not sure if this is grief or CPSTD

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not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« on: March 23, 2015, 06:31:27 PM »
I went NC recently with my entire narcissistic FOO. My eldest sister may be a sociopath -- I have seen her take pleasure in my pain and suffering and she has attempted to push me toward suicide in the past. I have seen no evidence of a conscience, if it exists.

To show you the utter contempt I am held in -- that sister actually explained to me how to wipe my bottom when I was in my 20s. A few years ago, my other sister said I was a mentally handicapped pervert, and my mother agreed. My father attempted to get me to drop out of one of the most prestigious colleges in the country by telling me I wasn't smart enough to be there. My mother orchestrated an attempt to sever me from my entire extended family when I told her in a respectful but firm way that I was going to take some space.

I realize that my immune system issues, years of depression and anxiety, PTSD, imposter syndrome, low sense of self-worth, difficulty trusting others, past tendency to pick narcissistic partners, and crippling self-doubt are all consequences of being emotionally and financially abused, manipulated, scapegoated, discouraged, unprotected, and attacked for my entire life. When I outperformed them or achieved anything it brought heaps of rage and abuse onto me. They have conditioned me to fear success.

I am so angry and hurt. I hate their guts. This is weird for me and difficult to process. I am a gentle person who doesn't normally hate people, even when given an excellent reason. If someone behaves in a way that disturbed, usually I think through how badly they must feel inside themselves or how little connection they must have with other people to have to lord over others and treat them that way. And I feel bad for them, because they are stunted. But I hate my parents and my siblings right now.

I never learned to be comfortable with anger. It's hard to tell what is grief (and healing) and what is PTSD (and needs treatment like EMDR). I've been in and out of counseling for over a decade and it has been a huge struggle to value myself enough to make good decisions for me. I have an *excellent* therapist, but she doesn't do EMDR. Most of my old overt PTSD symptoms have been dealt with, but I remain easily triggered. I'm terrified that if I have children, someday they will hate me the way I hate my parents and siblings right now. I know it's not rational... but it's there.

I managed to break the cycle in my dating habits and now have a loving, genuinely kind and caring spouse. I'm so tired of the merry go round of depression and self-doubt bringing me down. I want to be steady and emotionally stable. Is that even possible?



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Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2015, 01:48:27 AM »
The very fact that you are afraid of passing this on to your children says you won't.  You will do the opposite of what was done to you. 

My kids are now grown.  They are all amazing and successful and wonderful.  My mother recently passed and my son had the pleasure of coming with me to her funeral out of state.  His mind was blown.  My FOO is SO different than my FOP that he was shell-shocked.  He even told me that I do not need to worry when I pass, because the type of behavior displayed by my sibs is not even a possibility between my four kids. 

Sometimes, you just have to step away.  I did.  It was the best thing I could have done.  Right now, I'm NC with FOO.  And it may be that way for some time to come. 




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Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2015, 03:18:17 AM »
"When I outperformed them or achieved anything it brought heaps of rage and abuse onto me. They have conditioned me to fear success".  I know how you feel.  These are people you need a lot of space from.  Take it.  Stand your ground.  I have tried to "process it" for years, and you will drive yourself crazy.  It can't be processed.  Start taking care of and protecting yourself.  Yourself.  Start now, or you will be back here next year with the same complaints.  And you know it.  Change the game.  Make them play your game, or nothing at all.  I hope this helps you.

Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2015, 07:46:36 AM »
Veritas, welcome to Out Of The Storm. - Huh... I wrote that sentence and then stopped and thought: 'Now there's a member where that name can be taken very literally.' Your family sounds like the perfect storm to me. What an environment to grow up in. I can't even imagine the pain they must have caused you. They sound like a sausage machine - if you put your hand in, you'll get chewed up. Chilling to read. Your anger is VERY understandable. VERY.

I read something once that helped me reframe my own anger. It's so unsettling, feeling just utterly pissed off at someone, especially if you want to see the good in everyone. The explanation featured a graphic. I'm crap with MSPaint, or I'd try to reproduce it here.

First, imagine a circle. That's our psyche. Nice and whole, and with a good clear boundary around it.

Next, imagine something poking into that circle: an arrow or something, and it breaks off and the jagged tip remains behind. That's a traumatizing attack which leaves behind some pain, or even introjects.

And anger is a force from inside of us that works to push that s*** right back out. It's self-protective. It's telling us that we didn't deserve all this. It's telling us that what happened was wrong. It's standing up for ourselves, and it's pushing all the damaging stuff right back out, working to restore our boundaries.

Most of my old overt PTSD symptoms have been dealt with... I want to be steady and emotionally stable. Is that even possible?]Most of my old overt PTSD symptoms have been dealt with... I want to be steady and emotionally stable. Is that even possible?

I can only speak for myself. Things started to shift once I worked on the assumption that my PTSD was really CPTSD. Not sure if it's like that for anyone but me though.

Did you come across a description of CPTSD yet? Did it resonate for you? A good place to start looking is the website of therapist Pete Walker. He's got CPTSD himself and he also specializes in CPTSD. (His texts are spot-on, so some of us have found it best to read them in small and easily digestable doses, because finding your own story reflected in a text can be a wee bit triggering.)



