Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)

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Chris336

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Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« on: October 12, 2019, 05:00:26 PM »
For just a few seconds, you were with me there, this morning. All curled up under the blankets, snug, warm, and safe. And then the feeling fled. I need you... Please don't go.

Why do I feels safe in these rare and fleeting moments, and feel so sad, hurt, angry, scared, lonely, anxious,  :blahblahblah:  ??? the rest of the time? Ninety-nine percent of the time or more, I'm not safe. I'm not safe from my self, even if I'm safe from everything external to my self.

So many labels which could apply. Bipolar. Schzoid affective. Addict. Social affective disorder. Complex-ptsd. Such serious, adult words.

"You" are none of these things. You're a precious, quiet, shy, observant, sensitive child who didn't (and still doesn't) deserve to be screamed at, verbally and emotionally abused, and then, maybe worst of all, ignored when it wasn't convenient to give you attention.

I'm looking for you. I want to know what you are feeling, what you are thinking, how you perceive the world, what makes you laugh, what peaks your curiosity, what is fun and playful for you. You matter to me. All of these things about you matter to me. I can't go back and change the past. I can only live here, and now. I want you to live here and now with me, with a full breath in our lungs, and happy tears streaming down our face. I hope it isn't too late. I pray I can be strong enough, wise enough, loving enough, compassionate enough, for you - to be here and now with me.

Are you looking for me? How will we find each other? Please, be there. I want to live a life filled with joy and happiness, and I can't do it without you.

--"Chris"

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Chris336

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Unbelonging, feeling like I don't fit in (Chris's journal)
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2019, 04:57:21 PM »
We went to a friends' house yesterday for game night. I got a cup of tea and some snacks and sat down. Other people also got beverages and snacks, and we formed a loose circle in the livingroom.

It was very awkward for me. I don't always understand the topics being discussed, and I have memory problems. When I want to say something in a conversation, trying to remember it long enough until there's a bit of a pause to say it is difficult. Even more difficult is that at a pause, usually someone else jumps in and starts saying something, and I fall silent because I don't want to shout over them. When that part of the evening was done, I'd barely said anything at all, even though I'd wanted to. How to be assertive enough without being too aggressive? I often struggle with this in free-flowing conversations. Yes, I can raise the volume of my voice and drown out other people, but that's not what I want to do. It isn't the right thing to do. It doesn't feel right.

Then we played a game. At first, I didn't feel like joining, but I did anyway, because I didn't want to be the only one not playing a game. The game was "Loaded Questions." I'm glad now that I did join the game. I got to speak some of the time when it was my turn, without having to feel I was being rude. And sometimes we laughed at funny answers people gave to some of the questions. It was fun, without being stressful. That's a relief.

There are some social groups I belong to where my participation starts to feel very awkward, and I don't know what to do. Usually, I run, and stop showing up for a while. Sometimes, I stop showing up completely and no longer belong to the group. Most of the time, that's what I've done in my life. So many people and groups I've left behind.

I have a group I'm in now where I feel really awkward. Maybe I can call someone up or send an email, and ask questions. I can check out if others feel awkward, or say or do something rather than just run away. It's easiest to run away, but it doesn't help me form meaningful long-term friendships, even if they will most likely be shallow.

I feel like I'm the ugly duckling in a pond full of ducks. Then the swans and geese fly in, and I realize I'm a penguin. Yeah, it's been over five decades of feeling like I'm that much out of place.  :spooked:

go find that.... wait,  :Idunno: where 'e go?

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sanmagic7

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2019, 09:38:06 PM »
hey, chris,

those labels can be daunting, for sure.  one thing i've learned is that they do not have to define me.

as far as your memory, etc. goes, i hear you.  it can be awkward and encourage you to feel weird, but i'm so glad you were able to participate in a game that was a bit more comfortable for you.

i believe that as you continue in recovery, you'll be finding yourself more and more frequently.  hang in there - we're hangin' right beside you.  sending love and a hug filled with calm.

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Jazzy

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2019, 11:24:07 PM »
Social situations like that can be difficult for sure. I struggle a lot with speaking appropriately too. I don't know about you, but I've left behind a lot of groups, just because of the way I felt about myself, and what my ICr was telling me. Hopefully, as you continue on your healing journey, you won't feel as awkward after a while.

Take care! :)

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Chris336

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2019, 06:47:19 PM »
Thanks for replying sanmagic and jazzy. I need to find more courage to speak up in groups. I appreciate your encouragement.  :thumbup:

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Three Roses

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2019, 03:54:36 PM »
Oh man, do I ever relate to your post!

