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Trying to heal from a traumatic event

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This topic contains 46 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 days, 18 hours ago.

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  • #279315

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkaxso:

    I’ve been following many of your posts since my last post to you, which I believe is the above, Nov 7 of last year. I believe I understand what has been happening in your mind and life significantly more now than I did before, when I posted to you the above. Would you like me to share with you my current understanding?

    anita
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    #279323

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Yes please, I would appreciate your insight, advice or even just comment.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    #279331

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    It has been quite a different experience for me to follow your story because so much of it is untold. I don’t know if you live alone. I know very little about your life circumstances. I know nothing about your childhood and almost nothing about your current relationships with your family members. Not only that, I know so very little about your relationship with your ex boyfriend. And I don’t know if he is indeed your ex boyfriend or a current boyfriend. The trauma of June of last year, you shared very little about that (it being a difference of opinions between you and him, a difference of opinion on a subject matter not related to your relationship with him).

    So you see, I have so little information to look at. But I have some.

    Nov 5, 2018 you wrote: “When the particular even occurred I shut it out of my brain completely so not to hurt those closest  to me by seeing me hurt. Almost like I had to put  on a brave face to support others who may be feeling my pain for me”

    Feb 8, 2019, today: “My family for one have absolutely no  clue that I’ve been down in the gutter for so long and that I am indeed struggling because I am oh so good at putting on a brave face so not to worry them! I may need to consider opening up to a  family member at this rate”.

    This is my understanding: there is a reason you don’t share with your mother/ parents. A young child naturally shares when she is hungry or sad or scared. The child learns to not share over time because  of  negative experience when she did share. She learns to hide her feelings, to put on a brave face, so to not be rejected, so to be a good girl.

    So what I figure is that you have been emotionally alone for a long, long time. And you did well, managed well, adjusted well. A big part of your adjustment has been  this relationship of 2.5 years. This relationship became the biggest part of your adjustment to your emotional isolation. He became everything to you. But he was not everything, in actuality. He was and is a young man in his early twenties, still living at home with his mother. But he was all you had and you rested in what he meant to you.

    The event in June shook that comfort and took it away. Since then you are hanging by a thread: no family comfort and no relationship comfort.

    In my last year post to  you I suggested that if I was in your shoes I would forgive your boyfriend (for what wrongdoing I am not sure, having so little information), but I have changed my mind now and I will explain to you why:

    -once your feeling of safety was shaken as badly as it has, June of last year, you can’t get that feeling of safety back. You wrote last year: “when we are together now all the feelings of hurt and betrayal arise again, there is an awful lot of resentment and anger towards him”- I think that this is what you will experience with him every time you are with him, sooner or later. Therefore I believe that you should end all contact with him.

    Not because he doesn’t deserve forgiveness, not because he is a bad person or that he doesn’t love you, but because he meant to you more than he actually was or can ever be. And you can’t get back that which he meant to you, that feeling you had with him. Every time you see him, you re-experience that shock: the safety is gone, the comfort is gone.

    If you would like to consider what I wrote here, please do and if you want, we can continue to communicate.

    anita
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    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  anita.
    #279359

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I appreciate the fact that despite the limited amount of information disclosed you have still attempted to try and understand and shed some light. I have been stuck in an absolute turmoil of my own feelings and emotions the last month or so so it is refreshing to get some outside perspective.

    In regards to my family, I must admit my mother is my absolute best friend, she always has been even throughout my adolescent years. We always comfortably spoke about everything and anything with no shame or withholding any information – even the most uncomfortable of topics! I don’t recall ever feeling emotionally alone, I still feel we have quite a good set up. Likewise with the situation around the trauma, she knew the ins and outs of everything however this situation was slightly different I feel. She, aswell as my sister and my step-father were nothing but loving and supportive but I witnessed the hurt in their eyes. There were times my mother and sister sat with me feeling hopeless, helpless because they were unable to change anything, I felt the sadness from my step-father who walked around the house with no purpose unsure what to do with himself, again because he couldn’t help. That hurt me, it hurt me a lot to see them like that, worried and helpless – it made me want to put on a brave face and I haven’t been able to shift that since..

