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. 

 

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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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LOST AND NUMB

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I lost myself. Couldn’t or didn’t get back in my body, my soul, the center, that feeling place until now. It started 2 weeks ago when I made trays of cookies and a platter of ham for the bereaved family, and I ate cookies. And more and more throughout the day, feeling sick, numb… and the habit since eight years old took over. Eat, feel numb. Hate myself. Preferable to the present pain of loss.

Where and what happened to that ‘kindness’ towards myself? Gone. Hate and disgust, and not in my body. Not in the moment. Entrapped in numbness, away from me, a third dimension I know how to live in when the going gets rough. So familiar with it, I choose it, or it chooses me, and I stay there till it’s safe to come out. To now, in me, and it’s OK. OK to be back in me. The best I can do is go about the motions until I come back.

FALL

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As the leaves fall, so do I. I know this to be true every year, every fall, but it crawled up and slapped me. Use the lights. Yes, I walk in the sunshine, but I need to remember to focus on my daily needs. One half hour watching news at 7am with the lightbox, meditate, which has fallen off the last few days, and walking.

I walk the meadow and wonder at my body’s failings. My legs feel funny, a tingling in the feet, like two wooden tree stumps I tell to move one step then another. It is scary when the body fails. When my mind, emotions and spirit are young but the body isn’t. It surprises me.

While moving slowly along the path of crunchy leaves, open hear shaped hickory nuts, a leaf wafting down overhead, I talk realities in my mind, a conversation with myself. At 62 people contract ravaging disease, are in pain, die. You don’t know how long you have or what the quality of your life will be.

It is hard, this loss of strength. Walk more? Exercise more? Yet I know when my legs act up they need rest. Have I caused my own demise? When my friend died, now almost three years ago, I stopped moving, or caring about much of anything. Did a few years of lack of movement, and listlessness bring this on? I remember farther back when I went to the gym trying to incorporate the same exercise that once sustained me, a good work-out on the stair-stepper or my five-mile jog, and the aftereffects of a few days of bent over soreness because my joints couldn’t take it. So no. I don’t believe two years of mourning my friend with the hopelessness and lethargy associated with it caused my problems now.

But I also know the tingling is not good either. Walk to make the circulation better. But after lap 4 I give in to the fatigue. Though I love my grand-daughter dearly, after 4 hours I’m ready for Mother to come. But she’s two hours late because she has a conference with a parent. To be attentive and present for that amount of time exhausts me. Later I snap at Samuel and say terrible things, ricocheting back to my old ways, my foul mouth, my foul mood. Irritable and tired we scrap over silly things, or the big things have piled up so it’s a little thing that makes us blow.

“You are hard to live with,” he mutters.

“Move out! If I’m so hard to live with, leave,” I snipe back with immediacy, hardly any emotion, just a statement of fact.

Why I am not abhorred at my mouth, my words. I’m freaking tired is why. I’m just irritable, tired, and having a hard time moving. And I’m blaming my own self for this overweight, achy body, which could be just as achy if 60 pounds thinner, but maybe not.

Although whatever is going on will proceed anyway with a lighter body, change is in the air. I cannot drag around this excess in body and be happy. I need change. I will find it, provide it, do it. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. This time not with a feeling of scarcity, but with a feeling of fullness, wholeness, and generosity; of giving to myself, not taking away. I won’t yearn and dream of food, because I’ve learned to give to myself what that yearning really represented, self-love, self-caring, self-nurturing, a place inside to call home.

SHADOWS

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She could have loved them. Instead of popping out babies like a drunken rabbit, she could have had her two or three and stopped. They, Mom and Dad, liked to drink and party and could not get out of bed and go to the drawer where the rubbers were, so made baby after baby, so cute when little.

But they grow. And so does the drinking and partying. Until he dies. Then she is alone with eight of us. She must work. Though on our own before, now we are really on our own. Because her partying drinking became serious. And my brothers took their hate on me.

One after the other, soiling the one girl baby who attracted the most attention because she was one girl out of eight. I hate you for being loved when I’m not. You deserve my attacks because my burgeoning hormones have no other place to go, no one to listen, no one who cares. I will spoil the pretty cherished child that I wasn’t, because my Dad, who ruled with ‘iron fists’ so harshly, who wouldn’t love me no matter how hard I tried, died.

Attack, attack, attack. I’ll get even.

I blame myself. When someone dies, this time my nephew, by pneumonia, I feel to blame. I think back of my nephews Dad, my brother, and “if only.” He died at 52,  13 years ago, pulling off to the side of a busy highway another state apart, away from his wife and sons, and died of a massive heart attack.

“If only” I’d been closer to him and his family perhaps I would have bothered to talk him out of moving to another state when he lost his job. He found similar work there. Living in a tiny apartment alone because his wife was not ready to pull up roots, leave our little town, and move with him. She painfully told me the dilemma, that he was going to move to where the work was and she just couldn’t, and I did nothing.

Did I help by trying to talk him out of it? No. By then I had moved apart emotionally. Where once she had given me a baby shower for my first child, and my nephews played with my son frequently, and I had dinners with them at my house, and interacted almost daily, I pulled away when I began to face my past.

I do not speak of this brother in my book. It was only one time. Hardly significant compared to the others. And I didn’t fight like I had with Chet. I must have given up fighting because fighting made it suffocating. So I lay there as he did what Chet did and I still remember the same revulsion now as I felt then. Still a little girl, but already gone. Whoever I was then, or was to become, was gone.

If only my mother had loved them. My father. And me. If only I could.

DEATH

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I know when a death occurs I mourn more than the person that died. I mourn the loss of family. A cohesive unit that loves and cares for each other without reservation. Is that a dream and something that does not exist? I believe it does exist. I see it with others, that wholeness, that love. When I hear of a brother protecting a sister, a hug between them that is benign, and full of warmth, nothing else lurking…My sons have it, that innocence, that love.