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Drowning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t breathe,
I feel like I’m drowning,
I’m suffocating,
My chest is being crushed and squeezed,
I can’t sleep,
My pulse races,
As my heart rapidly beats and bleeds,
I’m paralyzed and numb,
Haunted by memories and by me.
I just want to close my eyes.
and rest in peace.
I’m not as strong as I once was.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”
― Ned Vizzini

Lately I’ve been struggling a lot and not sure what direction I should go. I feel lost, broken and completely alone. I feel myself withdrawing and pulling away from people and getting lost in my own head more and more. I know this partly because I’m already tired of the therapy and medication that doesn’t really work. My therapist says I need to just be patient, but I’m tired of constantly trying to be okay, it’s exhausting pretending everything is fine. My therapist says, I’m too hard on myself and take on too much responsibility. I blame myself for things I shouldn’t and typically see the worse in myself, whereas I always try to see the best in others. But I can’t help it, I just don’t like myself very much. All I do is think about how badly I screwed things up with my honesty.

I know the so-called ‘psychologically depressed’ person who tries to kill themselves doesn’t do so out of ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life isn’t fair, or out of selfishness and surely not because death seems appealing. Which I’ve come to realize is a major misconception about people who struggle with this invisible agony and when it reaches a certain unendurable level will kill themselves. Think of it like this, you’re in a high-rise building that’s on fire. The flames are slowly encroaching on you, the heat and smoke are becoming nearly unbearable and you jump out the window. The terror of falling to your death is terrifying and very different from you or me, standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames and the smoke: when the flames get close enough and the smoke making it harder and harder to breathe, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ or ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror that’s way beyond that of falling.

When I told my therapist about my suicide attempts, she asked me if I really wanted to die, and I responded,
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?” She asked.
“Because they want to stop the pain,” I explained.
For me, it’s always been this weird back and forth. As I said in an earlier entry, I grew up in a mostly Christian household. I prayed for God’s grace and salvation for years. My faith in God never wavered, it didn’t matter how many times my mom would beat and ridicule me, how often my brother would mock and make fun of me while my mother laughed and laughed, encouraging him to dig at me harder and harder. Punishing me every time I tried make fun of him in return, or to say something hurtful to him. My goal wasn’t to hurt him, but only to show him how it feels. But no one else would see that and I would get beaten and grounded for standing up to him, or for fighting back. While he would parade in front of me, laughing as I got beaten. Even when I would go to school and get harassed and bullied almost daily. I held firm to this faith, that there was this just, loving, compassionate God up there, who knew what he was doing, so I put my trust in my faith.

No matter how hard things had gotten, I believed that it was all according to God’s plan. Sometimes I thought God was preparing me, strengthening me to make me a hero just like the tales of Joshua, or Samson, or Moses. Other times I convinced myself that God was testing my resolve, my faith. So I stayed strong, I endured, until I couldn’t anymore, until I broke.

There’s only so much pain, heartache and loneliness a person can take, and I’ve been lonely most of my life. It’s hard, it hurts and make you feel like you’ve being hollowed out. Several Christians have told me over the years that I need to crave companionship with God first and foremost. But where was God all those nights I spent crying myself to sleep, afraid to go home because it would mean I would have to deal with my mother, afraid of going to school, because I didn’t want to walk the halls and get harassed, ridiculed, or made fun of, or just made to feel like an outcast. Where was god when I was praying night after night for my mother to love me, or when I was begging God to give me just one good day, just one where I didn’t feel beaten down, where I didn’t get attacked just for existing. Where was he when thoughts of suicide slowly began seeping into my thoughts. When I stopped seeing myself in a mirror and only saw everything wrong with me staring back.

I don’t know if there’s a God or not, I don’t know which faith is the correct one, even in Christianity there’s so many other fractions, Catholics, Baptist, Pentecostal. Etc. How does one ever even decide? Who is right or does being right even matter?

The only thing I know for certain, is that people need to just stop being so ugly to each other, because at the end of the day, no one really knows what happens when we go. In all honesty, who really cares about one’s religion, when no one really knows if their faith is right or not. Because that’s faith, believing in something even when you have no proof or evidence to prove it, it’s just believing that there’s out there greater than yourself. Which I understand the importance of, I know it can be a good thing to have faith, especially if having faith, makes you a happier and a better person. Which I think should be of more importance to all faiths, the focus should be on spreading more good will in the world, leaving it a better place for when you go. Because all things die and fade with time, the hate people give, has a lasting negative impact on the world and it spreads like cancer. Being kind to someone though, can change a person’s world, maybe even their perspective.

For myself, I’ve always tried doing the right thing, even when it meant risking losing the very thing I wanted most or sacrificing my own happiness. Which hasn’t always been easy and as often been decisions I have grappled and wrestled with, hoping I was making the right decision in the end. Many of these past choices I have regretted and had wished I would have put myself first or been a little more selfish. But being selfish has never really been in my character. I’m not saying that to humble brag or any of the sort. My selflessness was something that grew from me watching my mother and knowing my step-mother. I saw firsthand the damage being selfish causes those around you and how it affects an individual, how it ages and how it damages you. I’m not saying you or anyone shouldn’t ever be selfish, I’ve learned that sometimes being a little selfish for the right reasons can be a good thing. You deserve to be happy too and should always fight what you want. But just don’t get carried away and just ask yourself, “Is this something I really need?” Sometimes at least for me, it’s often been more fun to share and having someone to celebrate with. I know now that it’s okay to be a selfish and put myself first, just as I’ve learned its okay to say no and to walk away from those who hurt you. Unfortunately, I’ve learned those lessons a little bit too late. But I still find myself at war with myself, between choosing something for myself, or what I want, or letting someone else take the win.


I taught myself forgiveness, even when forgiving was far from easy. But I’ve learned early on that when you forgive someone, you have no right to throw the past back at them. I’ve learned from experience how that can feel and makes you feel, I’ve learned it from my mother. Who would often bring up my past mistakes to accuse me of wrong doing in the present and for me it felt like I couldn’t escape my past mistakes. That no matter how hard I tried to change and better myself that it wasn’t good enough and I’d always been that person they either want me to be or that they hate without any just cause or reason.

Despite my upbringing and the bullies who hunted me in school, I was born with this kind and gentle heart. Which I often find myself hating, wishing more than anything I could make myself numb to some of the hurt. Wishing there was some way I could stop myself from seeing the best in people. I tend to see the potential in those around me and I long to see the good in them, which has sometimes caused me to be taken advantage of, which is a problem which also sucks.

Worse is I’ve always had a generous and giving nature, which has been magnified by my C-ptsd, but this part of me was initially born from me trying to distance myself as much as possible from my mother, because I saw how her selfishness affected her and those around her. I never wanted to be blinded by jealously and believe it’s what I’m owed for some clandestine reason. I like earning my keep and my share. I was partly inspired by my father whom I witnessed frequently loaning friends and family money, when I asked him why he always did this, because he’d seldom get paid back. He said,


“Yeah, it sucks a little bit when I don’t get paid back, but it feels worse feeling like I could have helped someone but didn’t. I know I’ll probably never be rich and I don’t think I ever want to be. I like to give when I can and hope for the best.”


When I heard this, I made this vow to give whenever the need was great, to put others before myself and this was also because I partly wanted to have a positive effect on the world. Then without even realizing it, I found myself getting more joy out of helping others than I have ever gotten from helping myself. I often felt guilty the few times I chose to put myself first, the times I chose to be selfish even though I know now it’s okay and perfectly acceptable to be a little selfish sometimes. But, it doesn’t make it any less difficult, or less of a struggle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with a decision, wondering if the choice I made, or plan to make is the right one, or if I’m making a choice for the right reasons or not.

In all honesty I often feel like I’m at war with myself, with these voices in the back of my mind. My depression telling me how worthless I am, that I’m a burden to the world around me. My anxiety tells me I’m annoying and every choice I ever make is the wrong one and only annoy and hurt those around me, telling me I should just go away and let myself be forgotten. My heart is just tired of hurting, it used to be overflowing with hope, believing if I just stood my ground that things would get better, that it has too. But as times goes on, my heart just hurts, and it becomes filled with sorrow and pain and wanting it to just end.

Then I have this weird, defiant, stubborn voice that tells the other voices to shut the hell up and that I have to fight for thing things I want and never give up. To keep going, to keep getting back up no matter how many times I get knocked down, to keep trying. But it’s hard and it’s the hardest thing I ever have to do. Every day I have to make this choice to keep going and not end my life. When I was a kid, I would think of these arbitrary reasons to live. Like “I have to live just long enough to see this movie,” Or “Play that video game,” or “Go on this trip,” Etc. I was grasping at straws, trying to find a more solid reason to keep going.

It’s almost kind of funny, how a lot of people see me as an optimist and will comment on my positivity. When in truth, I’m just trying to make the most of every situation I find myself in. I have to try and force myself to have fun and enjoy myself as much as possible, because a part of me believes that when we die, we can only take the memories we make with us and I want to take as many good memories as I can. With the hope that maybe, when I die, I get to relive my favorite memories as often as I want. I can stay in those moments where I was my happiness, when I felt like I was at my best. For me it’s important to make the most of the time we have now and I’ve been learning to take more chances, to live in the moment. It can be exciting and life changing, as well as it can be heartbreaking. But I can at least look back and say “I tried, I took a risk, I gambled and I tried.”

