How to act in ways that don't invite others to reject, shame, or express anger

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Flash

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Hi, I am new here and nice to meet you all. After another epic breakup with another "damaged" person, I found Richard Grannon and then Pete Walker who led me here. Brief bio: I know that many people here went NC on their FOO. In my case, my FOO went NC on me! I am an orphan; my father (don't know who he is) died before I was born (so I was told) and my mother died before I had verbal memory. I think I was 3. But most likely my mother's death from disease and poverty was the first trauma/loss. My half sister and I were separated soon after and I didn't meet her until 30 years later; she also survived but coped in ways I don't understand.

My childhood was a series of losses and abuse. My mother was the black sheep and I was born into that role and was treated as such. At age 10 I taken to the US to live with a maternal aunt. She turned out to be a raging sociopath/child abuser/alcoholic. I endured physical/emotional abuse and torture  at home and serious bullying at school (I am East Asian). I only lived with her for year and a half but my memory is fuzzy due to dissociation I am sure. I am certain that if I had continue to be her captive, I would have gotten seriously injured or even died in her hands. She was found guilty of child abuse and served a year's probation.

From age 12 to 18 I lived with a foster family; let's say they were barely good enough. I wasn't beaten and I could sleep at night in my own bed and not in the cold, dark garage or outside. But emotionally they were distant and withholding and definitely favored their children. My foster mother told me just after I arrived that she would try to love me but she was sure that she couldn’t love like her own children. The message was that I wasn't lovable as her own "white" children. This would be the central theme of my adolescence. They did not nurture or encourage my potential. But I did okay. I was never a serious student but it came easy when I could focus.

I left the Midwest and moved to NYC about 20 years ago. When I was younger and more symptomatic and less self-aware I didn’t have “problems” with friendships. And later, I was in relatively healthy long-term relationship with a man who I left impulsively. I regret that decision now. I confused stability and love with boredom and suffocation.

After this (about 10 years ago) my ability to relate to others fell apart and I felt more alone and lonely. Many of "our" friends chose him; but I can honestly say that I am not the easiest person as I have a harsh outer critic, and I can be a jerk or even abusive. Since then I've had several relationships with unavailable (they live in another continent!) and/or narcissistic men. I ignored the red flags early on and stayed "loyal" to the "relationship" (even though they wouldn't have fought for me to stay) until it became intolerable. I've had two brief (less than 7 days) hospitalizations in the past 5 years both resulting from relational distress (narcissistic injury 1st time; overmedication and alcohol abuse and narcissistic injury the 2nd). I've been in therapy since I was a teenager. But the one therapist who actually got through to me died 5 years ago after 12 years of therapy. He'd say "If I had to diagnose you, I would say PTSD with features of borderline." This was before CPTSD; but I am sure he would wholeheartedly support its inclusion in the DSM.

Unfortunately it was right after my foster grandmother (she went out of her way to make me feel part of the family) died. After their deaths, I started to self harm (cutting). But I also self harm in other ways that are scary but explainable during worst of the flashbacks (Pete Walker's abandonment melange?). And, I’ve been medicated (SSRI) for about 15 years. About 4 years ago I had a psychiatrist who negligently added Xanax and Adderall to the mix. My first time for both. Last year as conflict (constant fighting) increased in the relationship, I tried heavier medications (mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics) but I couldn’t stand the mental fog. So I decided to get off all meds. I was SSRI free (but not Adderal and the occasional Klonopin for anxiety and sleep) for more than half a year. During those 6 months anxiety was over the top and I had trouble sleeping;  but I exercised regularly (running, yoga) and did meditation. I also read Van der Kolk's book The Body Keeps the Score. I also cut back on alcohol which was a constant presence; I never looked like a "problem drinker" but I drank regularly and consistently. I also did my share of recreational drugs during my 20's and 30's. I do smoke marijuana now occasionally because it helps me with sleep and to relax (I enjoy listening to music and watching movies), and escape. BUT, it's important to note that if it's in my apartment I can't leave it alone. So it's either on or off and it's usually off. My default tendency is to numb out and dissociate.

Right now my biggest day-to-day challenge is getting off the couch or the bed. During worst of the depression, I literally could not get off my couch (psychomotor retardation or Velcro butt). I think i only left my apartment to walk my dog and go to work. Since I work for myself and my work is pretty much solitary, I spend a lot of time on my own and need to self motivate. Maybe my business suffered as a result, since I couldn't even think about work.

