Complex Trauma

This is very much worth listening to, all 51 minutes. Thank you Broken Blue Sky and GettingRealwithPTSD for sharing this. Although reblogged this morning, I updated it twice making it hard to access. So I’m posting it again to ensure its availability to readers. 

There are portions where her faith is referred to but all spiritual beliefs could be put in place of her beliefs for the short duration she speaks of it. For instance in referring to he for god, I interject she, and envision my mother earth angel who feels much safer and trustworthy.

Diane Langberg is amazingly compassionate and knowledgeable. It is the first time I’ve heard Complex PTSD explained so succinctly. 

The second part of the lecture is available at the you tube site where this takes you. 

 

The Courage to Live

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FEAR

I have lived a life-time of fear since age 8 invading every moment in one way or another. Forced to grow up within a male population called brothers who attacked in the night, or even during the broad light of day, made fear a constant companion. Even though Chet, Dan, and Pete are dead, and the most evil, Tom, still lives spreading his poison, I live in fear at the easiest upset. 

It is hard not to resent what they did. Living with low esteem added to continual fear of people, and the inability to speak up for myself, eroded my natural abilities and has been debilitating.

Yet I persevere. I can get over what they did to my body. But what they did to my trust, shattered beyond repair, what they took from ever feeling safe with touch and loving sex with my husband, the betrayals of each attack, and this list goes on… these I can heal from or after time have learned to live and accept as the damage done.

But fear? Anxiety? Jumping at every loud sound, or medical people working on my body in any way sending me in panic for days, even months after? These are just some of the life-long effects I resent living with that were caused by these tormentors.

These challenges erode my courage, weakening me, and in the wee hours of the morning tend to make me wonder how I can continue to cope; especially since an aging body needs many more medical interventions to keep functioning.

It pisses me off. I’d like to put my real name on my blog and use real names for who did what when. Not to get even, but to stand up and say NO. No this is not alright. NO, it is not alright to silence me out of your own shame and fear of how it will make you look.

Yet the anonymity of the freedom to talk openly without hurting anyone offers a resource I cherish, as if this outlet is a replacement for therapy. Expression of honest feelings, which aren’t right or wrong but just there, is a freeing experience. Dumping it all and feeling heard and acknowledged is a human need as crucial as air.

I do not want to give that up. So even though I could put my name on my blog, I chose not to. Not out of fear, (I don’t think so) but out of my own need to talk freely when and how I like; and for the first time ever in my life.

Taught to be pleasing, to live with and love the criminals who attacked me masked as ‘brothers,’ makes it a challenge to discover who I really am even now. I continue to search for ‘her’ going below the surface of the ‘nice’ girl my mother manipulated and trained me to be.

Mom’s need reined, that of ensuring the fallacy of an upstanding family was on show, but at the expense of her daughter. I acquiesced because I craved her love to the very end unable to provide a moments warmth for myself and needing what little she had to give.

The book erupted out of me after her death 8 years ago. It was finally safe to speak of her sons. All that had been suppressed arose; the joys, the traumas, the black tarry secrets of others, and the wonders that sustained me. 

Yet I am left with challenges I resent. It makes me turn resentment into fortitude, grasping courage like an old tree rooting it deeper, transforming the bitter truths into beauty. This I will do, or try to day after day. 

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COMPASSION

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I am doing so much better. I had entered a period where my body revolted against the bad care. Though blood tests didn’t show it, my body knew. I was developing diabetes and was handling a metabolic storm. Will you fight your way out or continue on with dis-ease, both in body and mind?

I fight. I fight to be healthy and to care for myself. It does not come naturally. Or…extra weight is my way of protecting myself and has been since age 8. I could lose it without even trying when I felt safe (infrequent), but when threatened gained it quickly. It happened automatically, instinctually. It happened at 16 when a boyfriend did more than kiss. It worked, as the pounds came he found another.

Walking till I felt ill reminded me to go easy. Resting in-between ten laps is usually a better option. But I am walking every day and eating far less, plus eating in a way that is good for body organs to work properly; high fiber, no sugar or very little of it, not eating after 4 PM at the latest except yogurt, and choosing to experiment with meatless meals except white chicken or fish. It is fun to search recipes, experiment and implement a healthy eating plan, and it takes time, thought and care.

But akin to Edgar Allen Poe, winter takes my mood down. I don’t wake excited about the day, more like with a bit of dread. Not a good feeling, but I chalk it up to shorter days but envision the pool, sunshine and green grass to counteract the dreary outlook along with continual pep talks. We are on the other side of winter as the sun comes in the windows more and kisses me good-bye later in the day before setting

Sleep comes in a regular pattern, getting 7 ½ hours most nights, sometimes more. That seems to have a good deal to do with not eating past 4pm. Ding! Reminders toll repeatedly … self-care.