So that’s all I can promise to do these days.
I’m trying.
Josh. C

Many complex trauma survivors walk away from their religious beliefs. For example, to believe in a good and loving God who allows suffering and heinous abuse to occur can feel like the ultimate betrayal. This is something needing considerable compassion. – https://themighty.com/2017/08/life-impacting-symptoms-of-complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

It’ strange for me think about how when I was a kid and first heard about God and Christianity I was fascinated, I fell in love with the faith and felt safe knowing there was this God up there watching over not just me, but everyone. I listened to the bible stories and the heroes who God chose, protected, saved and rewarded for their efforts and sacrifices. I wanted to be a champion of God like none other, I wanted to believe that everything had its purpose. Even as a kid, I was determined to discover my purpose, I grew up hearing how I was almost never even born, how my mother abandoned me when I was just a few months old, just to be saved by my father, who claimed God told him to go home, when he didn’t want to and only wanted to go to his mom’s to avoid having to put up with my mother, which would lead to yet another argument.
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So I believed there was a reason why I was such a freak, why I was so unwanted. I grew up with warts on my left hand, buck teeth, speech problems, I wasn’t particularly coordinated, good at sports, I had no talents that I knew of. My hair never did look right until I grew older and started spiking it. I suffered horrible abuse from my mother, was often teased and made fun my older brother, some of my family members and I faced bullies every day in school. More than anything I wanted to believe there was a purpose to it all, a reason behind it all. Because it’s what Christians often told me, that I would need to give my pain to God and he would deliver me from it. But he never did. Since I was six years old, I prayed to God every day, begging him to allow my mother to love me and treat me like a son. Of course, I’ve prayed for a variety of things and for people, I prayed to God to take away my warts, to fix my speech, my teeth and when I noticed my vision was beginning to deteriorate, I prayed for God to restore my vision. I’ve already had enough issues with my appearance and didn’t want to give the bullies any more ammunition against me. As I’ve said once in an earlier post, I’ve been called names and I’ve been called them all. I heard time and again of adults and people older than me how they were bullied too and how it’s so bad. But every year, bullying gets worse I know this from experience. I never got good advice or help in any way. The schools always say you should talk to a teacher, go the principle, or even your parents, doing so however only makes things 10 times worse. Kids are often ostracized by their peers it, called and viewed as a narc. Even worse, it’s never an easy thing to talk about when you’re a victim.
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I often would pray to God to move for me and those bullies who targeted me, I asked him to make them my friends, I prayed for my parents to get back together because I missed my dad, I prayed to be accepted, to feel loved. I prayed these things every day until I was thirteen years old. Then I changed, I began praying for God just to end it, to take my life, I didn’t care how. I just wanted to die. This I kept up, praying every day until I was fifteen. That’s when I finally gave on God. I gave up on Christians never wanting to listen to me, always saying the same diatribe over and over again, while I was very clearly crying out for help. I got tired of hearing Christians telling me, “God is trying to break you, he wants you to be more broken, so that he can heal you!” And a part of me always wondered,

“How much more broken do I have to be? I’m a kid, I shouldn’t have to deal with what I’ve been dealt with. I shouldn’t have heard my mother tell me that she wanted me to snap and hit her, so that she could pull some strings and have me locked up, just because she wanted to ruin my life. I shouldn’t have spent countless nights crying myself to sleep because I was so broken, so lonely and tired of feeling like I didn’t belong.”

Oh I would hear that it was God testing me, which I believed for years and after a while I began to wonder, why? What was he testing my faith for? I was a child, a kid, no kid should think the world would be better off if they died.

Other times they would blame Satan, telling me everything I was dealing with was the devil and he was trying to beat me down and I couldn’t help but wonder, why God wasn’t protecting me. I was a good kid, I always tried to be kind, generous, giving, supportive and forgiving. Granted I had a few small selfish moments as all kids do, but I was a pretty good kid. All I ever wanted was to be happy, to feel loved, wanted and needed. So, I started cutting myself, I started doing it just to give myself something else to focus on. But in truth, I was really just practicing to kill myself.

depression-im-fine

During this period of dark inflection, I adapted a mode of thinking, that maybe God was an absentee father, that he created us in a bit of a rush and once he was finished with his little science project he abandoned his creation. Thinking this, I began rebelling against God, believing if I could make him angry, make him hate me, he would finally stop and take notice, then maybe he would care. So I tore apart my bibles, tossing them in a fire. I began cussing like a sailor, mocking Christian teachings and beliefs. Then I began to study other religions and briefly practicing the other faiths I’ve read about. I became a Wiccan, for about a year, then I began reading about Pagan beliefs, I soon found myself reading more and more about philosophy and religions around the world, where I found something quite odd. They were all mostly the same, even Satanism. Compare any religion you want, don’t just go off what you think, or heard, but actually get their bible and read the tenants of other faiths, with an open mind and you’ll begin seeing similarities. Yet we build these factions, mock and make fun of, or even harass anyone who believes in something else, we wage war, kill one another over petty differences that don’t matter.

I have found many Christians (again not all) to be a very toxic people and I’m not saying anything against the bible or anything, granted I really don’t know what I myself believe in these days, but I do believe that the bible has some really worthwhile tenants and values. Most Christians however seem to suffer from old bigotry that pastors and leaders had used the bible to enforce their beliefs and force them on others. By this I mean when I read the bible, I read about a very loving and forgiving God, one who gave his only begotten son to die on a cross for our sins. It always felt wrong to me when I heard religious leaders speak out against homosexuals, or anyone in the LGBT community, even being an heterosexual man myself, but I know what it’s like to be an outcast, to be treated less of a human being just for being who you are. Then they always want to say “Well in the bible it says…”And I always counter with, the bible also says we shouldn’t pass judgment on others, or force our personal views, religious or otherwise on anyone else. Also the bible speaks out against gossiping. Worse is some the non-sensible things the bible also says.

Here are but a few.

Don’t have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)
Don’t wear clothes made of more than one fabric. (Leviticus 19:19)
Don’t cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)
Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed. (Leviticus 20:9)
If a priest’s daughter is a whore, she is to be burnt at the stake. (Leviticus 21:9)
People who have flat noses, or are blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God. (Leviticus 21:17-18)
From the book of Deuteronomy:
If anyone, even your own family, suggests worshipping another God, kill them. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)
Women are not allowed to wear the clothing of men and men are not allowed to wear the clothing of women (Deuteronomy 22:5)
From the New Testament:
Slaves must be submissive and obedient to their masters. (Ephesians 6:5)
Women must be submissive to their husbands. (1 Peter 3:1 and 3:5)
Women should not style or braid their hair or wear any adornments (jewelry) or fancy clothing. (I would also presume that wording to include the wearing of make-up and coloring of hair in that context. – 1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9)
Women should be generally submissive and should be quiet, never teach or hold any authority over men. They should just be silent. (1 Timothy 2:12)
Women must wear head coverings in any place of worship. (1 Corinthians 11:4-7)

When I attended Sunday school and I was brought up with the belief that God was supposed to be good, who wanted us to love on another. The bible in my opinion often contradicts itself, which often made me wonder, if someone didn’t add or tweak things here and there. Because the message I got from the Bible was how we should be compassionate to others, accept them for who they are, because they are created by God, love or hate them, they were created by the same God who made you, to argue against a person’s sexual preference or ideals is to say God has no idea what he’s doing.

self-hate-depression.jpg I know my struggle with faith and religion is in part because I suffer from c-ptsd, but it’s also because when I was crying out for help. The Christian church let me down, instead of trying to dive deeper and getting me help, I got lectured, prayed to, prayed out, given quotes from the bible, or reasons and excuses about why my life is the way it is. Others felt the need to compare their lives, and problems to my own and tell me they know how I feel, or want to tell me everything Jesus went through before he died and tell me to suck it up.

But I’m broken and have been broken for a very long time. I searched for God, I worshiped him, loved him despite how much my life was falling apart. It’s hard to believe in something when you’ve felt abandoned for so long. When you’ve prayed for small, simple miracle over and over again, just be denied that small amount of love. I wasn’t even supposed to be born, I was an unwanted child, an accident, an abortion survivor and for what, why?
More than anything I wish I was normal and wasn’t such a mess and I know if I ever come face to face with my mother again, I would like to look her in the eye and just say, “You can’t just make someone and throw them away, it’s not right.”

If you’re still reading this. I’m sorry for the downer of a post, which I’m still probably made some of you very angry at me. But, if you could do me a quick favor, and go over to my friend’s pateron and donate just a dollar to her goal of becoming a writer, I would greatly appreciate it and you’d be able to make someone’s day. She’s incredibly talented, a warm and loving person and in all honesty someone who’s kept me from giving up.

https://patreon.com/ARStuff?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=tyshare2

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”

― Judith Lewis Herman

During my time of growing, healing and recovering from my past traumas, I’ve come to the decision of my rewriting my blog series, “Scars of who we are” and attempt to break it down into novel format, in hopes of reaching others. My hope is to let people know they aren’t alone and don’t have to continuing being a victim, or victimized, or question themselves, their sanity and value.

I learned firsthand what it’s like to love someone who hurts you. Despite how badly my mother had treated me majority of the time, a part of me still loved her, cared about her and wanted more than anything for her to acknowledge me as her son. To show me just an ounce of the love she had shown any of my brothers. It sucks seeing someone you care about love and care for everyone else but you. Which lead me to having a bit of a break down when I was talking to my dad and had asked him, “Why didn’t she love me? What was wrong so wrong with me?”

I deeply longed for a good relationship with my mother, I wanted to be able to talk and confide in her, to trust her. I wanted her to love me as she had loved my older brother. Growing up I often thought if I was better, smarter, more talented, or thoughtful she would see me as her son and love me as such. Every day I prayed to God to just let her love me and to take away whatever it was that made her hate me. That being said, my mother wasn’t always horrible towards me, like many narcissistic abusers she would be kind to me sometimes. She could be silly and funny, which would always end a little strangely. It wasn’t ever that she was just goofing off with me, it was how abruptly it would end and she would be upset with me, or suddenly get very angry at me. It was almost as if she felt like I had somehow tricked her into not hating me for a little awhile. The shift was always sudden and seemed to come out of nowhere.

