted and unable to do much else outside of the job. I know that I probably won't be able to do this work very long term because I imagine I'll eventually reach a point of no return on how much secondary trauma I can take on in addition to my own stuff. But it's nice to work with other trauma survivors - their trauma might trigger me sometimes, but their strength rubs off on me too.

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.

General Discussion / Re: Triggered by unannounced visitors
« on: January 24, 2018, 10:18:18 PM »
Thank you for this post! I 100% relate. I have only recently started connecting this aversion I have to my CPTSD. I also get very anxious at unannounced visitors, or even just hearing the mail man come in the front gate to put my mail in the box. I also have roommates and when I hear them coming home at times other than their usual ones I feel myself freezing up. I had cops, social workers, abusers, etc. in and out of my home/school/etc as a child and I'm definitely starting to think it stems from that. It's hard because I know it can be detrimental to my friendships, when folks stop by to see me and I am so uncomfortable and awkward until they leave. I've even had completely friendly but unexpected encounters that make me instantly burst into tears. I'm trying to be more vocal with my loved ones about my needs in this area even when it feels silly. I'm also trying to teach my brain how to recognize my home as a "safe space" more often. My therapist says that these anxious reactions served a purpose in my childhood to help me  be alert in those stressful situations. But now I need to train my brain that those situations are in the past now and I can relax a little bit more in the safe space I've created for myself. Sending love and solidarity your way!

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.

Hey everybody, I just want to say thank you so much for your responses and for the birthday wishes. I forced myself to go to sleep after writing this, and the next morning I got in the car and drove home as fast as I could. I felt better with every mile, and when I arrived home late that night my friends were there and they had dinner waiting for me and shared with me all of their worst birthday stories. That, combined with the responses I received here, really helped me pull out of this thought pattern. I think the thing I struggle with the most with my C-PTSD is just how high the highs are and how low the lows can be. Funny how when I'm experiencing a high point I feel like it will end any minute, but when I'm in my low points I feel as if I will be that way forever.

I saw my therapist yesterday and talked about my trip and this post. I told her how tired I am of going through this desperate hopelessness over and over, and how I wish I could skip straight from feeling triggered to realizing I was going to be fine. And we talked about how, every time I eventually make it to the "I'm going to be fine" point I am slowly rewiring my brain. That was a hopeful thought to me, that one day I might cut out of the emotional turmoil middle man.

Anyway, I'm already feeling a lot more hopeful than I was when I wrote this post. Grateful to be able to share my struggle with people who know what it's like.

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.

Birthday / Re: My Birthday This Month - Road Trip to C-PTSD Origin?
« on: October 22, 2017, 02:05:48 AM »
Ugg Kizzie you're totally right. I'm midway through my trip right now and I feel even worse than before. I thought it would feel empowering to come here on my own terms and feel the strength in walking away, but instead every bump in the road of my trip has felt like a big karmic joke. I have my dog with me and she's great emotional support but I do wish I had come up with a plan B before heading here. Sitting in a hotel right now feeling just terrible and powerless and like I'm trapped here all over again. Hoping I feel better in the morning and if not my therapist said she's available for calls. Thank you for your message, it helps not to feel alone in this.

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.

Other / Re: The healing porch
« on: October 12, 2017, 03:24:42 AM »
So glad to be here at the porch because I have been traveling for such a long time. It's night and it's warm and I am laying on a blanket in the grass nearby so I can look up at the stars. I plan to spend a long time identifying constellations and making up the ones I don't know until I fall asleep. I count the satellites as they ghost by.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Re: Crap day
« on: October 12, 2017, 03:10:41 AM »
Hey silentrhino, I have been in a similar situation. The question I ended up asking myself is: what kind of stress do I prefer to endure?

In my situation, I had a relatively low stress job that paid next to nothing. I could clock in and clock out without bringing my work to home with me, but the trade off was that I had a lot of stress in my personal life around money (and healthcare and transportation and the other things that go along with not having a lot of it).

Then I applied for and was offered a job that paid almost double. The stresses in my personal life would be greatly soothed, but the pay would come with higher work stress because of the added responsibilities and also the higher intensity of client contact (which could be emotionally taxing). It would also come with about 15 more hours of work per week.

I think both situations have their merits depending on which kinds of stress are easier for you to handle. Personally, I took the higher paying job. For me it came down to the fact that the stresses of poverty are much harder for me to bear than the stresses of work, particularly because I have no contact with my family of origin and therefore no safety net. It felt safer and more pleasant to me to know my bills were paid and I could take care of myself, and that increase in my quality of life put me in a better position to handle the stress of work. The promotion also honestly helped my self worth, as much as I agree about the "worship at the God of money" programming.

Anyway, I hope that is helpful. I wish you luck in making this decision, but please know that either way it goes is totally valid in my eyes at least.

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