I like the first post in your journal about finding your inner child - that really spoke to me at a deep level. So, thanks.

And the socially awkward feelings! Yes, yes. People say affirming things to me and I think, " ??? Have you met me??" Those affirming things are sometimes worse than the cold shoulder. At least I know how to handle that!

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Chris336

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TRIGGER WARNING: My mother, Part 1
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2019, 03:45:06 PM »
TRIGGER WARNING: My mother, Part 1

The following journal entry contains a detailed description of some of my experiences of my mother during my childhood.

TRIGGER WARNING: These details may be too graphic; please proceed with caution. If you are sensitive to other people's emotional pain, or if you lost your ability to be empathetic with someone because of the pain you witnessed, then I would advise against reading this.

This post is "Part One." If it violates the forum rules because it is too graphic, please let me and the forum moderators know. I will refrain from writing and posting anything further with this much detail. Moderators, if this is too graphic, I would appreciate specific feedback on how/what I write, so that I can express my experiences in a way which helps, rather than hurts, myself and this community. Thank you!

I read something recently that said, "Our mother is our first love."*

When I was a child, something failed to grow properly. I would like to say that my psyche has a mother-size void in it, that there's just a great big gigantic hole where my mother should be. But that would be a lie. Something grew in my psyche instead of the healthy "mother" connection we humans are supposed to grow. Because it is intangible, I can't describe it in concrete terms.

Some of what hurts so much is that anyone who doesn't know me doesn't know it exists inside me. What hurts even more is that a lot of people who do know me don't seem to realize it exists. Also painful is when health care "professionals" assume they have the right label for me, when they know nothing and they assume they do because of the label they're using.

I know I am not alone in this. I don't really want to think or write about it, but I don't know how else to help heal myself. My sick relationship with my mother isn't the cause of all of my problems, but I'm sure it's the cause of many of them. I'm afraid to describe our relationship because it might trigger me. I might spiral downward and not be able to find a way back up and out of it. Maybe I can write about it little bits at a time.

What was my mother like?

Physically, she was short. She had dark hair and brown eyes. When she was younger, she was attractive - at least she looks attractive in the photographs of her in her youth and early twenties. When she got to be older, after having a few children, she gained weight. It wasn't a huge amount of weight - but she would put herself down for being fat. She was not particularly well-dressed. She had nice jewelry my father bought her. At home, she wore smelly, ripped, filthy clothes. Her legs were bright red starting at the shins on down. Her hair was stringy and greasy. She wore no make-up in the house.

What did my mother do?

Most of the time, my mother stood in one spot at the intersection of the main hallway and the bedroom hallway. She didn't stand perfectly still; she'd bounce her knee or hip; she'd often stand with one or the other hand on one of her hips. She'd stand for hours and hours at a time, through the end of the day into the night-time and the dark. She could have easily turned on a light switch and not stood in the dark. She'd often twist her hair between her thumb and forefinger, turn her head up, or roll her eyes under her eyelids. She'd whisper under her breath; I don't know who she was speaking to, or what she was saying. Sometimes I could make out that she was cursing.

When she wanted to move to another room, she would "walk" down the hallway by placing each foot into pre-crushed depressions in the carpeting. If she didn't put her foot into the depression in just the right way, she'd pull her leg back and try again to put her foot into the depression so it was "right." She had issues controlling her bladder; frequently she didn't make it all the way to the toilet before losing control. Her unreasonable criteria for how to progress down the hallway and the bathroom floor slowed her down, of course, but she move the way she did anyway. The stink of human urine in close quarters is a trigger for me.

What did my mother not do?

My mother did not go grocery shopping. She didn't clean the house. She very rarely went to school conferences or other events for her  children. She didn't do any errands or drop us off at friends houses, the mall, sporting events, or anything like that. She didn't go out to the mailbox to get the mail. She didn't do yardwork. She did small amounts of cooking, but only when someone else was in the kitchen with her to fetch things she would not get herself. She would not read or watch TV by herself. She didn't walk out the doors of the house. She never drove anywhere, although I believe she had a driver's license and knew how to drive. She didn't go to doctors' appointments unless it was absolutely necessary.

What other things would my mother do?

She would watch TV with my father in one of the small bedrooms. Sometimes she would watch TV with my father and us in the family room. If she went school shopping for us, or shopping for herself, it was always with my father. In fact, if she ever left the house, it was always in the car, and my father was driving. She would make phone calls infrequently. When she called someone, she became a completely different person than when she spoke with my father and us. Her tone of voice, level of politeness, everything - it was very eerie, as though someone had snatched her body and was using it to make the phone call. But I knew it was really her because she couldn't simply walk to the phone; she'd do her step forward/step backward routine over to the where the phone was on the wall.