Still, I do remember when albeit vaguely how she used to read to me before bed when I was a kid and I think it’s what ignited my love for stories and expanded my imagination. My mother was also an amazing cook, she made the best brownies and chocolate chip cookies. She was also very creative and crafty in in her own right. Strangely enough, even though she rarely stayed up past 11pm, the few times she had she was cool. I don’t know what it was about the late-night hours that made her kinder and more motherly, but more often than not, whenever it was late at night, she would be kind of motherly towards me. She would actually talk to me like I was a person and not like someone she despised. Now it didn’t happen every time she stayed up late, but enough for me to realize it was a side of her I wished I saw more often.

Even still there is one moment when I was fifteen that always struck me as odd, something that not even my therapist really understands why this happened, knowing what she had learned about my mother, something that stuck with me. As you can imagine the older I got the worse my mother had treated me, with periodic episodes of kindness. (Also, whenever we were in public or around certain people my mother would be mother of the year. A façade that would quickly fall away once we either in the car or at home.) But there was this one night when I was fifteen, where I had awoken in the middle the night, shivering. I quickly discovered I had somehow managed to kick off my covers while I was asleep.
So still half asleep, I began blindly fumbling for my covers, when I heard someone at my bedroom door. Fearing it was my mother, I quickly laid back down and pretended to be asleep. Then through the slits of my eyes, I watched as my door slowly cracked open and I saw my mother poking her head into my room. I immediately felt my heart seize in my chest as I recalled all the times she dragged me out of bed, feeling her nails bite into my flesh as she would wrench me out of the bed by the arm. So I lay as still as I could, also remembering all the times she had caught me reading in med, or playing a handheld videogame, when I was supposed to be sleeping.

I kept hoping she would close my door and just go on down the hall away from my room, but she didn’t. Instead, I heard her silently pushing my door open and I could see her through the slits of my eyes silently stepping into my room, towards my bed. In my head I kept begging God to make her leave, to just turn around and walk out of my bedroom and to just leave me alone.
She didn’t leave, but then the strangest thing happened. I felt her untangling my blankets and then she proceeded to tuck me in. Needless to say I didn’t know what to think, I was completely stunned and didn’t fully understand or comprehend what she was doing, or why. She had never shown me this kind of tenderness or affection for as long as I could remember. Then I felt her lips gently kiss the top of my head and she whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Then she caressed my cheek and gave me a gentle squeeze on my shoulder and silently slipped back out of my room. When I told my therapist about this event, even she was stumped. Much like it has been for me, this sudden act of love was something very rare, very random and I’m 98% certain that there was no way she could have known I was awake when she came into my room that night.

Of course I was so love deprived, that every night after that for a week, I would kick off my blankets on purpose and would go as far as leaving my bedroom door cracked open in hopes the same event would repeat itself. Sadly it never did and I never brought it up to my mother either. I guess in a way I was a little afraid that if I brought it up to her it would have broke whatever strange magic was at work that night. Unfortunately just a year later, I would be assaulted by her as I was attempting to take out the trash. It was on that night that I had finally had enough and shoved her off of me and told that I had finally had enough and was finally going to leave and live with my dad. My mother ended up falling into my room and began at hitting me, scratching me, shoving me. Then when I raised an arm to keep her from hitting me, she dared me to hit her. Begged me and tried provoking me to hit her. By shoving me, hitting me, taunting me as she said, “Go on hit me! It’s what I want you to do, I want you to hit me! It’s what I’ve always wanted you to do! Because I’ll finally be able to call Chris (My cop step-dad) And have him arrest your ass tonight, your aunt’s husband is rich, he knows judges and I can make it where you go Juvy, to prison and never see your dad, or anyone you love every again. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do to you!”

Luckily I didn’t hit her, but I did threaten to call the cops myself and let them see the marks that she had left on me. But when I went to the phone, she broke down crying, begged me not to call the police, told me how if I did, I would cause my brothers to lose their mother. She told me how my older brother had no one else and asked me if I could really take away the only parent he had. She then apologized profusely, promised me she’d never hit me again and that things would get better. I dumbly agreed and didn’t call the police like I should have, like I wished I would have done, what I should have done.

But…All I could do was think about all the times I overheard my mother telling my older brother how his father never wanted him and how my father didn’t want him either, how she was the only one who had wanted him. When in truth my father couldn’t fight for custody of my older brother, since he wasn’t his biological son and my dad’s lawyer had told him fighting for custody for my older brother would be a lost cause.

Though still, every now and again, I find myself thinking back to that might when my mother crept into my room, tucked me in and shown me genuine love. I can’t tell you how many times I sat and wondered why she apologized to me in that moment, when she thought I was asleep. Some people have told me their theories, everything from her being possessed and she managed to break free for that one moment. Others believe she had an epiphany and realized how badly she had treated me or had a moment of clarity and realized in that moment that she was mentally ill and couldn’t help how she treated me. Sadly I don’t have any answers, I can tell you that there have been times when I wondered if maybe she was preparing me for something, or knew something I didn’t about my future and maybe she thought treating me so horribly would make strong, or a better person. Truth is I don’t know the answer and I don’t think I ever will. I do know I struggle day to day and I’m always fighting my demons who’re always telling me I should kill myself, that I’m worthless, pathetic and a burden to all those around me. I know the reason I struggle with these demons is because of what my mother had put me through. No kid should ever be afraid of going home, of talking to their parents. No kid deserves to have a parent call them stupid, or ugly, or that they need to have plastic surgery. All I ever wanted was to feel and be a part of something, a family, to be and feel and be loved. It’s what everyone deserves.

 

  “It is not okay for someone you like to treat you poorly and then pretend it didn’t happen, making you question your own grasp on reality. This dynamic is called gaslighting. It’s a common tactic of abusers to shift the focus of the blame from their bad behavior onto the person they are victimizing. One important side effect of gaslighting is having your memory “black out” after a fight (because your brain is trying to protect you from the cruelty of the abuse), which results in not being able to remember how an argument started. You may start to internalize the idea that there is something wrong with you and that you did something to provoke the situation as you’re increasingly beaten down and confused.”  ― Shannon Weber

I don’t know how to ever really describe what it was like growing up with my mother and being around her family. It’s the question I get asked more often, which is “Why didn’t you ever say anything, or tell anyone? Over the years I gave a few reasons, which were all true. The first being I was afraid, I was afraid of the many threats my mother made to me. She used to also tell me if I told anyone they wouldn’t believe me and would just think less of me. I was also afraid of being believed and being made fun for being abused by my mother, I don’t know why, I guess I would have to blame media who portrayed fathers as being these, imposing and terrifying figures, as oppose to mothers who have often been a victim themselves or at worse a someone who denied the abuse was even occurring at home.

In therapy, I have learned one of the more prime reasons I didn’t say anything sooner, was because I was afraid of being called a liar, as the result of my mother’s gaslighting me for several years. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. All of which my mother was a master at. My mother was so skilled at this, that when she overheard my older brother and I talking about how she used to backhand and beat us at the kitchen table if we chewed with our mouths full, put our elbows on the table, or made too much noise while taking a drink, my mother became livid. She denied ever hitting us at the dinner table, going as far as breaking down into tears for thinking she would have ever done that. She was so effective in her denial, that in two weeks, my older brother came to believe her. Later telling me that she had never hit either of us. When I still distinctly remembered being backhanded and beaten cause she saw me chew with my mouth open, or because my elbows touched the table. He had become so adamant about it not happening, it was unsettling. Thankfully, I knew and still remembered clearly the numerous times I was beaten at the table. Granted not a good memory at all, but in the way my brother and I had talked and joked about it, because we were commenting how my younger brothers would get time out and we would get beaten. Although yes, my older brother occasionally gotten beat, whereas I would get beat all the time.

Still it was strange seeing how quickly my brother not only seemed to forget but would deny ever happened. However, my dad remembered seeing her haul off and beat me or my brother at the dinner table at the slightest infraction. My dad even told me the first time he saw it and asked why she was beating me, she said it was because my elbows were on the table. So my dad had pointed out that I was four and then sat his elbows on the table and dared her to hit him, like she was hitting me. (I don’t remember this particular instance, but I do remember being hit a lot for stupid little things and the one time my dad got so furious over it, he threw his plate in the trash along with all the other food she had cooked, except for what was on mine and my brother’s plate.)

My mother is a narcissist who uses  gaslighting techniques to have power over others. Which is more effective than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique used by abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, the few times I tried calling my mother out on how she was treating me, she would tell me that I was crazy. She would insist that my dad was responsible and that he had brainwashed me into  believing she was this horrible person. Sometimes she would break down and cry, telling me she loved me because she always made me dinner and special meals just for me because of my being a picky eater, which I am. She used the gifts she had gotten me for my birthday, or Christmas to tell me it was proof that she loved me. Ironically she would always bash my father to me, telling me how my father was the one who always beat me, that he used to beat her and my older brother and how selfish he was. However my father never struck me out of anger and when he did used to give me whooping, it was two or three swats then he was done. My dad used to tell me how much he hated having to give me a paddling and it showed. Because when my mother would beat me with the paddle, she would hit me as hard as she could, several times, more if I cried out, or tried to wiggle away. Then she would beat me some more if I ended up crying afterwards. She didn’t just beat my ass, by my hands, lower back, the back of my thighs, etc and this was with a thick, wooden paddle.