I work on it…a lot. What do I need, what do I want, what is best for my spirit and body? Gentler thoughts. Meditation is something I need. The simplest of solutions to everyday problems rise up quietly. The flurry that exists within me quiets, solidifies and centers as the half-hour ends. And exercise, the body needs to move.

But do not overdo. The one at the helm tends to whip at my psych mercilessly. Tamping the excessive harshness is an ongoing process. No, pushing oneself to march round after round in the thick snow is not helpful if after coming inside I feel unwell for the next hour or two. Be kinder. Though possible and doable it does not come naturally.

And why would it? Taught to be silent, pleasing and nice while growing up in a house with my nighttime monsters taught me I was unworthy and it taught me terror. Terror with no mouth. Learning this about myself has helped me take away the whips, chains and clubs, or subdue them somewhat when I work at it.

Stop beating up on the child now adult who cannot speak up, or to do so must blow the other up with her venom held back till she explodes. That was the rage I lived; holding it all in, until I didn’t, then look out. My solution now seems to come from a quiet, solitary life where I can feel at peace most days, not because I’ve learned to deal people better but because I deal with them less.

So I plod along the path of snow, my boots making a crunching muffled sound, with no need to hurry or push because doing so will only cause injury. Stopping, looking up as the sun bursts through the clouds, breathing in the crisp icy air, my lungs expand fully.

Pausing after the incline, feeling the heart pump a satisfying pace, I picture the blood circulating oxygen to all the right places and continue on. When coming out of deep thought to the present I observe bunny hops, deer tracks as one must have run across the meadow, see that along the hedgerow places where squirrels burrowed in the snow for nuts, and near the feeder many delicate imprints of bird’s feet. Try to be present, yet my mind drifts off as the laps go on.

I am leaning to understand and accept how and why my voice was taken and not beat myself up for the invisible threads still sewn in my lips. An internal world rich with depth, kindness and wisdom exists, burgeoning with pulsing life despite the silencing, and most likely because of it, a world below that is all mine.

A gentler, kinder life unfolds. I feel compassion for her- the little girl, and for myself now, the grown women with graying hair.

 

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“Want one?” Samuel asks sipping his expensive brandy while I’m busy cooking tenderloins and shrimp.

“No!” I exclaim, I like drinking too much to drink and my body does not tolerate it.

We aren’t painting the town this New Year’s Eve. I suggested having another couple over but he chose to keep it simple and quiet and I agreed. Maybe we are introverts and that’s OK. We both had difficult upbringings and desire peace, a hard place to be at and stay. 

After our meal we settled into our perspective comfy chairs and he picked out Terminator 2. I went in to bed to bed before it over. That is our New Year’s Eve and I loved it. I am happy my body seems in a better place.

Thursday I had such a scare I actually let my son turn around on his way to work in the city and drive to our house to take my glucose reading. I had become so dizzy I could not stand or look anywhere but at a spot on the floor. On the way there he said try to drink some milk and if you can, a piece of toast with peanut butter. 

By the time he arrived I was already feeling better. Tests later that day after seeing the doctor proved negative for any problems with diabetes. I hadn’t eaten for three hours after getting up. It had happened before feeling woozy after forgoing breakfast too long. My poor overweight body is telling me something even if the tests don’t show it. Get the weight off or you will develop Type 2 Diabetes…I know it, I feel it. 

I was so scared during the episode my heart beat out of my chest. I clung to a teddy bear and when my son arrived he did not seem to mind. He is such a kind, gentle soul and makes a great medic, something he does in his spare time. 

It is time to stop pretending to take care of myself and really do it. I was sent to a new doctor because mine had overbooked herself and sent the overflow to him. I instantly liked him when he looked me right in the eye. I felt seen. Tears arose.

She did me a great favor sending me to him. I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for in a doctor for a long, long time… miracle upon miracle, capability and compassion. 

Good health and peace in the New Year…

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The Beauty of You

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The aloneness of abuse may be one of the hardest. It is not a ‘lonely’ like others, it is a scratching and clawing on internal walls aching for relief, making one’s spirit wanting to split from the body and it’s feelings.

Run. Get away from the feeling but where do I go? I lean on others and thankfully that got me through for many years until it was time to stop. With nowhere else to go but into the pain I ventured with curiosity and patience as it all came up, the sadness, pain and joy.

