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Trying to heal from a traumatic event

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This topic contains 45 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  anita 6 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #280157

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    If I understand correctly, your ex boyfriend caused you to experience a trauma and PTSD following that trauma. The trauma itself consisted of a series of events in the summer of last year that happened after a difference of opinions between you and your boyfriend. Those events included, if I remember correctly, his mother sending you abusive texts and showed up in your  place of work.

    Your mother was aware that your boyfriend caused you trauma but treated his behavior as a mistake, a human mistake, letting you know that she will fully support you if you resume a relationship with him. Recently she had a change of heart and now disapproves of you having any contact with him and his family. You wrote that it is a shock to you that she recently had this change of heart.

    Why is it a shock to you- Did you ask her why the change of heart?

    anita

     

    #280275

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Yes, my ex boyfriend played a major if not primary part in the events of the summer which as a result have lead me to my depression, anxiety and PTSD. I don’t know whether at the time neither of us considered or thought about that it would be THIS bad but nonetheless it is. His mother did indeed send me threatening messages although she didn’t show up at my place of work, his sister did show up at my house though to ‘talk’ but that was all patronising and abusive too..

    My mother, step-father and sister at the time were very much disappointed and heart broken at the time and perceived him and his family to be horrible people. I believe they’re still of that thought, particularly my step-father and my sister, but with time also comes perception.. So in the conversation I had with my mother some weeks ago, which I’ll add she started, she discussed that she doesn’t believe he is a bad person and rather he didn’t know how to behave or manage the situation at the time and we both acted out in ways which may have been out of character to us. With that in mind, she confirmed that she is of the belief that IF I still loved him and thought I wanted to continue a relationship with him then he should be heard out, as he should hear me out and see if that is something that could go forward if that is what we both wanted. She advised that we are only human and that we make mistakes and if I felt that his explanation or whatever was sufficient then maybe he deserved a second chance.. She also went onto say that she is only of that thought because of how well we fitted together and how wonderful a relationship we had prior to this. I think the conversation was her way of saying to me, you’re my child and I love you and I don’t want to make this any more difficult on you than it already is IF you do want to get back together with him.

    Well recently it seems she’s had a change of heart. Despite the fact that she doesn’t know any details at all of our recent communication she now thinks I am out of my mind for even considering this relationship. We had a brief altercation about this yesterday as I admitted that unbeknownst to her I have indeed been severely struggling over the last few months and I have lost myself completely in the process, so her various advice over the last few weeks is also loosing me and confusing me even further. I have since shut down the conversation all together and said I will not discuss any of this, and I don’t mean just my ex because he is the least of my worries right now, with anyone from this point forward. It is too hurtful and like picking at a scab which is nowhere near healing. I think this in turn has created somewhat an awkward atmosphere at home so I have chosen to ‘run’ and go away for the weekend to breathe.. and I will be looking for my flat in the oncoming weeks as I NEED to be alone in this. More than anything, I want and need to be alone without having to explain my every move to anyone when I am clearly unable to even explain it to myself.

    I mentioned earlier on another thread, ‘I lost myself trying to please everyone else and now I’m loosing everyone trying to find myself’.

    #280293

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    I read your two posts on the other thread as well as the one here.

    “I lost myself trying to please everyone else and now I’m losing everyone as I attempt to find myself again” is indeed a very telling sentence.

    This is my best understanding at this point: your mother had her own childhood experience, one that had war in it, maybe lack of food, experiences that you didn’t have, so she figured (as do so many, many parents) that because you grew up without war and without the absence of necessities such as food and shelter, that you had a good life.

    Like you wrote: “she’s unable to understand… She doesn’t quite get it”.

    She sees trauma as war, whatever she experienced, she doesn’t see your experience as traumatic, or such that justifies causing you so much pain. Like you wrote, “maybe she doesn’t see my trauma as a good enough reason to actually be suffering this much”.