The few times I’ve tried calling her out on her treatment of me, she would accuse me of being dramatic, tell me I was being crazy. Say I was exaggerating things, making things out to be worse than what they were. Which often made me wonder if she was right. I can’t tell you how many times I wondered if she was right, if I was really crazy or not. A part of me even acknowledged that she did make me my own little meals every day, she did on rare occasion treat me well.  However she would always use the good things she done as a way to tell me she loved me and that if she didn’t she would have done those nice things for me. Even though it didn’t change the fact that I slowly found myself becoming afraid of her. Because I never knew what she would do, or how she would react, but I did know that she liked to ruin me every chance she got. If I spent a summer with my dad and came home talking about all the things he and I did together, she would say, “Oh he’s not treating you like a son, he’s treating you more like a buddy. He only did those things, so you’d go live with him and stop him from having to pay child support, he doesn’t really love you or care about you. Not like I do. He’s just using you and trying to manipulate you.” And just like that, the euphoria I had over a summer well spent would be suddenly tarnished. I would be hurt and devastated and a part of me always wondered what if she was right?

Such was growing up with her. If I ever questioned her methods or tried calling her out on how she treated me, she would tell me I was crazy, tell me it was all in my head, insist on telling me how much worse things could be. Once she even told me if I ever told anyone about what was going on at home, the police would come and take me and my brother away, she told me my dad wouldn’t be able to get custody of me and I would go to an orphanage, where I would get molested and raped. And explained to me in a rudimentary way of what that entailed, because at the time of her telling me that I was still quite young and didn’t know what those words meant.

My mother even went out of her way telling the rest of her family and my older brother that I was crazy, how I had been brainwashed into disliking her by my father, how I would always overexaggerate, making things worse than what they were and how I always played the victim. So the few times I tried reaching out and asking for help, they would look at me and say “Oh yeah, your mother warned us you would say something like that, you know she doesn’t hate you, she buys you clothes and makes you food.” Which doesn’t prove one way or another that someone loves you. The best manipulators and abusers out there will do some good things for you. Just so they can make you doubt yourself just enough. Luckily for me, I did wonder if everything was in my head, so I got to the point where I wouldn’t say anything negative about my mother or her family. Then I would invite friends over or leave my phone on when she would yell and scream at me, insult me. It got so bad that one of my best friends had told his parents and they offered to adopt me, or to just let me live with them on more than one occasion. I also mentioned before how I once brought a girlfriend for her and her family to meet during the holidays and afterwards she told me how she didn’t like my mom or her family. When I asked why, she said,

“Because they all talk down to you and walk all over you and it was clear they were constantly trying to make you look bad the entire time. It was like they were going out of their way to do it too and it was horrible.” For me this was a revelation. It wasn’t easy for Rebekah to tell me the truth the way she had. Up until then, she didn’t know anything was wrong in my family, or back home. She helped me see that I wasn’t crazy and that the way they were treating me wasn’t just in my head. It let me know if you become suspicious about how you’re being treated. Don’t be afraid of going to a trusted person and asking them for help, or advice. 
It’s just not parents or a parent who can gaslight someone, I’ve seen people do it their boyfriend, girlfriend and spouses. So you have to be ever vigilant.

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

  1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

  1. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

  1. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being. For me, my mother would often attack my identity. She had a problem with everything about me. How I stood, how I walked, my hair, she would tell me horrible things about my father, tell me my friends weren’t really my friends and that they were all using me, or making fun of me behind my back. She would even tell me horrible things about my grandmother, who was more of a mother to me then her, or anyone else I’ve ever known.

  1. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

  1. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are sayingWhat they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

  1. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

  1. They know confusion weakens people.

 

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

 

  1. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

 

  1. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

  1. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

  1. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

 

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.  So be careful out there.

Looking back on my recovery so far.
It only takes one mistake to destroy Everything-Shorty Hoffman

It’s strange for to say, that I think I’m doing okay these days. I still have bad days and occasional setbacks where I start freaking out, fretting about the past, fearing the future. Days where I feel like everything is closing in on me and like I’m being pulled down into this deep dark ocean, where I can’t seem to catch my breath and I feel like I’m drowning. But, for what it’s worth, I feel more grounded these days and less like a bullet that strays into a crowd looking for a home and passing through bone as if it was another big city stop. Because I now say her name in a prayer without feeling hurt.

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the past, the decisions that I’ve made, the regrets that I have. Which brings me to this post.

Before I got in a relationship with my ex, (Star, not her real name obviously) I was doing pretty well for myself. I was recovering from my past trauma, I wasn’t looking to get romantically involved with anyone after my ex Olivia whom I dated before Star. Olivia had been one of my healthiest and positive relationships, up until she decided to breakup, on my birthday. When just three days prior she asked me if I would consider moving in with her, since she just got a new apartment. An apartment she chose because it was only a ten minute drive from me, because she wanted to be closer to me. Needless to say the breakup not only caught me off guard, I really didn’t understand why. Because her and I never had a fight, we talked all the time, every day and the few times we made plans to be apart, she would message me that she missed me. Then either she or I would go see the other, also we were admittedly one of those annoying couples who had our own inside jokes and a shorthand with each other. Even though her and I had only been together for 8 months, I had fallen truly, deeply and madly in love with her. Not only did her and my breakup caught me off guard, it left me completely devastated. It took me a long time recover. To this day I still don’t know what prompted her to break up with me and on my birthday no less. But I would be lying to say it no longer hurts and it’s not that I still have feelings for her, it’s the time her and I had spent together, how well we got along, the memory of how happy I was being with her. I had opened up more to her than I had with any previous person I had dated.

In time, I decided to better myself, I began eating healthier, taking my workouts a little more seriously and reading more. I also made the decision to focus on my cosplaying goals and doing things that made me happy.

During this time, I had promised myself that I would no longer jump into another relationship, nor would I actively pursue a relationship. I wanted my next romantic relationship to happen naturally, after we had taken the time it takes, to take the time to get to know one another. About a year later I met my ex Star. Whom I told at the very beginning that all I wanted was to be friends, while she clearly wanted more than that. So I decided to be honest with her, I told her that I wanted my next relationship to be something real and long lasting, I wanted a relationship where if we had a problem we would talk through it and not immediately pull the rip cord and bail out of the moment things got hard. She had told me she wanted the same. Then I went told her about my past, the abuse I’ve suffered, I did my best to convey that I was broken, messed up and still trying to piece myself back together. I told her all of this so that she’d understand, that I didn’t think I could handle being hurt again, that I wasn’t where I needed to be to be good relationship material.

Star told me she understood, told me she felt herself falling in love with me and knew I wanted to be with her. She then told me how her dad used to beat her when she was a kid. She told me stories how her front tooth got broken was because her dad had quite literally knocked her teeth out from one of the beatings he had given her. She told me how her mother was always verbally abusive and constantly putting her down. Which unfortunately I didn’t question, and I felt myself resolve softening. It was true I did like her and I was telling the truth when I had told her I didn’t think I was ready. But a small part of me thought we could help each other. For most of my life I had felt like no one really understood me and I’ve experienced close friends and family who didn’t understand what I was going through. Because they would always tell me to let go of the past, to get over it and just move on. So with Star I felt like I had found someone who would understand. It endeared me to her. I didn’t see any reason why anyone would lie about being abused, since for most of my life all I’ve ever wanted was to be and to feel normal. It was later that I learned everything she had told me about her parents were lies she told just to get closer to me which worked. Star had also told me most of the guys she had dated ended up being both physically and verbally abusive. That of which may be true.

I’ve since learned to trust my gut instincts and things that strike me as odd. For instance, whenever we would see her parent’s car, or run into them while we were out she would always get super happy and excited to them. Whereas, whenever I would run into my mother or step-father out somewhere, I would secretly hope they wouldn’t see me. Even when I was trying to mend the fences with my mother, I still feared talking to her, because she would always find some way of putting me down and make it sound like she was doing me a favor by doing so. Also her father would send her funny videos and memes every morning before he went to work and tell her how much he loved her. Her mother always praised her and would always brag about her. Even when Star and I broke up the first time, her mother would call me and check up on me, telling me she was praying Star and I would get back together. Star’s mother always defended her and clearly always wanted the best for her. All of which made me think about my situation with my mother, step-mother, step-father and the few friends that I have who grew up in an abusive home. None of our parents ever acted like they really cared about us. Although my step-mother did eventually reach out to me and apologize, then did her best to make up for the past, becoming almost like a mother to me. But that took quite a few years. It took her time to realize how she treated me wasn’t fair, or right, then it took her longer to work up the courage to talk to me about it.

It still took me some time to start putting the pieces together, I knew when I was a kid, whenever friends or people were around my mother would act like mother of the year, but the moment they were gone, her true self would come out. I also hesitated on calling her out on her abuse claims, since one of the major reasons why I never told anyone about my past, was because I was afraid that no one would believe me, as well as afraid people would think less of me, or pity me.

