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



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. 

images (6)



Picture 1042

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.



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.



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.


Picture 219

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. 


Picture 232

No more. I can’t do it. I need to celebrate or grieve on my own. Stay in my body. Feel my feelings. Grieve clean.

Going to these things where there’s others from the group of people I was born unto, makes me freeze, become rigid, as if I cannot even move. I don’t remember a wedding when I relaxed and enjoyed it. My body takes a hit. My body cannot do it anymore. Repeated bursts of cortisol over time due to excessive anxiety has taken its toll.

I don’t know the name of what I have and don’t want to know. Not yet. If or when I do, I probably will have bottles of medicine to feel obliged to take. As long as my legs keep working, I’ll keep going. But I cannot overdo. When I do, which doesn’t take much, my legs stop working, give out, become weak, and I require rest. It’s much better to pace myself. Do my bits around the house, and five easy meadow laps. Then I’ve had it.

My biggest concern seems to be, “What will others think.” Or, “Who will come for me if I lose a child or husband?” But I don’t think it works like that. People have a right to grieve how they need to. 

I know I cannot take it. Not my mind, my emotions or my body. Another young person has died, a nephew. A niece two years ago. That I went to. I cannot do it again. Samuel went without me. I wondered as I meandered the meadow, “Am I being selfish?”

I know the answer. Self-caring, not selfish. I care. I cry. Yet I cannot face a church full of people coming out of my solitary life into a swarm of black. I lose the grief, and become a mass of confusion and pain. Grief over a life that could have been. I want to grieve clean, just for the mother who lost her son. The young wife. The two brothers.

So I walk the meadow and let the tears fall. Again. As they have all week. I grieve fully on my own, my own way. I don’t feel guilt. I know my limits, understand them, and give myself space and as much peace as possible, because excessive stress on an already comprised system causes more damage.

Samuel returns and says the church was full of people and I know I’ve done the right thing for me, for the first time. 



“carry the burdens of others” Telling Heavy Secrets writes in her comment of an excellent and excruciating blog. The ‘family’ causing the anguish, the same ones who extinguish a child’s light, continue to keep dark the horrors of her childhood throughout her adult life.

In their selfish need to maintain their own innocence, and the pretense of a family not riddled with the sadistic crimes of incest on an innocent little girl, they are completely willing to sacrifice that child’s life, her entire life.

Their continued lies darken her, and everything about her. If she tells the truth, they perpetuate their lies about their crimes and their persecution of her intensifies and escalates. They gather together against her. The truths she has to tell to save her own life… to live.

It is excruciating that when victimized so tortuously as a child, and the loved ones who are responsible, re-victimize their daughter again so grievously, so totally in adulthood, eradicating her; villainize the child now woman, reject the truth and her along with it, and abandon her for telling it.

Keep the lies, the viciousness of our crimes against you, just swallow it, pretend, wither and die…and we will love you.

Tell the truth? Stand up so you can live, not wither and die, become visible?

We disown you. We perpetuate lies about you, your sanity, intelligence, your worth as a person. You have none, less than none. We sacrifice you, and your life to protect ours. You are cast out, shunned, and on your own. Persecuted. 

That permeates everything I do, each connection and relationship I have. How is what the other person is going through my fault, because my first feeling is that I am somehow at fault.

If I was happier, brighter, lighter, less serious, freer, more forgiving, less aware of undertones and motives, more aware of undertones and motives but able to make less of others faults, more there for them, hadn’t failed them in some way, wasn’t required to work so hard on my own needs daily, which far surmount what I make of them, or what the other person, or any person can really understand…including myself.

if I spoke up at the moment, better, or at all, if I was able to be assertive for my own needs without feeling ashamed or wrong for taking care of myself in the ways that are necessary and needed for a full and happy life, and if I held my head up high while doing it, without suffering guilt, regret or shame for caring for my own needs first…

I see others do it and it’s no big deal. They just say what they like and don’t like, what they need, and are respected for it. I go underground and it festers, disliking myself for holding it in, feeling stepped on, a doormat, then I just separate from the offending person who I initially liked, because they have stomped all over me.