And then there was the crushing loneliness. When I tried to reach out to others it felt as if they recoiled away from me. I feel people who have known me the longest got tired of the dramas and me playing the victim. New friendships would form but just as quickly they would end; usually because I was hurt by their meanness or inattention. Those who are closest to me would say I need take responsibility for my choices and actions and not live in the past. I agree with this but it's not helpful when you are in the pits, when life feels like a sentence, when passive suicidal thoughts come daily. It feels as though no one truly understands my suffering. Who WOULD CHOOSE such a life? one of isolation, without joy, one of pain and suffering. Who would choose that? Also, that type of advice reeks of judgment: it implies a moral laxity; something like the poor are poor because they haven't adopted a work ethic. The poor are poor by choice.

Sadly, intimate relationships are a trigger as I associate love with loss. Ironically, relationships are essential to healing and recovering. I am putting that aside for now. I need to approach relationships anew. But, I want to acquire the skills to form healthy friendships and learn how to repair and maintain the friendships I already have.

Like you (many readers) I worry that I am "too much" for friends. When I am going through a problem I feel like I am burdening them with my problems so I try not to talk about it. OR, I talk about it too much (I lose myself in the problem). I am an intense person and my interests are many and I long for company to talk about ideas or go to a movie, play, museum or concert. I do a lot of things alone, though not lately because I don't get excited much. What is holding me back? Have I gotten more shy? Was this last relationship (2 years and trans-Atlantic) so harmful that I can't trust humans any more? Or is it that I don't trust myself so I am not spontaneous or authentic? I try to reach out and connect but it feels like I am going through the motions. I am not really interested in that person, I am more interested in not being alone and not sitting, stewing in pain.
I worry that I reach only when I am in need (always emotional). Just writing this confirms my trauma style (freeze or fight) and the selfishness of suffering and victimhood. I've been programmed to feel that I am undeserving of other's attention. I am less than and not fully human.

The other day it dawned on me that the most insidious part of child abuse (especially psychological abuse/torture) is that it robs you of the ability to relate to others. The perpetrators damage your ability to love and trust. And, it cuts you away from yourself. It's such a lonely, terrifying, and sad place to be.

I would appreciate any feedback, experiences, and skills and tools that can help me re-integrate so I can feel like I am part of the human race again.

Thank you for letting me vent... I hope I didn't scare you.  ??? :stars: :sadno: :hug:

P.S. There was also the incredulity of non-CPTSD sufferers to my history. My foster mother minimized the abuse but then again she characterized my foster father's verbal/emotional abuse as "teasing." My ex in midst of a narcissistic rage said I deserved the abuse. So what's my point? I am enraged that people want to minimize or deny the abuse; I think most people don't want to face the fact that adults do HURT children.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 07:17:50 AM by Flash »

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Dutch Uncle

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Hi Flash  :wave:

Welcome to Out of the Storm. What a history of abuse, neglect and abandonment you have had. Orphaned practically from birth, neglectful or outright abusive caretakers, and a long history of counseling and medication.  :hug:
Kudo's for pulling through.  :thumbup:

At OOTS, we welcome people who are dealing with cPTSD through a variety of life's events that befell us.
You already have found some great resources on cPTSD: The SpartanLifeCoach and Pete Walker.
In the cPTSD Glossary you may find more that may resonate with your experiences. A few highlights to start your journey with:
On cPTSD
On Boundaries
One that has been of great value to me personally is: Learned Helplessness

I would appreciate any feedback, experiences, and skills and tools that can help me re-integrate so I can feel like I am part of the human race again.
You are part of the human race, dear Flash.  :hug:  I can relate to the desire of feeling more part of the human race and/or society, and when I'm feeling lonely, or down, or 'a freak' or whatever my Inner Critic yells at me, I try to remind me that this is "a shared human experience". THis article might help you with this:
http://traumahealed.com/articles/permission-to-stop-beating-yourself-up/

I can relate to some you have written, to some parts of your life's story, and I can reflect o some I do, or have done to cope with it. Mind you, I'm only discovering I have cPTSD for less than a year now, so I can't say all these things I do or have done are a magic cure or have prevented me from developing cPTSD. That said, I'm pretty sure and aware my cPTSD is a result of the enduring abuse I was subjected too, and not so much my own actions/doing.