Now I don’t hate Star, I’m not bitter towards her, I really don’t know what I feel for her these days, or if I feel anything for her at all. But she did text me three months after we were officially over and told me she got diagnosed with Bi-polar and borderline personality disorder. I knew when we were together she did suffer from severe anxiety. I do believe she sufferers from both bi-polar and borderline personality disorder just from things I’ve witnessed, and her mom kept wanting Star to get checked because she also believe Star had borderline personality disorder. Which does explain some Star’s actions and no I’m not making excuses for her either. But I wrote all this just to say, despite everything, what issues people have, we are still responsible for our own actions. I know what depression, anxiety and other disorders can cause you to feel and think, I know these things all too well. But the choice is still always ours. I know things I struggled with, what I’ve always struggled with, I know how tempting some behaviors and actions can be. So I don’t put myself in situations that could I know could cause me to lose control. This is why I don’t own a gun and why I stopped going out shooting. Because even when I would go out to a shooting range, I would have those dark thoughts in the back of head, telling me how easy it would be for me to put that firearm to my head and pull the trigger. How quickly it could all end and sometimes I struggle with telling that little voice, that desire to shut up. I don’t want to give in to it, so I distance myself from any situation where it would be easy for me to harm, or kill myself.  I know I have to stay vigilant, keep myself busy and keep finding ways to be happy. To surround myself with good people and amazing friends. I’ve also learned that if someone is willing to cheat on someone who loves them, willing to do anything and everything for them, always doing your best to make them happy, them cheating on you isn’t about you. It’s about them, some people cheat because their selfish, others cheat to make themselves feel better and more confident because they have low self-esteem, sometimes people cheat when they feel like their partner isn’t trying anymore or giving them enough attention. But once they cheat, they’re telling you they chose someone else. If they come back and swear they’ll never do it again, take some time to really think about it, ask them why they did what they did. Because people don’t cheat by accident and it usually takes time for people to change. When it comes to infidelity, it takes a long time. I’m not saying cheaters deserve a second chance. I’m just saying don’t always take them at their word. If you do give them another chance, make sure they understand that your trust, needs to be earned. Let them know it won’t be easy for them and it takes awhile for the heart to forget.

If you’re with someone who loves and thinks the world of you. Willing do anything, give everything for you. You should really think about your actions and ask yourself if its worth risking losing that. Because the grass isn’t always greener and I understand temptation, I know there are people out there who’ll sell you a story just to get you in bed, to have you leave your girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse or partner, these people usually realize too late, that they were sold a false bill of goods and actions can’t ever be taken back, words can’t be unsaid. It’s like squeezing out all the toothpaste from the tube, then trying to shove it all back inside. All actions have consequences and rewards. Be sure it’s worth it. Also, be decent if you want to leave your S.O. for someone else, break up with the person you’re with first. Talk to them, be an adult. They may get hurt, get upset, or angry. But in time they’ll respect you more for it.

 

 

The Broken Road of Recovery.

After I wrote “I’m not okay,” I got messages and comments from many of you who are fighting the same battles. So for anyone’s who’s struggling, I want to tell you once more that you’re not alone and I’m here for you all. I try my best to reply to every private message, or comment, I’m here for you.

My hope here is that by chronically my journey with Complex-post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the healing process I’m beginning to walk down, I can keep myself from falling into any of the old pitfalls of the past. Such as my innate desire to look for a savior, it was something I was doing without ever realizing it. But what’s my therapist brought it up, I knew she was right. I remember that it started at a very young age, where I started fantasying about meeting someone, falling in love and for that love to fix that brokenness within me. I often imagined, falling in love and having someone fall in love with me, would make all the pain and suffering worth it, that once I attained happiness, everything would suddenly make sense. I often imagined what it would be like to start my own family without the pain or the burdens of the past. This is something I carried with me into every romantic relationship and I would devote myself completely to that girl. Being with that girl often made me happy and that relationship would often heal me to the point where I wouldn’t think about suicide anymore, my outlook would become happier, more positive. However, once that relationship failed for whatever reason, I would be completely devastated. Even though I always made an effort to mature about the breakup and just walk away. Because I never saw the point of being ugly, or nasty to someone you loved and cared about. Because in my mind, being petty, or mean only serves to make the other person believe they might decision. Although, I get it when people do lash out, it sucks being hurt, let down and feeling like you failed. It’s always an emotional time when you’re in love with someone and they tell you they don’t love you anymore, or maybe they never did. So I get it, I understand people sometimes say things they do, because they’re hurting, they’re scared, they’re confused. So shit happens, I don’t know why most of my relationships didn’t work, I know sometimes it was me and sometimes it wasn’t, sometimes I think we just meet the right person, but the timing is off, or the other person, or I need time to grow and mature. Sometimes the other person just gets scared, become afraid of getting hurt and doubt that they’re even good enough.

Regardless though of the reasons why a relationship fails, I would always take it hard, I would fall apart. I would find myself reliving all my past traumas, all the time my mother hit me, every time she would call me weak, stupid, pathetic, I would relive all my greatest failures and disappointments. I couldn’t stop it, the memories of the past would often slam into me, over and over again like waves and I stranded out in a deep and endless sea, feeling like I was unable to even breathe. Often times, I wouldn’t be able to escape and I would be pulled down into the suffocating darkness, where a part of me liked the hurt and pain, because it was familiar to me and I felt like I didn’t deserve happiness. I would become distant, pushing people away and I would want to die. Something that has gotten only harder the older I get. I couldn’t control it, I couldn’t stop the pain, or the flashbacks, it all just kept coming, over and over again like a bad movie stuck on repeat.

 

 

So I’m learning to cope and to heal. I now find myself putting my guard up whenever a girl expresses romantic interests in me and makes it known she wants to heal me. It’s hard telling someone in that situation, “No, you can’t be my hero, I have to learn to heal myself and be my own hero, I need to grow and can’t rely on you, or anyone else to be my hero. I’m sorry, I know you mean well, but you can’t save me. But you can help me save myself, you can help me by being there, encouraging me, being patient with me and listening to me when I talk, when I want to talk. But you can’t force me to talk or open up if I’m not ready, or if I don’t feel like it.”

I think I speak everyone with a mental illness and a traumatic past, it really sucks when someone doesn’t really know what you’ve been through and want to compare your life to theirs, as a means of telling you to stop dwelling in the past, to get over it. Because we all deal with tragedies differently, if you been abused or broken and came out of it with no scars, no psychological damage, you’re the minority and you have a strength I truly admire, or you’re not being honest with yourself. I hid my pain for the longest time, I often hid behind a smile while I was dying inside. Granted growing up a part of my logic was, if I pretend I’m happy, I won’t bring anyone down with my unhappiness and no one will feel compelled to stop me if I decide to kill myself. Because no one would suspect I would do something like that. I was hurting and if I was going to take my own life, I didn’t want anyone to stop me. So I learned to lie and put up a false front, telling everyone I was okay, that I was doing alright and how happy I was to be me, how happy I was being alive. It was the mask I wore every day and very few people ever saw through my façade. The first was one of my good friends, her name’s Dawn and one day she was bragging about how easily she could read people. So I asked her to read me and she said, “You always act like you’re happy, but you’re very clearly hurting and you seem afraid to talk about it. But I’m here for you if you ever need someone who’ll listen and I’ll do my best to help if I can.”
I never did take Dawn up on that offer, but it did stun me to know that someone saw through my carefully crafted façade and how I thought I had everyone fooled into thinking that I was okay. But I was wrong. It didn’t take long for my friends to figure out something was wrong, for they became my second family. They always made time for me, invited me out to their family gatherings and outings. They always went out of their way to make me feel accepted, to encourage me and they were always the first ones to be there when I needed them.

It was through my friends that I realized that how my mother and her family were treating me wasn’t normal. You see, my mom would often tell me that because she catered to my picky appetite that she loved me. Or convince me that what she was doing and how she was treating me was for my own good. Whenever I would question her behavior, she would say “Josh I often make a separate meal just for you because you’re so picky, that’s how you know I love you!” But then I would get hit for eating with my mouth full, back handed if my elbows touched the table, or if I slurped instead of sip my beverage. Or the many times she made fun of me, mocked me, or laughed as my older brother made fun of me. Not counting the numerous times she had beaten me without mercy and because my brother denied having done something wrong, which would always make me guilty by default.

 

With my mother it never mattered if I was innocent or not, she would beat me until I confessed. 8 out of 10 times I would be telling the truth, or even know for a fact my older brother had done the very thing I was being accused of. In her mind, everyone else was totally incapable of lying, everyone except for me. Then after every confession she beat out of me, she would use that confession as more of a reason not to believe me. Sometimes, I often tried to hold out, taking the beating she was laying on me, doing my best to push through the pain, in hopes she would see reason and that I was telling the truth. But she never did stop, not until I confessed to whatever it was she wanted me to admit I had done. She never believed me, because she didn’t want to. For her, it was easier to show me cruelty then love. For her it was more fun to break me and broke me she did. It eventually got to the point where if something happened, I would admit it was me rather I did it or not. I didn’t see the point in fighting when I knew what was coming. Sometimes she would attack me, or put me down, sometimes she would walk away saying how it wasn’t even fun anymore if I wasn’t resisting.

 

Growing up the way I had, afraid to cross paths with my mother, the bullies who often harassed me in school, I soon began enjoying the night, which is why I think I struggle so bad with insomnia now. Because the nighttime often became my time. No one bothered me, harassed me, I didn’t have to hide or avoid anyone, because everyone was already asleep. At night I felt free and relaxed, because the world becomes quiet at 1 am. A part of me also feared the next day, so I would stay up as late as possible, to delay the coming day. But I then enjoyed sleep, because I’ve always dreamed vividly and in color, my dreams were often my escape. Because I would often dream about living a better life, where I was a hero, or I was loved, or a famous explorer, adventurer. In my dreams, I was often at my happiest.

 

To this day, I still feel more comfortable at night when everyone else is fast asleep and everything is quiet and peaceful. I’ve also come to find that people are their most real when you stay up late into the morning just talking about anything, everything or just nothing. Strangely enough I found myself reliving this a bit with my Friday night D&D game I have with my friends, where many of us just relax afterwards, just talking. Its night like those and ones like it that I find myself truly healing. In a strange way the friends I play dungeons and dragons with, are feeling more and more like family to me.