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Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2015, 10:23:16 AM »
Thank you all for your responses. It really helps me to believe there are other people out there who can relate, because the anger I feel makes me fearful that I'm a crazy *. Or that I'm just like them. Right there. That fear can make me ugly cry.

Just to note -- I went completely no contact with them all late last year. There wasn't a trip of any kind. Sorry if the "NC" (no contact) acronym was confusing. I just assumed it would be clear. I don't miss them at all. At first it was very empowering. No one is running over me right now. It's the track in my head that won't shut up.

I actually haven't been back here because it is so hard to write about it. I want to forget that this part of me is even there. I don't know what details I should select. I don't trust myself. I'm good at crafting narratives, and given the environment I grew up in, I had to learn how to convince other people to give me what I needed to survive. I can run circles around most people in rational disagreements. It scares the * out of me because I know how destructive that can be. After years and years of being told how manipulative and horrible and crazy I am, it feels almost impossible to root out this basic mistrust of myself and my perceptions. That's why I stick with the concrete as much as possible. THIS happened. THAT was said. Then I know I'm not skewing it. Just reporting the facts. But fact selection is story telling, too.

schrodinger's cat -- Yes, the definition of CPTSD resonated with me. Moreso than PTSD. In particular the emotional flashbacks. I do get that the anger is protective... Part of my problem with my anger comes from the issues it has been causing in my marriage. My spouse told me he didn't know how to talk to me anymore because I was so angry, even though I was completely clear with him that I wasn't angry with him or at him. More on that below.

content note: childhood sexual abuse


The last two weeks have been hard. My therapist and I dug into the sexual abuse I suffered starting as a young teen (13). My parents allowed predators (much older teenage boys) to stay at our house sometimes for weeks at a time, knowing these boys had groomed me over the internet. (I know several people who have had it much worse. I'm not trying to garner sympathy, here. This is just what I'm dealing with. No one physically forced me to do anything.)

I kind of had made my peace with being used. But every time another wall of denial comes down there's another skeleton I have to excavate. I die a little more inside. My parents didn't care enough about me to protect my innocence. They blamed me, specifically told me that I was uncontrollable. The truth is I was a straight-A, pretty much obedient, totally innocent, totally isolated child in a rural part of the country. I was also terrified of my mother. Predators flew or drove in from hundreds of miles away. My parents picked the first one up from the airport. These predators never ever would have had access to me without my parent's consent.

My parents are not addicts, unless you count narcissistic supply. I had a stay-at-home mom. They're educated, upper-middle-class, and pass as sort of normal, if unpleasant. There are no excuses. Either they didn't give a damn what happened to me or I was stronger than them. Or both.

I haven't been able to have sex since my therapist put that together for me. I feel like a piece of meat. Our sex life was iffy already for the last year and a half because of health issues and this has just... made it harder for me.

My spouse has been under a lot of pressure at work and he's been short with me over what I feel is unavoidable stuff. General house cleanliness when we're about to move, but also my ongoing anxieties and fears. He knew from the start that I had PTSD -- I was totally clear with him every step of the way that anxiety and fear were part of the package.

I feel like I'm way too broken for him. Like I bring him down. He tells me how much he loves me and appreciates me and it doesn't get through. There's still warmth and affection and fun together, but these small and mild outbursts over day-to-day frustrations have blown apart the tiny part of me that felt safe and secure. I have shame problems, I'm a recovering perfectionist, and I'm dependent upon him right now while I'm trying to get my career going in an exceptionally tough field. It is excruciating when he's frustrated with me. My trust in him is eroding and my desire with it. I can't stop thinking about how much better off he'd be without me. It gets very dark and sometimes I can't sleep.

It's like I'm pre-programmed to self-destruct and I can't find the off switch no matter how hard I try.

I'm considering antidepressants but the last time, they seriously affected my IQ. Being smart is pretty much the basis of what little self-esteem I have. I also had an allergic reaction to the only one that worked. I'm sorry to unload all this here because I don't know if anyone here can even help. I don't know where else to go. Therapy only seems to be making things worse. I don't want to freak out my friends. They are all so far away they couldn't help unless I straight up left.



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Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2015, 11:27:21 AM »

I have no answers but want to say that I hear you.  Your pain is real and this is a very difficult time for you.  I know what you mean about intelligence being one of your only links to self esteem, as that is how it has always been for me also.  Over achievement, perfectionism (in some things, not all), doing whatever I thought would work to keep me safe as a kid....these all resonate. 

Please keep writing on this site when you are able to do so.  Although we are all strangers to one another IRL, there is much comfort in having this outlet.  One thing about emotions is that they are not permanent and will come and go.  The trick, of course, is letting them run their course.  Easier said than done. M

Hang in there, friend.  You are not alone.



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Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2015, 09:53:53 PM »
Veritas, I feel anger with you for the trouble you were given for thriving!!

You sound like a resilient and powerful person, and I'm so proud of you for taking such great care of yourself, seeking help, staying curious, and striving for healthy relationships.