And everybody does or will take advantage of you if you let them, even and especially those we care most about and are closest to. My ability to speak up has been severely impaired, non-existent- and is the one thing unchanged and damaged even now over 50 years later.

Yes I have made improvements. Maybe not in the moment, although sometimes, but later when I see and feel how my actual inner person feels and acts, my true nature.

 …I’m sure I can think of many more reasons why I’m the fault for every angst, hurt feeling, disappoint, sadness, or every other negative, painful feeling or experience of another…, just give me a second.

And these tendencies cause such grief, angst and mostly hatred towards myself. It’s me who allows it. Though Samuel hears me rant and rave about how the other person has offended and disrespected me, it’s me who I am most angry at.

And that is where the love and compassion starts. Of course I am like that. It’s ingrained into the bedrock of my being. How could it be otherwise. With so much that was expected for me to stuff down into my little child’s body– love them. The ones who torture and terrify me. Love them. We are a happy family.

The expectations of carrying the grief and burdens of all of them went into a little girls’s psyche and body. Those same balls and chains, securely soldered in childhood, remain fused permanently– all through adolescence, early adulthood, middle age and now later in life, the same issues remain.

It’s how I handle them within me that I have the power to change. Rage at me? Or love me.

Sometimes I still rage. I became incensed over an issue yesterday. I had to take something to go to sleep. And try again today, calmer, more loving…more accepting…towards myself. (and my friend who caused it)

Yes, of course I’m like that. Though the change I’d like to see and have has not occurred, that’s not because I haven’t worked strenuously and for a very long time to change it. I have worked so so very hard at it. So it’s not from lack of trying.

I can work to ease up on myself. “OK, you did NOT speak up.”

I did not tell my friend that her 130 lb. dog who kept jumping on me, slobbering his tongue over me, then really scaring me as he stood there barking at me, to

“Please! Put your dog back in the kennel when he had been laying quietly! I beg you!”

All this occurred at my visit with her for tea and petit fours yesterday after my morning with my grand-daughter-fun, but exhausting. And my friend requires that I visit late in the day, when my energy has already been depleted. Most of the visit with my friend was taken up with her interacting with that horse of a dog that wouldn’t mind her, didn’t pay any attention to her, and dragged her around, not her him. Knowing she had no control over him really scared me.

So I could not get to sleep last night over such a minor issue that would have easily been remedied had I spoken up. Or better yet, hadn’t gone, because in addition to a shoulder than I cannot use these past few weeks, there’s been another death of a young person, a nephew, just over the weekend.

I did tell her quietly a few times, even possibly THREE times, that her dog scared me. But she seemed more interested in the dog than me. And I allowed it.

So this morning I start again to understand what I do, and why I put others needs before mine. And in doing so, realizing once again where it began, I’m able to slowly allow some compassion to seep back in–for me, for her.

Not easy, yet that’s the beauty. That’s where it counts. That’s where it has always counted, within. 

Let the whirligigs whirl. I can remain calm and resolute. I can, I just have to keep working at it.


Picture 190she called me Petunia

Dear Mother,

I’ll call you mother now that you’re dead. You always wanted me to, like you did your mother. Mom was enough. Even that was often hard.

You could have scooped me up into your arms and said, “I’m so sorry for what Chet has done. My poor darling.”

Held me, loved me, rocked me, and the tears that came would not be shame but those that heal. You buried me with that lecture that you said wasn’t a lecture, wasn’t blame.

Oh yes, it was.

Every time I tried to talk to you, you became highly emotional, dramatic. And when I said ‘stop being dramatic’, your drama intensified, making it all about you. Every time…….    I gave up. We never made it to, “I’m sorry.”

It was always a kind of yelling out, “Of course I’m sorry.” More like I’m being chastised once again.

And when Tom wanted to talk, his first words were about how young he was.

Why is it when the subject of the crimes I was terrorized by was approached, others want forgiveness and leniency before even apologizing, asking for forgiveness, or showing any remorse at all? I blamed me. Because of my rage, my inability to forgive.


It’s not that. It’s your weakness … and his, and the others who knew and did nothing.

You didn’t protect me. And when I needed your love, you blamed me. 

Hold me. Rock me. Tell me it will never happen again.

It did.