Speaking of family. I know many of my dad’s family often get upset with me, because of how little I come around and visit. I’ve been working on trying to work up the courage to tell the truth. You see I used to try and see them all the time, even took off work early so I could meet up with them for dinner every Thursday. But my dad’s family has a bad habit of wanting to tease someone in the group, usually I’m the target. Then they all like take their turns at making jokes at my expense, or just screwing or messing with me. Which I can usually handle, but they don’t know when to quit, or what lines to cross, or which ones not to. Whenever I had mentioned I didn’t appreciate it, they would often laugh and tell me how they were all just teasing, before continuing again. Sometimes they’ve pointed out that my friends often tease me too. In which I have to say they’re right, but my close friends actually really know me. They figured out I was broken and damaged before anyone else did, before I even knew what was really wrong with me. My friends had been there for me, even when it was hard, when I pushed them away, even when I tried making them hate me. They never turned their backs on me, they never gave up on me, they supported me, encouraged me, they were there. No one had to spell it out for them, no one had to tell them, “Josh is suffering from depression.” They listened to me when I needed to talk, they didn’t judge me, or tell me bad things happen and I should get over it. They accepted me, got together and came over to my house just to drag me out of my funk, or just to check up on me. They showed me love, they became my family. When we tease each other, we all know what lines to cross and which ones to avoid, we also know when to stop. When they any of us goes too far, we apologize and begin making fun of ourselves to take attention away from whoever is beginning to feel hurt or attacked.

I have c-ptsd, so sometimes if I’m sitting there with everyone around me teasing, mocking, or making fun of me, I feel like I’m six, eight, twelve years old all over again and I’m reliving everything I had ever endured, reliving every insult, every time my mother or someone told me I wasn’t good enough, every time I was called weak, pathetic and that no one would ever love me. I relive the moment when my mother told me I should just kill myself, because no one would ever love me, because I was just a joke and a burden to everyone around me.

Those words haunt me, as much as most of my past. I remember it all, I relive it all the time. Every day is a battle for me and every day it’s the hardest battle of my life. Because every day, I have to give myself reasons to go home, to get up in the morning and to not go out and kill myself. I’m struggling all the time, wrestling with these demons that haunt me. The battles I and those like me fight are hard and they’re never ending. It helps whenever someone tells me they love me, that they care, or appreciate me. Those things help and they cost nothing to give, a few words of encouragement, or show of friendship really does go long a way. Because I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t always like to talk about what’s bothering me. I don’t always show it on my face, or in my mannerisms, I often pretend I’m okay and everything is alright, because I don’t want anyone to worry, I don’t want to be a burden and I don’t any false sympathy.  So I keep moving forward, placing one foot in front of the other, trying to be better myself and not be the person I was yesterday, or the day before. I throw myself into writing, playing dungeons and dragons, reading, cosplaying, video games, working out and forcing myself to talk to people and practice opening up to those around me. But it’s not easy, I still get bad, I still have my bad days and there are nights where I can’t sleep and all I can do is think, tormented by my own thoughts and memories. But like all of you, I know I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

No, I’m not okay.

“Sometimes I think tolerance can be void of compassion and sometimes we can forget that in the end we’re all only human.”

This is for everyone suffering from any mental disorder. Because I believe if you have C-ptsd, ptsd, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or bi/tri-polar disorder, people often don’t understand the battle we fight every everyday. Because I noticed how fleeting everyone’s memories are, when I’ve told them I have c-ptsd, anxiety and depression. I have come to realize how quickly people tend to forget I’m fighting this battle everyday and how many of them think I’m fine, that I’m cured because I finally opened up and said, “This is me, I’m broken, but I’m working on becoming better.”

Even when my dad found out, his first response to me was,
“Why don’t you just let go of the past and live your life?” And I responded with a sigh,
“It’s not that easy. It’s like you asking me not breathe, I can’t help it, it’s both biological and psychological and its beyond my control. I don’t like being the way I am. I wish I wasn’t this way, I wish I was normal. But I’m a long way from being okay and I’ve come to terms with that, I’ve accepted it. I’m getting help now yes, but there’s no easy cure. There’s no pill I can take, or advice I can receive that will suddenly be okay. It’ll take time.”

Then he asked if they told me how long I will be the way I am. And I had to inform him, that no one knows and I doubt I’ll ever be completely cured. I can only get better by a matter of degrees and that’s the best I can ever do. Then he told me his solution for these problems and issues of mine, which was me going to church and finding a nice Christian girl.
I can’t expect anyone to save me, I used to look at those I’ve become romantically involved with as a solution to a problem I didn’t know I had. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I know a part of me had looked at every relationship as a chance to heal, to have them fix this broken part of me and fill this hollowness I often feel deep within my heart, my soul, me. I also grew up Christian and loved God with all my heart, but after praying everyday for years for my mother to love me, my faith became shaken. With every bad situation, or cruel act I had to endure, I often found myself asking God why. Gradually my prayers shifted, I stopped praying for God to let my mother love me, but began praying for God to kill me. It’s what I wanted at a very young age, because I was tired of hurting. I was tired of being abused at home, of going to school where I often got harassed and ridiculed, often trying to tell myself that old nursery rhyme about sticks and stones, but truth is, words do hurt more than a broken bone. As far as bad names go, I was called them all. Then I would go home, get beaten, or my older brother would mock and make fun of me and my mother would often be in the room and just laugh at his insults to me. When I asked him to stop, he would ignore me and make fun of me even more, when I asked my mother to make him stop, she ignored me. But the moment I insulted him in return, I would get beaten and grounded.  This was my life for years, if you want to know what it was like for me growing up go back and read my Scars of who we are series. It explains a lot. But I never told anyone about the abuse for several reasons. One I was afraid, I was afraid people would judge me, or think less of me, or worse they would think I was lying and making it all up. Second, she often threatened me with what she would do to me if Told anyone, if she didn’t think that was working she would blackmail me. By telling me my dad wouldn’t put up with my struggling grades and how he would think so much less of me. She would also fill my head with thoughts, that he didn’t really love me and was just pretending just so I would go and live with him, saying if I did, he had told her he would send me off to military school. Also, I was always afraid if I said anything I would hurt my older brother. Because he biological dad didn’t want anything to do with him after he divorced our mom, then when my dad and mom got a divorce she had told my brother that my dad didn’t want him. Which my dad says is untrue and I believe him.

When my dad remarried, his 2nd wife was a woman named Patricia. In the beginning she was super cool and kind to me. She had two kids from a previous marriage who I got along with and my step-brother would grow to become more of a brother to me then my own brother ever was to me. So when my dad got married to Patricia I found myself giving some serious thought about leaving my abusive home and taking the chance at this new family. I wanted Patricia to  be my mother, because I was growing to think of her as such. But then things started to change, Patricia began making subtle and not so subtle jokes at my expense, calling me stupid, lazy, queer, etc. Anytime someone broke something, or didn’t clean up a spilled drink she blamed me. Then she began making me do all the house chores, while telling me how pathetic I am. This eventually made me afraid of her and I would always try to avoid her. My dad knew that she was often a bit hard on me, but I don’t think he knew how bad it was whenever he wasn’t around. But I never said anything to him about it, because I believed she made my dad happy and that was all that mattered to me. So if I had to put up with my step-mother being awful towards me, I felt like it was the least I could do for my father. I wanted to see him happy. Also I loved having a step-brother and step sister, I thought of them both as blood related family and Patrick was my brother as far as I was concerned. It was Patrick though who taught me how a real brother should act and should be. Whenever he saw or heard his mother treating me poorly or unfairly he would always stand up for me, even though standing up to his mother on my behalf often resulted in him getting grounded, he never did stop defending me.

Years after my dad and step-mother’s divorce Patricia did eventually look me up and apologized for how she had treated me, telling me she knew it was wrong and explained to me her mindset way back then. She even apologized for hurting my dad and wanted me to tell him that she was genuinely sorry. Her and I did have a good relationship after that and I was moved when I heard her referring to me as her son and bragging about me. I don’t think I ever had anyone really brag about me before, so it was nice and I find myself missing her after she passed away.

  In a few years after I finally broke free from the toxic relationship with my mother, I ran into my older brother and things were different between us, because we got along pretty well. We started hanging out on a regular basis, talking and I was feeling like I was finally getting to know him, he was finally feeling like a real brother to me. I didn’t have a car at the time, so he would often have to pick me up and I would repay him by treating him out to dinner, even got him an air conditioner for his place when I discovered he didn’t have air at his place. When he couldn’t pay his rent, I helped him pay it. We began training in martial arts together, hiked the Red River Gorge, saw movies as he advised me on girls and tried helping me build up my confidence. He even told me he knew our mother, had a falling out and he began begging me to give her another chance. I had tried once before but things blew up in my face, when she let her family talk down to me and I overheard her and her sister trying to talk the first girl I ever brought over into breaking up with me and dating my older brother because they believed he would be a trade up from me. So when he first brought up the issue I didn’t want anything do with her, I even tried telling him the mother he knew, wasn’t the mother I knew. But he eventually talked me into it. Then when she and my step-dad accused me of stealing a large sum of money, they stole my laptop and I had to go the police to have my belongings returned to me. My brother turned his back on me almost immediately. It hurt seeing someone who I loved and greatly respected turn his back on me and forget everything I had ever done for him as if it was for nothing and like I was nothing.

I’ve had a cousin whom I saw as a best-friend and a brother who betrayed me for a girl and I got to see how he really thought of me, as I read him trash talking to me to a girl I was seeing and didn’t even know he was interested in. Also it bares saying my cousin has always been a player and never very interested in having a meaningful romantic relationship with anyone. Worse was he knew a lot about what I had been through, how I’ve always struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. So seeing how easy someone who I had grown up with, whom I always defended and how quickly and easily he’d unapologetically betray me and throw me under a bus, without any hesitation, really, really hurt.

