Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant

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SE7

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Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant
« on: April 23, 2018, 02:47:33 PM »
Now that I've been out of their house for about a month, I am relieved to not be in a state of hypervigilance wondering when the next figurative "dart" will hit me. (Dart being their emotional/verbal/psychological manipulations & attacks)

But I am back to my isolated life & emotionally flashback-ing all over the place. I woke up in this acute state of fear/panic today. It took ALL the energy I had to just face some scary tasks last week involving people & phone calls - but since I did those last week, I have not been able to stay in that state of empowerment - I've slipped once again into avoidant freeze/flight. UGH.

On morning like this, especially rainy Monday, I find it impossible to face life. Anyone else go through this? It's something I have to just ride out like a wave. Forced action will not happen - I would only further resist. I saw a video on YT Surviving to Thriving & she suggests a breathing technique & acupressure points to normalize my amygdala from chronic hypervigilance. I guess I need to accept that this is where I'm at right now, and not be angry at myself. The temptation is for the Inner Critic to really let me have it for all of my avoidance behaviors. Note to self: It's NOT YOUR FAULT. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

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Kizzie

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Re: Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 08:40:44 PM »
SE7 you seem to know exactly what's going on and how to deal with it  :applause:    Just wanted to send you a whole lot of support.  :hug:

I see you surfing on top of this wave of your Inner Critic's fear and anxiety inducing rhetoric, riding it out and knowing you will get back to shore.   :thumbup:      :thumbup:           :thumbup:   

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Boatsetsailrose

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Re: Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2018, 08:21:14 PM »
Hi sen
Thank you for sharing a lot of what I am experiencing!
Quote Ďforced action will not happení yes I understand that I really do. I figure cptsd has such an effect on energy and motivation that all I can do at times is lie down. Sometimes small actions are the way to go small and gentle. Iíve spent a lot of time lying down this past few years and I donít self beat like I used to. Freeze happens and itís a coping mechanisim that attempts to protect  me - Iím surviving in these times and itís ok to do what helps me. Iím not drinking and using drugs these days so that is a massive plus.
When I am in freeze/ flight I sometimes donít have the language or recall to call it that and forget itís part of cptsd.
The breathing sounds good and is good for me to remember, all things that help us when in fear are valuable hey .. remembering to apply them and not self beat is vital
Sending you blessings and best wishes

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Kizzie

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Re: Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2018, 04:21:29 PM »
How are you doing SE7? 

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Londongal

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Re: Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2018, 10:21:56 AM »

On morning like this, especially rainy Monday, I find it impossible to face life. Anyone else go through this? It's something I have to just ride out like a wave. Forced action will not happen - I would only further resist. I saw a video on YT Surviving to Thriving & she suggests a breathing technique & acupressure points to normalize my amygdala from chronic hypervigilance. I guess I need to accept that this is where I'm at right now, and not be angry at myself. The temptation is for the Inner Critic to really let me have it for all of my avoidance behaviors. Note to self: It's NOT YOUR FAULT. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Hi Se7,

I'm new to the board, but have been reading for a while and I wondered if you found acupressure helped? I've been having EMDR sessions for the past year but am still hyper vigilant, it's tiring and frustrating 😕
« Last Edit: August 27, 2018, 02:49:12 PM by Londongal »

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I like vanilla

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Re: Free of them physically, now feeling isolated, avoidant
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2018, 12:11:02 PM »
Hi SE7,

Good for you! It takes a lot of courage and strength to leave an unhealthy situation and to be LC/NC with those who would harm us.

You asked if anyone else was going through the same type of responses. Not to make light of things but to offer some hope - The good news is that no, I am not. However, I DID go through almost the same type of response right after I left my abusive FOO. So good news; this too shall pass. There is hope.

For me it helped to give myself time to grieve the loss of my family and relationships with my family members. Yes they were bad for me but they were everything I knew, and I did love them and believed that they loved me. These are huge losses and it is normal(1) to be all discombobulated after separating from them.

For me there was also a great deal of confusion and a giant void. Yes, I was out of a chaotic situation and one that was harmful to me but now what? What (1)should I be feeling? What should I be doing? I had no idea what to do with all of that energy I had been spending on being hyper-vigilant. I had not idea what to do with all of that energy that I had been directing towards fear, unhappiness, anger, etc. I had no idea how to just be in the world. How to have a more nuanced, balanced, and even happy experience of emotions. I had no frame of reference for any of that.

It took a lot of time and therapy and homework and trial and error but I have figured it out - OK, figured out a lot of it; I am still working on a lot of it too, but now in a more stabilized emotional and physical place. You will get there too.