And later, I was in relatively healthy long-term relationship with a man who I left impulsively. I regret that decision now. I confused stability and love with boredom and suffocation.
I left the one relation that has worked for me as well. Typical PTSD behavior, I now see: "What? No stress and problems? Arrgghhhh! I can't handle that!"
I'm passed my regret, but it did take a lot of grieving over the break up.
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Sadly, intimate relationships are a trigger as I associate love with loss. Ironically, relationships are essential to healing and recovering. I am putting that aside for now. I need to approach relationships anew. But, I want to acquire the skills to form healthy friendships and learn how to repair and maintain the friendships I already have.
I've put new (romantic) relationships on hold for 15 years now. Did make friends though, with ups and downs, but have a few good, steady and supportive friendships now. Mutual supportive friendships. It's so easy to fall in the same old traps/habits. But I can only learn by practice, and yes that means 'failing' as well.
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I can honestly say that I am not the easiest person as I have a harsh outer critic, and I can be a jerk or even abusive.
Pete Walker has some great tools on 'working on' the Outer Critic. Have you tried them?
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I've had two brief (less than 7 days) hospitalizations in the past 5 years both resulting from relational distress (narcissistic injury 1st time; overmedication and alcohol abuse and narcissistic injury the 2nd). I've been in therapy since I was a teenager. But the one therapist who actually got through to me died 5 years ago after 12 years of therapy. He'd say "If I had to diagnose you, I would say PTSD with features of borderline."
I'm a bit puzzled by this? You experienced Narcissistic injury yourself? As part of your Borderline (sub)diagnosis? Or is it something else?
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I also cut back on alcohol which was a constant presence; I never looked like a "problem drinker" but I drank regularly and consistently. I also did my share of recreational drugs during my 20's and 30's. I do smoke marijuana now occasionally because it helps me with sleep and to relax (I enjoy listening to music and watching movies), and escape. BUT, it's important to note that if it's in my apartment I can't leave it alone. So it's either on or off and it's usually off. My default tendency is to numb out and dissociate.
Buy small portions/stock.  ;D  I can relate, I'm of the same kind. Many people are in fact. I quit pot the previous time I was depressed (15 years ago) and not bringing it back home was the only way. With booze this is more difficult, as I can buy it close by, until midnight. So I have a fridge on the corner of the street, so to speak.  ;D  Not stocking up myself helps a lot though.
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I need take responsibility for my choices and actions and not live in the past. I agree with this but it's not helpful when you are in the pits, when life feels like a sentence
I get this a lot too. It is a knee-jerk reaction, and to a large degree is re-traumatizing. What is helping me to cope with this is a sentence I picked up somewhere: I silently say to myself (to the 'nit-wit') "Wow. You are coping excellently with my trauma. I wish I could do the same."  ;)
Another thing that is helping me since a couple of weeks: I'm slowly but steadily coming to terms with the fact I'm a victim. As you said: this is not a popular concept in today's society, and it doesn't help much to try to convince others you really are a victim. They don't want to hear it. But that doesn't mean I (you) am not allowed to hear it, or better still: it shouldn't keep me from saying it, to myself.


Welcome again, I hope and wish this place and community will give you comfort and be of aid on your journey through cPTSD. Our Guidelines for All Members and Guests are here to ensure this a safe environment for you and it will give you an idea of the community we create with each other.

 :hug:
Dutch Uncle.

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I know that many people here went NC on their FOO. In my case, my FOO went NC on me! I am an orphan.
I do not want to belittle your experience as an orphan, but going No Contact is very different. That's separating from your parents/siblings or other person because the constant abuse they inflict on the person who is going No Contact is detrimental to their health, both physical as mental. Typically the person with whom No Contact is enacted will not accept the situation and all sort of stalking ensues. Typically the first period of No Contact only aggravates the abuse. In the worst instances the stalking and abuse continues life-long.

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Flash

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Dutch Uncle,
Your comments were so insightful! Thank you for replying. I think all the points you made are worth a pause and reflection. And thank you so much for the warm welcome and the introduction to the forum. I can tell you that after I posted I felt BETTER.   :applause:

You wrote: "I'm a bit puzzled by this? You experienced Narcissistic injury yourself? As part of your Borderline (sub)diagnosis? Or is it something else?"

Well, the most I will say is that I am qualified to make such statements, but this is what happened: I went ballistic on my then BF who on our first social outing (dinner party) failed to introduce me to his circle. I mean he never introduced me by name to anyone. It was so weird. My reaction was justified, I think, but it was way out of proportion. I fell into a deep EF which spiraled out of control and I was heavily medicated and drank in excess, a perfect storm for a breakdown. So I am characterizing my reaction as a Narcissistic Injury. Perhaps you disagree.