Most of my personal, romantic relationships managed to further the damage already done to me. Because usually, whenever I entered a relationship I was all in. I wanted me and the girl I was with to go the distance. But I was almost always, used, taken advantage of, cheated on, or left for a better model. My second to last relationship was with a girl named Olivia. That one had hurt the worse until my most recent breakup. Because Olivia and I had both been hurt before and we had both wanted to take things slow. We were together for eight months and we talked every day. She would even come by my place to see me throughout the week, wanting to just spend time with me. Three days before my birthday, she had asked me if I would be willing to move in with her down the road. I said yes, then on my birthday, she asked me over to her house and told me she wanted to see other people. For a moment I didn’t believe this was happening, because we had never had a fight, or so much as a disagreement, up until that day, she would tell me how I was the greatest guy she ever dated, the best boyfriend she ever had. So I was more than a little devastated.

Worse was we had tickets to a comic con the following weekend, I had originally told her she could just have my ticket and take anyone she wants. But a day before the convention, she talked me into going with her as friends. I agreed, but when we got there we and into some of her friends who just gotten engaged and after congratulating them, Olivia began complaining how she was forever alone, how she wished she could find a good guy while I was standing right there.

Later after the second time she had blown me off to hang out with her friends who were also there, I had enough and finally decided to leave and let her get a ride home with her friends. But she ran into me as I was leaving and asked what I was doing and I told her I was going home. She was upset and more than a little angry that I was going to leave her there. Then she spend the next 20 minutes in the car telling me about things she thought I would do to her and how she would screw up my life. (Usually when I’m hurt, I just walk away. I don’t ever beg someone to take me back and I don’t resort to acting petty, because I believe all that does is tell that other person they might the right decision by leaving you.

It took me a long time to pull myself back together after Olivia, which is how I ended up meeting my most recent ex. In the beginning she wanted to date me and I insisted I didn’t want a relationship. All I wanted was to be friends, I was kind of done with love. I did everything I could to make Star disinterested in me. (not her real name, but I don’t want to put her on blast.) I told Star I was broken, she told me she was too. I told her I wanted my next relationship to my last and she told me she was also ready to settle down. I told her I was a geek, a cosplayer and a dork. She laughed and told me she was too. Two months later, she finally broke down my defenses and we started dating, that’s how without ever intending to do so, I fell in love. We were amazing together, or we were for about eleven months when she started cheating on me with her ex-boyfriend and I found out. We broke up and she kept sending me messages telling me how it was not what I thought, that she wished she could explain it to me, telling me that she loved and wanted to be with me. About two months later, she asked me to take her back and I foolishly did. I’m not sure why, or why I worked so hard to forgive and try to forget what she had done to me. Why I doubled my efforts to make her happy, but I guess I really did fall helplessly in love with the girl. I had believed we were working and that I was making her happy, then the lies and excuses started all over again, once more I discovered she was talking and seeing someone on the side. Which made me feel like a failure and like I was inadequate, broken, a mess of a human being. It also caused me to have an emotional breakdown, Star destroyed something in me when she hurt me a second time. I believe a part of me was so affected, because when I told her how I’m a child abuse survivor, she told me she was too and told me stories about things she’s endured, which lowered my defenses and made me see someone I could relate with, someone who understood things I’ve suffered ad endured. I can’t help but feel manipulated, lied to and used. Which doesn’t help me with my C-ptsd, anxiety and depression. I hate having these issues and problems, most days I hate just being me. More than anything I wish I could just get over it, forget it. But for people like me, please stop telling people to just get over it. It’s something we can’t control, or help and it makes me pull away and withdraw from whoever tries telling me those three little words, even though I know you mean well when you say them. I have an illness, when I talk about my past, I’m talking to you to work through them. What people like me need when we talk about it, is support and love. Tell us you’re sorry, hold us and remember we’re trying. I’m trying to heal.

I can’t help it when I push anyone away, or when I withdraw. I have been hurt by numerous people, numerous times who were varying degrees of closeness to me.

I look at scars on my body and think about how they healed in such an understandable process. Like, I could see it healing. I saw the bleeding stop. I saw the scab form. I saw the scab fall off into something else. I saw the car tissue form and watched as the scars healed and faded. But emotional healing doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t get lighter every month. You can work so hard, you can come so far and still fall back down without any warning. It doesn’t nullify what you’ve done. It doesn’t erase your progress. It’s just a reminder that healing doesn’t work in any linear way. It takes time.

 

I wish I could forget, I wish I could wake up with amnesia and not remember any of the pain of my past. I wish I could start over, with a clean slate, without these memories I sometimes feel as though I can’t escape. Because I’m not fine, I’m not okay. I have my demons, I have issues and problems I can’t even begin to describe. I have C-ptsd, anxiety, depression and that’s not going away anytime soon. They say for however long you were abused, or suffered, its going to take at least half that time to undo some of the damage done. So I’m looking at sentence of at least 15 years, but even then there’s no promises. I will still bad and have bad days. I may never be completely cured of my c-ptsd and I’m certain my depression and anxiety is going to be a life sentence for me. But I’m working on becoming better, but it will take time.

It hurts being me with these memories that I have, I wish I could forget the cruel things people I loved and who were suppose to love me. Sometimes the memories creep inside of me and I get angry, a part of me wants payback. But it mostly just hurts, somedays I go without sleep, because my anxiety kicks off at such a high gear, my resting heartbeat goes from 52 beats per minute to 140 and I don’t sleep. I lay there at night alone and in pain. Pain I wish I could shutout, I wish I could ignore.

It’s hard for me to trust or let people in because so many people who said they loved me, had hurt me and hurt me bad. So I sometimes lash out, say things I don’t mean, but mostly I just push people away and withdraw into myself. Because a part of me doesn’t trust people, I no longer see the best in people like I once did.

here are a few things that, if said to a person with C-PTSD anxiety, or depression, are more upsetting than anything. Here are some of them:

  1. “Get over it.”

This is one thing that someone with C-PTSD hates to hear. We want to move on; we don’t want to be haunted by our past. If it were a switch we could flip we would, but we can’t. Please don’t tell us this.

  1. “That was so long ago.”

The events we experienced may no longer be happening, but we relive them most days. The flashbacks, nightmares and daily reminders make us feel like it wasn’t long ago. It may have happened a long time ago for the person who says this, but for us, it’s still so real.

  1. “Change your ways; stop thinking that way.”

When people tell us to change our ways, the things we do because of C-PTSD, they don’t realize that this thought process or way of doing something has been drilled into our heads. We are scared of changing; we are scared this will bring back the abuse and fear.

  1. “I don’t remember it that badly.”

You did not live my fears and worries. I never asked what you remember. You were not there all the time; there were closed doors. I have reasons I have C-PTSD and I don’t want to argue about what you remember.

With PTSD or C-PTSD, even just the tone used and word choices can make the brain feel like it’s being attacked. Try and be there for the person, allow them to gain trust in you. Let them talk to you and cry on your shoulder. Ask how they are and if they need anything. Trust can be the hardest thing for many people with PTSD and things like those above can make us even less trusting in others. Think before you speak; it can save lives, confidence and friendships.

 

 

Please educate yourself before you try telling me or others like me, that we need to let go of the past and move on with our lives. It isn’t that easy. I’m not okay, I’m broken and I’m going to be broken for a long time. But I’m working on it, I’m trying my best. But you have to be patient with me and give me some grace. Going to church isn’t a cure all. I dedicated myself to a small church for two years. I volunteered, woke up early just to help then set up, stayed late just to help them break everything down. I met some friends, some who also ended up hurting me in the end. And every time I was struggling my fellow Christians told me the same thing. “You’re not giving your pain to God!” or, “You have to trust in God more!” “Let God move you” “God wants your brokenness! Give more!” I’ve heard it all. I’ve been prayed for, prayed at, lectured, preached to and at. No one knew how much pain I was really in. Or what was really wrong with me and their words were band aids on a wound that needed a real doctor and professional to mend back together.  This post was longer then I intended, I hope you were able to stick it out with me.

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp

I need help from all of you. Not for me only but for everyone who is dealing with a mental health problem.

Friends, in our part of world mental health problems are still something we feel too ashamed to talk about.

Either they are misunderstood as some sort of witchcraft or the person is conviniently labeled a psycho and abandoned, mostly emotionaly.

A loved one of mine is living with serious disorders.

I have no strenght and adequate knowlege (as i haven’t seen it myself yet) to write about it, i will hold back my own stream of words for a while until i know what i am talking about.

But i want to raise awareness on the subject as this is consuming our lives and pretty much this era.

People don’t even care about it until unless it doesn’t happen to a person very close or them and then…

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My very personal PSA

I have depression, anxiety and recently been diagnosed with C-PTSD.

Several people like to tell me I should get over it, or say “Oh I’ve been depressed a few times, but I did this thing and it stopped it.”

Truth is, depression isn’t cute or funny and it’s definitely not sexy. It’s a living thing. It exists by feeding on your darkest moods and emotions and it’s always hungry. It never really goes away. Anything that challenges it, anything that makes you feel good, anyone who brings you joy, it will drive them away so it can grow without interference. Its goal is to isolate you. At its worst, it will literally paralyze you, rather than allow you to feel anything at all. At its worst, you are numb and you are drained and immobilized by it. And it’s not that those of us who suffer from the disease want to push you away. For there have been times I could be in a room surrounded by friends and family and still feel no one else’s’ warmth or touch. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surrounded by people and still felt alone, hurt and like a burden or a joke to all those I loved and care about. Always thinking that everyone else would be so much happier if I just went away. You see Depression sucks, I mean it literally sucks, it takes away your happiness, your joy, leaving you as nothing more than a hollowed out husk of the person you were before. But that’s how depression works; it’ll drive you to your knees with the soul crushing weight that no one should ever have to bare alone. It will prey on your darkest thoughts, telling you that no one loves you and it’ll you that every negative thought you ever had about yourself is true, and how bleak your future really is. I’ve come to learned that depression lies. But I still wrestle with my depression; I have good days, bad days, and worst days. I often try to combat it by keeping myself busy.