    Going back to your point though of feeling ’emotionally alone’ for a while. I have followed some of your communication with other members of the forum and realised that our childhood can often play a major role in who we are as adults – I have recently tried to apply this to my life. So from my family set up which consists of my step-father (who has been around since I was a baby, I call him dad), my mother and my two sisters I couldn’t pinpoint anything wrong with my up-bringing. However, my biological father is a completely different story. Although I don’t think about it much now and don’t pay too much attention to it it may have played a part. My father has always struggled with alcohol addiction. He was a part of my life until I turned 18. I have great memories with him as a child, holidays, fun days out, at the time it worked as my step-dad was the one who set the rules whereas my biological dad was the ‘fun dad’. Him, my step-father and my mother were very civil, even friends and still remain civil until this day and so although he was unreliable and maybe didn’t want to be around as much as he was, my mum always made sure that we spent time together. As I got older, it became my choice to continue a relationship with him and I did. For many years I visited him several times throughout the week after school and this continued until the day I turned 18 which is when he cut absolutely all contact with me, out of the blue, with no warning. At first I cried and asked questions and tried to understand, eventually it became apparent that he just was not interested in continuing communication with me. The last time I saw him was just over three years ago at my grandad’s (his father’s) funeral. I do find myself wandering sometimes why I wasn’t good enough, why he didn’t love me, I never wanted anything from him but his time.. And that brings me to the point of my ex partner. Perhaps the whole situation with him has brought back all the feelings of being suddenly left, something else prioritised over me and abandoned without explanation, without warning.. Which leads me to say I completely agree with what you say. The comfort, safety associated with my ex are gone. It is obvious every time we are together..

     

    #279367

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    Now I know more about your family background, I appreciate it that you shared as much as you  did in your most recent post. It may be helpful, I hope so. If you want we can go back and forth for a while so  to figure out further what is going on (and what is not going on):

    You wrote about your biological father: “he was unreliable and maybe didn’t want to be around as much as he was, my mum always made sure that we spent time together”-

    Does him being unreliable (before he cut all contact with you when you were 18) mean that sometimes he was supposed to visit you at a certain time but he was late or didn’t show up at all, and if so, do you remember how you felt?

    You wrote that your mother made sure that he spent time with you: as a child, did you hear her talk to him, on the phone or otherwise, criticizing him for not seeing you often enough?

    anita

    #279403

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    I re-read your recent post to me and noticed something I didn’t notice before-

    You wrote yesterday: “There were times my mother and sister sat with me feeling hopeless, helpless because they were unable to change anything, I felt the sadness from my step-father who walked around the house with no purpose unsure what to do  with himself, again because he couldn’t help. That hurt me, it hurt me a lot to see them like that, worried and helpless– it made me want to put on a brave face”-

    But why do two  parents, mother and step father, express such hopelessness and helplessness when their young daughter, 25 or 26, experiences an ending of a 2.5 year romantic relationship  with a young man in his early twenties?

    I mean, it is not the end of the world, romantic relationships end every day for millions of young people all over the world. The life of their daughter has not ended. There is still hope for her!

    Why the hopelessness and helplessness?

    What they communicated to you reacting the ways they did,  was that you are indeed hopeless and helpless and that they are too, and so, clearly you are … hopeless and helpless. And indeed, hopeless and helpless has been your attitude since August of last year when you started posting.

    Instead of hopeless and helpless, they could have, or I should say, a set of parents could have reacted this way: … we know it hurts and we see you hurt, but you will be okay and we will help you be okay. We will figure it out, we will work together to understand what happened. Then, smiling at you confidently, looking confident, not helpless.

    That would have given you confidence in them being okay, them being able to help you,  and in you being able to help yourself.

    Instead, with hopeless and helpless, you were left alone, worried about them (having that extra burden to  carry, their distress on top  of yours), putting on a brave face but with nothing underneath that face to accommodate or sustain being brave, or having courage.

    I understand that you are a private person regarding sharing personal information, particularly on a public forum. I welcome you participating in a conversation with me here, on this thread, but I understand that you may not and I am okay with your choice either way.

    One more thing: when dealing with emotional turmoil, as you  have experienced in the last eight months, empathy from others alone is not enough. New understanding is required. Without new understanding you are like a person in a dark room, bumping into walls or furniture, getting hurt and bruised. With empathy alone, you get something like: “oh, it hurts, let me put a Band-Aid on it, it will feel better soon”, but you keep banging into furniture and walls, keep getting bruised because you are still in a dark room!

    anita

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  anita.
    #279659

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Yes, I remember my biological father often missing visits, being late or being reminded by my mother about my birthdays/school plays etc. I guess the older I got the more I understood that he wasn’t able to make the conscious effort to be a part of my life and instead had to be constantly monitored by my mother however I appreciated that he was still around until I turned 18 that is.

    I remember things like him taking his new girlfriend to his sister’s (my auntie’s) wedding.. I was so upset. I often wondered why this new woman in his life was his priority and I could never be? I must admit though, it has been quite some years since me and him have had any contact at all and I don’t think about it often anymore – perhaps the reason why I didn’t think this played a part in who I am today but I am happy to explore that if it means that I can deal with these demons of mine.