 As for diagnosis, I think it's rather stigmatizing, especially the BP label. I don't know about you but where I am, NYC, it gets thrown around often to explain unpleasant or difficult behaviors in others, especially women. I try to refrain from such labels and encourage the people I work with to avoid labeling also. It's about specific behaviors, reactions and feelings and not the whole person. My opinion is that just about everyone has some disordered part that fits the diagnostic criteria for cluster B. And definitely when I am triggered I can present such behaviors and actions. And ALWAYS it's aided/amplified by some mind-altering substance.

Recent developments: I found out I am pregnant. By the ex who now is back home in Europe with his family. (to make a long story short, about 2 years ago I met him on a dating web site; he said he was separated. After 3 months of bliss just before he was returning to Europe he told that he was still married and he had said the lie (and accompanying detailed narrative to support this claim) because he really wanted/liked me.

I think a non-traumatized woman would have slapped him in the face or throw a beer over his head and walk out, but not me. I was attached and believed that i had fallen in love and he with me and felt I couldn't walk away. And it was so painful, the jealousy and loneliness. I tried dating others... he discouraged me. So it kept going long-distance with me visiting him in Europe and he coming and staying with me. But it became a never ending, ever escalating fight. And it ended very badly about two weeks ago.

I tried NC but I felt so bereft, so confused I tried and tried to contact him to get closure and to process what had happened. And like so many times before he responded. So once again the end was vague and fuzzy. Most of it due to my anxiety of being alone.

As for the pregnancy, he first denied its possibility citing my medical/RX history. And then the quality of his sperm. And today my "mental problems" I makes me an unfit mother who could potentially emotionally damage a child (his child). He mentioned a few other points (my lack of family or support system; my somewhat shaky financial situation, and my advanced age) as to why I shouldn't become a mother.

I understand much of his anxiety is normal and expected (he already has a child. But I hate, hate, hate  :pissed: how he uses my "mental problems" as the primary reason. He's saying I am defective. Wouldn't anyone turn out a little odd given my history? But he's incapable of empathy.

As for me, I am completely shocked that it happened; i had given up long ago. As I grew older, the idea of motherhood grew more impossible and more important at the same time. The question that comes to me is can I repair my ability to love with a child of my own? Is this exploitive? Is this unethical? Right now, I want to follow through and make it happen and I know the risks involved, and there are many. Some OB doctors won't even take on someone my age.

It's an unexpected gift on one hand, and on the other, something really complicated and potentially life altering. It's true I would be a single mother with minimal support system. And it will be extra hard and challenging in NYC, but I feel I am ready to make the sacrifices to make it happen and build a family of my own. it will be my last chance. Maybe I am jumping the gun a bit but...

Can and should "damaged" people have children? It's an ethical quandary I did not expect to encounter.   :blink:

One change that took place in me since the news: i started to care about my body and emotional well-being and I began being more gentle with myself. I felt connected to this "imagined" being, which gave me a new perspective about me and my future. I started to feel like I actually do care about myself.

I would appreciate any feedback or comments. is choosing to become a single mother with CPTSD unethical?  Am I being selfish?
Either way there is a lot of material for my therapist tomorrow.

Lastly, your reply about going NC on FOO. I tend to see families as either you have one or you don't. I've never met anyone with a similar history like mine so EVERYONE had it better than me. But I recognize and (hopefully) empathize with those whose families are so dysfunctional and toxic that they HAVE to sever all contact. That's really terrible and sad and really difficult. So I really appreciate you pointing that out. Thank you.   :thumbup:

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Dutch Uncle

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You wrote: "I'm a bit puzzled by this? You experienced Narcissistic injury yourself? As part of your Borderline (sub)diagnosis? Or is it something else?"

Well, the most I will say is that I am qualified to make such statements, but this is what happened: I went ballistic on my then BF who on our first social outing (dinner party) failed to introduce me to his circle. I mean he never introduced me by name to anyone. It was so weird. My reaction was justified, I think, but it was way out of proportion. I fell into a deep EF which spiraled out of control and I was heavily medicated and drank in excess, a perfect storm for a breakdown. So I am characterizing my reaction as a Narcissistic Injury. Perhaps you disagree.
It's more that I only have learned of the concept of Narcissistic Injury a few weeks back, so I'm new to this.  ;D
Yeah, I guess you could call it Narc Injury, though to me it sounds more like a healthy reaction to a * who was effectively isolating you from his own circle. He invited you in, yet at the same time excluded you. That's mind-bogling. Off-course this would upset anybody, is my bet.
The booze and meds didn't help preventing you from blowing up either.
In any case, thanks for clarifying.