Having anxiety on top of depression often validates your depression. Anxiety is debilitating. It feels like a constant heaviness in your mind; like something isn’t quite right, although oftentimes you don’t know exactly what that something is. But it feels like acid in your stomach, burning and eating away at the emptiness and taking away any feelings of hunger. It’s like a tight knot that you can’t untwist. Anxiety feels like your mind is on fire, overthinking and over analyzing every little, irrelevant thing. Sometimes, it makes you feel restless and constantly distracted. It feels as if your thoughts are running wild in a million different directions, bumping into each other along the way. Other times, it makes you feel detached, as if your mind has gone blank and you are no longer mentally present. You dissociate and feel as if you have left your own body. For me anxiety feels like there is a voice in the back of my mind telling me that everything is not okay, when everything in fact is. Sometimes the voice tells me that there is something wrong with me and that you are different from everybody else.

It’s like this voice that tells you that your feelings are bad and that you’re a burden to the world and that you should isolate. It makes everyday tasks, such as making simple decisions, incredibly difficult. Anxiety can keep you up at night — tossing and turning.
It’s like a lightbulb that comes on at the most inconvenient times and won’t switch off. Your body feels exhausted, but your mind feels wide awake and racing. You go through the events of your day, analyzing and agonizing over every specific detail. Much like depression, anxiety never really goes away.

When I discovered I’ve also been dealing with C-PTSD from the years of childhood abuse I’ve endured. I was like “Wow…aren’t I lucky.” You see In PTSD, your brain may replay a incident over and over again to help you process your emotions. It can become an endless loop that is actually more upsetting than the initial incident, as your unexpressed emotions continue to pile up.

C-PTSD is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma, where the victim is traumatized in captivity, and where there is no perceived way to escape. Ongoing child abuse is captivity abuse because the child cannot escape. Domestic violence is another example. Forced prostitution/sex trafficking is another.

The following are some of the symptoms and impact most felt by complex trauma survivors.

1. Deep Fear Of Trust People who endure ongoing abuse, particularly from significant people in their lives, develop an intense and understandable fear of trusting people. If the abuse was parents or caregivers, this intensifies. Ongoing trauma wires the brain for fear and distrust. It becomes the way the brain copes with any further potential abuse. Complex trauma survivors often find trusting people very difficult, and it takes little for any trust built to be destroyed. The brain senses issues and this overwhelms the already severely-traumatized brain. This fear of trust is extremely impactful on a survivor’s life. Trust can be learned with support and an understanding of trusting people slowly and carefully. This takes times and patience. Believe me when I say, people like me are trying.

2. Terminal Aloneness
This is a phrase I used to describe to my Therapist — the terribly painful aloneness I have always felt as a complex trauma survivor. I often feel little connection and trust with people, people like me often remain in a terrible state of aloneness, even when surrounded by people. I described it once as having a glass wall between myself and other people. I can see them, but I cannot connect with them. Another issue that increases this aloneness is feeling different to other people. Feeling damaged, broken and unable to be like other people can haunt a survivor, increasing the loneliness.

3. Emotion Regulation
Intense emotions are common with complex trauma survivors like myself. It is understandable that ongoing abuse can cause many different and intense emotions. This is normal for complex trauma survivors. Learning to manage and regulate emotions is vital in being able to manage all the other symptoms, but it’s not easy and incredibly difficult. Best way I can describe this is, imagine you’re on a strict, healthy diet, and every day you have to drive in a car, or sit at a table watch someone eat your favorite food, where they’re always asking you if you want some and you always have to say “No.” Now multiply that by like a thousand.

4. Emotional Flashbacks
flashbacks are something all PTSD survivors can deal with, and there are three types:

Visual Flashbacks – where your mind is triggered and transported back to the trauma, and you feel as though you are reliving it.
Somatic Flashbacks – where the survivor feels sensations, pain and discomfort in areas of the body, affected by the trauma. This pain/sensations cannot be explained by any other health issues, and are triggered by something that creates the body to “feel” the trauma again.
Emotional Flashbacks – the least known and understood, and yet the type complex trauma survivors can experience the most. These are where emotions from the past are triggered. Often the survivor does not understand these intense emotions are flashbacks, and it appears the survivor is being irrationally emotional. When I learned about emotional flashbacks, it was a huge lightbulb moment of finally understanding why I have intense emotions, when they do not reflect the issue occurring now, but are in fact emotions felt during the trauma, being triggered. But, there is no visual of the trauma – as with visual flashbacks. So, it takes a lot of work to start to understand when experiencing an emotional flashback.

5. Hypervigilance about People
Most people with PTSD have hypervigilance, where the person scans the environment for potential risks and likes to have their back to the wall.
But complex trauma survivors often have a deep subconscious need to “work people out.” Since childhood, I have been aware of people’s non-verbal cues; their body language, their tone of voice, their facial expressions. I also subconsciously learn people’s habits and store away what they say. Then if anything occurs that contradicts any of this, it will immediately flag as something potentially dangerous.
This can be exhausting. And it can create a deep skillset of discernment about people. The aim of healing fear-based hyper-vigilance is turning it into non-fear-based discernment
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6. Loss Of Faith
Complex trauma survivors often endure a loss of faith. This can be about people, about the world being good, about religion, and a loss of faith about self.
Complex trauma survivors often view the world as dangerous and people as all potentially abusive, which is understandable when having endured ongoing severe abuse.
Many complex trauma survivors walk away from their religious beliefs. For example, to believe in a good and loving God who allows suffering and heinous abuse to occur can feel like the ultimate betrayal. This is something needing considerable compassion.

7. Profoundly Hurt Inner Child

Childhood complex trauma survivors, often have a very hurt inner child that continues on to affect the survivor in adulthood. When a child’s emotional needs are not met and a child is repeatedly hurt and abused this deeply and profoundly affects the child’s development. A survivor will often continue on subconsciously wanting those unmet childhood needs in adulthood. Looking for safety, protection, being cherished and loved can often be normal unmet needs in childhood, and the survivor searches for these in other adults. This can be where survivors search for mother and father figures. Transference issues in counseling can occur and this is normal for childhood abuse survivors. I can’t tell you how many times I met a girlfriend’s parents and would often begin viewing their mother as a motherly figure for me. Even my last supervisor, I found myself thinking of her as a motherly figure and she inherently had a very motherly personality, where my department would often refer to her as the mother of the circulation department.

8. Helplessness and Toxic Shame
Due to enduring ongoing or repeated abuse, the survivor can develop a sense of hopelessness — that nothing will ever be OK. They can feel so profoundly damaged, they see no hope for anything getting better. When faced with long periods of abuse, it does feel like there is no hope of anything changing. And even when the abuse or trauma stops, the survivor can continue on having these deep core level beliefs of hopelessness. This is intensified by the terribly life-impacting symptoms of complex PTSD that keep the survivor stuck with the trauma, with little hope of this easing.

Toxic shame is a common issue survivors of complex trauma endure. Often the perpetrators of the abuse make the survivor feel they deserved it, or they were the reason for it. Often survivors are made to feel they don’t deserve to be treated any better.

9. Repeated Search For A Rescuer
Subconsciously looking for someone to rescue them is something many survivors understandably think about during the ongoing trauma and this can continue on after the trauma has ceased. The survivor can feel helpless and yearn for someone to come and rescue them from the pain they feel and want them to make their lives better. This sadly often leads to the survivor seeking out the wrong types of people and being re-traumatized repeatedly.

10. Dissociation

When enduring ongoing abuse, the brain can utilize dissociation as a coping method. This can be from daydreaming to more life-impacting forms of dissociation such as dissociative identity disorder (DID). This is particularly experienced by child abuse survivors, who are emotionally unable to cope with trauma in the same way an adult can.

11. Persistent Sadness and Being Suicidal

Complex trauma survivors often experience ongoing states of sadness and severe depression. Mood disorders are often co-morbid with complex PTSD.

Complex trauma survivors are high risk for suicidal thoughts, suicide ideation and being actively suicidal. Suicide ideation can become a way of coping, where the survivor feels like they have a way to end the severe pain if it becomes any worse. Often the deep emotional pain survivors feel, can feel unbearable. This is when survivors are at risk of developing suicidal thoughts.

12. Muscle Armoring
Many complex trauma survivors, who have experienced ongoing abuse, develop body hyper-vigilance. This is where the body is continually tensed, as though the body is “braced” for potential trauma. This leads to pain issues as the muscles are being overworked. Chronic pain and other issues related such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can result. Massage, guided muscle relaxation and other ways to manage this can help.

All of these issues are very normal for complex trauma survivors. Enduring complex trauma is not a normal life experience, and therefore the consequences it creates are different, yet very normal for what they have experienced and endured.

Not every survivor will endure all these, and there are other symptoms that can be endured. I always suggest trauma-informed counseling if that is accessible. There are medications available to help with symptoms such as anxiety and depression. But they tend to be fairly expensive.

Lastly, I advise that empathy, gentleness and compassion are required for complex trauma survivors. We are not people and trust me when I say, we are trying and doing our best.