    In regards to my parents and their hopelessness, I don’t think that had much to do with the break up of my relationship itself although they understood that was difficult for me, rather it was about the amount of pain, trauma, betrayal etc around the break up. I suppose they never pictured their daughter, their own flesh and blood going from a healthy, loving relationship to being absolutely traumatised and broken to my core. I didn’t expect it either. I think as the whole situation went on for over a month there came a point where they too were tired and felt helpless as they wanted to do everything in their power to help me, to take the pain away and they just could not. But yes I do agree, although they too were hurting, perhaps they should’ve done it behind closed doors just as I did so that I didn’t have to witness it and as a result retrieve to healing on my own so to not witness them hurting again.

    ‘<span style=”display: inline !important; float: none; background-color: transparent; color: #333333; font-family: Arial,’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14.53px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px;”>Without new understanding you are like a person in a dark room, bumping into walls or furniture, getting hurt and bruised. With empathy alone, you get something like: “oh, it hurts, let me put a Band-Aid on it, it will feel better soon”, but you keep banging into furniture and walls, keep getting bruised because you are still in a dark room!</span>’ I absolutely love this Anita, and it has felt like this for this for many months now. I am trying, I really am trying to understand this new ‘life’ that I am living, although it doesn’t feel like living much at all, it more feels like I am in autopilot just getting through my days because I have no other choice.

     

     

    #279669

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    I will do what I can do here to help you find that light switch and turn on the lights, communicating over time, if you want.

    If we don’t have clarity, if we don’t see what is happening, there is no hope other than “getting through” the days. I hope you can do better than just get through life. Better live it with clarity, make a good use of your youth, of your excellent intelligence and evident social skills and live a remarkable life!

    Reads to me that it would have been better if your mother, once she knew your bio father’s ways,  saw to it that he  would not be in your life, instead of making it possible for him to be in your life the way he was.

    When he missed a visit, you felt disappointed. And he often missed visits, you wrote. That is a lot of disappointment, hurt, sadness.

    Your mother often reminded him about your birthdays, school plays, etc. You figured early on that he didn’t really want to be in your life and that is why he “had to be constantly monitored by my mother”. This means that every time you were aware of your mother reminding him of an event and monitoring him, she sent you the message that … he doesn’t really want to be in your life.

    She had good intention, thought you will feel loved having your bio father being in your life, but in between his actualized visits, the message delivered to you by a father that had to be.. forced to see you and by a mother who insisted on forcing him was that…  he didn’t love you.

    When you turned 18 he ended all contact, is it because he felt that your mother couldn’t make him be in your life once you were no longer a child?

    anita

    #279671

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for taking the time to communicate with me, I really do appreciate it.

    I do believe like you say my mother did have good intentions regarding my biological father. In fact, I always told her that I appreciate that she did that, gave us a real chance to be in each other’s lives despite her moving on with my step-dad etc. I found that quite brave and honourable of her as considering I was only a baby I wouldn’t have known any better if she didn’t introduce me to my biological dad.

    I’m not sure about the lack of contact from 18 onwards. I remember the day like it was yesterday, it was the first time I had not received a phone call from him on my birthday, I was so upset, I remember it clearly.. And from then on it just became apparent that he didn’t have an interest at all in continuing a relationship with me. He wouldn’t contact me and would not respond to my attempts to contacting him. Perhaps he thought his duty as a father from that point on was done? He had done the 18 years he needed to do and now he could go and be free like he wanted to all along?

    #279677

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    You are welcome. The assumption that he ceased all contact when you turned 18 because you were legally no longer a child reads reasonable to me. Maybe your mother pressured him through the years to be in contact with you for as long as you are a child. Maybe he had a girlfriend/ new wife who wanted him to have nothing to do with his ex wife/ daughter and pressured him to have no contact once his daughter is no longer a child. I don’t know.

    Back to your experience in regards to your bio father being in your life before you were 18, do you remember hearing what your mother told your bio father when he was late to visit you or when he didn’t show up-

    do you remember what your mother told you about him/ about the situation when he didn’t show up?

    anita

     

    #279909

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It is interesting you mention the girlfriend as once I was slightly more grown up I often wondered whether him cutting contact with me had anything to do with her… although she was always very kind to me in person. Even often covered up for my bio father when he would lack contact with the usual ‘you know what he’s like’ etc.. I guess I’ll never really know.

