Relating to others

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Bermuda

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Relating to others
« on: January 02, 2022, 10:10:50 PM »
I feel like an alien. It's something I know a lot of us feel. There are lots of feelings I have that I can associate with my trauma, and most of them at this point I can see a place for. I can understand and have compassion for myself knowing why I behave and think the way I do. That does really comfort me. I find comfort in understanding myself and it helps me heal from some of my destructive behaviours. Everything I do has thought behind it, often too much thought. It led me in the worst of times to self-medicate, and in the best of times just to feel isolated.

I was just having a conversation with someone online. My side was based on logic and reason, and the other person got quite emotional and seemed to disregard the actual meaning behind what I had typed. I repeated myself several times trying to explain why my point was rational and based only in cited fact, and as I did this I had that thought. The same one I always have. At first I thought it was a reading comprehension issue, or they had simply misread something. Then I thought, "Why are people like this? I don't understand how their brains work. What kind of life does this person have if they cannot even attempt to indulge an idea that goes against their emotional response? How can they make any decisons??"

As far back as I can remember I have been hypercritical of others. Often I focus on, "Why am I an alien? What is wrong with me?" But I just had an epiphony. What separates me from others is my perception of others and my complete inability to understand how people choose to live. It's me. I separate myself from others. I am well-meaning, kind, and completely hypercritical.

I have a memory in Bible camp where I extinguished another child's "light of God" (campfire). This person hadn't followed instructions on how to build their fire properly, and had been quite mean to me all week. They were blowing on their tiny embers and had just gotten a tiny flame. I just remember them saying, "See it just needed oxygen!" I walked up, smirked, blew out their fire and said, "You don't exhale oxygen." and walked away. At the time, being 11 years old, I felt really proud of myself.

I look back now and see something really cruel and hypercritical. I understand why I was cruel. I only knew cruel.

But why am I so critical?

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rainydiary

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2022, 04:11:39 AM »
Bermuda, I feel as though I could have written this post.  I resonate with what you wrote.  I don’t have any answers but also wonder why I am so critical.  I think the part of me that is driven to be critical still thinks that if I say or do or be the “right” and “best” way, other people won’t hurt me.  I am often critical first to self-protect.  But I remain separate. 

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Bermuda

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2022, 12:25:18 PM »
I think you are on to something. Something in my mind is divisive. I understand that in order to protect myself I had to be NOTHING like *them*, and that is still a running theme in my thoughts. I have built a tower in which to create my "sense of self".

It's just everything I have read about people who are critical of others is about projecting your insecurities on to people, and I just don't think that's it at all.

After thinking about it all night I realised that I have so much trouble communicating because I am constantly trying to explain myself, when I should be also meeting people half way. It's ironic for me to judge others for their lack of understanding, when it's really me who is not being understanding. If there is anything I have learned on this healing journey it's that an emotional response is also a rational response and equally as valid. So, I'll try to be more mindful of that in the future when my thoughts start getting critical and alienating.

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Kizzie

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2022, 04:43:14 PM »
I have realized the same thing about myself recently Bermuda (and that is some positive self-awareness when you think about it). At least it lets us see that maybe we may be too hard on others because of our CPTSD.

Pete Walker has a good article about the outer critic and it's spot on IMO - http://www.pete-walker.com/pdf/ShrinkingOuterCritic.pdf.  It's yet another way of keeping ourselves safe from abandonment/betrayal. 

In an awful irony, the critic attempts to protect us from abandonment by scaring us further into it. If we are ever to discover the as yet unknown comfort of soothing connection with others, the critic’s dictatorship of the mind must be broken. The critic’s arsenal of intimacy-spoiling dynamics must be consciously identified, confronted, suppressed and gradually deactivated.
 

« Last Edit: January 03, 2022, 04:47:07 PM by Kizzie »

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Bermuda

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2022, 07:08:01 PM »
 :grouphug:

That was such a good read. Possibly the best C-PTSD read I have done. It felt like an elaborated and structured thought that I could have had myself.

Just in his opening analogy alone, "The outer critic builds fortresses of isolation whose walls are enumerations of the
exaggerated shortcomings and potential treacheries of others. In an awful irony, the critic
attempts to protect us from abandonment by scaring us further into it." That is exactly the analogy I was trying to convey.

Also, the part about the 4F's was so spot on. I don't fit perfectly into one group, and as I've written out my story here piece by piece I am beginning to see that I have an innate freeze disassociative response, with a conditioned flight and obsess response. What he has said about those people, at least in my case, is the absolute truth. I distance myself from everyone, them vs. me, and let my perfectionism become an obsession that drives this distance.

This small section about having your first child was heartbreaking to read because It's something I very much endured and it nearly drove me away before anything bad could ever happen to my son. That's a tough feeling to think about.

Anyway, thanks for sharing that with me. It was very helpful. I feel like I'm on the right track now to be able to be aware of how I am conditioning my relationships so I can begin to change my inner dialog.

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woodsgnome

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2022, 08:17:30 PM »
As suggested by Walker, there can be varying responses per one's tendencies on his 4F scale. I'm a solid freeze (in fact, being so saved my life once), so I often just opt out of explanations or retorts, as I'm quite sure I'll probably be misunderstood anyway.

In both social and vocational settings, this has at times seemed to cost me. But coming from that freeze perspective, well ... Walker also notes that freezers are the hardest to effectively change and/or cure. Yep.