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As for diagnosis, I think it's rather stigmatizing, especially the BP label. I don't know about you but where I am, NYC, it gets thrown around often to explain unpleasant or difficult behaviors in others, especially women. I try to refrain from such labels and encourage the people I work with to avoid labeling also. It's about specific behaviors, reactions and feelings and not the whole person. My opinion is that just about everyone has some disordered part that fits the diagnostic criteria for cluster B. And definitely when I am triggered I can present such behaviors and actions. And ALWAYS it's aided/amplified by some mind-altering substance.
I fully agree.

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As for me, I am completely shocked that it happened; i had given up long ago. As I grew older, the idea of motherhood grew more impossible and more important at the same time. The question that comes to me is can I repair my ability to love with a child of my own? Is this exploitive? Is this unethical? Right now, I want to follow through and make it happen and I know the risks involved, and there are many. Some OB doctors won't even take on someone my age.

It's an unexpected gift on one hand, and on the other, something really complicated and potentially life altering. It's true I would be a single mother with minimal support system. And it will be extra hard and challenging in NYC, but I feel I am ready to make the sacrifices to make it happen and build a family of my own. it will be my last chance. Maybe I am jumping the gun a bit but...

Can and should "damaged" people have children? It's an ethical quandary I did not expect to encounter.   :blink:

One change that took place in me since the news: i started to care about my body and emotional well-being and I began being more gentle with myself. I felt connected to this "imagined" being, which gave me a new perspective about me and my future. I started to feel like I actually do care about myself.

I would appreciate any feedback or comments. is choosing to become a single mother with CPTSD unethical?  Am I being selfish?
Either way there is a lot of material for my therapist tomorrow.
I'm in no position to call any decision you'll make ethical or not. I think all people have their own 'ethics'.
Yet I do want to say you are asking yourself all the 'right' questions, and you're weighing the wellbeing of yourself and the wellbeing of your child while growing up in the circumstances that you are expecting them to be etc.  :thumbup:
As a man I feel I should even take a small step back: I can't fathom what it is being pregnant. I'm not a father either, which makes me even more weary to comment on your situation.
I'm a firm supporter though of the "woman's right to choose". Either way.

I wish you strength and wisdom with this far reaching choice you are faced with.
 :hug:
« Last Edit: March 15, 2016, 07:49:52 AM by Dutch Uncle »

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Danaus plexippus

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As a woman, I'm wondering if the father is a Nazi! How dare he say you are unfit! This has really triggered me! It sucks that your child has this father. It sucks that you had crap for a life. I hope you are able to stay clean whether you have a baby or not. Everything will look different to you as your head clears. Are there still Planned Parenthood clinics in NYC? Decades ago they had counselors and social workers. Depending on your income they can hook you up social services like the WICK program for proper nutrition. Good luck and keep venting all you want. 

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Flutterbye

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As for diagnosis, I think it's rather stigmatizing, especially the BP label. I don't know about you but where I am, NYC, it gets thrown around often to explain unpleasant or difficult behaviors in others, especially women. I try to refrain from such labels and encourage the people I work with to avoid labeling also. It's about specific behaviors, reactions and feelings and not the whole person. My opinion is that just about everyone has some disordered part that fits the diagnostic criteria for cluster B. And definitely when I am triggered I can present such behaviors and actions.
yes, I agree. I find the entire dsmv absurd & unhelpful. I think it's much more important to look at a whole person and to acknowledge that so much of so-called 'mh symptoms' is trauma, caused by chronic trauma during one's developmental years. I love Daniel Mackler's writings on that topic, found it tremendously helpful. Also love how he always puts the child first, sides with the child.

I didn't have kids because I didn't want to do what my mother did to me. I'm at flat-out capacity caring for myself & a pet. As Dutch says, it's such a far-reaching decision. I've never thought being abused & neglected as a child gave me any right as an adult to use a child to heal my wounds because that's exactly the entitlement that drove my narcissistic mother's remorseless abuse & neglect of me, utterly exploitative.  And the damage is so extensive I can barely function is so many areas of life today. On the deep mysteries of exploitation of children by their parents, I found both Alice Miller & Daniel Mackler's writings so enlightening & compassionate. It may be of interest to you & others on the thread. wishing you well  :)