Hello - maybe triggers

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hugo

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Hello - maybe triggers
« on: March 16, 2015, 08:14:15 PM »
Hello all

I have known I have CPTSD for probably 2 years now.  I figured it out through internet research and also in doing what I do for a living (that being a criminal defense lawyer).  I have done a lot of death penalty work and read extensively in preparing for trial in cases where my clients were severely neglected or abused.

I am one of the ones who has discounted the abuse story.  My folks divorced when I was 4.  My father was non-existent except when I visited him during the summer.  My mother was a freak-show-mean drunk who married another almost like her.  In my house there was screaming and door-slamming, but no outright sexual or physical abuse.  I guess if I had to really just capture the essence of it, I would say my mother just hated men.  And she was the only one in the house who was not a male (animals included).  She would go on rants about how rotten men are.  It was strange.

In my house, mainly because of my step-father, work was the ticket to respectability.  I started working when I was nine.  I started drinking when I was 11.  I started using drugs when I was 13.  I was always high-functioning, though.  Fortunately I never got busted.  I made it through the Army, college and law school with flying colors.  I have now been sober for 25 years and have a wife of 20 years and two children who have grown up very differently than I did.

My first introduction to mental heath treatment was rehab at 25.  It was there that I first found out that my childhood had issues.  I really didn't know how crazy it was until then.  It would be several more years before I learned the extent to which it damaged me.  Still, I catch myself minimizing it because it was light on outright physical abuse.

I have done years of therapy.  Talk therapy, mainly, but also about a decade of on-again, off-again psychodrama.  I have reenacted the worst incidents I remember from childhood.  I've done all that.

A few years ago, in my mid-40s, I had a heart attack.  It was technically a "cardiac spasm."  Among other things, it was precipitated by my use of nicotine.  I was using 12 to 24 4mg pieces of nicotine gum everyday - equivalent to 3 to 6 packs of cigarettes.  I had not ever counted it all up.  A friend did so after I had the heart attack.

In any event, I had to quit the gum, which caused about 3 months of outright delirium, followed by another year of major depression.  Then I started raging.  I would have rage attacks at really unpredictable times and they got worse and worse.  I really started hurting my family.  At the same time, I started really wrestling with my sexuality.  During this time I was listening to audiobooks of Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle.  It seemed like it was helping.

Then I had a complete breakdown.  For a month I lived outside my house, alone.  I did a good bit of fetal-position crying, which I needed to do.  I felt sad.  I had really never processed sadness as sadness.  I always registered it as anger.  But I was sad.

Coming out of the fog (so to speak) it seemed like a miracle had happened.  I had about 6 months of almost uninterrupted peace.  I had never been happier.  My wife and I were on a different plane and my kids were really happy.

Then about a week ago I started getting that old feeling of non-specific unease - like something bad was going to happen.  That was the way it always was - just general malaise.  I dissociate.  I get the 1000-yard stare and can't concentrate.

Then, this weekend it happened - I was at a restaurant with my family and got bad - make that really bad - service.  Out of nowhere I raged at the waitress.  My wife was pretty devastated and so am I.

I'm also kind of pissed off, quite frankly.  I had hoped to have been free of this.  I guess not.  I am really beyond minimizing the abuse I lived through.  It was real and I know that different people process things differently.  If I was half as sensitive then as my son is now, I can't see how it didn't kill me.

I was comforted to see that others here have had just out of the blue total breakdowns.  That happened to me.  It was mind-bending.  I couldn't do anything other than just show up for like 60 days.

But the recovery and subsequent months, I guess, got me into some magical thinking - that I might be cured.  Sadly, I'm not.  CPTSD has kicked my *, I guess.  I'm looking for solutions and I truly do want to get better.

So there you go.  Thanks for having this site and for taking all the time that you all take in writing down your experiences.  I read quite a bit before I wrote this.  Actually, I can't believe I have gone on so long.

Thanks.

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lonewolf

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Re: Hello - maybe triggers
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 02:16:34 AM »
Welcome Hugo.

