Friday, March 29, 2024

How I experience CPTSD dysregulation

Hello friends. This blog post is possibly the most difficult  one I've ever written. And warning, it may trigger a lot of bad things. So proceed with caution. 

It's Good Friday today which was actually very bad Friday for our Precious Lord. So today is probably a good day to post about what is perhaps the most terrifying outcome of parental narcissistic abuse, ensuing CPTSD and gaslighting about it. And that would be dysregulation. I've been experiencing dysregulation all my life stemming from neglect, abuse (emotional, physical, spiritual and sexual), abandonment, shame dumping, exploitation, parentification, manipulation and parental gaslighting. I experienced it as a child but it wasn't safe to let the adults know. I couldn't safely express it till I was in safer relationships. Unfortunately, neither my dear husband nor I had any inkling of what dysregulation was. We've remained ignorant of, but horrified by it till yesterday when I stumbled upon the term by accident. Here's how I experience dysregulation. 

So I say it's the most terrifying manifestation of CPTSD but really it's just the most observable. All the really serious damage stays in my imploded, shattered, bombed out brain and heart. Narcissistic abuse, neglect, parentification, exploitation, manipulation, abandonment and parental gaslighting (by not one but four parent figures) destroys a child's very core. It threatens and fucks up every single thing about us, every belief, thought, emotion, up to including their (my) very reason for being. I do not and never have believed that I belong here. That, not me but others, would be better off if I was...not here. That God's love doesn't apply to me, only His rules. Is that anathema? Yes, but one I was taught, and one I've struggled to shake all my life. 

That's dysregulation at work. It is the effiest of mind effs. For the most part, I'm able to keep my head just above the poison, by looking fairly afloat but paddling like hell to stay that way. But when my arms get tired, when I don't get the help I need, when someone hurts me again, when someone re-exploits it, when I let it, it overwhelms me and I drown. But it's a dry-drowning because no one can see my lungs filling up and taking my breath away. What it looks like, because it is, is me coming apart at the seams. My little boat is breaking up and sinking and I'm screaming frantically for help! 

I lash out and rage and self-harm and scream and cry and wet myself. When I was a little girl, I used to bite myself and then rub out the teeth marks so no one would see and be upset. Being parentified, I had to protect my four parents from seeing the damage they'd inflicted. Being a "big sister" I had to protect kids from seeing the harm that having too much expectation and responsibility, being manipulated into the caregiver role, and being the scapegoat, slave, surrogate parent and spouse, caused. It was all about sheltering them and their dysfunction and making me take their shame, consequences be damned. 

What does this feel like? Like I'm burning up on the inside. It's a full blown nuclear reactor meltdown. I'm disintegrating, breaking up and spiraling downward. But the valkyries in my head are screaming that I deserve this for being such a wretched failure to my parents. I cannot think of a time when, no matter what I did and gave, it was ever enough. I was a let-down, set-back, show-off. I never pleased them, not once. Never made them proud. Never felt love, unless weaponized, which of course, isn't love at all. All of which, I'm learning, was the plan. They had themselves so neatly sewed up, a reason for everything. They were golden. All they had to do was point another finger and it distracted me from the real problems. I was just one big source of narcissistic supply. 

So when I lose it, it looks hideous. My nuclear family has seen it, poor them. And they're now traumatized because of that. The outside world never does because I've been able to maintain the facade of being whole which of course makes me feel like an utter fraud.  Friends who think I'm normal-ish would be appalled if they knew the real me. Extended family would abandon me. They haven't but only because I've never let them see the destruction their handiwork caused.  I just mopped it up and stored the filthy rag in my broken brain. But sometimes, it spills out and the shame I feel causing those I love such pain, is unbearable. It triggers another meltdown, which causes more shame, which causes more meltdowns. You get the idea. 

I've been stuck in this cycle for 59 years, 7 months and 7 days. I've never understood how I could do these unspeakable things. Till two days ago when a Youtuber discussed dysregulation. And it all suddenly made perfect sense. I feel like I'm falling apart because I am. I'm in freefall. I'm drowning. I'm hurting those around me but mostly myself but not out of violence or any desire to hurt.  I'm drowning and clawing at anyone and anything for dear life. Even if that means taking them down with  me. It's entirely a panic-terror response. I'm scared shitless and witless. 

I'm not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. Or to exonerate what I've done. It's not an excuse. But it is a reason. And one which up till a few days ago, I had no idea about. I didn't understand how trauma caused trauma responses. I just felt that I was evil. And I have done evil things. But not willingly. I never wanted this. 

What I wanted was to grow up loved with some difficult times, but mostly okay. I wanted to please others but  not at the expense of myself. I wanted to get from parent relationships, not just give. I wanted to feel some joy and peace of mind. I wanted to not feel like everything I did was wrong. But that didn't happen. And now it's up to me to accept that the past will never be any different than it was. And try to rebuild what I've allowed to be torn down. 

How to do that? Well, I'm going to  start by researching and learning all I can about dysregulation, so that when, or before, it is upon me, I can spot the triggers and avoid them. I can be prepared. And know that I don't have to do it alone anymore. I can trust loved ones to help me through it. I can trust my higher power. 


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