Your post reminds me of anger I held when I first went away to school and saw the wreckage that my family was from afar. My M has some self-sabatoge and child-sabotage tendencies herself. For example, I saved 20K for college since I was 12 years old and in four months she had it in her bank account while I got a new one she spent every single penny. And I was a first generation college student. It was almost as if she wanted her kids close and to not succeed.

I had intense anger and I hated having it. It doesn't feel good to have hate in your gut, and I can see you reaching out to squander your anger. I can tell you at least from the things I've experienced in my family, it does die down. It will subside. But you're allowed to feel it! And try to be patient and understanding with your anger; you are a level headed person and these feelings will subside when you allow yourself to feel all the way through them.

For me, I noticed patience was most important. I also found that distance and time helped to mitigate the emotional intensity of my rage. YEARS later, I became able to have empathy, and somehow trying to understand their perspective (one of the hardest and most angering parts of the experience, I think) is what allows me to live on from my FOO without having to hate them. For example, you came from a family that functions in dysfunction. Once someone wants to break the cycle and get out, it forces the family to find a new way of functioning. They are just terrified of change and viciously want to keep you a part of the eye of the storm. If they were anyone other than people surviving in a dysfunctional home, I hope they could see the hurt they cause you and could will themselves away from it. They are not resilient as you are, you're your own guiding light. And perhaps your family just doesnt have the ability or the awareness to seek a healthy, happier life as you have. And I'm sorry they don't.

 I say this only because my family didn't know how to show love, we only ever hurt each other to show our love. It sounds screwed up... And well, it's because it is!!! But you're getting out and being your own woman beginning her own family. Who knows, in 2 more decades maybe your family will be able to take notice of your healthy lifestyle and they'll want to be more like you. Maybe they will see the error of their ways. Maybe they never will. But this hate will lessen if you listen to what the hatefulness wants to tell you. It could be your protectiveness speaking to you trying to keep you from hurting.

You sound like a very beautiful person. What you've grown up in was not deserved. I mourn your loss of a supportive upbringing. :'( Everyone deserves honest and love like what you've found with your spouse.

I want to share my love and support with you from afar!!! Keep acknowledging your pain and allow it to be expressed through these safe forums. I'm here for you!!!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2015, 10:00:25 PM by hypervigilante »



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Re: not sure if this is grief or CPSTD
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2015, 06:39:57 AM »


Hello thank you for writing and sharing - each time someone does this honestly it is a healing for me - it validates I am not alone and never was with so many others who have been through such similar trauma -
Re the anger - my own experiences have been so prevalent and still continue - and looking back over how I have expressed that anger therapeutically - I believe for me it's been finding varied ways to do this . My 1st experiences were when therapist got me to talk to the 'empty chair' finding that voice of mine. .. I also have done lots of styles of therapy - group stuff has been good - shouting and screaming in various groups was v liberating -
My biggest breakthrough was working on my addictions - in early recovery my anger was so massive it scared me to death ' I didn't know what I was capable of - I used to have images of strangling my mother with one hand - or slapping her around the face -
Inside I used to leave 12 step meetings and beat the toilet walls - through my drinking breaking things was common esp kicking things ...
I learnt through the 12 step process to work through this anger and process it in a way I was never able to before - there are meetings for acoa ( which includes people from dis functional families -
I don't hold any anger for the mother now still have some re father ( as have limited contact ) but I know the process will come .
Re the guilt I totally understand that - for me it's so easily mixed itself with the 'I'm a bad person' that is now changing.
I see now that anger is a natural force as a direct result of a situation - to be abused by ones own parents / siblings is the cruelest flip side of being part of a family - there is no
Way to rationalise it until we are ready - the anger is completely justified just below the anger mass grief and sadness ( for me it was this way anyway - in some ways the anger was my protection and my riser to say - ' look this happened to me world ,' look I am full and brimming with its actions - look how I've been affected' . In this way the anger gets me to take notice and take actions and has been a friend in some ways to help me get recovery - the guilt and shame however were really hard to deal with ,,, inc thoughts of I will end up a child abuser ( my greatest fear )

Thank you for helping me to write :) I get to see how far I've come in my own recovery

'Is it possible to be emotionally stable '
Absolutely - I've always held onto this from being a teenager - it has proved to be my life's mission -
I am now 42 and at the best place emotionally so far -
I believe in tuning in to ourselves ( as best we can ) and asking for what we need - one persons remedy may be different from the next - it is so wonderful to be in an age of internet where we can explore what is on offer and at the same time over whelming ...

What ever ways we find I know for me it has been a head to heart journey - my brain is damaged and I don't know just 'how fixed it will get ' but it doesn't dominate me so much these days -
The growth in my being is the most important - shifts in attitudes being the most prevalent -
Mindfulness and meditation help me a lot -
We are all where we are at - and we are miracles to have such empathy for others and ultimately to be learning that for ourselves -
We are the ones we have been waiting for and are there always in spite of the fog -
Sunshine obscured by cloud - the sun is always there -
Much blessings to you on your journey