    Believing that what you experience in life doesn’t justify your distress means she is lacking empathy for you as well as understanding of you and your situation. But this is not something new, you are just starting to see it now, but it has been so for a long, long time. For example, insisting that your biological father visits you even though you felt hurt and disappointed every time he was late or didn’t show up, she didn’t feel then that hurt or disappointment on your part is justified, so she didn’t feel empathy for the young girl that you were, waiting, hurt and disappointed.

    If she felt empathy for the girl that you were waiting for your bio father as he was repeatedly late or didn’t show up, she would have ended his involvement in your life.

    What often happens to a child growing up with no empathy or inadequate empathy is that the child becomes very empathetic. It is like a plant growing in poor quality soil, with little water and nourishment, so it grows longer and longer roots trying to reach water and nourishment.

    Growing deeper and deeper roots is the “trying to please everyone else” part of your profound sentence, as well as you sharing early on that you are a giving person, giving and giving to others. You were trying to reach people’s empathy and understanding which you lacked at home.

    I have more thoughts, but would like to take a break and ask you what you think so far about what I wrote?

    anita

     

     

    #280445

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    I never know if a member will return to a thread or reply to me, so I will offer you my thoughts from yesterday, so to complete all the input I have for you at this point. What I will do is share with you my experience as I think it may be relevant to yours, plus some other thoughts:

    1. You wrote, “My mum is very very loving and compassionate”- my mother too was very loving and compassionate to others, but not to me. She suffered a terrible childhood, and poverty at some point. So  she was very compassionate to anyone who was hungry, or may be hungry, animals, strangers, and me, if she thought I was hungry. But she was severely lacking empathy for me for feeling emotional pain of any kind. I was very scared and sad for so many years and she didn’t see it.

    And then, on one occasion, when I shared with her how a certain individual who was a drug addict harmed me terribly, her empathy, for some reason, was with him for being a drug addict, not for me for having been harmed by him.

    2. “I honestly wouldn’t know as I haven’t had that conversation with her nor do I wish to so I can only assume”- I didn’t have conversations with my mother either. When I suggested something she didn’t like, she killed it, immediately and swiftly, killed the topic, that is.

    3. When we live with a parent who has no empathy for us as children, doesn’t see or hear us, doesn’t see we are scared or sad, some of us go silent, others get very loud, trying to be heard. It is like a person living with a person hard of hearing, raising one’s voice so to  be heard, and then getting into the habit of speaking louder with everyone. Some of us adjust then by overstating our pain, expressing it louder or in the most dramatic ways possible, so to be heard. Maybe we do both: sometimes we go silent and at other times get very loud so to be heard after all.

    4. You wrote: “I feel I don’t have a safe and comfortable place to be right now and instead I am looking for ways out or to run away by staying with friends or going away so I think a flat right now is the ideal time so that I can be on my own and comfortable”- it doesn’t take war or hunger to feel unsafe and uncomfortable. When we are not seen or heard, when we live without empathy for us, that feels unsafe and uncomfortable.

    5. Healing is about seeing Reality for what it is. It does feel like the carpet is being pulled from underneath us, but if you persist and keep your eyes and ears  open and see reality for what it is, your mind and your life will be so much better for it.

    anita

    #280581

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I apologise for what may seem like a delay in my responses, please rest assured that I would like to continue my communication with you and will respond as and when I can always.

    I must admit, your last response to me almost came as a shock, I had never quite looked at things in this way and perhaps it was a bit of an eye opening experience.

    Regarding point 1 and 2, to my understanding your mother could only understand as much as she could understand and therefore would shut down anything that was beyond her level of comprehension. This does slightly resonate with me and my mother. I mean don’t get me wrong, she has always been more like a best friend to me than a mother and she has in the past during my adolescent years shown a lot of compassion and understanding towards topics or areas of my life she couldn’t quite comprehend but I must say I always felt like a failure or disappointment bringing those topics up because I knew that I wasn’t living up to her expectation of what my life should be. I’ll give you an example for better understanding, as a teen (16/17) I had a bisexual experience, in fact a full blown relationship with this girl at the time. In hindsight, it was most definitely just a phase or experimenting, whatever you want to call it which I would say was influenced by the people I was hanging around with at the time etc, nonetheless at the time to me that was serious. Now whilst my mother ‘accepted’ & welcomed my partner to my house, family do’s etc at the time I KNOW she was not happy with the situation. I know because I remember back then opening up our home laptop to look for something online and she had accidentally left her forum open, probably one similar to this, and being nosy I snooped only to find her posts about me and her not knowing how to deal with this phase of mine – again, left me feeling less than, a failure and disappointment despite doing what I thought at the time was following my heart.

