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I thought I would come back and give an update on my situation as I found this post randomly and had forgotten I’d even written the above. Maybe it will help someone else who is experiencing a similar thing.
Thank you to everyone who replied to me when I was going through that. I wasn’t expecting to get much/any response, as I know other people have their own issues, and it meant a lot to just have other humans interact in response.
I ended up having a complete mental breakdown in the end (which was possibly a good thing). I got a job a few months after posting this that seemed perfect initially but turned into a complete nightmare. The owner was in a similarly bad place to me and in a very toxic relationship and I think we clicked over shared trauma or something. He was also my idea of perfect in terms of a partner and made it very clear he liked me too, but obviously nothing could happen. At the same time the woman he was with made it clear she was in it for the money and asked myself and another colleague to help her cheat on him as he wasn’t earning enough for her. But I couldn’t say anything and was just stuck in the middle. There were a lot of secrets on all sides and it became very very stressful and we both ended up seriously hurting each other.
A few weeks later I had a seizure, heammorhaging in my eyes/nose, my heart temporarily stopped (I now joke that he literally broke my heart!) and ended up having a psychotic break with hallucinations and all that fun stuff. I think I finally maxed out my pain bar and as a result my brain and body went into blue screen mode. For the first time in my life someone smacked me down hard enough that I couldn’t get back up and was therefore forced to get help. My short term memory disappeared for about seven months and I thought I would never recover and was going to be locked away for the rest of my life. I’m still not 100% and still have agoraphobia and PTSD, but my memory and other things are slowly returning now.
However, one of the positives was that I lost any sort of internal dialogue while this was happening and apparently went into a rage at my parents for everything they’d put me through. Plus my brother, who is sadly turning into a carbon copy of my dad. I also cut off an old ex who was using me for attention/free therapy and a few other people who I realised were just taking advantage of me year after year. Previously I was too beaten down to stand up for myself as I was trained to believe I was worth nothing and had no right to even consider my own needs. Now I struggle to care about anyone or anything outside of myself and my little neice and nephews who are too young to protect themselves. I’m having to learn to even tolerate being around adult humans, which is a bit more extreme than I’d like. I know this is likely just an extreme reaction to how I’ve survived for the last 36 years and hopefully I’ll be able to find a happy medium in the future. But for now isolation and boundaries keep me safe while I heal things.
I was put in intensive therapy for CPTSD and general trauma and learned that I was a textbook codependent. I was trained from birth to only ever care about what other people wanted and let everyone treat me however they liked just to keep the peace. My automatic reaction to every situation was ‘what is best for everyone else and what can I do to make that happen’. It was robotic almost. I would regularly burn out and get sick, but just relied on insane amounts of caffeine to keep going so I wouldn’t let people down. I was a walking magnet for cluster B types that loved the fact that they could hurt me over and over again and I’d just sit there and take it or even feel guilty and ask for more. So I had attracted multiple zero-empathy people into my life and let them stick around and suck all the energy/love/money/work out of me. I was the ultimate punchbag for everyone because I allowed myself to be. No one was forcing me to do it. It just never occured to me that I could tell people to f**k off or fight them back. I had zero sense of autonomy as I was raised to be a slave. It was a bit of a shock to accept that how I viewed myself and the world wasn’t shared by other people. I was seriously angry at myself for being such an idiot, and forgiving myself for that will be a work in progress.
I’ve had to learn a lot of new terminology and learn what is/isn’t a normal and healthy response to certain behaviour or situations. I’m a programmer at heart and I view this as reprogramming my brain. I’m at the stage where I’m now fully aware of why I ended up where I ended up and can identify unhealthy behaviour in other people and myself. I am still a codependent, so I still catch myself jumping in to offer things to people that don’t need or deserve my help. I then have to back track at times, which is annoying. I still need to learn that I’m good enough to just exist as myself and I don’t have to work to earn basic acceptance from the world. I think that will take the rest of my life to fully master.
I only have a couple of people left in my network that treat me like a human and I know I can trust not to take advantage of me. I was shocked at how many toxic ‘friends’ and ‘family’ I had collected over the years. Being used and thrown away was normal to me, so I was more attracted to the people that used me the most. I didn’t know what to do with someone who was genuinely nice. If anything I probably seemed really weird to healthy people and that pushed them away.
I’ll be on heart medication and in therapy for the rest of my life now, but that’s ok. At the very least, my niece will have a female role model that can teach her what is/isn’t acceptable and prevent her from having to experience any of the things that I went through. A lot of the women in my family are codependent types and I don’t want her to copy that.
My biggest concern is that I’m too old to really start my life at this point. The goals I had don’t seem possible now. Even if I meet another rare match that is a) healthy and b) I’m healthy enough to interact with them the right way, physically I’m a wreck due to all the stress, violence and now general aging I’ve experienced. So I’ve had to accept that I may never get to be happy despite all the hard work I’ve done, which is really painful. But life isn’t fair and at least I can use my experiences to help my niece, who means the world to me. If that’s all that my life amounts to, then so be it.
I need to decide what to do as a career, as I haven’t been able to work since the above happened. I’ve never planned a career out, as everyone else in my family always had an opinion on what I was supposed to be doing and I was pushed in different directions on the basis of how much money I could make them. I started a small tech business project that has given me something to focus on over the last year, but I’ve struggled to find anyone else to work with long term. So I’m not sure how viable it is. I love the idea of running my own business, either directly with a partner or in parallel with someone who runs their own business and can act as a mentor/brainstormer. That way I’m less likely to end up in another situation where I am taken advantage of and can’t escape (at least in terms of work). But I need to build up my confidence a lot. And I’d need to find someone, which so far hasn’t happened.
I’d also like to make friends that I can trust. I am still very wary of talking to or being around other people, as the PTSD is still there. I have huge trust issues, as I’m now overly aware of how easy it is for people to hurt me and don’t yet trust myself to notice all the red flags or react the right way to them. It’s good that I have boundaries for once in my life, but they are pretty raw and over-the-top right now. For anyone reading this who has gone through the same thing, once you learned to have boundaries with people, did that ‘war mode’ feeling gradually fade over time? Did you learn how to attract and let people get close to you without getting hurt or constantly panicking?
I’m aware that I’ve babbled on for ages here, but maybe someone will find this useful.EmilyParticipant
Thank you. I wasn’t expecting any replies for a while if at all, as it’s late in the evening here. Just ranting out loud anyway. Sorry to hear you’ve been through bad times as well. Life can be pretty rubbish.