I was riveted by your story. Thank you for sharing it here.

While reading I was pondering whether it is a common characteristic of CPTSD folks to be high achieving. It certainly fits with me. Looking back over my life, I know that part of that need to achieve was to be validated by others. To prove that I turned out just fine and rebelliously insist that the abuse and trauma never beat me. It worked for many many years, but I've recently come to realize (due to my own breakdown) that neglecting my damaged self has often led to it rearing its ugly head. I can relate to your rage.

I'm glad you found us and look forward to learning more about you. There is a gang of absolutely wonderful folks around here that bring wonderful insight, support and resources.  :hug:

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hugo

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Re: Hello - maybe triggers
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 03:03:42 AM »
Thanks lonewolf;

I just got finished reading Pete Walker's piece on emotional flashbacks (http://www.pete-walker.com/pdf/emotionalFlashbackManagement.pdf) that I discovered on another part of this site and I must say I have never seen anything that made so much sense.  I don't know why I did not find it before.  I guess I wasn't supposed to.  I do believe everything happens for some purpose.

On the achievement, in my younger days particularly, I did all of it in hopes that it would somehow win me friends.  It never worked and to this day my friendships (with the exception of my wife) are very lacking.  My friendships have a tendency to be emotionally void.  My family of origin is completely disintegrated and I go back and forth on whether I care to try to do anything about it.  I probably won't.

I have found that, among my emotional choices, rage is pretty much the easiest after nothing at all.  I know what is coming and I can tell you I am scared and resistant.  I have to give up rage and feel the pain.  I have been steadfastly resistant to doing that.

Thanks for the kind words.  I have already been helped a lot.

« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 03:18:16 AM by hugo »

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lonewolf

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Re: Hello - maybe triggers
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 04:25:25 AM »
Rage is f'ing honest. I used to be horrified by my rage but have now realized that it was all about survival. I don't like it much, but I think my inner child (IC) was sending me a message. I am trying to be okay with the rage because it is an important message.

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Kizzie

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Re: Hello - maybe triggers
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 05:25:42 PM »
Hi and a very warm welcome Hugo  :wave:  Glad to hear you've read some of Pete Walker's material already.  His book "CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" is quite good and I was actually thinking of something he wrote in it about "angering" when I read your post.  He suggests that getting angry is a big step in recovery, letting the anger out but directing it where it belongs -- at the ghosts of the past rather than anyone in our lives --makes room for us to grieve our very real losses (feel the pain) and move forward in recovery.  Walker puts it in much more eloquent terms than I do but hopefully you get the drift  ;D

FWIW - perhaps the raging is that part of you that knows the truth about what happened and is not about to let you minimize it any more?  So many of us find after a while that our symptoms have been telling us all along that there's something we must take care of rather than stuff down.  And if we ignore that voice it just gets louder and louder to make us pay attention.

Anyway, I'm  glad you found your way here and please have a good look around the site.  I'm sure you'll see that we are a safe, welcoming and supportive community.   :hug: 

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Boatsetsailrose

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Re: Hello - maybe triggers
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2015, 02:46:17 PM »
Hi Hugo
I am new here too -
I relate to the 'really again - something else - have I not worked hard enough at this -
20yrs of pretty constant - but addictions have been a big factor and so on some ways that time isn't fully countable as I wasn't fully present .. But a part of the story of survival -
I do still have the 'when it all goes away and I am a fully functioning adult child free zone - and that is my goal - but I definately feel it's about honouring the recovery so far and that I may always have some stuff - but of course like us all I want to be as free as I can be -
At times I am and it's not all gloom - thankfully ..
It's a spiritual journey that I shall follow right through..
At the moment I am seeing a child trauma therapist that I have v gratefully been given through the nhs ( 12 wks ) she is a god send and very good at what she does - it's the first therapy that has felt adult to adult so that must say something about how far I've come ..
This seems a good site and I wish u all the best on your next leg of journey -
Reclaiming what is rightfully yours - the seeing of it can be painful esp as we get along but a damn site better than all the people who never think to join a forum like this -