    Number 3 hit home for me a lot. When I look back on my childhood, I really cannot recall times when I would be ignored or my expression of my needs disregarded, I really can’t so I don’t know if this has much to do with my mother or my bio father actually however there must be a reason why I am the way that I am today. I did live away from my mum and step dad for a total of maybe a year or year and a half when I was about 6/7. Due to the poverty back in my home country, they left to go abroad to settle in and build us a new life in th U.K. before bringing us over a year or so later. During this time I was staying with my step-dad’s mum, who I too call grandma but could always feel that she treats me different to her real grand children, I felt that always as a child. I was extremely unhappy there, I was only young myself and was forced to look after my little sister (3/4) at the time whilst my grandmother worked in the evenings to put food on the table. I was also unhappy because I didn’t feel ‘safe’, I could tell I wasn’t wanted there or loved how I needed to be loved – genuinely. So I used to often run away to my aunties house. She doesn’t have any children and always treated me like her own, I loved being there, I remember we played and baked cakes and I felt loved and ware there. But that was cut short after and I was made to go back to my grandma’s to be with my sister. Perhaps at that point I felt abandoned by my mum? I felt like she had left me knowing I was unhappy? Don’t get me wrong, as an adult I completely understand and appreciate that they left and gave us a good life in the U.K. I know it was necessary to do so, but perhaps it affected my emotional/mental state more than I anticipated now that I try to understand all the pieces. That last bit about either going silent or overstating pain is 100% me, especially right now. I either shout and scream it from the roof tops and when I feel I am not being heard or am being disregarded I go completely silent, never speak of it again and also withdraw from that person… I create a major distance. I cannot believe how much you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one Anita.

    Healing has been a difficult one for me Anita. Really difficult, because I don’t know where to start. And even looking back on it, I’m following all of the ‘guidelines’ to healing and it seems nothing is shifting. Being so completely lost for a long time is overwhelming and exhausting and I wonder if I will ever find a way..

    #280593

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    “I wonder if I will ever find a way”- I think you will. I am quite confident that you will. You know people who say positive things just because it may help another, or just in case it does, not having anything to back it up, sort of cheering you along but no substance in the cheering?

    This is not what I do here. I stick to Reality best I can because reality is my substance and fitting our thinking and feeling to reality is the essence of mental health. So when I write that I feel  confident that you will find a way, that is, mental health and a good life, I write it because you express insight, the willingness to learn: to look into your inner workings, into the past/ your childhood, to question the quality of the parenting you received, etc.. Lots of people are not willing to do these things but you are, therefore there is hope for you.

    Here is a very significant insight on your part: “I felt that always as a child. I was extremely unhappy there… as an adult I completely understand and appreciate that they left and gave us a good life in the U.K…. but perhaps it affected my emotional/mental state..”-

    you understand what many people don’t understand: that our current understanding did not exist back when we were young children. People retroactively incorporate current adult understanding, education, articles read etc., into the childhood experience. This prevents insight into what really happened then, so may years before.

    So let’s look at what happened then: you were six or seven and your mother and step father left, gone .. forever. I write forever because now you know, retroactively that it was a year or a year and a half. But back then you didn’t know for how long the separation will last. And for a young child, time has a different feel to  it than it  does to an adult. When unhappy, a day feels like eternity, and a year, well.. that is truly eternity, a never ending experience.

    For the child that you were at six or seven, you were left behind by your parents. Alone, with someone who didn’t really want you. I would say this has been your trauma, your childhood trauma, being left or abandoned by your mother/ parents.