At best, it's a learning curve and I find it easy to get stuck, but I'm also old enough to have decreased some of my intense anxieties around people into manageable chunks.

Really good to see your willingness to dive in further, Bermuda.   :hug:   

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Bermuda

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2022, 10:08:12 PM »
woodsgnome, I am really intrigued by Walker's 4F's. I honestly have not read up on it at all, because I have always been so skeptical, and critical. It's been difficult for me to imagine that people could have such clear and direct responses that they could be categorised as such. I am beginning to see, much through the help of this forum, that that is absolutely possible. I see different stages of myself in so many people here. That also feeds my growth, because I can see positive changes happening, despite the record that spins in my mind telling me otherwise.

I hope to take on my freeze response someday too. It's so hard because it's not a thought. It's a physical visceral response that, at least in my case, I am typically not aware of until afterward. I can imagine that is difficult to willfully correct. For me, my flight response has absolutely saved my life multiple times. In my mind, in my dreams, it's really a "flight/manipulate" response. My body does that when crashing is not an option. That is something more manageable because it's a domino of occurrences that I can feel, hear, and grasp in a way. It's something with more awareness by nature.

I do want to dive further. There are lots of unpleasantries that come along with c-PTSD but the loneliness is the symptom for me that is the most consistent, continuous, and prolonged. I want so badly to talk to people, but at the first words I forcefully retreat and need ages to process. I often think, you watch these movies and there's a serial killer and people say, "Oh, I lived next to them for so many years. They were so nice, and it's so hard to imagine." ...I think because I have C-PTSD, no neighbour would say that. I'd be the person someone would call the police and say, "I think it might be my neighbour. She never looks at me in the face, she always seems anxious wringing her hands, and I think she's hiding something." That's me. I'm that neighbour.

I don't want to be that neighbour.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2022, 10:09:49 PM by Bermuda »

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woodsgnome

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2022, 02:22:36 AM »
Regarding the 4F categories, like any 'system' that covers the landscape of finicky human personalities, it's not hard-and-fast. Yet it's also tricky not to fall into self-pity and/or self-hatred even. The 4F's are flexible guides. Albeit, how flexible varies as well.

I don't have the book available at the moment, but there is a page (I think it's in the 80's but maybe not) that lists the characteristics of each type; plus they can overlap or change over time. So it's not a 'life sentence' to fall in one of these.

Across from the chart listing the characteristics, Walker also emphasizes there are positives to each of them. I recall mentioning this once on this forum, and the positive stuff surprised some -- we're so used for regarding all of this condition in a negative light (as I did the first time I saw that material).

There are several positives for freezers, but two I especially related to is a sense of mindfulness (which I prefer to call 'heartfulness); plus we are generally peaceful. I'm sure along the way even these characteristics throw or scare people away. Like you, I sometimes notice a sort of pull-back by others, especially if I tell them any of the cPTSD parts of my background. It's the old 'oh my -- must be a problem; stay clear of that person'. Well, of course, it can be, but most of it is internal, as least in the freeze type.

Personally, though, it helped lots for my internal setup and especially several public contact situations in which I was employed for years in positions where I had to mix well with people. Amongst other things, I was a sort of actor/teacher in charge of a creative troupe of people, worked in hospice and pre-school settings as well.

My symptoms were always present, but those sorts of activities made up for a lot of the total loner image one might imagine. If people have a sense of humour, I just tell 'em I'm a 'freelance sociable hermit'. That said, I'm now retired and living as best I can (not so good sometimes) far from the madding crowd.

The good news: I survived, even with symptoms somewhat bothersome. This truly is a bizarre, complex set of symptoms/reactions.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2022, 02:41:48 AM by woodsgnome »

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Kizzie

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2022, 03:31:05 PM »
This example popped into my head about how trauma responses can be both + and - and change over time.

The only way I could get through dental appointments for decades quite was to freeze and dissociate.  A few years ago I told my dentist about having CPTSD and he and his staff made every effort to make me feel safe and I was able to stay present after that, knowing I was with people who were compassionate and caring. 

Anyway fast forward to the present and I'm fine going to the dentist now and I stay present during appointments.  I've begun to realize that freezing & dissociating got me thru, but it also didn't allow me to see/feel that I could tolerate discomfort.  That made the experience bigger and scarier than it needed to be for me as an adult. 

I realized that part of me was frozen as a child for whom dental experience could be really frightening, at least back when I was a kid and dentists' chairside manner wasn't always the greatest. And of course, it didn't help having parents who didn't know how to help a child through dental/medical procedures.

Anyway, it has started me thinking about how my perspective with regard to relationships may be similarly frozen in the past and I am missing 'normal' feelings.   

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Skate

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Re: Relating to others
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2022, 04:55:58 PM »
'I distance myself from everyone, them vs. me, and let my perfectionism become an obsession that drives this distance.'(quote)

Hello, yes I do this each time I get a new job.

I instantly critique and dislike everyone, then I try to outdo everyone by becoming 'better 'than them'. This could be arriving early, leaving late, having a perfect work environment, achieving more. However, I am happy to hangout with the cleaners and janitor as I feel better about myself when I am around them.

Then I finish the job, leave unnoticed, flop in bed for a month then apply for another temping job.

I have done this for twenty years.

Now at last I know what I have been doing.

 It pains me to say this ......thanks!