*Here is the rest of the paragraph about our mothers being our first love:
        Our mother is our first love.  She is our introduction to life and to ourselves. She is our lifeline to security. We initially learn about ourselves and our world through interactions with her. We naturally long for her physical and emotional sustenance, her touch, her smile, and her protection. Her empathetic reflection of our feelings, wants, and needs informs us who we are and that we have value.

I can't write more about my mother right now. I need a break. If you made it this far, thank you for reading this.

-Chris336

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Blueberry

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Re: TRIGGER WARNING: My mother, Part 1
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2019, 04:24:40 PM »
Hello Chris,
I skim-read your post and didn't see any information that needs to be moderated.

I don't really want to think or write about it, but I don't know how else to help heal myself.
I note what you say here and would gently suggest that you pay attention to those feelings of yours, of not wanting to think or write about your M.

I have a pretty bad relationship to my mother too. If I tried to write anything like what you did, I'd trigger myself. Even thinking about a description of her would set me off.

Before you get into looking at traumatisation, it's a really good idea to work on resilience and stabilisation and it's also really good to see and accept where your own boundaries are. So that could certainly be a way to healing yourself before writing about your past.

I'll see if I can find some links for you.

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Blueberry

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2019, 05:11:01 PM »
We actually have a whole section on resiliency:
https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?board=259.0

Another link: https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=11008.0

There are other areas of the board that help too, e.g. Three Good Things A Day - the original thread to read: https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=6252.msg39825#msg39825 and the current thread: https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=11358.15

Self-care, though difficult to really difficult for some of us, helps as well. Here's an Interactive Guide which can help: https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=6024.0

Also check Kizzie's link here on cptsd Workbooks. https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=4973.msg87663#msg87663 Some are probably more geared to resilience and others more to bringing up the past.

It's been a while since I read bits of "The Body Keeps The Score" but I think it might help you to understand why the key to healing from trauma is not just in our head and in cognitive activity like writing. See here: https://www.outofthestorm.website/books-1/

Anyway, that could give you some ideas.  Hope it helps.

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notalone

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2019, 12:41:40 AM »
Sounds like a scary, non-nurturing way to grow up. You needed to be able to count on your mom to take care of you, to be a secure, loving parent to you. Whatever the reasons for her behavior, she was not able to give that to you. Pain; and yes, giant hole.

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Chris336

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2019, 04:29:01 PM »
@Blueberry: thank you for all the links to resources on resiliency. I'm sure I'll find something helpful there. Currently, I am reading Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma by Pete Walker. I'm finding a lot of things to highlight, and/or take notes on. One of the things I appreciate is that while 12-step programs attempt to remove resentments in Step 4, Walker seems to believe there's a very good use for all the rage and anger I've got. I haven't gotten to those chapters yet, however.

@notalone Scary and non-nurturing indeed. There's a whole lot more abuse and neglect which I haven't yet described. I need to be stronger - develop resilience - before I delve into those aspects of my relationship with my mother. I need to know that I can be there, strong, comforting, and compassionate, for my inner child. If I'm not far enough along in those areas, I could make things worse, perhaps.

There's a lot missing where my relationship with my mother should have been - but it isn't an empty hole, because the "hole" was filled with abuse, abandonment, and neglect. It's like there's a stubby, immature, unhealthy limb which needs to grow healthy.

Walker's book talks about having failed to complete key developmental tasks. I want to find out what those are, and start completing them. Maybe once I start doing that, this undeveloped sickly "limb" will become what it was always meant to be. I hope.  :)

My mother was sick. Perhaps she herself had cptsd. It's clear to me that while she had some narcissistic tendencies, she didn't have npd. At some points in my life, I've been able to feel compassion towards her. Not so much lately, though.

Thank you both!  :grouphug:

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Chris336

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Missing Inner Critic? Or embodied by someone else?
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2019, 01:49:15 PM »
Is my "inner" critic actually in another person?

I think my partner criticizes me in place of my having a harsh, shaming inner critic. If I have this dynamic outside myself, maybe I don't need to have it inside myself, i.e. projection.

If this is the case, I need to shift things between us. I already point out when being spoken to with excessive volume and sharpness. I need to do more, I think. Search for resources for dealing with overly critical and harsh spouse.

We're in counseling. Maybe bring it up there... I can't stop my spouse's inner critic, because I have no control over other people. I can only attempt to understand and modify my own feelings and actions.