Looking back, for me what helped:
  • going to the library and sitting quietly where I could be around people in a 'gentle' (clean, quiet, safe) space but not be expected to interact with anyone
    -gradually, I added 'ask the librarian a question about a book' in order to have safe, gentle interactions with fellow humans
  • going for walks in my neighbourhood
  • going for walks in local parks/wooded areas
  • bubble baths and chocolate :D

But yes, at the very beginning even these actions were way beyond what I was capable of doing, and no one (including me) could force me into any of it. Often, I sat on the kitchen floor and cried because I did not even have enough energy to make a bowl of cereal, and was not even hungry but felt that I 'ought to' eat. Often, I sat in the living room and cried because I did not have the energy to even read a book even though books had always been my go-to refuge in times of stress, and I did not even have the energy to pick a book if I had had the energy to read it. Often, I sat wherever I was and cried because even though I had done this brave, healthy-for-me action (separating physically from my FOO) I felt lost and alone and uncertain and scared and wondering what in the world I had done to my life. I was in this big, dark, empty void and had no idea how to get out and it was uncomfortable and scary terrifying.(2)

In between crying, and with the support of the therapist I had at the time, I did my best to just feel the nothingness left in the void after I stopped having to feel alert and sad and angry, etc. all the time. That part was also tremendously uncomfortable and terrifying. Even though it was uncomfortable to live in a constant state of alertness and fear, I had not noticed that uncomfortableness fear until I was left in the void and the void. At the time, to me the void was far scarier. It was so big and dark and empty, and unknown.

But, I promise you over time, and with trial and error, and hopefully supportive others (professional or otherwise, and including people here on the forum), you will eventually start feeling again, only this time along with anger and sadness, fear and alertness, you will now have room for other feelings - happiness and contentment, satisfaction, joy, love, etc. And, at first, all of these new 'positive' emotions were tremendously uncomfortable for me too (2). (ah, irony is a nasty one sometimes). Yes, these are 'positive' emotions, but in their authentic forms they were so unfamiliar to me I had no idea what to do with them. And, because they are 'positive' there is a huge taboo for us to be uncomfortable with them. Plus, I felt all kinds of other emotions such as guilt, for having them. It was a bit of a head trip. But with trial and error and patience, and supportive others, I have been figuring it out. I am fortunate too that at the time I had a decent therapist, and currently have a very good one.

You will figure it all out too. This experience - the living without the constant dart attacks, the living without the alertness and hyper-vigilance, the being on your own is all new and raw for you. But, it is also a bit like learning a new instrument or new sport. It will take practice. Worse, it also has a fair amount of unlearning old ways. Recently, I read Clara Hughes'(3) autobiography. She talks about moving from speed skating to cycling and back again. Some of the skills of one carried over into the other but in many cases she had to unlearn the movements and strategies of one to be successful in the other. For her it was often a painful experience that took huge amounts of work. But, in the end she medaled in both at the Olympics and on other world stages, proving it can be done.

You have made it through everything you have made it through. So, you know that you have the strength to do this too. And, the rewards of getting through the void are really worth it. You have already achieved Olympic-medal level standing in the dealing-with-darts category. I have every faith that you will also achieve Olympic-medal level standing in getting through the void. I encourage you to give yourself time. You are adjusting to a huge new reality and sometimes that means sitting and crying, and feeling terrible and that is OK (well, not OK OK as it feels terrible, but OK in that it is a - ahem - normal, expected part of the loss and grieving that you are experiencing).  I also encourage you too to do your best to practise self-care, in whatever form self-care works for you and in whatever form you are able to manage, even if it is something as -ahem - 'simple' (1) as brushing your teeth sometime this week (that one was a goal for me while I was in the void - it might or might not apply for you).

Right now everything kind of sucks for you and I think, unfortunately, that is a stage in the process. Fortunately, it is a stage and it is a process. It will not last forever and eventually, with fits and starts and trial and error, you will move to a new stage. You will, step-by-step eventually move out of the void and into a new, better place in your life.  :hug:


(1) Forgive me for the use of draconian words like 'normal', 'should', and simple but I want for better ones right now.

(2) Forgive me also for making everything sound so bleak. At the time everything did feel bleak, even when I was 'doing the right thing'. But, I ended up feeling that much worse because people never talked about this side of the equation, and worse because those that understood my situation were doing 'good for you' and 'expecting' that now I had done it life would be milk and honey for me (and being surprised and less understanding to me when it was not). I wish someone had told me that it is - ahem - normal to have discomfort and fear during this process - or joy, or anger, or frustration, or whatever it is we are feeling. There is no 'right way' to feel any of this, and it is OK to have whatever feelings we are having even if it is the so-called 'negative' ones.

(3)Because even many Canadians are unfamiliar with Clara Hughes, or know of her but not her story - Hughes grew up with an alcoholic father and enabling mother. She suffered from depression for most of her life though either did not know about it or, later, was in denial about it. She channeled her energy into sports (speed skating and cycling), later realizing that she was using the physical pain of training to try and replace the emotional pain she was experiencing, and also trying to use medal-winning to fill her void. She is the only athlete to have won multiple medals in both the winter and summer Olympics. Retired from that level of sports, she is now an active humanitarian (with Right to Play and a few other causes), an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a Spokesperson for Bell's Let's Talk Mental Health initiative. (most of the above taken from her autobiography). I have huge respect for her and what she has accomplished.