It was all there locked below. And I couldn’t know me or find me because I had been locked down as a child, surrendered to the will of the ‘family’ who was ashamed of their own who would do such things. So silence the child because no one should know of our shame. So she shall be ashamed. It is what will keep her silent.

It is also what will keep her from herself with no real friend because she is not her own. She is alone. It looks like she is in a family, but she is alone adrift from even herself.

And will she ever find ‘her’? Will she ever stop the harsh judging her family cast upon her that she then took upon herself? Will she ever love? Will she ever feel warmth, kindness, openness and safety? Will peace enter within where she is jailed and set her free?

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Dedicated to Alice

 

HOLIDAYS

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I have a rule not to talk about my kids. But is it OK to speak of them in terms of myself and working to be a better person? Cory’s photos of our decorated home were taken two years ago when he visited from London. The house looks just the same and I love the look as it reminds me of a little gingerbread house. Samuel does a great job and I’ve eased up my grip about mixing colored lights with white ones. Finally he is allowed to do what he likes. (and it looks good…)

Cory is not home, nor was he here Thanksgiving. I thought I was alright yet a deep sadness wells up no matter how much it’s tamped down with ‘shoulds.’ I should be happy because Cory is having his first baby with a vivacious, loving wife who has a huge, close family; two brothers, wives, children and tons of other relatives who live close and gather at all holidays plus many more occasions, a family that is now Cory’s. I can’t offer him that.

I should be happy because I have Shane and his wife I adore along with precious grand-children who are at the age where Santa is REAL. Also Nana and Poppy are high on the list of who they love. And Shane’s third baby is coming a month later so I will have an infant to hold, cuddle and love. I am blissful with satisfaction for these wonders, yet it accentuates the crevasse of what I won’t have with Cory’s. I beat myself up for feelings. It is hard to get below the battered self to see what lies below…sadness. 

His baby is due at months end so naturally you don’t take a 6 hour drive to another state when at any moment you might go into labor… so I should not feel this way.  I should not feel that Mother-in-Laws are a necessary evil in the eyes of Daughter-in-Laws. I made a remark when he called last night and wonder whose mouth it came out of.

“Well, if you ever come home for Christmas again…” I said, and couldn’t believe I said it.

I emailed him later after lying in bed unable to sleep, the bitterness of resentment still lingering on my tongue. Coming out by the fire I write and tears come. How easily I eat feelings, and these feelings most especially in the hopes of keeping the peace. But they need expression no matter how irrational they are. I tried not to feel them so badly I didn’t know I had them.

I’m sorry we seem to be having some friction. I’m just sad you live so far away and that your child is one I probably won’t know very well… I also miss seeing you for not just one but for both holidays. I try to be a good sport but it is hard as it seems the first time I’ve not seen you at least at Christmastime. If it comes out sideways try to remember it is only that.

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REST

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Yesterday was hard. I don’t know why. And how could I? The experts don’t know how the brain works. How PTSD affects me? Bringing Cindy back from preschool the usual is to pull in the driveway then pop out to pick up the mail. A car honks long and loud behind me and my adrenaline shoots off scaring me very badly. It’s Samuel’s friend thinking it funny to blast me. I don’t wave back, lacking so much sleep that politeness is gone.

By the time he pulls in behind me my anger dissipates but my scare stays with me. Once those chemicals are released there is no putting them back. Cindy innocently comes over to the couch while I was distracted surprising me so I jump again startled.

Just a bad day. Anxiety, tiredness and cortisol make a very vicious cocktail. I have no clue why one day is harder than the next, though lack of sleep may explain much. And there is nothing I can do about it, one night sleeping hard, the next not.

When Cindy is here just watch her and smile. That’s all she needs to make her beam. But yesterday being so distracted my mind wandered to lost places. Be present. Use the full spectrum lights.

No wonder you feel bad and down when only a week ago I could sit on the patio and soak up sun. With the heat on each morning there is no sun soaking to start each day with fullness, peace and contentment. Use the lights, soak in artificial sun, and do so consistently. 

Today is another day. After sleeping well the start feels brighter. Remember the work. Make each day count, though yesterday seemed a waste. If I cannot be active, productive and feel useful, it’s a waste. But maybe not. Maybe there are days when the body needs rest, especially one with unbalanced chemicals.

Being a couch slug is productive. It seems necessary some days. Rest calms internal warning signals, like train arms coming down with bells and lights. With rest they quiet, rise back up, and allow flow and movement. It just is. I don’t understand it, but must allow for it… remember, be gentle, show kindness, understanding and acceptance.

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(Cory’s photo)