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Three Roses

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2019, 04:47:18 PM »
Your inner critic, or ICr, is not a person or alternate personality. I believe this is what's referred to as a "construct" but I'll do a little research and reply again with what I find.

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Three Roses

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2019, 05:46:03 PM »
After some cursory reading, I am not sure if our inner critics can be defined as psychological constructs. But this voice that we all have in our heads to some degree or other has its roots in our development.

From http://pete-walker.com/shrinkingInnerCritic.htm -

Quote
Desperate to relieve the anxiety and depression of abandonment, the critic-driven child searches the present, and the future, for all the ways he is too much or not enough. The child’s nascent ego finds no room to develop and her identity virtually becomes the superego. In the process, the critic often becomes virulent and eventually switches to the first person when goading the child: “I’m such a loser. I’m so pathetic… bad... ugly…worthless…stupid...defective”.

If you follow that link, there's more reading as well as helpful strategies for combating it.

I'll take this opportunity to also mention the outer critic, which I think some people mistake as criticism from others. The outer critic is our inner, fault-finding voice which focuses on the perceived shortcomings of others.

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Chris336

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Re: Hello, is it me you're looking for? (Chris's journal)
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2019, 09:45:40 PM »
Three Roses,

Thank you so much for the feedback and the research. It's extremely helpful to have some resources about these topics.

Because I'd been diagnosed with a mood disorder back in the mid-1990's, I did quite a lot of Cognitive Behavioral work using Dr. Burns' book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I also needed a lot of help from my therapist. I learned how to talk back to that inner voice that puts me down with all sorts of irrational nonsense, pull myself out of putting myself down so much, and pull myself out of deep depressions. I was even able to go back to work for over a dozen years. I had a lot of negative thinking which was destroying my ego and self-esteem.

Quote
The outer critic is our inner, fault-finding voice which focuses on the perceived shortcomings of others.

Yes, you are absolutely correct!  :yes: I'm now learning more about this inner voice. A little less than two weeks ago, I bought Pete Walker's book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. It wasn't until I found this forum and started reading his book that I'd even heard the term "Outer Critic." I've realized why I'm not making the progress I've needed in therapy. My therapist is an expert on the voice of "inner critic" and eating disorders. But I don't recall "outer critic" ever coming up in therapy.

I find that I scare myself away from forming relationships and reaching out to people because I hear myself saying how unsafe they are. There's a strong voice in my head telling me that
  • people can't be trusted,
  • they will betray me,
  • they will let me down,
  • they will take advantage of me,
  • they won't have my back,
  • if I want something done right I have to do it myself,
  • and :blahblahblah:  :pissed:

In my marriage, my Outer Critic comes out sometimes, as does my partner's, when we have a fight. Or maybe we have a fight because one of our Other Critic voices has gained control of one or both of us!  We're in couple's counseling and we're developing tools to communicate better, and ways to treat each other with more respect, kindness, and compassion. It's a challenge, but we keep working at it. We love each other and neither one of us wants to leave the relationship.

By the time my Outer Critic is done with me, I'm too scared to call anyone, or reach out to people in other ways. I have to learn how to counteract the Outer Critic. I'm just reaching the part of Chapter 10. Something about angering grieving? I don't quite understand yet, but I will keep at it until I do.

I am hoping I can develop all the tools I need to keep both my inner critic and my outer critic in check, so that I can be in healthy, nurturing relationships with other people, and so I can find ways to work my way out of "emotional flashbacks" when either of these voices gets rolling along.

I am in a 12-step recovery program. The other night my Outer Critic was running circles around me in my head during meeting. The meeting topic was "Service." I'm working on Step 4 in recovery, the one about making a searching and fearless inventory of myself. It's intimidating. So while I was sharing, I suddenly realized that the recovery group I'm in directly contradicts the voice of the Outer Critic and proves to me that this voice is lying. The members of the group I'm in have had my back for over a year as I've been recovering from addiction. They are worthy of my trust, they don't betray me, they perform selfless, generous Service for our fellowship. I have no idea how the meeting leader had come up with "Service" as the topic for that night's meeting, but thinking about the loving-kindness and service of that community pulled me right out of that Outer Critic down-spiral. It was wonderful, and I'm tremendously grateful for my recovery group and program.

Part of my fearless inventory is recognizing that I must be aware and "on the lookout" for the voice of my Outer Critic to show up and start pointing out everybody's faults to me, scaring me away from them, and maybe even scaring them away from me. Not only be on the lookout for that voice, but to examine why it's showing up, and figuring out how to handle it in a healthy manner when it starts spewing all the nonsense it does.

Again, thanks for doing the research! I appreciate it.
-Chris336