When Did My World Become So Small?

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plantsandworms

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When Did My World Become So Small?
« on: June 24, 2018, 01:54:29 PM »
I spent the day yesterday with a close friend of mine, for the first time in quite a while. We got to reflecting on the history of our friendship and our lives over the past decade and I realized - my world has gotten really really small. As I've gotten older I've picked up more and more triggers, and I can't seem to lessen their effects. I've experienced a few additional major traumatic events in the past few years (major car accident, close family death, terrifying home invasion while I was home), and also have a highly stressful job that comes with a great deal of secondary trauma (social work field). I'm in therapy now with the correct diagnoses (finally) and digging through all this old and new stuff leaves me feeling so raw all the time. In the name of safety and self-care, my interactions with others outside of work the past couple years are at an all-time low because of how exhausted and fragile I feel. There are so many places I don't go or things I don't do because of the memories they are tied to. I barely see my close friends and I haven't dated in years. I used to think I was on an uphill climb to ultimate healing, but I look around me and my world is smaller than ever. I want things to change but don't feel that I have the capacity unless I want to be tearful and numb all the time from the emotional overwhelm. I'm not sure how to proceed. I guess I have some decisions to make.

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sanmagic7

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2018, 03:02:11 PM »
hey, p&w, i can relate.  my world has also gotten much smaller over the past several years.  eliminating people i don't want to have around anymore has caused my personal interactions and social life to become all but nonexistent. 

however, as i began feeling better, finally, after many many years of being sick and getting sicker, the interactions, my want to be more social is beginning to return.  i think we need time for ourselves and our healing away from most everything for a while in order to be able to get back some semblance of our 'selves'.

i went thru that feeling fragile phase, hibernating, selecting few and far between social happenings to attend.  it took several years for me (not necessarily the same for everyone) but i think a lot of that had to do with battling undiagnosed cancer for 10 yrs.  as i began to feel better, my personality came back, along with wanting to get out there again.

it's still limited, but i feel more ready to function among people than i had for a long time.  i've recently made a new friend, which feels good.  i'll be moving to a new city, and the possibilities of doing new things, meeting more people is now appealing to me, where before i didn't want the hassle.  too scary, too fragile, too weak, too willing to stay out of sight.

so, from my perspective, i believe that as your healing continues, your world will eventually open up again.  be patient with yourself, keep taking care of yourself as best as you can, and i don't doubt that one day you'll wake up feeling a bit stronger, a bit more like putting yourself out there again.  this c-ptsd beast demands so much from us, has taken so much from us, that it takes time to get our ducks back in a row.  hang tough - we're hangin' right beside you.   love and hugs to you.

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ah

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 11:29:05 AM »
Plantsandworms,

I can totally identify with what you write and I notice I have more and more triggers too. These days literally everything is a trigger.
Or more likely (just my guess about my own mind, this may not be the case for you): I think I recognize more, so I'm more aware of my triggers. Where in the past I'd just jump straight from an unaware, confused, self-destroying triggered state to a full blown EF, I'm now a bit more able to recognize the process as it's happening: trigger -> hypervigilance, self hatred, the lots -> stuck in an EF.
It gives me a chance to stop the process in the middle, to try to slow it down or counteract it before the 100% EF has arrived. So I catch myself often thinking "Oh no, a trigger! I'm hopeless!" I do think it's progress but it absolutely feels like deterioration. I guess awareness of pain feels bad, but isn't bad.
Or something like it?

Awareness of pain and triggers is a huge thing, enormously huge. It enables you to then test different ways of managing triggers, rather than being stuck with the end product (pain that's intolerable and for me, unmanageable at that point).

I think there's something to be said about simplifying your life temporarily, like partial hibernation. I totally agree that a world that's getting smaller and smaller for the wrong reasons can be a worrying thing, but it can also be for good, healthy reasons. Maybe it's extremely hard to stay in the same environment, with the same habits, and still make big internal changes. To take some steps back, then develop new habits and ways of seeing things before you venture out again may be wise and cautious. Seen in that light, a smaller world for the time being may be part of self care and safety.

Go back out too fast, and you may just relapse and also be in danger of not recognizing dangerous people. Do it too slowly and you may forget the world's still out there, with new things to explore. I think it takes self awareness to do it just right, and to do it very gradually and be kind to yourself as you do anything, alone or with others.

You have every right, I think, to be cautious. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you wise. People can be dangerous, situations can be exhausting, especially social settings... and learning to separate danger from safety (relative safety, yeah? No one is perfectly safe, no experience will ever be either I guess) is a crucial skill for recovery and building healthy relationships.

Maybe.

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radical

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 12:47:34 PM »
This is a useful thread for me.

My world is small, but I am afraid of widening it and falling into the same traps that I fell into before.  As the song goes "Took a wrong turn and I just kept going...." 

Triggers can do that.  Nowadays they burn and burn.  I see that as a good thing because they give me valuable information about people who are bad for me.  Overreacting gets my attention, so I'm more wary of being drawn in to unhealthy situations, and more grateful for good people and simplicity.

Having a small world can be a time to regroup, to go ahead accoridng to what you want and what you believe in, and not according to what just drags you in.


Atm, I'm awaiting surgery, having discovered that I have a serious illness.  I've made major health and lifestyle choices in response.  I can barely walk.  Life is one big challenge and it requires more organisation and discipline than I've had to apply for  a while. 

Yet right now, it feels that the stress of living with severe cptsd has taken its toll and I'm facing the consequences.  I'd rather be disabled but with a chance of a sane life.  Does this make any sense?