    Again, the fact that you were left for reasons you understand now does not change the reality of the child, being abandoned, left behind to live forever where you were unhappy, unsafe and unloved (“I was also unhappy because I didn’t feel ‘safe’… I wasn’t wanted there or loved”)-

    – there is more to your recent post but the trauma you experienced as a child at about six or seven for the forever time of a year or a year and a half,  is so significant to my understanding, and I hope to yours, that I need to take a break. I will patiently wait for your reply before proceeding.

    anita

     

    #280601

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for your kind words and glimmer of hope. I really do hope that you are indeed right and eventually I find my way out of this dark chapter of my life..

    I can indeed relate, the time away from my parents felt like forever. I remember missing my mum so much and in between our contact I would keep a diary writing about how unhappy I was or how left out I felt. I also remember when my mum would come back to visit it was all very emotional and almost a ‘mummy don’t leave me!’ kind of situation. I even remember clearly one time when she did come to visit a few days early and surprised me at school, I wasn’t expecting her for another few days and I remember playing on my break and seeing her face, it was one of the happiest moments of my life, it stuck in my memory until this very day. But I also do remember times such as another time when she visited and a few hours later headed out to see her friends or something, I can’t quite remember, and I waited and waited and waited and waited for her to come back home because she’d promised we’d sleep together and snuggle as I missed her, and I ended up doing what I can only call a ‘strike’ and falling asleep on the floor to prove a point that I was clearly upset she had left to spend time elsewhere. Again stuck in my memory. I suppose that’s the ‘sometimes we scream for help other times we go completely silent’… although I would’ve never looked at it that way or associated this to that situation prior to my communication with you. I must say it is an eye opening experience.

    I never viewed my childhood as traumatic at all. But perhaps at the time that to me, as a 6/7 year old little girl was a traumatic experience. And maybe it’s stuck around and moulded me into the person I am today.

    #280619

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    “one time when she did come to visit a few days early and surprised me at school, I wasn’t expecting her… seeing her face, it was  one of the happiest moments in my life”- in stark contrast to being “extremely unhappy” without her.

    There is no stronger attachment than a young child’s attachment to her mother. There is no safety for a child away from her mother and the feeling of safety is with her mother.

    “Perhaps at that point I felt abandoned by my mum? I felt like she had left me knowing I was unhappy?”- I think so. Of course she left you the first time she left to the U.K knowing you were unhappy to be left behind, and she knew you were unhappy every time she left you back to the U.K following visiting you.

    Did you ever talk with your mother about your experience in that year or year and a half.  I am thinking not much because you don’t even know if it was a year or a year and a half. I imagine your mother knows exactly how long it was but that time was never discussed?

    anita

    #280779

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    In all honesty I didn’t ever really think much about being apart.. even into my adult years I didn’t ever think of the situation and therefore didn’t see it warrant a conversation so no we haven’t discussed this ever. Not in depth anyway, I mean we’ve had brief and very general conversations as a family reminiscing about how times were and where we are at now etc but as I previously mentioned, I only ever recall happy memories from my childhood. It is only now during my communication with you that I am beginning to unravel and consider what my true feelings at the time might’ve been.

    Likewise with my biological father, many years have passed since we last had any contact and with that my thoughts of him are very very very far and between.. but again, my communication with you is brining insight into this also.

    #280807

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    “I only recall happy memories from my childhood”- no one more than a child is more motivated to be aware of and recall happy experiences and memory. A child desperately needs to feel safe so she looks for any sign of safety and closes her eyes to anything and everything that doesn’t feel safe, best she/ he can.

    Problem is that what we close  our eyes to as children comes back to haunt us as adults. We can ignore reality, but reality will not be ignored, it will keep trying to get  our attention.

    I understand that your mother and step father will be returning to their country of origin in a few months, by summer of this year. It is my understanding that you were and may still be in some sort of a situationship, as you referred to  it, with your ex boyfriend, that he offered to you not long ago to rent a place with you after all, when your parents leave the U.K. I read most recently that you are thinking about moving out of your parents before summer and living on your own, that is without the young man (boyfriend/ partner, ex or current, I don’t know). Also, you attend some kind of therapy.