    I don’t really remember her ever telling him off, I’m sure she did but just not around me – the things I know now about her ensuring he was around etc are only known throughout the past few years since I am an adult and can understand it better. My mother never said a bad word about my dad to me either, she always apologised on his behalf if he didn’t show but didn’t dwell on the subject too much. When I say she didn’t dwell on it I mean she didn’t try to make up excuses for him, nor did she tell me, her small child, that he is basically a useless, unreliable alcoholic. She’d just apologise, affirm she is sure he would’ve liked to have been there and ensured I was having a good day anyway.

    Honestly, I can’t fault her for how she has dealt with it. I know she always tried her best, unfortunately for me his true colours showed when I became an adult.

    #279925

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    You wrote that you don’t remember your mother “ever telling (your bio father) off”, that she “never said a bad word about” him. “She’d just aplogise, affirm she is sure he would’ve liked to have been there”.

    I figure she knew that he would not have liked to be there, but she hid the truth from you, or tried to hide the truth, to protect you.

    This leads me to think about something that puzzled me before:  after the “traumatic event” (title of this thread) in June last year, when your boyfriend at the time turned against you and sided with his mother, an event that caused you a lot of pain, pain your mother was acutely aware of, sitting with you “feeling hopeless, helpless… worried and helpless”, following that event, she encouraged you to get back with your then ex boyfriend, telling you how wonderful the two of you got along, bouncing off each other.

    I was wondering at the time why she would encourage you to  get back together with the man she believed was responsible for all that pain that you suffered, pain she was so acutely aware of.

    Can you explain that to me?

    anita

     

     

    #279975

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I think my mother and myself are similar in the sense that we always tend to look for the ‘good’ in people. I think at the time of the trauma she was focused on me and my pain, as any mother would be, she will always be on my side I guess. With time though perhaps she is able to look at things from a distance, different perspective maybe. It doesn’t excuse the pain caused by my ex partner and she has made that very clear however she can acknowledge that prior to this we did indeed have an amazing relationship and we were extremely happy together so I think maybe knowing how much I’m struggling and how much I miss him this conversation was her way of saying ‘If this is what you want, I will stand with you all the way’. I suppose maybe she is of the belief that we are only human and we make mistakes and if we are truly sorry for this, then we should be entitled to make things right and be given another chance.. I’ve never really asked her so I can only assume this would be it.

    I’ll add though that my step-father is of the complete opposite view. He is unable to forget the pain caused by my ex partner and although if we did officially get back together he’d have to deal with it, I don’t think he would approve of wish to continue any relations with him. I think rather it would be a civil hi and bye situation for my sake.

    What are your thoughts on this Anita?

    #279979

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    “my mother and myself are similar in the sense that we always tend to look for the ‘good’ in people”- I think it is a good thing, to look for the good in people because it is there. But when a person repeatedly harms another, better protect oneself, better choose accordingly.

    Your bio father harmed you by repeatedly, over a period of years, showing up late or not at all to visits with you, and you were left hurt and disappointed every time. Instead of your mother looking at the good in him and allowing him to disappoint you again and again, she should have looked at how he affected you, looked at how you were hurt and disappointed. She then should have stopped insisting that he re-enters your life and insisted instead that he stays out of your life.

    Regarding your ex boyfriend, you wrote: “I suppose maybe (your mother)  is of the belief that we are only human and we make mistakes and if we are truly sorry for this, then we should  be entitled to make things right and be given another chance”, and that what she communicated to you something like: “if this (resuming a relationship with him) is what you want, I will stand with you all the way”-

    -problem is that you presented his mistake as a TRAUMA that he inflicted on you June last year, a trauma that led you to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder eight months going.

    But what is trauma?  What do you mean by using the word trauma and the term PTSD?

    You shared that you and your boyfriend back in June had a difference of  opinions,  his mother got involved in the disagreement, siding with her son and against you, your boyfriend then walked away from you and ended the relationship.

    You experienced that event and the breakup as a trauma. Do you mean that every breakup of a romantic relationship is a trauma inflicted by the person initiating the breakup against the party that doesn’t want the breakup and feels hurt as a result?

    anita

     

     

    #280131

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It is interesting that we are discussing this at present as my mother seems to have had a change of heart and now disapproves of any contact with him & his family all together. Shock.  I guess you’d say she’s come to her senses?

    My trauma is the events of the summer which I have been unable or unwilling to speak of on the forum. They’re somewhat directly linked to the split but the split from my ex partner is not the trauma in question, I have experienced heartbreak before and wouldn’t say it is a traumatic ezperience. It is tough, yes, but traumatic? No.

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