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LittleBoat

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2018, 03:16:20 PM »
I can so relate.  I used to operate at a high level, professional, interacting with a wide range of types of people.  I travelled by myself, earned a PhD, and, for many years performed in front of large audiences.  I am now in my late 50s and this decade has not been kind to me.  After a series of annual trips to a mental hospital, I pretty much became housebound.  I developed a fear of driving.  And now I am close to bed bound.  This reclusiveness is far worse in spring and summer.  I keep the drapes closed and prefer the dark. 
CPTSD ..... does it dig in deeper as you get older?  Realize and remember more childhood trauma?  Leave you fragile and exhausted?   Thanks for reading and considering my post.  Please don’t offer advice for doing and feeling things I’m not capable of.  Like “enjoy the beautiful sunshine, reach out to friends, exercise, etc.  if I could, I would.  The inner work is all I can manage right now, and even that is movin at a snails pace because of a dirth of inner reserves.  This is just sad.  I don’t respect myself.  I miss the larger world. 

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woodsgnome

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2018, 04:43:54 PM »
I can't add much to what's already been said so well.

I chose my isolation--for me there truly was an upside to being solitary--given that my cptsd symptoms left me utterly afraid of social interaction of any sort, despite having been exclusively employed in socially interactive situations. So I've experienced isolation from both the plus and minus side, I guess. But it was rare for me not to consider the minus as being in control.

Here's the key, though--getting past the natural tendency to self-blame, which  adds to the feeling of being adrift and lonely. Yes, and no. The no requires a full measure of self-compassion. Oh that sounds easy--NOT. It's an incredible--and tiring--task to even think of the steps I need to get out of this isolation instinct that has me frozen in place.

All of that said, though, my biggest need remains huge helpings of self-compassion. It's my only limited but still there little sliver of hope.

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ah

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2018, 05:08:20 PM »
CPTSD ..... does it dig in deeper as you get older?  Realize and remember more childhood trauma?  Leave you fragile and exhausted?   

I've been wondering about that too lately, I thought surely accumulated wisdom leads to being able to cope better with pain but maybe it's more complex. When I was younger I had more illusions, and now as I look back at my life (and tend to make sense of it with the "kind" help of self hatred and guilt) my disillusionment hurts. I'm grieving things I still dreamed would change 20 years ago.

Besides, I can now torture myself in wise new ways I never thought of 20 years ago. I improved. I got a lot of practice :Idunno: :whistling:

LittleBoat, I'm so sorry you feel such an endless weight on your shoulders.

Please don’t offer advice for doing and feeling things I’m not capable of.  Like “enjoy the beautiful sunshine, reach out to friends, exercise, etc.  if I could, I would.

I couldn't agree with you more, I get an immediate allergic reaction to this sort of advice. There's such a clueless assumption behind it that says everything is chosen, controllable and changeable. But it isn't, and that may be part of the grieving. I know it is for me.

Another part is that this sort of shiny-happy advice leaves me feeling invisible and bad. Like it's saying I don't just suffer, I'm also a bad person for "choosing" to suffer. What a weird culture we live in :blink: in which pain is seen as avoidable and if you don't "avoid" it that's your "fault". We're all a bit insane, seems to me those of us with ptsd and cptsd may be the sanest of all in some respects.

Reading your words and the deep chord of pain and self awareness that's visible in them, I respect you. And I also love what Woodsgnome said about self compassion. So much easier said than done, I'm incapable of it these days but I still value it.

Radical,
I have a physical disability that keeps my world extremely small. I got the worst of both worlds, I guess? I think any serious physical illness or disability can be traumatizing for anyone, and doubly re-traumatizing for anyone with preexisting cptsd. It can make everything cptsd-related worse.
If I can help with my sad experience of living with both, feel free to PM me.
P.S. I think triggers that burn and burn is a perfect description.

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sanmagic7

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2018, 07:47:58 PM »
i relate to this a lot.  as i got older, learned more about not only c-ptsd, but narc abuse, it's like doors flew open that i'd never thought of even touching before.  suddenly, there was an entirely different life i was leading, so different from the one that included all you talked about, littleboat.  all the accomplishments, achievements, leadership behaviors - they seemed to have gotten tsumani-ed by all this new info and knowledge of what my life had really been about.

i was mostly housebound for several years, had to walk with a cane, then a walker as my physicality kept getting worse.  now that i'm better than i was (i'm nearly 71), my personality is showing its face again.  lot of years lost, tho. 

so, yeah, i do believe that on some levels it gets worse before it gets better.  but i can honestly say that i do feel better than i have in many, many years.  less confusion, less physical suffering, less emotional pain.  we've added baggage over the years that we didn't yet know not to add, and that helped weigh us down, too. 

i'm with you on that 'cheer up', 'do something fun' kind of crapola.  'don't let this get to you', or 'it's not that big a deal - just let it go'.  i used to scream at my hub, 'don't you think i would if i could?"  but, we keep moving our feet forward, one step at a time, anyway.  hang tough, sweetie - we're hangin' right beside you.   love and hugs.

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radical

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Re: When Did My World Become So Small?
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2018, 02:26:04 AM »
First up I want to apologise for not acknowledging the pain expressed and for barging ahead, insensitive and smug.  I'm sorry.


I do feel pretty terrible today.  I'm in pain, and it is bone-chillingly cold where I am.  I've been ruminating on human cruelty and callousness, about my blindness for so long to how I tuned it out, to my own danger and detriment, drove it from my consciousness into the darkness and pain of EFs, while the rest of the time I found ways to deny its existence.  I was pretty creative in doing that.  But those chickens came home to roost in the events that led to my world-shrinking isolation. 

Yes this can be the road to *.  I just don't believe it is for me, and maybe that is self-delusion or good luck or a combination of both.  I can't say.  It is that I don't blame myself the way I used to, or feel so ashamed.  I felt so ashamed of being alone, as if it marked me out as being truly beyond the pale.  Yet in this isolation I found something important.  I needed it.