    I think you need a clear plan. I think you have it in you to make a good life for yourself, you are intelligent, courageous, creative, lots of life in you. It is time to make a plan. What do you think?

    anita

    #281055

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Oh how you manage to hit the nail on the head every time! Yes! I do need a plan! I think a plan is soooooo important right now. Amongst all of the chaos in my life, my mind, my heart I feel a plan would be so beneficial.

    The issue I am finding at the moment is in the process of this whole journey since the summer I have completely lost myself. Everything I thought I was, my beliefs, core values all went down the drain and fundamentally I have no clue who I am anymore. With that, I am so up and down with my thought process and emotions right now and I feel not stable/rational enough to make any life decisions. One minute I think something is good for me literally the next I panic and run in the other direction. I am living in constant fear, uncertainty and a complete lack of stability, probably adding to my lack of feeling safe. Every decision terrifies me right now. How do I shift this? How do I move forward?

    #281063

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    “I have completely lost myself”, no you didn’t. You didn’t completely lost yourself. You are afraid, yes, and some things that comforted you before, don’t comfort you anymore, but you didn’t lose yourself.

    The 6 or 7 year old girl who carried on a “strike.. falling asleep on the floor to prove a point”, she is alive and well in you today. She is courageous and full of life, strong willed, a fighter. She is willing to do what it takes, she just needs some help.

    Your plan will have to include quality guidance and help. Question: whose guidance will you be looking for:

    The person or people to guide you need to be someone who is not lost herself, who is not clueless about her own way-

    It has to be a person who can and will listen to you and understand you-

    And it has to be a person interested in your well being, not seeking their well being at your expense-

    -do you agree?

    I figure the first item in your plan should be to locate the appropriate help for yourself.

    I need to get away from the computer for about fifteen hours and will be glad to read from you and reply when I am back.

    anita

     

    #281497

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It sure feels like I have lost myself in the process of it all. Often I can’t recgnise myself in my actions, the things I say, in my general everyday behaviour, my decisions and it is a tough place to be because I can’t explain any of it.. though that could just be my PTSD.

    In regards to guidance, I have one friend who has been with me literally from the start of this whole turmoil and I trust her impeccably with my life. She is extremely understanding and knowledgable and the only person who I open up conversation with regarding any of this as her approach is straight to the point but at the same time extremely sensitive, which works for me. However, I feel that at the moment, or since the last few months I have not moved forward, I feel I have not gotten better and I cannot or do not want to keep dragging her into the same conversations as I realise she too has her own life to deal with or perhaps that my story has just gotten boring or she’s getting tired of it. With those thoughts, it is difficult trying to look for guidance.

    I am attending therapy once a week, it is a therapy particularly aimed at the kind of trauma I am dealing with and it is going well, but do I feel like I am making as much progress as I should? perhaps not. What else would you suggest in terms of helping myself?

    #281507

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kkasxo:

    “What else would you suggest in terms of helping myself?”-

    1. Producing income, being financially independent, that is able to pay for your basic needs and comfortable enough living.

    2. Place to live. You currently live with your parents and they will be moving out of the country in a few months, where will you be living, in what geographic location, alone or with others…?

    3. Evaluate all your existing personal relationships, keep those that encourage you to be more of yourself and lose those that carry the price tag of you being less.

    Be honest with yourself and with others, see to it that those in your personal life are also honest with themselves and with you, ask questions, gather information, evaluate information, make informed choices.

    4. Figure out what you value most, one or a few items that you value most. Be guided not by what you fear most, but by you value most. Keep that value in the forefront of your mind every day, let it guide you in every choice you make.

    anita

    #281581

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    As always, thank you so much for your input. I will try to work on all four points to come up with a plan for the near by future I.e between now and when my family are due to leave the country. I will keep you updated on how I get on with this exercise.

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